Quadra going to the dogs

Quadra Island RCMP say a lack of dog control measures is causing a serious problem

Reports of dogs roaming freely around Quadra Island – attacking people and other animals – have Quadra RCMP turning to the Strathcona Regional District for help.

Cpl. Kevin Christensen, detachment commander for the Quadra Island RCMP, wrote in a letter to the regional district that a lack of dog control measures is causing a serious problem.

“Some of these loose dogs have chased people, vehicles, wildlife and livestock,” Christensen said. “In some cases, complaints have involved aggressive dogs that have attacked people and/or livestock. There have also been complaints about dogs who have been left in hot vehicles and dogs who were abandoned.”

In one of the worst cases, Christensen said a family dog was euthanized because it was found walking around with no collar, and appeared emaciated and in distress.

“The woman was unable to bring the dog to the Campbell River SPCA and felt the dog needed mercy and should be put down,” Christensen wrote. “She took the dog to a second person in the community, who felt the same, and this person euthanized the dog.”

Christensen said the family who owned the dog knew the dog was unhealthy and had planned to put the dog down when they felt it was time.

“They knew there was no dog bylaw on Quadra. If there was a dog bylaw that required dogs wear a collar and tag, this incident would not have happened,” Christensen wrote.

He said that because there is no legislation to deal with incidents outside of those involving dangerous dogs, the police have no laws which they can rely on to deal with loose dogs, nuisance dogs or irresponsible dog owners.

Christensen said that in the past, Quadra police officers have used the Community Charter to seize several dogs that have attacked people and livestock but with little success.

“The dogs were transported to Coastal Animal Services where they were held until a court hearing could take place before a provincial court judge,” Christensen said. “This process has not worked. In each case the judge ordered the dogs returned to the owner. The Quadra RCMP had to pay the bill for the animal’s weeks and months of care and housing while at Coastal Animal Services. The RCMP does not have a budget to pay for these things so money came from our operations budget.”

Christensen said a solution to the problem is to create a dog bylaw and an agreement with Coastal Animal Services.

A bylaw would fall under the responsibility of the Strathcona Regional District which has jurisdiction over Quadra Island.

Jim Abram, the area director, said he would like to see some sort of dog control tool be implemented as it’s a concern for not just the RCMP but the residents of Quadra Island.

“This is something I’ve said for years ‘no way, it’ll never happen’ – there’s more dogs on Quadra Island than people – but this bylaw has come forward because of the people of Quadra Island pushing it,” Abram said. “This just totally blows me away as the electoral director for the area that mostly the people pushing for this bylaw are dog owners, because they’re tired of the bad dog owners. And the RCMP are fed up with not having a tool to control it.”

Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate services manager, wrote in a report to the regional district board that staff will have to investigate whether the regional district is authorized to implement a dog control bylaw.

“The regional district does not currently have authority to provide a dog licensing program or enact other regulations for the control of domestic dogs on Quadra Island but has included provision within the 2015 work plan to investigate the matter,” Yates wrote. “As a first step in that investigation it is suggested that a report be prepared by staff which would allow the board to consider the costs associated with a dog control service.”

The board, after receiving Yates’ report, did vote to have staff come back with such a report.

Cpl. Shane Worth of the Quadra Island RCMP said it will be worth looking into.

“A dog bylaw would greatly assist this office in addressing dog complaints and would provide a valuable enforcement option that does not currently exist,” Worth wrote to the board.