Last dog strategy forum
told bylaw enforcers too sweet
By Sandra Thomas-Staff
A new citizens' group wants
the city's animal control officers to receive special
constable status and the legal enforcement powers that
come with it.
Kitsilano resident Celena
Benndorf spoke on behalf of Citizens Advocating for
Responsibility and Enforcement (ICARE) at the last of
three community forums held across the city last week.
The forums were hosted by the parks board's dog strategy
The board formed the task
force in July as part of an effort to find a balance in
city parks between dog owners and other park users.
"We are on the same page
with animal control officers on many issues," said
Benndorf. "But we would like to see them profile people
before they hire them. They seem to hire a lot of animal
lovers who are really sweet, but we think the officers
should be more assertive."
ICARE's wish list presented
at the meeting included asking the city to provide the
training animal control officers need to achieve special
constable status, increasing the number of animal
control officers dedicated to ticketing and having
police assigned to the officers until they gain special
The group also wants animal
control officers "performance managed," which would
include setting ticket objectives and seeing officers
reprimanded for poor performance.
Benndorf attended each of
the three meetings last week, which were held on
separate nights at the Roundhouse, Killarney and
Kerrisdale community centres, and she spoke on the final
evening at Kerrisdale. She said she heard similar
stories at each of the meetings.
"I heard dog owner after
dog owner stand up and insist that they are a
responsible dog owner, but each of them had received a
ticket for something like letting their dog run off
leash," said Benndorf. "What I took from that is that
when they use the term 'responsible' they mean that they
take good care of their dogs, but don't follow the
bylaws. And even though they're all 'responsible'
they've all received tickets. They're just not
connecting those dots."
Benndorf noted the
information offered at the forums was mostly anecdotal
and did not represent the voice of the majority of
people in the city. Instead of using the information
gathered from the forums, Benndorf would like to see the
parks board and city work with the results of the
Synovate study completed in 2003.
Of the three findings drawn
from that survey, two indicate residents would like to
see increased enforcement when it comes to dogs.
"That survey is
statistically valid," she said.
Bob Cristofoli, supervisor
of field operations with the Vancouver Animal Control
Shelter, said while he agrees with some of the group's
suggestions, the resources just aren't there.
"It would be great to have
police accompany us all the time, but that would be
pulling from their resources," said Cristofoli.
He adds animal control
officers are already directed to ticket owners who
aren't complying with bylaws, so ticket objectives
aren't necessary. In November officers wrote 38 tickets
to dog owners.
"But we could always use
more bylaw officers," said Cristofoli. "We have 11 and
Calgary has 24 or 25. Mind you Calgary is a bigger city,
but we could use more officers."
Parks commissioner Ian
Robertson, who brought forward the motion to create the
task force, attended each of the meetings.
"Overall my take was there
was lots of good advice given to the task force," he
said. "And we heard more from the anti or no-dog side.
The discussion was good for the task force to hear."
Robertson said the
preliminary results of these community forums will go to
the parks board, via the task force, and a second round
of community forums will be scheduled for next March or
The Courier emailed the
Vancouver Dog Owners' Association, but received no
For more information on
ICARE, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
published on 12/13/2006