Progress made on animal services, Markham says
May 22, 2014
Markham Economist & Sun
Markham says it is making headway with its new animal services strategy that puts the focus on responsible pet ownership instead of animal control.
The city recently announced its new two-year contract with the Ontario SPCA.
Markham also announced its new wildlife services contract with the Toronto Wildlife Centre, which is in the process of moving into the Rouge Park area.
The OSPCA contract puts a focus on more monitoring and reporting efforts, said Judi Cannon, OSPCA regional manager.
The agency is responsible for citywide patrols for stray animals, animal cruelty investigations, pet surrenders and adoptions, complaint investigations, lost pet services and a spay/neuter clinic.
Last year, the city opted to extend its typical one-year contract with the agency to two years with several conditions, including increased coverage and patrols and increased adoption events.
The agency has introduced measures to enhance services to municipalities and boost adoption rates, Cannon said.
The agency introduced a 24-7 centralized animal cruelty dispatch service at the 310-SPCA phone number.
It has introduced adoption programs including iAdopt (iadopt.ca) and Meet Your Match (meetyourmatch.ontariospca.ca) and an online social media community for past adopters.
iAdopt is a year-round adoption campaign focusing on positive real life adoption stories to encourage others to adopt.
“It’s not just about getting a new pet,” Cannon said. “We’re trying to showcase the whole adoption experience.”
During its launch in November and December, more than 1,400 pets were adopted.
Meet Your Match is a program where residents and pets are matched based on personality and needs, which helps decrease the number of pets returned to the shelter.
“It’s kind of like online dating for people and pets,” Cannon said.
Previously, the city worked on a month-to-month contract with the OSPCA worth about $400,000 a year.
The new Toronto Wildlife Centre contract complements the OSPCA contract in that the services will work together.
The city is also working toward establishing an animal services storefront at one of the city’s community centres with a focus on education and public outreach.
PET OWNERS GET PERKS
If you own a pet in Markham, don’t forget to get your furry friend registered under the city’s licensing bylaw.
There are perks for pet owners.
The city is rolling out its pet owner loyalty program, in collaboration with Pet Connect.
When you register your pet with the city, you receive a loyalty card for use at locations throughout the city for savings and discounts.
The card is partnered with about 50 local establishments including eight veterinary offices. Other partnerships include restaurants, mechanic shops and retailers.
The goal is to build the program to include more than 80 partners by the end of the year, said Deb Lind of Pet Connect.
While the cost to licence your pet is $30 to $48, there are hundreds of dollars in savings to be had, Lind said.
Markham’s pet loyalty program is an incentive to have pets licensed and is modeled after a program in Calgary, which has been in place for about a decade.
The loyalty program in Calgary has helped maintain about a 90 per cent license and registration rate for dogs and about a 40 per cent rate for cats, Lind said.