Several residents and protestors frustrated with the Regional District of Central Okanagan’s dog control service were slightly more optimistic Monday.
The regional district board meeting attracted about 50 residents who were interested in hearing a review of the dog control service.
Allan Neilson, a consultant with Neilson-Welch, told board members the current service aims to increase the safety and protection of the public from the negative impacts caused by dogs.
He suggested the improved service should feature more goals alongside public safety, including a focus to increase dog licenses sold each year, increase levels of cost recovery, develop a stronger relationship with the dog owner community and develop a common philosophy among staff regarding dog control.
“We need to, in my view, have a very clear statement that dogs are part of this community,” said Neilson.
“Dogs have intrinsic value in the community, dogs have the potential to add value to the families that they’re part of, to the neighbourhoods they belong to, to the broader community.”
The report is modeled after other cities’ dog control services such as Calgary and Auckland, New Zealand.
Neilson said currently only one-third of dogs are licensed in the Central Okanagan.
Dog licensing accounts for a significant portion of cost recovery; therefore, he said the regional district needs to impose rewards for owners who license their dogs and punishments for owners of dogs who are found to not have a license.
The hot button issue for many was how the regional district will deal with aggressive dogs.
The report recommends retaining two tiers of dog aggression: Dangerous dogs and aggressive dogs, and adopting a three-strike policy to deal with repeat offender aggressive dogs.
Volunteers are also key to the success of the dog control service, said Neilson.
Their jobs would include assisting with the care of impounded dogs, the development of educational programs and working as dog service ambassadors to engage and educate dog owners in public parks.
Peter and Jennifer Madsen sat in the front row of the meeting Monday.
The Madsens own Shadow, an Alaskan malamute that was impounded at the regional district’s dog control kennel for 15 months.
Peter said the report was a “step in the right direction.”
He added that certain provisions within this report would have prevented he and his wife from going through “15 months of hell.”
“We would’ve saved a ton of money and emotional distress and the RDCO would’ve saved a ton of money and bad publicity.”
The regional board directed staff to provide it with an implementation plan including opportunity for public comment with the goal of rolling out changes within the next year.