An online survey asking for input on the possibility of dog control throughout Electoral Area D has prompted some push back from the public.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) survey for the electoral area, which includes the communities of Silver Creek, Falkland, Deep Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero runs until Feb. 12. It notes only Ranchero is currently provided a dog control service that includes enforcement on aggressive dogs, roaming dogs and barking complaints, and a requirement for dog licensing. Survey participants are asked to share their level of concern regarding dogs running loose in neighbourhoods and dogs attacking people and animals.
Though the survey asks how the CSRD should be dealing with aggressive dogs, and what kind of dog control program would suit residents best, opponents have noted the survey does not ask Area D residents if they want the expanded service (though that can be stated in the comments section).
In response to the survey, a petition titled NO to Dog Control Bylaw Area D was launched on change.org. It states the area’s director, Rene Talbot, hosted a public hearing on dog control in Falkland in 2012, and that the majority of attendees were opposed to a bylaw. The petition stresses dog control is not wanted in the largely agricultural area where, in addition to companionship, dogs also provide protection for livestock.
Though she hadn’t yet filled out the survey, resident Evelyn Gilmar, a former animal control officer in Banff, wasn’t in favour of an expanded dog control service in Area D, as she said it is people, not dogs, that more often than not are the problem.
“A community counsellor is more of what they need to resolve the problems between the people, because the dogs are not the problem,” said Gilmar.
Regarding the meeting in Falkland years ago, as well as one in Silver Creek, Talbot said it kind of went sideways and those who wanted dog control didn’t speak up. But he said people have been speaking up and that he cannot ignore their complaints.
“It’s a matter of public safety to me,” said Talbot. “I can’t ignore what people are saying. Everyone has a right to feel safe, regardless of where they live. And there are aggressive dogs, there are dangerous dogs… I look at it this way, if I did absolutely nothing and a child was attacked by a dog, how would I feel, that I just turned a blind eye and said ‘no, it’s not a problem.”
Contrary to comments shared on social media, Talbot said the CSRD’s board of directors will not be voting on the results of the survey two days after it closes (which would be a Sunday). He said would will happen is that the information will go to CSRD staff who will go through the data, and their findings would eventually be publicized and brought to the board. But Talbot stressed that could be a couple of months away.
Regarding dog control in Ranchero, Talbot said said the one complaint he has received had to do with the dog control officer – nothing about aggressive dogs or dogs running loose. Before the survey results do come to the board, Talbot said he also wants to see numbers from staff relating to dog control in Electoral Areas C and F.
“Before anything goes to the board, I want to see have any dogs been seized in Ranchero, Area C or Area F; how many tickets have been issued in those areas; so that I have some numbers to show how dog control works,” said Talbot.
A link to the dog control survey can be found on the CSRD’s website and Facebook pages.