Managing dogs in the village

The dog days of summer might be here, but for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs, dogs are a year-round issue.

The dog days of summer might be here, but for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs, dogs are a year-round issue that requires year-round enforcement and action.

That was the discussion at the last Village of Harrison Hot Springs Council meeting July 13. It started with a delegation from Stacey Barker, manager of environmental services for the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). She shared with Council how the animal control services department of the FVRD works.

The FVRD provides full animal control services to Abbotsford and Chilliwack. The service includes fielding calls from the public six days a week, but also has an emergency animal control phone line for RCMP assistance. The animal control officers deal with issues such as barking complaints, park patrols, at-large or aggressive dogs.

According to an FVRD report to the Village, animal control officers would be made available to respond to complaints in Harrison.

“Officers would work in partnership with Harrison Hot Spring’s existing bylaw enforcement staff when possible, particularly to address the community’s need for patrolling beaches that are highly populated during certain times of the year,” reads the report.

The contract would also include investigations into aggressive / dangerous dogs.

“We could have a full-time bylaw officer [stationed] here, but it’s probably not necessary,” Barker told Council.

Barker said if required, the FVRD’s service would also deal with legal issues, court orders and so on that arise from time to time.

Later in the meeting, Council discussed the possibility of the FVRD providing the Village with animal control services.

According to the current bylaw enfacement officer, this service would be “beneficial,” given the statistics for dog complaints. Over the last three years, an average of 23 per cent of bylaw enforcement is spent on dog complaints, according to the Council report. By teaming up with the FVRD’s animal control services, it would give the village’s bylaw officer more time to deal with other bylaw infractions.

Councillors were all in favour of the idea (Coun. John Hansen was away). Coun. John Buckley remarked that since dog complaints should be dealt with as soon as possible and Harrison only has a seasonal bylaw officer, contracting services to the FVRD which operates 12 months of the year makes sense.

Based on the FVRD’s calculation, the service for the village would cost $4,000, out of which dog license revenues would be deducted. According to Dale Courtice, director of finance, the village would lose approximately $2,000 in revenue annually (from the licensing of dogs).

“However, the Village would gain in expanded services and also take some of the animal related issues away from the bylaw,” writes Courtice.

It will be up to the FVRD to decide if they are able to add Harrison into their cluster of animal control services care.