Village of Pemberton residents will have to think twice before releasing the hounds. The VOP council has given its support to a Pemberton Fire Department initiative to allocate specific hours of time a week to bylaw enforcement.
The enforcement of the dog bylaw will be top priority for firefighter Ben Hansler, who has been appointed for a six-month trial period. During the course of the trial period, the enforcement of noise and traffic bylaws will also be added to the roster of Hanslers duties.
Fire Chief Russell Mack pointed out that having a Dog Control Officer did not mean that free range, unlicensed dogs would be rounded up and thrown behind fences without warning. The first phase of the program will emphasize education around the importance of adhering to licensing and leashing bylaws in the communities.
"What were hoping for is voluntary compliance," said Lori Pilon, chief administrative officer for the VOP.
The education efforts will consist of Hanslers direct contact with dog owners and promotional pamphlets. Pilon pointed out that a notice about the dog bylaw had been included with the tax bill mailing and had been featured in advertisements in the local papers.
"We had one of our staff go outside and stick a notice into the collar of a dog that was tied up outside the store," said Councillor Mark Blundell, co-owner of Pemberton Valley Supermarket.
Dog management has been a constant concern in the community. Issues pertaining to how poor dog management contributes to both safety and health concerns are regularly raised at council. The VOP has committed $5,000 to the trial and the use of one of the village trucks commonly used by Director of Development Services David Allen.
Asked how he would feel about the truck being used, Allen joked, "In the interest of the program I can live with it, as long as I dont have to ride in the back with the dogs."
Where those dogs will end up at the end of that ride is still undecided, but the fire department and VOP are in discussions with local kennels that could provide shelter for apprehended animals.
Chief Mack expressed the hope that the program would evolve as more resources became available.
"As the (program) evolves it would be great to have two or three people trained to the positions, just like we have for fire inspection," said the fire chief. "That way, if you had a group of people trained, youll always have someone capable to do the job. The people are already in the system."
Residents who fail to comply with the licensing and leash bylaws after being warned will be subject to fines. The fee scale for fines escalates for repeat offenses.
Dog licenses are available at the VOP office on Prospect Street. The licensing fee for a spayed or neutered dog is $15, while an intact animal costs $50 to licence.