RDN introduces fines for dogs at large in Coombs/Errington

Farmers Institute president said it's a big win for locals

Who let the dogs out? You might be faced with penalties up to $500.

After a number of high profile dog attacks in Coombs/Errington, many of which were reported by The NEWS this year, the Regional District of Nanaimo board amended their animal control bylaw to include two additional fine provisions.

The regional district introduced a $50 fine for dogs found “at large,” defined by the RDN as “being elsewhere than on lands or premises of the owner and not being under the immediate charge and control of a responsible person.”

Additionally, the RDN introduced a $500 fine for dogs found “harassing or molesting a person, livestock or other domestic animal.”

Coombs Farmers Institute president Janet Thony said it’s a big win for local farmers.

“We (farmers) will experience somewhat increased control and protection of our livestock,” said Thony, who formed an ad-hoc committee to deal with dogs attacking livestock more than two years ago and has been spearheading the movement ever since.

“Dog owners need to be fully aware that the responsibility is theirs to keep their dog at home. It’s no different than me, as a farmer with a cow in my field. By law, I have to keep that cow in the field behind a fence and if she went to the neighbours and trampled their garden or kicked their child I’d be in trouble,” she said. “A dog can create a lot more mayhem on the loose… It’s their nature to chase and hunt and kill for their sustenance.”

She said the onus is on dog owners to be responsible for their dogs, not on farmers to build better fences.

RDN manager of building, bylaw and emergency planning services Tom Armet said the changes come in direct response to “several incidents” reported in the Coombs/Errington (Area F) region where dogs have historically attacked livestock. Armet said the bylaw changes only apply to Coombs/Errington.

Armet confirmed this particular bylaw currently provides for the impoundment of “dangerous dogs found at large” only. A further amendment to include “dogs at large” and an impound fee will be brought forward in the new year for the board’s consideration.

“The more we can protect farmers the better,” said RDN director Julian Fell, who represents Coombs/Errington and has long been advocating for more stringent animal control bylaws in the area. “A dog is derived from predatory ancestors and farm animals are generally prey so when a farm animal sees a dog it reacts with fear… This can be damaging. You can have cows walking into fences, breaking legs and then you lose the value of that animal, which can be large.”

In January, an Errington resident’s alpaca was killed, the owner suspects by a dog, or pack of dogs. Last year, a llama was killed in Hilliers. In 2013, five sheep were attacked and killed by a pack of marauding pit bulls in Hilliers.

Highlights from Tuesday night’s regular Regional District of Nanaimo meeting:

• The board approved the proposed 2016 budget and directed staff to proceed with finalizing the 2016 to 2020 financial plan pending direction from the strategic planning process.

• The board directed staff to issue a request for proposals for executive search firms to provide assistance with the recruitment and selection of a new CAO for the RDN following CAO Paul Thorkelsson’s recent resignation effective Dec. 9.

• The board approved funding of $122,300 to support the Oceanside Victim Services Restorative Justice and Community Policing Programs and $5,000 for Oceanside Community Safety Volunteers.

• In District 69, the board awarded a total of $9,000 in Youth Recreation Grants and a total of $17,174 in Community Recreation Grants.

• The board awarded a total of $4,822.58 in grants in District 68 and a total of $12,795.64 in District 69. For details on recipients and amounts, visit www.rdn.bc.ca

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