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“Puppy Police”

Posted on 18 April 2012

Under the headline “P.G. to Hire Puppy Police”, Opinion250 writes:

“The City of Prince George, which recently dismantled its environmental services division, let go 9 employees and announced 19 other vacant positions would not be filled, has posted a call for applications for one of two part time positions as a “ Dog License Canvasser””

The comments section is full of people scratching their heads over why the city is spending money on this, THIS, of all things! Meanwhile, I’m seeing comments on Facebook upset that bylaw officers will be going door-to-door to take away unlicensed dogs or fine people who have “restricted breeds.”

While the merits of having restricted breeds or even a dog licencing program can and have been debated elsewhere, I think it’s only fair to make a couple of clarifications based on conversations I’ve had with Guy Gusdal, manager of bylaw services, as well as representatives from the union. Any errors are my own, not theirs.

1. The money thing

The optics of making hires of this sort, especially when jobs have just been lost, may be questionable. But the expectation for these positions is that they will, very directly and measurably, pay for themselves.

They get $17.24 an hour, but their work is “irregular part-time.” What this means is they only work as much and as long as they continue to bring cash in.

This has been experimented in the past. To start with, the two hires get a list of people who have paid for a dog licence in the past, but have not yet purchased one this year. They then contact them and ask if they’d like to do it this year. For the most part, it’s hoped that these are the sorts of people that intend to get the licence, but haven’t gotten around to it yet (just like they haven’t made it to the dentist). They will also go door-to-door and canvass at strategically chosen homes and neighbourhoods. Again, only so long as they are paying their own way.

Gusdal wasn’t able to provide me with exact numbers, but he says there are easily thousands of dollars in uncollected fees out there.

The union, for its part, thinks it’s a great opportunity for a student to do some summer work and make money for the city and themselves at the same time.

2. The bylaws and breeds thing

These are canvassers. Not enforcement officers. The focus of their job is not to find people they think are breaking rules and come down hard on them. This is more like the idea of having a kiosk in the mall educating people about the usefulness of having a dog licence and asking if they’d like to sign up– only instead of a kiosk, they’re going door-to-door. 250 outlines the difficulty these canvassers would have in actually enforcing anything. They’re correct. And the city isn’t expecting enforcement. Just outreach, and, hopefully, a bit more money.

Filed under: Prince George

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