Kitimat to give animal bylaws more teeth

Kitimat working towards new animal control bylaws which will hopefully mean mail can resume on Farrow Street.

Amendments to the Kitimat Municipal Code which will crack down harder on problem  pet owners will hopefully mean progress on getting mail delivery returned to Farrow Street.

As of February 25, the date of last week’s special meeting of council, mail still was not being delivered to Farrow Street, part of an ongoing issue the mail service was having with a neighbourhood dog.

Service was suspended last November.

A motion following the mail’s suspension called for the municipality to modify their animal control bylaws to ensure resumption of mail delivery.

To that end, a proposed animal control policy was presented to councillors which increases the impoundment fees even further than currently provided.

The District of Kitimat had established with the Kitimat Humane Society that any dogs impounded with multiple infractions over the past 24 months would trigger the DoK to consider prosecution through the courts, which would allow them to fine up to $500.

But no dogs were impounded during that time.

“We have not had any issues of any dog running at all since this started, about November,” said deputy Chief Administrative Officer Warren Waycheshen.

The new proposed fees for the Municipal Code will allow the District to fine pet owners higher costs, which will save the District from needing to petition a court to fine higher.

The proposed policy also includes a definition of a dangerous dog. Defining a dangerous dog can allow for other controls, such as muzzling the animal or securely confining it. It would not mean the dog could be destroyed, because that can only be decided by a provincial court.

In short, the first impoundment of an animal would remain at $30, while the second would increase to $60 from $50. A third impoundment would cost $100 ($75) and a fourth is $300. Mario Feldhoff added an amendment that a fifth impoundment cost an owner $500.

The fine for keeping an excessive number of animals is also proposed to rise to $100 from $50.

Feldhoff reasoned that even though the District hasn’t faced any impoundments recently, these changes could potentially go towards an eventual resumption of mail.

“I want to be able to go to the post office to say that we’ve changed our bylaw, that we’re enforcing our bylaw, we haven’t had a problem since November. Get your mail carriers to deliver the bloody mail,” he said.

Waycheshen noted at the meeting that the District has offered to either impound the particular dog of issue during mail delivery times, or have a member of the Kitimat Humane Society patrolling the street during delivery, but both options were turned down by the postal service.

Meanwhile other discussion at the meeting suggested giving power to the manager of the Humane Society to issue bylaw infraction tickets, a power that they currently do not have. It could be something that is included in future contract talks, as their contract with the city is expiring in the near future.

Councillors had only moved to discuss the draft changes to the animal control bylaw, so even with Feldhoff’s amendment the policy as a whole has yet to become official. It will become official once it passes three readings.

The Sentinel sought comment from Canada Post following these discussions and we received a prepared statement from spokesperson Eugene Knapik.

“Canada post has stopped delivering to this street as a result of a long standing documented dog problem. We’ve tried to resolve the issue without success,” he said.

He added that the decision to stop delivering mail “was not taken lightly, and we regret the impact on our customers.”

He said  that until a solution is reached on this issue, residents can continue to pick up their mail at the post office.