The City of Merritt will return to conduct dog licensing as an in-house function starting January 2024.
In 2020, the City entered into an agreement with DocuPet, a company that partners with local shelters and communities across North America with the promise of improving and increasing pet licence sales and decreasing their partners’ workload.
During the three years of the agreement, residents were able to get their licence at any time they wish and do it online instead of at the front counter at city hall. Residents were also able to rely on each other when it came to returning lost pets to their owners, thanks to an online tool that identifies registered lost pets.
However, during the time DocuPet partnered with the City, the local government identified problems that resulted from this program.
According to an information item by the City, “a significant reduction in the number of registered dogs” was noticed once the program was implemented. Other problems such as dog owners not receiving proper communications or not being comfortable enough using online services were also identified.
In addition, bylaw officers experienced difficulties to enforce registration, as they could no longer determine if the pets had the correct tag for that year.
Under the City’s Animal Control Bylaw 2241, 2018, all dogs over the age of six months in Merritt are required to be licensed. The owner is requested to pay for an annual dog licence fee, and the income goes towards the City’s dog-related costs, such as returning lost dogs to owners.
After the many issues identified by City staff, the municipal government opted to not renew their contract with DocuPet and return to providing dog licensing services.