The village of Burns Lake and surrounding area has seen an increase in the number of lost and abandoned pets in the past several weeks.
Lakes District News wrote about the issue in an article titled “Burns Lake pets out and about” on Jan. 20 after seeing several posts of dogs found roaming around in the intense cold, lost, neglected, and at times abandoned.
According to Alistair Schroff of Lakes Animal Friendship Society (LAFS), the group has seen huge success with community education and spay/neuter assistance for animals from lower income families. He also said that in the past decade the community has managed to cut impoundment and surrenders to shelters down to a very small fraction of “the bad old days”. Dog bites to children have also gone down to less than half of former levels, he said.
“People are getting frustrated because they see this progress being lost. Enforcement is part of the picture, but we know from experience that it is better if we can focus on getting information about animal care, compassion and dog bite safety into classrooms and homes. COVID is making this tougher at the moment but we need to do as much of this as we can, when we can do it safely for all,” he said.
Recently however, Julie Harrison of the LAFS started an enforcement-focused Facebook group called RDBN Dog bylaws, after a dog was attacked and killed by two roaming dogs on a person’s own property.
“I just found out that the dog I had posted about previously, the one that had been attacked by two dogs on its own property, has been killed by the same two dogs, they came back. I can’t even imagine what that dogs owner is going through. I love this community and it is incredibly frustrating to see livestock and pets being harmed and even killed by roaming dogs and having no bylaws or enforcement within the RBDN. That feeling of hopelessness, that there is nothing to be done to help you in an incredibly devastating situation leads people to take measures into there own hands and it is the dogs that suffer. The owners don’t learn. The problem is not the dog, it is the owner,” wrote Harrison.
To address these issues and the issues around pets and pet owners, Harrison feels that the RBDN needs to put in place bylaws to address roaming dogs and “to have the ability to fine owners and hit them where it hurts, the wallet. Effective bylaws and enforcement are key.”
“The tools are there, and we know they work. The current situation just reminds us to keep using them for the benefit of all. And yes, we do need better rules and more effective enforcement that is consistent across the province and across Canada for that matter. Even the current rules are not being equally applied and our animals are suffering for it, so no wonder people are upset,” said Schroff.
The LAFS has also come out with an information sheet on what the community can do if they see loose dogs or animal cruelty. In the village of Burns Lake including Woyenne and Ts’ilh Kaz Koh IR 18, if a loose dog is causing nuisance like getting in everyone’s garbage, people should call the Village of Burns Lake at 250-692-7587.
If a loose dog has hurt someone or if you are worried that a loose dog will bite or attack another animal, or if a loose dog is on the street/highway, community is encouraged to call the RCMP or the village.
If a person spots an animal in a bad condition, sick, injured never has water, left on tangled chain, being abused and/or the owner is not helpful, the RCMP or the BC SPCA should be contacted. Outside the village boundaries, if anyone is to spot any loose dogs or abused dogs, they should immediately contact the RCMP or the BC SPCA.
“We also need everyone to work on the overpopulation problem. That means not buying pets which encourages backyard breeders and puppy mills which are a real concern in the Lakes District, and getting our dogs and cats spayed and neutered. We need to encourage everyone to do the same, and help our friends, neighbours and community members,” said Schroff.
The Village of Burns Lake has launched a survey for their 2021-2025 financial plan under which there are specific questions regarding bylaws and animal control with space for commenting. For those who wish to see a bylaw change with regard to animal control is encouraged to fill out the survey.