TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. — The District of Tumbler Ridge has been having an issue with irresponsible pet owners and loose animals in the community and looking at reworking its Animal Responsibility Bylaw to address the concerns.
During Monday’s council meeting, three motions were passed to amend the bylaw, begin an awareness campaign about the bylaw and create a zero-tolerance policy for certain infractions.
Councillor Roxanne Gulick said dogs were prevalent in the bylaw, but cats were not. She noted that there can be a lot of nuisance cats, like there can be a lot of nuisance dogs, and suggested cats be included in the bylaw.
Councillor Chris Norbury also suggested trapping cats.
“The issue that we’re having with these nuisance cats is that they’re going out, they’re getting into people’s gardens, and they’re ruining their food,” Norbury said.
“These cats that are just being left to roam around are destroying people’s hard work.”
The Director of Protective Services and the Fire Chief, Dustin Curry, said they have set traps for animals in the past.
He said the BC SPCA was very against it because of the specific guidelines required for trapping animals, such as checking the traps and ensuring they are humane.
Curry said if somebody caught a cat, as long as they’re looking after the traps and bringing the cat to the fire hall, they are happy to take it.
At the animal control facility, two older kennels have been retrofitted to turn into two cat condos that can hold up to two cats in each one.
“We still can deal with that. Even if there’s a requirement for us to go after hours to look after that, that’s something that we do now anyway if we get an impounded dog, for example. We’re happy to do that,” Curry said.
Mayor Darryl Krakowka suggested bringing the SPCA back in, which does cost money.
“We live in a small community; I know I preached it on the evacuation that we’re all like family, but I don’t want your family pets in my house,” Krakowka said.
“It’s time to do something about the loose cats, the nuisance dogs, the unleashed dogs, the dogs running at large.”
Councillors Luana Dusseault and Ken Klikach agree that something needs to be done about the animals.
“I’m tired of hearing about it; either take the cats or take the wife, one of the two,” Klikach said.
Curry said the SPCA will not come to Tumbler Ridge, pick up the cats and take them back to Dawson Creek.
He said when the BC SPCA came to the community before, it was for the feral cat program, where they caught upwards of 40 cats, spayed or neutered them, and per their mandate, returned them to where they were picked up.
“They do not take them, they do not rehome them or anything like that,” Curry explained.
Another issue brought up by multiple councillors is written warnings versus tickets for offences.
“I would like there to be less opportunity for written warnings and just getting a ticket,” Gulick said.
From January 2022 to July 2023, there were 33 written warnings and 16 tickets.
Curry believes education is essential because most people will comply once told about the bylaw.
“It’s the rest of the animals that are repeat offenders that are why we’re talking about it today,” Curry said.
“Irresponsible pet owners that are non-compliant, and all we’re doing is fining, fining, fining, even with the sliding scale, we’re getting to the point where we’re into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars for dogs or cats that are at different levels, and it’s just the cost of doing business for these pet owners. They pay their money, they go.”
Councillor Gulick motioned for staff to begin amending the Animal Responsibility Bylaw. The motion was carried.
A motion was also made and passed for staff to conduct an awareness campaign of the bylaw.
The final motion made and carried was for a zero-tolerance policy for cats or dogs at large, cats or dogs without licence or animals that attack, chase or threaten people.
Councillors also wanted to clarify that complaints about the bylaws must go to council, not staff. The mayor and councillor’s contact information can be found on the District of Tumbler Ridge website.