Dog trainer wants to help city step up animal control enforcement

A professional dog trainer and behavioural consultant is proposing a new program that will crack down on dog owners

A professional dog trainer and behavioural consultant is proposing a new program that will crack down on dog owners in order to protect the welfare of the community and its pets.

Carrie Lumsden, owner of K9 Kind Dog Training and Behaviour Consulting which is based in the Comox Valley, said she wants to implement a program for the city that will enforce dog licensing.

“The enforcement of municipal dog bylaws will result in reduced pound costs due to fewer unidentified stray dogs, increased revenue from licence fees and fines, a reduction in the dog population due to incentives to spay and neuter, and a reduction in conflicts between dogs and the public,” Lumsden wrote in an extensive proposal to Campbell River city council.

“A public awareness program will be a significant benefit to encourage compliance.”

Lumsden’s intention is to hire staff who will be trained to sell licences to the public and be responsible for record keeping, accounting, and remittance of licence sales to the City of Campbell River on a monthly basis.

The city currently has Coastal Animal Control under contract to provide animal control services but Lumsden said K9’s program would go beyond the scope of the existing contract and proactively promote the benefits of dog licences through education.

“The Dog Licensing Initiative Program will serve to educate the public on the benefits of responsible dog ownership through dog licensing. Pet owners must be aware of their responsibilities to their pets,” Lumsden said. “Their pets should not annoy or harass their neighbours or other animals. This can result in many negative impacts including dog bites, threats to people or animals, damage or contamination of property, pet overpopulation and abuse or neglect of animals.”

Educational programs through K9 would also be aimed at educating the public about proper canine socialization, the benefits of early spay and neuter as well as early training to prevent behavioural issues which often land dogs in shelters.

For those canines who do end up in the shelter, it’s not a guarantee that they will return home. Many who come into the shelter are not licensed which makes it difficult to find the dog’s owner.

“Without identification, Coastal Animal Services is not able to identify many of the lost animals that arrive at shelters,” Lumsden said. “By licensing all dogs, many of the animals brought into the shelter can be reunited with their owners which will decrease the number of dogs relinquished, hold owners accountable for abandoned or nuisance dogs, and increase the revenue collected to support animal control services.”

A tag on a dog’s collar may also avoid a trip to the pound altogether.

Lumsden said that visible identification on a dog’s collar often results in the dog being returned by neighbours without the owner having to incur pound costs.

Further, she said that municipalities have the option of offering incentives to pet owners who comply with the licensing bylaw, including reduced rates for dogs who are spayed or neutered.

On the flip side, local governments can also implement stiff fines in order to encourage compliance.

City council considered Lumsden’s proposal at its Aug. 24 council meeting. Council voted to refer the initiative to city staff for comment and a report back to council before making any decisions.