By Andru McCracken

The Village of Valemount is currently without an animal control bylaw officer, according to staff, and when the position is reinstated, it won’t be what it used to be.

Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Robinson said that other municipalities make due with less than what Valemount had in the past.

“I did quite a bit of research. There were a lot of municipalities, if they even offered animal control, they would hire a contractor to do it,” he said.

“Animal control is going to be dog control.”

Robinson said the contract position will deal with dangerous dogs and dogs on the loose.

He said pets are the responsibility of the pet owners and the village doesn’t have the resources to go out looking for them.

“If my dog goes missing, I won’t call the regional district to say, ‘I lost my dog.’”

Jennifer Applebaum, an animal lover who fosters cats when she has space, said that the past summer without an animal control bylaw officer has been like the ‘wild west.’

For example, many cats have recently gone missing on 14th Avenue.

“Someone is responsible for that; it can’t just be cougars or bears,” she said. “Someone is taking it into their own hands because cats are wandering into their yards and shitting in their garden and they have had enough of it.”

Applebaum believes animal bylaws and enforcement need to be stronger, not less strong.

“Why are they giving up on the other animal population that needs to be taken care of? Let’s look at the best communities, not set our example on the minimum we can get away with.”

She’s worried the new contract position will do little to solve pet problems in the communities and hopes that when the new animal control contract becomes public there will be public pressure to change it, so cats are included in the mandate.

“I don’t know why council thinks that is the way to go,” she said.