I live in a fairly rural county. The latest estimate I saw said that a mere 10 percent of dogs in the county were licensed. The county commissioners, at the behest of the sheriff's department, recently uncoupled the license from proof of rabies vaccination, hoping that would encourage more people to license their dogs. The area veterinarians were firmly against this move, but it went ahead anyway.
As I see it, the problem is a bigger one on a lot of fronts.
My current dog is unlicensed for a peculiar reason -- before I got Nestle, the rules on licensing were that if your dog were neutered, microchipped, and had a CGC certificate, you could pay a one-time fee and the dog would be licensed for life. This was an excellent reward of positive behavior, and I licensed my dog at the time. But by the time I acquired Nestle, they had taken away all the benefits. Now the only break is for having your dog neutered, and everyone has to license the dog every year. This represented a huge step backward. I'm sure they're doing it in an effort to increase revenue, but they lost my dollars in the process. I don't like having my rewards taken away.
But the more general problem is general lack of responsibility. Dogs run loose all over the county. I've picked up several turned them in to vets or the shelter or whatever was available. I think one found her way back home via the vet.
I've seen people park on the street next to a lovely shady park, open the car door, and let their dog out to do his or her business, with no intention of picking it up, and no control if the dog should decide to charge off somewhere or attack someone or something. I've even been at a yard sale where a lady was walking around with her small dog on a leash, letting it pee on merchandise and starting to walk away after the dog pooped (I smiled, handed her one of my poop bags, and said "don't you hate it when you forget your poop bag." She glared at me for forcing her to pick it up.)
I wrote recently about the loose-running dogs killing sheep and goats.
Despite pretty much everything in life having changed, people seem to hold relentlessly onto the notion that in the country it's okay to let your dog run loose.
I will be attending a meeting on animals in disaster later this week. I'm approaching it with some trepidation as to what the local authorities think comprises responsible measures for animals during disasters.
Will write about that later this week.