A retired public relations professor says the town of Sackville could show a little more empathy when it sends warning letters to pet owners who have not renewed their dog tags.
Trudie Richards, who taught in the communications department at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax for 18 years, was commenting on a stern letter the town sent dated May 21st.
“Dear Resident,” it begins. “Please be advised that dog tags in the Town of Sackville are now past due, effective April 1, 2021.”
The letter warns residents, who had a dog registered with the town in 2020, to purchase this year’s tag by June 21 to avoid a minimum $100 fine.
“If you no longer own a dog(s), just give us a call…and we will quickly update our records,” the letter says.
PR expert Trudie Richards, who does not live in Sackville, says the town needs to recognize that dog owners grieving the death of their pet would not be thinking about tags.
“We are not talking about tax evasion here,” she says.
“If someone’s pet has died, advising the authorities that a dog tag will no longer be necessary would be about the last thing on their minds. It is fine to issue a reminder, but a stern tone has no place in such correspondence.”
During last week’s town council meeting, Treasurer Michael Beal said those who fail to respond to the May 21st letter will receive another one in July with a $100 ticket from the bylaw control officer.
He suggested, however, that residents who receive the ticket could get it voided if they visit town hall within 14 days to report the death of their dog.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that all animals are registered, that rabies vaccinations have taken place for the safety and welfare of our citizens,” Beal said. “It’s not about issuing tickets, but if need be, that is the last step.”
Legally speaking, one is not liable to pay a fine for owning a dog if one does not own one. If the town were idiotic enough to pursue a fine collection, let them take it to court. A judge would have some choice words for the town, for wasting the court’s time on a frivolous matter of no merit whatever. Dog tags are not some sort of automatically renewing subscription that residents have agreed to. You buy them when you require them. When you do not require them, you have no obligation whatever to communicate with the town about their officious bullying.