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“Lifetime” dog license pondered

by Tom Coombe

A licensing change, at least when it comes to dogs, may be in the works in Ely.

During a council session earlier in the month, police chief Chad Houde floated the prospect of a “lifetime license” for dogs in the city limits.

Rather than buying a license and renewing it each year for $5, Houde suggested that the city instead implement a lifetime license for a larger amount.

Houde said it would be easier for pet owner simply to license their dog once, and boost compliance with the city’s dog licensing requirement.

As of the council’s Feb. 7 meeting, only 15 dogs had been licensed this year city wide.

“I think there are more than 15 dogs in the community,” Houde told council members.

The dog licensing measures are in place to track dogs and make it easier for police to reunite stray pets with their owners, according to Houde.

“It’s more of knowing who the dog belongs to,” said Houde. “Right now we only have 15 (licenses) and this way we would have more of a record who owns the dogs and who are getting vaccines.”

Council member Angela Campbell asked both about the cost of the license and that “I would really like to know if the animal had rabies and an up-to-date shot.”

Houde responded that “in my opinion this is not about making money... We’d have a more accurate list if we required a lifetime license.”

Meanwhile, Houde addressed another canine-related issue as the city is revising its efforts to deal with dangerous dogs.

An ordinance is in the works that will bring more clarity to the matter.

“We’ve had a couple of situations in the last two years where we’ve had to list two dogs (for dangerous behavior),” said Houde.

When a dog is “listed” a second incident would require the pet owner to obtain a $500 license, obtain $300,000 in liability insurance and erect fencing.

“There’s a lot you have to do,” said Houde. “Most individuals when their dog is listed, unfortunately end up  putting the dog down.”

There’s one current dog in Ely listed as a dangerous animal, Houde told council members.

He also explained the current process for handling calls related to dogs.

“Normally what we do if we get a complaint, it depends on the situation,” said House. “If a dog charges in an aggressive manner, if it bites, we will keep a record of it.”

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