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« Some thoughts on Best Friends | Main | How good at telling a dog's breed are you? »

October 30, 2008


Robert Garnett

Are you sure the Calgary numbers are accurate.Calgary is the fastest growing city in Canada with jobs in their shelter even harder to fill than a stable city. Average return rates are 16% Dogs 2% Cats. These figures seem to good to be true.If they are true please publish their secret. Thanks.



They are indeed, accurate. Calgary has probably the best run animal control department in North America. They have about 90-95% dog licensing compliance -- so basically, when a dog gets picked up, they most often have tags and usually a microchip. Because each animal control vehicle has a computer on board, they are able to get real time info on that dog and take the dog directly home, usually without taking the animal back to the shelter. This saves them a wealth of time and money in dealing with the dogs at the shelter.

The key, for them, is the licensing compliance. It allows them to get animals home. They are able to get the licensing compliance because they actually provide a service in return for it -- if your animal does end up in the shelter, they will provide necessary vet care for it. They bring your animal home free of charge (with fines eventually going to frequent fliers).

I think the last part is one of the most important pieces to the equation - -that they view AC as a way to educate people and as a service, not as a law enforcement agency who's job is to punish people.

I've written a lot about Calgary. You can read more about it by following these links:

I'll probably put an update on what they are doing up there in the next week or so....

Rosemary Rodd

Would it be feasible to press local authorities to change their penalties - for example issuing a voucher for free or low-cost neutering and telling owners they'll be fined if they fail to take their animal to the clinic?

That wouldn't help with pet-limit laws, but it would be something animal rescue organisations could offer to the local authority as a way of meeting them halfway.


Rosemary, the biggest thing is always to remove the barriers to someone doing the right thing. In most areas, really aggressive low-cost, no-cost spay neuter programs have been VERY effective in overcoming the barrier of getting their animals altered. The biggest barrier, at least here in the US, is cost. There will always be some people won't, for whatever reason, get their animal altered. But taking their animals and killing them, or giving them high fines that they cannot afford, and when they don't pay, taking their animal and killing it, isn't the best option. Remove the barriers, provide the low/no cost sterilization, and you'll make huge inroads. The mandatory programs just haven't proven successful in eliminating shelter killings here in the states.

Sue Cosby

Brent, I would add one more "exit" to your list and that is transfers to rescues and other shelters. Moving animals based on supply and demand is one of the important keys to lifesaving. Cooperation between agencies is a must-have for lifesaving. There are many communities (and states and regions) with a full shelter on one side and an empty shelter on the other - if the two get together it's magic.


Good point Sue and thanks. I usually consider that as an "adoption" in my mind, but it is a pretty significant difference for a shelter that may not have the staffing to do much adoption on their own, but can be very open to transfers.

Robert Garnett

Wow!!! I hope my City will take a look at Calgary's example. Such a great sucess story that hasn't received any publicity at least to my knowledge in Maritime Canada.Will have to try to fix this.Thanks.

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