Stacey Barker

Mission may close dog pound

Examines possibility of joining Fraser Valley Regional District animal control program.

Some dog owners are unhappy with Mission council’s decision to investigate a new animal control program.

On Monday, council listened to a presentation on the Fraser Valley Regional District’s program that currently provides animal control service to both Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

Services include all aspects of animal control including dog licensing, enforcement of regulations, management of the animal control facility, a pet adoption service and handling dangerous dogs.

Stacey Barker, manager of environmental services at the FVRD told council the  program would provide six-day-a-week coverage in the Mission area. Any dog that was impounded would be placed in the animal control officer’s air-conditioned van until the end of their shift.

If the dog has a licence and the owner can be located, the animal will be returned that day. Any dogs whose owners cannot be found will be taken to the Chilliwack facility.

“We are very proud of this program,” said Barker.

“Our main focus is on dogs. We do not handle cats in this program, but we do deal with a variety of other animals when needed.”

Mission’s current animal control contract with Sherry Taylor expires in early 2016.

Taylor, along with four part-time staff, currently work out of the city-owned pound located on Woodward Street.

According to a staff report, the facility is in need of repair and does “not meet the animal control standard of today.”

If council decides to close the facility in favour of the FVRD, the land could be sold for about $400,000.

Taylor was also at the meeting and told council that she had many concerns with the proposed new program.

She said leaving an animal in a running van for hours at a time was not a healthy situation. There was also concern about owners having to travel to Chilliwack and paying higher fees for impoundments.

The current system charges $8 per night to house dogs. The FVRD program costs $10 for the first night and $50 for subsequent nights.

“The daycare fee of $50 per day becomes almost impossible for someone who gets paid on Friday but their dog gets impounded on Tuesday. It becomes almost impossible for them to reclaim their dog,” said Taylor.

She also had concerns about job loss for her Mission employees.

Several members of the public also spoke, asking council to keep animal services local.

Council has not made a decision on the report, but has asked the FVRD to provide a full proposal at a later meeting.

By the numbers:

Mission currently sells about 6,000 dog licences a year, generating $205,000 in revenue. The current cost to operate animal services in Mission is $305,000.

According to the staff report, switching to the FVRD system will save Mission $26,000 in the first year and $46,000 per year in subsequent years.

That does not include the $10,000 that is currently spent on maintaining Mission’s pound facility.