Strathcona Regional district trying to deal with nuisance dogs on Quadra Island

Help may be on the way for Quadra Island RCMP in dealing with problem dogs

Help may be on the way for Quadra Island RCMP who recently asked the Strathcona Regional District to look into dog control measures for dogs that freely roam the island.

Cpl. Kevin Christensen, detachment commander for the Quadra Island RCMP, told the regional district that a lack of restrictions is causing a serious problem.

“Some of these loose dogs have chased people, vehicles, wildlife and livestock,” Christensen wrote.

“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 extreme case, a family dog walking around with no collar, and who appeared emaciated and in distress, was euthanized by a community member.

Christensen said the family who owned the dog knew the animal was unhealthy but had planned to wait to put the dog down until they felt it was time.

He said that if there was a bylaw requiring the dog to wear a tag and collar the incident could have been prevented.

Because there are currently no dog control measures on Quadra, Christensen  said that in the past, RCMP 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.”

After hearing from Christensen last month, the regional board directed staff to investigate the problem and come forward with some possible solutions.

Russ Hotsenpiller, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, said the best option is targeted regulatory control which could include addressing any or all of: prohibition of dogs at large, noisy dogs, dangerous dogs, animal welfare, process for seizure and impoundment, and enforcement and penalty rates.

Under that type of model, there would be no requirement to license, which Hotsenpiller said could be costly for the regional district to administer.

“Licensing carries a high cost and administrative burden that is not offset by fees,” he said.

“Licensing is an important establishment of ownership but it is not the only means of credibly identifying a dog and its owner, particularly in a smaller community such as Quadra Island.”

Victoria Smith, a planner for the regional district, suggested that if the regional board does move forward with a dog control bylaw, that regional district staff be directed to meet with City of Campbell River staff to discuss possibly extending the existing agreement the city has with Area D to provide animal control services there.

Smith also said community consultation will be key in implementing any dog control measures which residents may not be too keen on.

“It is anticipated that there will be mixed reviews from the Quadra Island community towards dog control,” Smith said.

“The creation of a service bylaw will require broad community support. It is recommended that a working group with community representation be established to provide input into the draft bylaw.”

At the regional district’s Electoral Area Services Committee (which is made up of only the four electoral area directors), directors recommended that the regional district provide the type of dog control service Hotsenpiller recommended – the targeted regulatory approach – and include leashing, noisy dogs, dangerous dogs and any associated issues such as enforcement and penalty rates.

That option also involves a respond on request approach which would involve the dog control service provider transporting seized dogs, providing humane shelter and emergency veterinary services as required. The electoral committee also asked staff to bring back another report detailing the costs, timelines, regulatory and implementation mechanisms for that option.