It seems to me that as I get older, the world around me seems to be slowly becoming less considerate of others. We get so caught up in what we lack that we forget to be thankful for what we have. We have become entitled. We want everything, yet we feel we shouldn’t have to pay for it.
It’s that time of year when I receive letters from the public complaining about dog poop. Every year, as the snow melts away, the hidden sins of those who do not clean up after their pets come to light. It’s frustrating because unless you actually see the dog owner walk away from their pet's mess, there’s nobody readily available to blame. I’ve yet to meet a dog owner that admits wrongdoing, nor have I ever met one that doesn’t condemn others for leaving these little land mines throughout the parks and pathways.
As several letters of disdain come in regarding this yearly discovery, people always want someone to be held accountable. They also want the eyesore cleaned up. It was as I was reading one of these letters that I received a phone call from a fairly new resident. Their complaint was that they didn’t see value in paying for a yearly dog license. In their words “It’s nothing but a tax grab by the City.” As I hung up the phone, I had to shake my head. This is another person who wants everything but doesn’t feel that they should have to pay for it.
While some may view dog licenses as a tax grab, there are others, thankfully, who actually see the value of a dog licensing fee. Beyond the ability to have your pets returned to you through Municipal Enforcement officers if or when they get lost, there are other costs associated with being a dog-friendly city.
Dog parks for one, are one of the benefits of a dog-friendly city. These are areas of land that allow a dog owner to take their dog out to a fenced area to socialize with other dogs. Dogs are no different than children. Just as a child needs to socialize with other children, dogs should socialize with other dogs. These dog parks take up a significant amount of land, and as we all know, land isn’t free.
Then, there’s the maintenance of these dog parks. The mending of fences, the cutting of grass and the cleaning up after irresponsible owners who pretend they didn’t see their dog poop in the middle of the park. Most dog owners are responsible, but there will always be those who are not.
Then, there’s the cleaning up in other parks. The hauling of garbage cans filled with little poop bags. The convenient supply of dog bags in some parks to ensure there’s no excuse for not cleaning up after your pets and of course, the salaries of staff who clean our parks throughout the year. These employees clean up after those residents who still refuse to clean up after their pets, despite the conveniences supplied to them to do so.
These costs are not punitive. Licensing is a form of user-pay. I will say this though; If we don’t start holding others accountable for their lack of consideration, the cost of those licenses will eventually go up. We need to police ourselves instead of complaining about the financial consequences of not doing so. Most of all, we need to start appreciating the privileges we have instead of acting as if we are entitled to those privileges.