September 10, 2014 - 10:39 AM
KAMLOOPS - Should bylaw officers be given authority to break into vehicles when animals are locked in during hot, or cold, weather? Councillors from across the province will discuss the merits of giving this authority at a meeting later this month thanks to Kamloops council.
The idea gained momentum last month when council, supported by several letters and a petition, asked staff to look at the possibility of putting a motion before the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Currently, bylaw officers can personally be held liable if they break a window, Enforcement Manager Jon Wilson noted last month. This means officers have to wait for RCMP or the SPCA to be on site and confirm the distress of the animal, and that third party assessment is what makes it harder to enforce.
Council expects the motion will be supported by other councils — it is an election year as Coun. Arjun Singh pointed out — and then it will be a waiting game to see if the provincial government will take the necessary action to update laws to allow bylaw officers to break windows to enter a vehicle when needed.
If the motion is supported as a late resolution later this month, and the province changes regulations to allow bylaw officers to use reasonable measures to remove an ‘animal in distress’ from a vehicle in both hot and cold conditions, bylaw officers would become the first line of defence in saving these animals. The SPCA does not have the same manpower as the local bylaw department and the RCMP do not put the same priority on animals.
In the meantime a group of stakeholders will sit down together to discuss the options for a local bylaw as well. Members of the bylaw department, RCMP, SPCA and local veterinarians are expected to be part of the group.
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