Animal control contract renewed

After receiving positive reviews from the RDKB, animal control in the Boundary region has been extended for another year.

John Smith is one of two animal control officers working out of Grand Forks.

John Smith is one of two animal control officers working out of Grand Forks.

After receiving positive reviews from the RDKB, animal control in the Boundary region has been extended for another year.

At a board meeting in June, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) extended its contract with the Commissionaires for animal control services for another year, until September 2015.

The Commissionaires started their original one-year trail contact in September 2013. They were hired after the previous animal control officers quit. RDKB animal control is a shared service between Area D (rural Grand Forks), Area C (Christina Lake) and Greenwood.

On May 1, the RDKB board of directors also passed bylaw 1550, the Boundary Animal Control Bylaw.

“The Commissionaires have been operating and doing a really, really good job,” said Grace McGregor, RDKB board chair and Area C director. “People need to understand that this is a shared service. It’s not just one person involved. Greenwood’s involved, Christina Lake’s involved and Grand Forks is involved. Those people are touring as it were. From one part of the Boundary to the other and they’re doing a really good job. From a Christina Lake standpoint, they’re out there all the time.”

Operating the service out of a small building in Grand Forks are John Smith and Nikki Best, who alternate working one week on and one week off. Smith told the Gazette that they’ve been very busy with a lot of calls but that things have gone well overall.

“We work from Thursday to the following Wednesday,” he said. “Although we don’t put time in on the Sunday unless there is a call. We’re here 24 hours a day monitoring calls and dealing with problems.”

Smith said they mainly deal with complaints and they get about two or three a day.

“We’re animal control—our job is to enforce the bylaws of the animals through the city and the regional district all the way from Greenwood to Christina Lake,” he said. “We’re not a shelter. We’re not an SPCA. We don’t have dogs for adoption or anything like that. Our contract agreement is that we go and pick up dogs or animal that are at large, running around the streets.”

Smith said if a person has a dog in their control, on their property or they picked it up at the side of the road, they are 100 per cent responsible for that dog, “and it’s up to them to take it to the SPCA not the animal control (if they want to get rid of it). That’s issues that we have all the time. People say, ‘I found this dog on the side of the highway—I have it in my car. What do I do with it?’ Take it to the SPCA.”

Smith said they are now asking everyone with a complaint to submit it in writing.

“If someone just phones up with a complaint, we suggest they put it in writing otherwise we don’t act on it,” he said. “We get a lot of calls from the RCMP from Midway and Grand Forks dealing with complaints of noisy dogs and vicious dogs. People call them to complain and they call us. But we need it in writing.”

Smith said they have the authority to issue monetary tickets, take people to court and/or remove vicious dogs in certain circumstances.

“We enforce the bylaws not only of the regional district but of the City of Greenwood and the City of Grand Forks relating to animal control,” he said. “We do a lot of foot patrols around the trails. I’ll even take my bike on the trails.”

Smith said that aside from dogs, they’ve also had eagles, chickens, and rabbits at the pound. Larger wildlife such as deer and bear are dealt with by the conservation officer.

Animal control does not currently deal with cats.

Smith started with the Commissionaires in November 2013, two months into the contract.

“It’s been a great part-time job,” he said. “I was retired when I came here. I saw this and thought with my background it would be a great opportunity for a part-time job. I’m loving it.”

Before retiring, Smith was involved with investigation and analytic work for reconstruction and law enforcement for the government. He’s also a veteran, having served in the Australian Navy.

“I came to Canada in 1988 on a firefighter exchange program,” he said. “I worked for the Vancouver Fire Department as a firefighter for awhile.”

He loves Grand Forks and has met a lot of great people.  Smith came in June 2013 after retiring. He enjoys working with the Commissionaires because of all the support he gets from head office.

“It’s great,” he said. “Commissionaires have over 20,000 employees across Canada. They’re a very, very well respected organization. The RDKB is very fortunate to have them do their work because they have so many resources.”