Only about half of Red Deer dog owners are licensing their pets, according to an Ipsos Reid survey done last fall.
And among cats, only 39 per cent had a tattoo and 14 per cent had a microchip implanted for identification.
“It kind of confirms a lot of what we were seeing,” said Don Elliott, municipal enforcement supervisor with Alberta Animal Services.
Red Deer was one of 20 communities nationwide that participated in the survey during September and October.
Elliott said Red Deer results were typical of the other communities surveyed.
The survey showed 53 per cent of dogs were licensed, 39 per cent had a tattoo, 19 per cent had microchips, 91 per cent vaccinated for rabies and 84 per cent vaccinated for other diseases.
For cats, 77 per cent were vaccinated for rabies and 76 were vaccinated for other diseases.
The average cost of owning a dog in Red Deer is $936 annually and $683 for a cat.
Costs include veterinary care, food, and other products and services.
Elliott said each year more people are licensing their dogs. Licences costs $23 annually for a neutered or spayed dog and $53 if it is not.
However, 40 per cent of city residents believe licensing is not necessary if the dog lives mostly indoors and 30 per cent feel licensing should not be required at all.
Here in Red Deer, dog owners face a $65 fine if their pet is caught without a licence.
Dog licences are one of the best tools for animal control officers to reunite lost dogs with their owners and after months of winter, spring is when more animals are running loose, he said.
“We do everything we can to get the animals back to people. But whatever identification you have increases your chances,” Elliott said on Monday.
Probably 85 to 90 per cent of cats that end up at Animal Control Services do not have any form of identification, including a collar. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of dogs have some kind of identification.
And it’s important to keep identification up to date with a current phone number.
“You’d be surprised how many microchips or tattoos we see that, unfortunately, people just don’t change the information.”
Proper identification and vaccinations help protect the health and welfare of pets.