Boundary animals have new advocate in Richard Smith

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
January 18th, 2013

It’s because he loves animals that Richard Smith, the new Boundary Animal Control Officer, chose his job.

Smith, who moved to Grand Forks last year from Abbotsford, has been around animals all his life and grew up on a farm. He is a horse enthusiast and has served as a Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) steward in horse shows for years. As an FEI steward it was his job to make sure the competitors were obeying the rules and treating their animals properly. This new job is much like that, only on a larger scale.

“I don’t want to see any animal abused or mistreated,” said Smith of his reason for taking this new job.

As of December 3, 2012 he took on the role of animal control officer for the Regional District Kootenay Boundary. His region includes Christina Lake to Greenwood and from the border to Hummingbird Bridge on North Fork Road. He is responsible for the animal control bylaws within the regional district and the City of Grand Forks. While he is responsible for dogs and domestic livestock animals, he is not the person to call about deer or cats. Deer fall under the jurisdiction of the conservation officer and cat issues are handled by the SPCA, whose closest office is in Trail.

About 90 per cent of his work so far has been in dealing with dog issues, said Smith. In the first month of his job he had 43 call outs, many of those were about dogs running loose.

“The majority of my work is in educating people. It’s not the animal that is the problem, but the people,” he said.

He said many people don’t know the rules.

City or rural, everyone has the same animal bylaws to follow in the Boundary. That includes the licensing of dogs every year for $15 and no property can have more than three adult dogs without a kennel license.  A license may seem like a hassle, but should your dog go missing, it might help you find him, said Smith.

Loose dogs take up about 80 per cent of Smith’s time.

No excuse for dogs being off leash

“There is no free range or off-leash park for dogs in the district. A dog can only be off-leash on your property. If it leaves your property it should be on a leash,” said Smith.

He said he gets at least three calls a day for dogs running loose. A loose dog may not seem like a big deal but they chase wildlife, which is illegal, can cause vehicle accidents, torment other dogs who are fenced in or chained up and can bite or scare people.

Another common issue has to do with this time of the year. Livestock must be provided with shelter and be fed enough to sustain them through the winter.

“Since I’ve started I’ve seen situations where there isn’t enough food for outside animals or shelter. What you feed a horse in the summer isn’t the same as what you feed in winter. They need shelter and more food.”

He said the last thing he wants to do is remove an animal from someone’s property. His first line of defense is in educating the owner and giving them the opportunity to change.

Bylaws to become more accessible over next year

Smith doesn’t blame pet owners for their ignorance of the rules, he said the information is hard to find, something he is trying to change along with updating the current bylaws and increasing fines for violating those bylaws.

“If people knew the rules, more people would follow them,” said Smith.

If you have a dog, February 1 should be marked on your calendar because if you don’t have your dog licensed by then, you pay double the fees. Dog licenses are available through the Regional District Kootenay Boundary offices located at 2140 Central Avenue in Grand Forks.  The dog pound is located in the former SPCA building at 8120 Donaldson Drive in Grand Forks.

In the coming year Smith aims to make the animal control bylaws easier to find on the RDKB website.

To call Smith for more information or to make a complaint about a dog or domestic livestock call him at 250-444-0371.

Found or lost animals can be seen on the new Facebook page at Boundary Animal Control.                                                                                                                      

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