It has been more than half a year since the District of Mission ended its local animal control services in favour of joining the Fraser Valley Regional District’s (FVRD) program – based out of Chilliwack – and so far officials say it has been a smooth transition.
According to statistics provided by the FVRD, the first six months of the new service saw the CARE Centre in Chilliwack receive a total of 347 calls from Mission residents on a wide range of issues, including barking complaints, dogs at large, and excess pets.
In that time, the centre had 51 intakes from Mission. Of those, 33 dogs were claimed by their owners, 13 dogs received a free ride back to their owners in Mission and five dogs were placed into new homes for adoption or foster trials.
Stats also show that 575 park patrols were conducted in Mission by animal control officers in the first half of 2016.
Stacey Barker, manager of environmental services at the FVRD, said of the 347 calls received from Mission, the most common concern was regarding stray dogs.
The FVRD is now also handling the selling of dog licences to Mission residents.
“If you have a licence and we pick up your dog, we will deliver it back to your door, free of charge, the first time we pick up the dog.”
She said for most pet owners, having their dog picked up is a “one-time incident.” She called the service a benefit for people who have purchased a licence.
When the decision to switch services was announced last year, Mission council received many complaints and concerns by residents voicing opposition and wanting to keep animal control services local. An online petition was presented to council and several delegations raised concerns, including the possibility of animals being euthanized.
Barker said no Mission animals have been killed.
“The CARE Centre is a pro-adoption facility so our goal is 100 per cent adoption for all healthy and adoptable animals. This means we do not euthanize dogs for reasons of age or space or breed or length of stay and, so far, we have not euthanized any dogs that have come from Mission.”
Barker added that she understands people are passionate about animals but since the changeover, the centre has not received any complaints about its service.
According to an email sent to The Record by Jennifer Kinneman, FVRD’s manager of communications, the “FVRD has spent the first six months focused on animal welfare, community outreach, and partnership development.
“The CARE team has been working to establish vendor relationships to enable to sale of dog licences locally, which can now be purchased at Mr. Pet’s on First Avenue.”
She said the transition has gone smoothly and is similar to what the FVRD has experienced in the past with the cities of Chilliwack and Abbotsford.
Mission Mayor Randy Hawes agrees that it has been a seamless transition and said the district has also received zero complaints since the change.
“Actually I’ve had a number of very positive comments about responses from animal control,” he said.
The city-owned pound located on Woodward Street remains empty and Hawes said no decision has been made about what to do with it.
According to a staff report, the facility and land could be sold for about $400,000.
Staff originally recommended switching to the FVRD’s program in order to save the district approximately $26,000 in costs in the first year and $46,000 per year in subsequent years.