Pooch patrol work overwhelms Iqaluit bylaw staff
“Ninety-eight per cent of our call-outs are animal complaints”
Iqaluit bylaw officers already spend most of their time dealing with Iqaluit’s loose dogs, but that’s still not enough to get the work done, Keith Park, the Iqaluit’s acting bylaw chief, told city councillors May 4 at a meeting of the city’s public works and engineering committee.
Park said his department is so busy catching loose dogs, there’s little time for other kinds of bylaw enforcement.
“Ninety-eight per cent of our call-outs are animal complaints,” he said.
Park said the department has been shorthanded for the past month because of a job vacancy and other staff members on leave.
And now that the spring’s new generation of pups are out running around, bylaw officers are extra busy.
Some husky dogs are strong enough to absorb several darts full of ketamine tranquilizer and keep running, Park explained.
He said it recently took bylaw officer Kris Vardy 13 hours to catch a troublesome dog.
In an interview, Park said people also call bylaw to report dogs hit by vehicles, something that’s occurred 10 times within the last three weeks. Of those collisions, 90 per cent involve puppies.
Park said people complain more about adult dogs because they’re less intimidating than puppies — but puppies grow up.
“Instead of a five-pound puppy you get a 120-pound husky following them down the road,” he said.
Park told Nunatsiaq News the city needs stronger penalties for dog owners who who repeatedly allow their dogs to run loose.
Right now, the fine for a loose dog is $100, of which roughly half get paid. The bylaw department also charges pound fees of up to $300 and another $10 for each day the dog is in custody.
Owners can authorize bylaw to destroy the animal, which costs $25.
Despite repeated violations, some dog owners don’t seem to get the message.
Park said he’s destroyed up to five dogs from a single owner and the next day see the same person with a new puppy.
There have been 25 complaints of dog bites recorded since the beginning of the year, Park said.
City councillors seemed at a loss about what to do about the problem.
At city council meetings, councillors often complain about loose dogs, relaying concerns from residents.
Coun. Mary Akpalialuk suggested the city post the names of repeat offenders the way it posts the names of people who don’t pay property taxes.
Coun. Romeyn Stevenson praised the hard work of bylaw officers and suggested less tolerance for loose dogs that aren’t licenced.
“If they don’t have tags, that dog shouldn’t be alive very long, because we don’t have the time. You don’t have the time,” Stevenson told the bylaw officers.
Coun. Mat Knicklebein suggested the dog population should be reduced, and some dogs need to be shot.
He also suggested trying to ban problem dog-owners from owning dogs.
That might require changes to the territory’s Cities, Towns and Villages Act.