Editorial: dog lost. Who cares?

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Photo: Elmo Riig / Sakala

While a large part of Estonia’s local governments require cats and dogs to be registered, this is partly just formality – of not much use when the pets are lost. The local registers merge into no larger database. We do have two national registers, but only 23 local governments (out of 215) have entered one of these. The rest are using Excel tables or checkered workbooks or have given up registering pets altogether, no matter if rules so require – in these formats, the registers are pointless.

Sure: pets need to be owners’ responsibility who should enter these into all-Estonia register. This, any owner can do. Even so, with the current state of affairs, there are several problems to be pointed out. 

For starters: as things stand, owners are given the false assurance that local register will help if dogs get lost. With local cat/dog rules prescribing chipping, we have fulfilled all righteousness. As if. The truth often comes out only after the pet does get lost: in reality, it ought to have also been registered in another place. And, to be really sure, in a third. Also with the two pan-Estonian registers, things are somewhat confusing. (There is a third, but for pedigree dogs only.) When travelling abroad pet in bag, it’s not enough that the doggy is in one of these pan-Estonian databases – it must be the right one, the one connected with the EU register.

Another problem is the local officials labouring in vain. Estonia has over a hundred pet registers which are basically useless and just kept for the appearance. Some local governments have dropped the duty, no matter the rules.

That, in turn, spawns a question on rules and infringement thereof: the principle of letting every man judge if the rules apply might not be the best signal sent to the people who might model lives after officialdom. If powers do not care, why should I – easily the question may pop up.

The third problem is slack cooperation between local governments. With joining pan-Estonian register not compulsory and no gain seen in it, they opt not to do it and go on tinkering on their own.

Who would claim that finding lost pets is no public interest and thus why should local governments care? As assessed by a Tartu pet shelter, it is usually the pan-Estonian-registered lost dogs that find original owners. Third of dogs aren’t. Which equals never ever getting back home.

Thus, we need a decision: if the local registers are a useless bother, why not delete the rule. But, should the local governments still deem it a matter of public interest, cooperation with national registers should follow – to make sure lost dogs get back to beloved «original» humans.