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Corner Brook streamlining its animal control division

The City of Corner Brook has been making changes to its animal control division.
The City of Corner Brook has been making changes to its animal control division. - Diane Crocker

The City of Corner Brook has been making some changes to the way its animal control division operates.

That includes expanding the role of the city’s animal control officer to do other things in the city.

Todd Flynn, the city’s director of protective services, has been taking a look at all the divisions under his director since taking over the position in June 2016 and animal control was one that caught his eye.

“Because the numbers were so low. Our actual complaints, our actual calls and services required were so minimal that I found it extremely difficult dedicating a full-time position to it.”

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He said the city is still working through the confines of the collective agreement to determine what other role or roles the animal control officer will assume.

And the changes are not limited to personnel.

The city has taken the vehicle used for animal control and replaced it with a smaller one that consumes less fuel and is more versatile in that it can serve other purposes. It’s currently being used by municipal enforcement and animal control.

He said the goal is to eventually reduce one of the vehicles in the fleet.

Frances Drover, president of the NL West SPCA, understands some of the changes, but still has some concerns.

“I guess, like everything, the city is trying to find places where they can cut corners and put it elsewhere,” she said.

“The animal control truck was a very good vehicle for transporting animals, but do you need a big truck like that if you only have one animal or two animals a week.”

She’s not sure though how the new vehicle, which she describes as a pickup with a cage in the back, will work in the winter.

Drover said the city has been moving towards reducing the services under animal control for some time. The intention is for the SPCA to take over operation of the city pound, but that can’t happen until it gets into a new building, which is becoming more and more urgent due to conditions at its Connors Road shelter.

She said the city hasn’t provide the SPCA with figures on the cost of running the pound.
“They’re offering us a very miniscule amount to look after the pound animals.” She noted the city doesn’t spend any money on the medical needs of animals in the pound, but the SPCA does for animals in its care.

Drover said if the city would designate X number of dollars in a lump sum to get them out of Connors Road and get set up it would help.

“Even if they would allow us to pay it back,” she said.

“It is a service that taxpayers are paying for. If there’s no service there for the taxpayers then there should be an amount of money equal to what that service cost coming to us to get out of there and to get set up properly and to be able to provide that service.”

But she said it’s a Catch 22.

“They want the service, but they don’t want to move it forward quick enough and put the investment into it for it happen.”

The staffing changes are not the only ones the division has seen.

About a year ago the city made a number of changes to its animal regulations, including limits to the number of animals a household can have and licensing for dogs.

 

Animal regulations

Licensing and fees

1. Dogs must be licensed every three years. In the past licensing was for life.

That change will give the city a more accurate count of how many dogs there are in the city.

Without that the city has no way to determine what services it needs for those animals — for example, are more dog parks needed? Does the city require more veterinarians?

When animals die or owners move there’s no requirement to notify the city.

2. The fee to license a dog is $25.

To encourage spaying and neutering the city offers a $10 discount if owners can prove that when they license their dogs. There’s also a $5 reduction if a dog has an identity chip.

3. Some numbers: 163 dog tags have been issued under the new regulations.

1,088 tags were issued under the old system, some of which are still valid. Old licences will remain valid for three years from date of issue as a phase in approach to the new three-year licensing requirement

Dangerous and nuisance animals

The city’s animal control officer can designate an animal as dangerous or a nuisance.

The officer can take mitigation measures such as instructing the owner to keep the animal securely enclosed, to use a muzzle if out walking or a sign on the property.

If the animal is a high risk to injure the officer can make an application to the court to have the animal dealt with under the Newfoundland and Labrador Animal Health and Protection Act.

Uncommon companion animals

This section deals with animals not normally seen as a pet — such as miniature pigs or pygmy goats.

It gives residents an opportunity to own one of these pets and have the city’s approval to do so.

It also gives the city’s animal control officer a way to put mechanisms in place to control certain animals — such as boa constrictors.

The city has not issued any uncommon pet approvals in the past year.

Previously, there had been permits issued for micro pigs and urban hens

Cats

There’s no licensing fee for cats, but that’s something the city is looking at.

Most of the complaints the city receives are about roaming cats.

The regulations deal with them as roaming animals.

Numbers

A resident can have up to five animals in their home at any time, three of which can be dogs.

A resident must get approval from the city to have more than the limit.

The approval process includes having an animal control officer visiting the property to ensure it can accommodate any more animals.

The city is only aware of one residence with five or more dogs

In 2017 the city impounded 70 dogs and 62 cats for a total of 132 animals. There were 285 calls for animal services and 49 animal regulation violations issued.

(Source: The City of Corner Brook)

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