Kamloops News

City wants bylaw officers to have more power to protect dogs

City council and staff want people to think before leaving their pets in vehicles, especially during hot or cold weather.

KAMLOOPS - Hot dogs, cold dogs and loose dogs — city council wants to give bylaw officers the authority to deal with them all.

“This is more complicated than just breaking windows,” Coun. Ken Christian says. “You can’t legislate against stupidity and we keep trying to do that, and we keep trying to do that quickly.”

The city receives ‘fairly frequent’ calls about dogs left in vehicles and the hope is steeper fines and penalties will keep people from leaving their animals in vehicles. For those cases where an animal is found in a vehicle during unsafe temperatures city councillors said they want to see bylaw officers with the authority to break windows.

“I’m in support of a fine system where my staff are authorized to do what they need to do,” Enforcement Manager Jon Wilson says. “(Right now) if an officer breaks a window they can personally be held liable.”

Wilson notes bylaw officers currently have to rely on the SPCA or RCMP to come and say the animal is in distress, which means fines are then issued based on a third party assessment and harder to enforce, which is why he wants authority given to officers to assess the situation themselves.

Currently bylaw officers throughout the province do not have the authority to break windows and city council has agreed to have staff research whether bringing a resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities would be worthwhile.

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 and local advocate Kecia Turunen is excited to see it move forward.

“If it goes provincial that’s fantastic, but I would like to do it locally too,” she says. “It’s not just about how hot, it’s about hot and cold and also the back of trucks. It’s important that it’s all encompassing.”

A letter will be sent to Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton asking to include appointed officers or employees of the municipality the authority to enter vehicles to save animals in critical distress. The city has acknowledged a bylaw will not be in place before the summer is over, but Turunen still hopes legislation can be in place before winter.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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