Lost animals, dog bites and unlicensed animal fines used to all be the work of local bylaw enforcement officers.
But now the animal owners of Harrison Hot Springs and the District of Kent (DOK) will have their woes and issues taken care of by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).
The FVRD took over animal control duties for both communities at the start of the new year along with Mission, adding the three communities to their existing services in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
In the Agassiz area, the DOK lost its existing kennel provider, a retired veterinarian who left the city last summer. So council decided that Kent would be better off joining the regional district based on the infrequency of issues and minimal cost.
“Obviously you can’t speak to the future, but in the past it hasn’t been overwhelming,” said Clair Lee, director of corporate services for the DOK. “And it’s a better use of our dollars to have a regional service.”
And the local bylaw enforcement officer is here in the interim if something happens that FVRD staff aren’t able to attend right away.
There are other advantages to combining the individual services, according to Lee.
“If your dog got lost in Mission, they would be able to search your licence number immediately because it’s the same provider,” she said. “In this case if your dog goes missing they’ll be able to contact you right away because they have access to that database.”
The FVRD services are also available six days a week as opposed to the DOK’s five-day week.
And then there’s consistency.
Local services vary from community to community, but the regional collective should provide uniformity.
“This service provides a lot more than we had before as we didn’t have any facilities here to house lost animals or impound,” said a spokesperson from the Village of Harrison Hot Springs. “[The FVRD] have an adoption facility and rescue centre, so it was good for us in terms of service.”
Licence fees still vary between the communities, but that too could become more uniform in the future.
The Harrison spokesperson stressed that it’s very important owners license their animals so they can be found quickly if they go missing.
And as Lee points out, under the new FVRD program first time offenders for unlicensed dogs face no fine as long as they pay for the licence.
On top of that, they will return the dog to its home in Agassiz, saving the owner a trip to Chilliwack.
“Preventative action is more important in terms of educating people than penalizing them,” Lee said.
Though she notes that enforcement is still in place for repeat offenders.
• Licences can be purchased in person at both the Village of Harrison Hot Springs and DOK offices, or online.
• Animal Control staff are available six days a week, Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To report an animal control issue or to lodge a bylaw complaint, call 1-844-495-CARE.
•To report a dog attack in progress after regular business hours, call the local police department.