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Mount Currie Band taking steps to control dog population

Indian band working with WAG and SPCA to register and set up dogs for adoption



The Mount Currie Band of the Lil'wat Nation is taking steps to control a dog population that is seeing canines run around the reserve in packs.

Band Chief Lucinda Phillips said for the remainder of August, the government is requesting that community members register their dogs, a process that will see each get a collar and a dog tag. The registration will ask for information about the dog's history, whether it had been aggressive with others.

"Last summer was the dog round up, where I just got frustrated and I drove around collecting any dog that wasn't on a leash," she said. "This one is a bit different, where for the month of August, we are requesting that community members register their dogs."

The band is also offering community members a chance to give up their dogs if they don't feel they can take care of them.

Every Thursday throughout August, volunteers will be present in the Pemberton Industrial Park to take in dogs that will then be delivered to WAG and the Victoria and Sechelt offices of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

Then, come mid-September, once the band has provided a month to allow members to register their dogs, it will host another round-up for animals that haven't yet been accounted for.

"We always have a lot of dogs travelling in packs," Phillips said. "So we're going to do another round up for those not given up or registered. We're just going to try and do another sweep-up."

News of the round-up came after an early August incident in which a community member had to go to hospital and get approximately 50 stitches after being attacked by three pit bulls on the Mount Currie Band's reserve.

The dogs, one untied and two others tied up on an on-reserve property, put the member in hospital and later attacked a female RCMP member who sustained minor injuries to her leg that needed about four stitches.

The round-up taking place in August isn't related directly to that incident alone, but to a longtime issue of dogs breeding and running freely throughout the community.

The band tackled the problem head-on last summer when Phillips, then manager of Lil'wat Land and Resources, rounded up volunteers to look for neglected dogs that were roaming throughout the reserve.

Volunteers last year picked up 28 dogs, the "friendliest ones you could ever get," according to Phillips. Some were taken to the WAG shelter in Whistler and others to an SPCA facility in Victoria.

Asked why a dog population persists so significantly in Mount Currie, Phillips said it ultimately comes down to how members treat their dogs.

"It just comes down to community members not necessarily fully paying attention to their dog, and then not spaying or neutering them, and then allowing them to produce way more dogs," she said. "It's just an ongoing, constant cycle of life with dogs and community members not maintaining their dogs."

Phillips went on to say that the band has worked with WAG to put together a spay and neuter program for dogs, but that not a lot of community members wished to participate. Out of three or four spay and neuter programs struck last year, she estimated that 10 to 15 people actually participated.

Paula Del Bosco, WAG's executive director, said RC Pet Products, a Vancouver-based company, provided 250 collars to assist with registration in order to ensure that every dog has a collar and a license.

Once taken to WAG, dogs are vaccinated, spayed and neutered before people can adopt them into permanent homes.

"We like to vaccinate them, make sure they've had a health checkup to make sure we're not turning over a dog in a poor state," she said. "Our policy is to hand them over in a state that will not offer us ten more puppies."