Harrison Hot Springs’ animal-related complaints will continue to be dealt with by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).
Back in the fall, council asked staff to bring back a report on Harrison’s animal control complaints, to see if there was enough reason to switch from the regional approach back to the village bylaw officer.
Harrison moved its animal control duties over to the FVRD in 2016, as did the District of Kent and Mission.
As part of the agreement, Harrison pays the FVRD $4,400 a year, and the regional animal control team responds to Harrison complaints on an on-call basis. The $4,400 includes the money Harrison collects for dog licences and tax requisitions, and helps to cover basic facility infrastructure, plus the animal control officer’s time for call outs, although not for general patrol.
According to the staff report, which came forward during Monday night’s council meeting (Dec. 2), Harrison has seen a fairly stable number of animal complaints since 2016.
In 2017 and 2018, the village saw 10 aggressive dog investigations — up from six in 2016, but down to only two in 2019. (Statistics from 2019 included up to Nov. 13.)
The data also showed a fairly consistent number of barking complaint investigations (an average of six a year over the last four years) and pound intakes (between one and four each year).
In 2018, there was a significant increase in dog-at-large calls, however, this was due to two local owners who refused to leash their dogs.
“So, the numbers really haven’t risen all that much, in fact they’re lower this year,” community services coordinator Rhonda Schell said during council.
Although the village’s bylaw officer is not responsible for enforcing animal-related complaints, he does take an educational approach when interacting with owners who have animals at large.
The report was designed to give council some background data to decide whether it made sense to move back to having the village in charge of its own animal control.
The cost of having a dedicated animal control officer in the village would be approximately $25,000, based on 600 hours of patrol, largely in the summer months.
Although council had been interested in moving towards in-house enforcement, the proposed cost for the service seemed prohibitive.
“To me, it feels at this point in time that there really isn’t a need to secure the position of a dedicated animal control officer,” councillor Michie Vidal said. “I couldn’t justify the cost of $25,000 to have a seasonal officer.”
Councillor Gerry Palmer agreed.
“Although I’m recognizing that what we have is not very strong, I’m also recognizing that having a dedicated animal control officer … would be pretty prohibitive for the village,” Palmer said. “I’m not totally sure if it’s going to have enough of an impact in just the summer.”
Council voted unanimously to stay with the FVRD.