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Greater Trail municipalities will not renew SPCA animal control contract

Municipalities of Regional District of Kootenay Boundary will no longer be funding animal control services, much to the dismay of the SPCA.
Other SPCA services from the non-profit, such as animal cruelty investigations, sheltering, and pet adoption services for dogs like Bear (pictured) will continue. Photo: Jim Bailey

Municipalities of Regional District of Kootenay Boundary will no longer be funding animal control services, much to the dismay of the SPCA.

The RDKB Areas A and B announced their decision to not renew the contract with the BC SPCA’s animal control services for the communities of Fruitvale, Montrose, and Trail, after considering an already increased budget.

“The Regional District has been in negotiation with the BC SPCA since the fall of 2022 to establish a future contract,” RDKB Area B director Linda Worley told the Trail Times. “The SPCA presented higher costs to operate the service than previous years with the contract costs escalating up to $155,000 per year in future years and this represented an increase in budget from $93,000 in 2020.

“So it’s a large increase and extremely large in times when our taxpayers are very strapped right now with other large projects going on.”

Area A and B directors, Ali Grieve and Worley, have authority over the service and determined that the increased costs were not sustainable and aligned by the level of service sustained by the communities of Trail, Montrose and Fruitvale.

Each municipality held subsequent contracts with RDKB for the provision of animal control services and were notified that without an agreement in place between the RDKB and the SPCA, the service would be terminated, Worley added.

The SPCA clarified that animal control services are a municipal responsibility and are separate from the work of the non-profit BC SPCA, which is funded entirely by donations.

Although, animal control will end, services such as animal cruelty investigations, sheltering, pet adoptions, humane education for youth and outreach services for pet guardians will continue to be provided by the area SPCA.

“This leaves a major gap in services for the care of stray animals, responding to dangerous dogs and other key animal control functions that fall under the municipality’s responsibility,” said Adrienne McBride, senior director for the BC SPCA.

The onus is now on Fruitvale, Montrose, Trail and Areas A and B to take responsibilty for their own animal control.

Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette agrees with the decision to cancel the service, saying that with the SPCA now located in Castlegar, response time and costs have increased, while the service has suffered.

“At minimum, it’s a half hour to an hour before they get here. So if you have a dog attack, the dog is long gone before anyone shows up,” said Morissette.

“We’re not sure what we are going to do yet, but we will see what options we have.”

The SPCA, whose Mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in BC, also require the cooperation of local communities, and fear that current resources may not be up to the task of dealing with animal control cases.

“It is extremely regrettable that this gap in animal services will now exist,” said McBride. “We’re concerned that there will be significant consequences for stray animals who will now be at risk without care or housing, for dangerous dogs running at large, and for residents who will have nowhere to turn for help with barking dogs and other issues in their community.

“We urge the municipality to uphold their responsibility to provide these animal services, however they choose to carry them out,” she added.

Read: Construction to start soon on new SPCA facility

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Jim Bailey

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