Report proposes City of Edmonton create animal protection unit consisting of 4 officers

The prospect of more expensive pet licences is being mulled over as part of the creation of a new City of Edmonton unit to look after animals in distress.

A new report heading to Edmonton City Council proposes hiring four animal control peace officers. The report recommends those officers do the work that had been done by the Edmonton Human Society.

In January, the EHS formally got out of the business of responding to citizen complaints about animal welfare.

The report’s proposed $800,000-city-run program would also cover other support staff, including 311, kennel care and veterinary technicians.

The report, released on Thursday and ahead of next Tuesday’s city council meeting, is seen as a compromise between the basic staffing levels the Edmonton Humane Society had operated with, and a larger model like the one used by the City of Calgary.

Rob Smyth, Edmonton’s deputy city manager for citizen services, said city staff feel they need to make sure they can respond on weekends, something the humane society didn’t do.

“The input we’ve had, talking to colleagues in other places, is that seven-day-a-week service is very important in terms of the activity that happens on a Saturday or Sunday,” he said. “That’s what we believe is a reasonable level of service.”

“I think this is the best option that is being proposed by administration,” said Councillor Sarah Hamilton. “Because it allows enforcement seven days a week.

“We know that when it comes to enforcement issues, they don’t take weekends off.”

An increase for licence fees is being proposed in order to cover off the budget increase, Smyth said.

“It would be minimal — a dollar or two at this time, perhaps,” he said. “We’ve got to do some more detailed analysis as to how what is the right balance between those three ideas we’ve put forward.”

The cost of a licence for a neutered dog is $36. For cats it’s $21.

“We recognize it would be an impact on people who own pets,” Smyth said. “We’ve got to work that through still.

“Our thinking is, we’ll try this for the year and then bring back an annual report.”

Edmonton took over enforcement of the Animal Protection Act on Feb. 1.

“Even for the month of February, there were 187 calls and we seized 43 animals, so that’s a pretty significant body of work, just in one month,” Smyth said.

Watch below: (From Jan. 24, 2019) The Edmonton Humane Society is sharing the reason why it will no longer investigate cases of animal abuse and neglect. As Sarah Kraus explains, the EHS says it’s about safety concerns, not money.

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