Investigation into sheep slaughter continues in Hilliers

The small community southwest of Qualicum Beach has experienced more than a few incidents with dogs attacking livestock

Regional District of Nanaimo staff continue their investigation into the alleged attack on sheep by a pack of dogs in the Hilliers area, but as of press time Monday there were no developments to report.

The woman who contacted The NEWS about her sheep being slaughtered, a story which was picked up by provincial media, said Monday she is “not thrilled” with what she’s learned about the investigation or its pace.

As reported in last Thursday’s edition of The NEWS, five sheep belonging to Amber Dawes were killed by dogs in Hilliers last week. Dawes, and others in the area, have said there have been other incidents of livestock killed and harassed by dogs. Dawes said she continues to be concerned for the safety of both livestock and children in the area.

Dawes, who used to operate a kennel, has seen the dogs she believes were the guilty of the latest attack numerous times, and she said they killed a number of her quail months previous. She identified the dogs as pit bulls.

The regional district’s director of bylaw services said his staff is working through “quite a process” to ensure all actions by the local government are legal. “We know there is a lot of concern out there and we are working as hard as we can,” said Tom Armet.

“The next step could be seizure (of the dogs) but we need to satisfy all the legal requirements before we do that. We need to step through quite a process to do this right — there’s a lot involved.”

There was some confusion last week about whether provisions of the Livestock Protection Act allowed someone like Dawes to shoot dogs who are attacking or threatening livestock on her property, although Dawes said that’s not something she wants to do.

B.C. Minister of Agriculture Pat Pimm supplied The NEWS with a statement on Monday:

“Section 11.1 of the Livestock Act allows people to protect their livestock from dogs that are ‘running at large’ and ‘attacking or viciously pursuing livestock’,” said Pimm. “I can’t speak to the specifics of any one case. In general, the law is in place to protect animals from aggressive feral or domestic dogs. Should a person protect their livestock by shooting the dog, they must follow all firearm regulations and laws. In addition, cities, municipalities and regional districts have the ability to regulate ‘dangerous dogs’ (dogs that have threatened a person or domestic animal) through the Local Government Act.”