Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Can't a Dog Get a License in This Town?

To protect all innocent parties, and to make this post even more ridiculous, let's call the town in question:  The City of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton, or How Am I Supposed to Live Without You for short.

After my puppy Kate received her rabies vaccination a couple of weeks ago, the quest to finally get her license from the city began.  In this day and age, the first place to go to would be the official website of the city where Kate resides.  The county, which covers all unincorporated areas and a couple of stray cities, has a very detailed and helpful website when it comes to licensing dogs and cats.

Unfortunately, the official website of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You wasn't very helpful regarding dog licenses.  A Google search of the website (I typed in "site:URL-in-question dog license") revealed only one bit of slightly useful information:  A number of years ago, a city-wide audit revealed that How Am I Supposed to Live Without You charged, at least at the time, the lowest fee for dog licenses, compared to neighboring cities.

Great.  Other than giving me hope of saving a few dollars here and there, I still didn't know where exactly to spend those dollars to get a dog license for Kate. I had to downgrade my use of technology and use a telephone, but who could I call?

Fortunately, the City of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You has its own police department and its own animal control division.  The dog catcher would know where to get a dog license!  After searching for numbers listed on their website, I called How Am I Supposed to Live Without You's animal control, and they didn't give me any information, like pricing or whatever.  Instead, they forwarded me to the finance department's phone line, which had an automated menu (Press 1, Press 2, etc.), which led me to their voicemail.   No matter what sequence of numbers I pressed, I got their voicemail.  Apparently the finance department seemed to be perpetually at lunch, and I didn't have the time to wait around for a return call.

Thanks so far, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.  (I was being sarcastic.)  It was time to formulate a new plan:  Actually go to City Hall and demand some freakin' information!  My taxes pay for this information, information to allow me to pay more city fees!

A day or so later, last Friday, my brother and I went on an adventure to the downtown section of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, possibly to break through the City Council's chamber doors and interrupt a meeting of the finance department -- to get a dog-gone dog license.  I rarely go downtown.  The last time I did was to apply for a business license some years back.  Unlike dog licenses, the city's website was pretty comprehensive when it came to business licenses.  The area around City Hall is probably the oldest part of town.  It had a sense of history, unlike the organized suburban tract sprawl in newer parts of the city.  I think Huell Howser should pay a visit to How Am I Supposed to Live Without You's downtown area, if he hadn't already.

Appropriately approaching the status of shaggy dog story, we discovered that City Hall closed on Fridays.  I'm guessing this is because of the sad economic state of pretty much everything these days.

And so the Fellowship of the Dog License, my brother and I, returned on Monday to City Hall.  We went to the police department headquarters, which is inside City Hall, and the lone officer (not to be confused with a loan officer -- okay, there is no time for puns within a parenthetical) inside told us to go to the long line nearby to the cashier.

Most of the people in this line were probably paying a late electric bill or something to that effect.  Anyhow, this was the correct place to purchase a dog license.  The cashier was helpful, and the license cost $9 -- probably the lowest in the county -- yes, $9 and about a week's worth of sleuthing, err, bumbling.

The moral of the story goes to cities with websites:  Fill your website with some relevant information.  You don't have to put everything in it, just some information relevant to a sizable portion of your population.  I'm pretty sure that households with dogs (and cats) make up a sizable portion of the City of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, so I hope they will update their website accordingly.

Otherwise I would have to run for mayor, and no one wants that -- especially me.

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