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Castlegar's 72-hour animal policy not necessarily a death sentence
During the by-election forum on Tuesday, Aug. 27, a question was asked regarding the City of Castlegar's animal control procedures. Specifically, the holding of impounded pets for 72 hours before they are euthanized.
We decided to dig into it and were pleased to learn the situation is not as dire as it might have first appeared.
Thanks in part to responsible pet ownership, euthanizations are few and far between, said Rick Smith, animal control officer for the City of Castlegar on Aug. 30 by telephone.
"No dogs are being put down at all now," said Smith. "Unless in some cases where they're assessed as a danger."
In fact, Smith was hard pressed to provide a date the last time a dog was euthanized, finally saying that it had probably been at least two years. When it does happen, a veterinarian is responsible for ensuring it is done humanely.
Every dog over the age of eight months, and living within the city limits, must be licensed by the city of Castlegar. Licensing makes Smith's work a lot easier and pets can be returned to their owners much sooner.
He does random patrols, with no set times, every week. He explained that when he hits the streets, word gets around pretty fast that the dog-catcher is out.
In addition to the patrols, he follows up on complaints that are made.
He said in some rare situations, like attacks on humans, he has convinced pet owners to voluntarily agree to have a veterinarian put the animal down humanely. Often, this is due to repeat occurrences as well.
"No one wants to see any dogs destroyed," said Smith. "I wouldn't do this if I wasn't an animal lover, that's the bottom line. Most people are very responsible and if there is an incident they recognize it and they usually try to rectify it themselves."
He said the impound facility can house six to eight animals if necessary but that it's very seldom to have that many at one time. The city uses part of a private business and they have animals of their own to look after.
Smith said they can sometimes hold the animals a little longer than the 72-hour policy and that it applies to working days. If an animal is brought in over a weekend or holiday and people searching for their pets are unable to reach the city, they can be more flexible.
"We generally take them to the SPCA in Trail [after 72 hours] and the City gives them a little contribution to help offset some of their costs," he said. "There aren't many animals that aren't claimed."
Smith added the BC SPCA, the city and organizations like the Kootenay Animal Assistance Program Society have been invaluable in helping him do his job.
"I think people love their animals and don't want to see anyone disconnected from their pets," he said. "Everyone puts a little bit of extra effort into it these days."
Anyone with an animal control concern can file a complaint either in person at City Hall, in writing or by phoning City Hall at 250-365-7227. A person with a complaint will be asked to provide information such as their name, address, telephone number, name and address of animal owner (if known) and details of the problem they are experiencing.
For those wishing to adopt a pet that has been found, there are two good local sources: contact either the Kootenay Animal Assistance Program Society at 250-551-1053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Trail SPCA at 250-368-5910 or by email at email@example.com.
The photo with this story is of Jax, who is currently up for adoption with KAAP:
Jax first came to them as a six-week old puppy back in August of 2011. He was adopted and lived as a family pet until recent personal circumstances beyond his control brought him back into KAAP care. Jax has had obedience training and knows several commands. He has very good house-manners and is very gentle in the house, especially for such a big guy. Although he gets a little excited when in a vehicle he doesn't attempt to jump into the front or barge out when the door is opened. He likes to be brushed (which is a good thing because he has fairly long retriever fur). He thrives on exercise and is getting better and better at walking on leash. And as a bonus, when he's off-leash his recall is really good. Jax will do best in a quiet, low stress adult only environment with experienced dog people. He is good with other dogs now and really enjoys his play-dates. He has had limited exposure to cats. His shots are up to date.