The Village of Valemount is looking to partner with a recently formed spay and neuter society to tackle the animal control bylaw.

Council directed staff to draw up an agreement with the the Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society to partner on animal enforcement in the Village. The Village currently lacks a bylaw enforcement officer.

In a report to Council, deputy corporate officer Braden Hutchins explained a recent instance when the Village was able to work with the Society successfully to manage a stray dog.

The Village of Valemount became the owner of an impounded dog on January 11th. The Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society liaised with animal shelters to find a new home for the dog and arranged for transportation to its new home in Kamloops.

“This support from the Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society saved the Village time and money, as Village staff did not need to make reasonable attempts to place the dog before arranging for the dog to be euthanized by a certified veterinarian (as per Section 40 (a) (b) of the Animal Regulation, Control and Licensing Bylaw No. 667, 2011),” Hutchins said in his report.

“This ad hoc partnership between the Village of Valemount and the Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society illustrates that it is possible to implement the Animal Regulation, Control and Licensing Bylaw No. 667, 2011, without a Bylaw Enforcement Officer.”

Hutchins recommended that Council develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Society to ensure the partnership continues and outlines roles and responsibilities, funding arrangements and communication requirements, among other things. The MOU would then be brought to Council for approval.

Currently, the role of the Village as set out in the Bylaw includes issuing dog licenses; impounding an animal “running at large;” issuing fines; and responding to other complaints arising from breaches in the Bylaw. In his report, Hutchins says beyond these Village activities, there are additional requirements for managing animals within the Village including spaying and neutering; controlling feral cats; liaising with veterinarians and other animal shelters; and, providing education to the public.

“My hat goes off the the Spay and Neuter Society,” said Village Councillor Dallas Bullock. “They are a huge asset to us.”

Village CAO Anne Yanciw said the partnership is a novel one and she was asked to present the concept at an upcoming local government conference.

“We are actually a leader in that sense,” she says.

The Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society has requested $1000 from the Village which adds to the $2,500 in fundraising and $1,500 they received from the Regional District as a grant-in-aid. With $5,000 they can apply to the SPCA for a matching grant of $5,000.

Society member Chris Dolbec says with $10,000 they will be able to get a good start on spaying and neutering stray and feral animals in the community.

While she isn’t able to comment yet on what the agreement with the Village will look like until they agree on the terms, the Society will be talking to the village about the MOU.

Dolbec says the Society’s approach to feral animal control is that of “trap, neuter, release.” She says many animals can continue to live healthy lives, semi-wild, if the number of cats does not multiply exponentially.

Finding homes for the cats is often not an option.

“Because there’s no lack of cats in this valley, it’s extremely difficult to re-home even a lovely cat, let alone one a feral one.”

It can cost several hundred dollars to spay/neuter an animal – the cost depends on the weight, age and reproductive state of the animal. The Society is currently dealing with two colonies, both outside Valemount Village limits. Dolbec says it’s hard to count how many, but they’re definitely dealing with dozens of feral cats. They notch the tip of their ear after they are spayed/neutered, so they don’t re-trap the same cats.

“Cats are amazing at breeding,” she says. “It’s very easy to get in over your head. Very, very easy.”

“These are just situations that quickly get out of control,” she says. “No one ever intentionally wants to have this occur.”

She says there is no judgment if a person phones for help with a colony – if anyone needs help, including those who are low-income, they should phone the Society for assistance.

“That’s what we’re here for. Please don’t dump your animals.”

The Society has another fundraiser planned in February. They are looking for donations of cat food, volunteers, blankets and towels.