The branch manager of the B.C. SPCA branch in Vernon wants the city to update its animal regulation and pound bylaw.
Chelsea Taylor, in a presentation to Vernon council Monday, said the city’s current bylaw (No. 5252) is “not current with best practices in animal policy.”
“Most significantly, the bylaw is missing requirements for basic standards of care,” said Taylor. “The B.C. SPCA recommends the bylaw be updated to include these provisions.”
The B.C. SPCA, said Taylor, is supportive of municipal animal bylaws founded in scientific evidence which encourage responsible ownership and improve community safety. Bylaws requiring standards of care for animals allow municipalities to adopt a proactive approach to animal welfare. Animals raised under inhumane conditions are more likely to carry communicable diseases and exhibit aggressive behaviour, both of which are threats to community health and safety.
“ln 2018, the B.C. SPCA received 334 calls to our animal cruelty reporting hotline from the Vernon region on matters related to standards of care bylaw provisions,” said Taylor. “Included in these calls were 23 accounts of animals being left in hot vehicles and 46 calls concerning inadequate or unsanitary living/sheltering conditions.
“While the B.C. SPCA has the capacity to investigate these calls, without enforcement powers we cannot always obtain compliance. However, in B.C. municipalities with standards of care bylaw provisions in place, compliance is regularly achieved and situations of animal suffering are lessened.”
Taylor said there are 68 such communities in the province and the B.C. SPCA can partner with the municipality to issue tickets to offenders, “thereby discouraging misconduct while advancing animal welfare and community safety.”
Because Taylor was a delegation, city staff will respond to her comments with a report for the next meeting, March 25.
Coun. Kelly Fehr said he recently toured the Vernon facility, located on a hilltop off Old Kamloops Road by Kin Race Track, and told his colleagues the branch is well run.
“It was inspirational and enlightening to see the work you do that’s vital to our community,” said Fehr.
The Vernon branch has three full-time, four part-time and two casual staff, and is supported by more than 100 volunteers.
In 2018, the branch took in from Vernon and area 171 dogs and puppies, and 436 cats and kittens.