Claire Corcoran was hired in June to take that position after several years of it being vacant. She is based out of Fort St. John, but will serve the entire Peace region.
Rosolynn Kalb, manager of the North Peace SPCA branch in Fort St. John, said she has been involved with the branch for nearly 30 years and she is only aware of three constables being appointed to the Peace-Laird region, including herself for several years, but only on a volunteer basis. She said as volunteer, it was difficult to respond to complaints immediately, which is not ideal.
“That wasn’t always ideal, because if there is a case of abuse or neglect we want to investigate immediately and not wait until the weekend, for example, because by then it might be too late,” said Kalb. “For us to have somebody on the ground who is dedicated to do that and who lives in our area and can be available immediately is wonderful.”
She said Corcoran has the authority to conduct investigations and issue orders and even charges is necessary. In the past, she said they would have to get the police involved in order to have charges laid.
“The way the system works now, you absolutely need a constable if you’re going to be moving forward with either seizing the animals or pressing charges against the people who have kept those animals in a bad condition,” she said.
Kalb said now with a special constable in place, they can actively track and record all complaints received. She said, anecdotally, the shelter in the North Peace receives almost a call per day of a complaint of animal abuse or neglect.
In the South Peace, shelter manager Wendy Davies echoed the sentiments of her counterpart in the North Peace, adding she worked with Corcoran before at the shelter in Dawson Creek and believes she will be an invaluable resource in protecting animal welfare.
“Prior to her being hired on, we would receive cruelty complaints, but we didn’t have anybody here trained in cruelty investigations,” said Davies. “We would basically go have a look and if there was any action required we would have to seek the assistance of the RCMP, and of course, they are very busy themselves. It was quite difficult to get proper care for animals in need before Claire came.”
Members of the public who witness animal abuse or neglect are encouraged to call 250-785-SPCA (7722) in the North Peace, and 250-782-2444 in the South Peace.