RCMP don't have the training or resources to be the enforcers of a proposed TNRD bylaw intended to police dangerous dogs, regional directors learned Friday.
Staff Sgt. Gord Stewart of the RCMP Southeast District office in Kelowna delivered that message during a board workshop Friday morning. His comments put the already postponed bylaw back to the drawing board.
This didn't go over well with Pinantan resident Nicole Wilimek, who fears for the safety of her three children because of the dogs roaming her rural neighbourhood.
Two dogs in particular, which she describes as Japanese fighting dogs, have already bitten one neighbour. Wilimek believes another attack is imminent if there aren't consequences for the dogs or the owner.
"There needs to be some kind of control," said Wilimek. "There is no control whatsoever."
Regional directors hope a dangerous dog bylaw will do the trick. A draft has already been revised once, excluding nuisance dogs and focusing instead on canines that have attacked humans.
The TNRD wants to reduce costs by recruiting the RCMP for animal control, which is where Stewart's input came in.
By giving the Mounties the ability to attend, investigate and seize a dangerous dog, the revised draft dropped the enforcement bill from $100,000 to $25,000.
But Stewart said acting as animal control officers takes constables away from what they're trained to do, which is to protect and serve the public. Even if they had the manpower to take on these duties, they don't have the training or means to catch and hold the animal.
"We are trained in how to get people into police cars and to safe places, dogs not so much," said Stewart.
Police will support the TNRD's lone bylaw officer or the SPCA in dealing with the owner of the offending canine — a duty they essentially do already, he said.
This prompted a flurry of questions from frustrated directors about the role RCMP could play. Many described dog attacks that sent residents to the hospital and pets to the veterinarian, or worse.
Director Bill Humphreys of Barriere suggested the TNRD bump its contingent of bylaw officers to two and designate a facility to house dangerous dogs until the animal's fate is decided. Stewart liked that option.
Jessoa Lightfoot of Lytton asked how the bylaw would be enforced on First Nations reserves. Stewart said the bands must adopt the bylaw; otherwise police or animal control would not have the authority to act.
Board chair Randy Murray asked if police would help educate rural communities about the bylaw. Stewart said education is a key component of any effective bylaw, and his officers would help.
Back in Pinantan, Wilimek said the nuisance dogs are always in the care of the owner's children. When he is around, he doesn't listen to people's concerns about the dogs.
"They are uncontrollable. In the summertime, I'm just petrified to have my kids outside because of these dogs," she said.
But those aren't the only problem dogs, she said. Canines roam unescorted through her property and there's no telling what the dogs will do.
"There are dogs all over the place up here. People don't care about their dogs," she said.