SOUND: Top dogs barking at the dog run. (:02)
Fade up and and hold, then fade down under narration. Ambi of dog run throughout the piece.
Odds are, only one of these dogs are what the city calls a real New Yorker. That’s the term the Health Department gave to licensed dogs in a subway ad campaign it launched in October to reach dog owners like Michelle Davis who lives on the Upper West Side. She isn’t even sure if her dog Mahla is licenced.
DAVIS 1 (:10)
“I’m assuming he is, because my sister brought him from Africa and the whole process of bringing a dog in from another country is really strict.”
Besides, Davis doesn’t think it matters if he’s registered, because she doesn’t worry about him getting lost.
DAVIS 2 (:03)
“He’s really well-behaved and I can’t imagine him ever getting away.”
Finding lost dogs is only one reason why the city wants more New Yorkers to register their pets. The nonprofit Animal Care and Control or ACC, which runs the city’s shelter system, estimates that right now only 2% of lost dogs return to their owners.
SOUND: Desi Kim calling “Shelby!” (:02)
Shelby was a lost dog who found a new home through an ACC shelter. He got licensed as part of his adoption process. His owner Desi Kim didn’t realize she had to re-register him every year or that it costs $8.50.
KIM 1 (:10)
Wow. I’m surprised. I know someone who came from Maryland and she hasn’t registered her dog yet. So I’m surprised she hasn’t done it even though it’s so cheap.
The city’s campaign is designed to convince dog owners that licensing their dogs is cheap, easy, and in their best interest. Licensed dogs are eligible for subsidized spay/neuter services and allowed to run off-leash in city parks.
And since last month, owners who lose licensed dogs can turn to a city database for help. It’s called the Dog eLocator. It enables a person who finds a lost dog to enter in the license number on the website. Then they’ll be matched with the owner so that the dog can go home. The city licensing will remind owners to vaccinate and help keep track of dogs in emergencies.
And it is, of course, the law. It has been since 1894. In fact, the fine for an unregistered dog can be up to $200. But at a press conference at the Hillside dog run in Brooklyn last fall to promote the dog licensing awareness campaign, Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted it’s not a high risk crime.
BLOOMBERG 2 (:18)
“It’s just not practical to have our police department or parks people run around and try to give out tickets. We can enforce the pooper scooper law, but going into parks and starting to check dogs for licenses isn’t something we’re likely to do, in all fairness.”
But some animal advocates say that licensing dogs supports a flawed animal control system. What the city doesn’t advertise on its subway ads is that part of the 8.50 license fee also goes to support those ACC shelters.
MARSH 2 (:04)
“But that money goes back into a shelter system that’s not necessarily working.”
That’s Donna Marsh. She works at Dog Habitat Rescue it is based in Greenpoint loft space that it shares with a pet supply store and an animal boarding facility.
It’s part of the trend towards no-kill shelters. In other words, stray dogs stay here until a home can be found for them. ACC shelters, on the other hand, put down strays in as little as 7 days. Marsh says her shelter actually rescues dogs rescue dogs from ACC. She’s working to get no-kill shelters around the city to coordinate to save more dogs.
MARSH 1 (:08)
“We would be able to do it more quickly. ACC doesn’t hold dogs very long before they put them down. Sometimes they’re not helpful to certain shelters.”
Marsh says pet owners would be better off making donations to no-kill shelters.
Neither ACC nor the Department of Health returned calls requesting comment for this story.
Annie Russell, Columbia Radio News.