City of Edmonton peace officers will take over enforcing the Animal Protection Act within the city starting Feb. 1, at least for now.
City administration was forced to find some kind of staffing solution after the Edmonton Humane Society announced Jan. 23 it would no longer cover enforcement.
“This certainly snuck up on city council that the humane society was no longer interested in doing this,” Mayor Don Iveson said Wednesday. “But city administration, to their credit, have gotten everything ready for us to be seamless on Feb. 1 and then to flesh out the details of what that looks like ongoing in the next couple of months.
“Animals will be protected in this city. The city will not stand for anything else.”
The Animal Protection Act enables peace officers to respond to animals in distress or animals that have been abandoned and to hold negligent owners accountable for their actions.
The humane society said its Board of Directors voted in December to end enforcement on Jan. 31, but the move was only announced last Tuesday.
Iveson said there are benefits to working with a third-party agency but there are risks too.
“One of the downsides [to working with third-party organizations to deliver services] is if those organizations have a change of heart — and clearly they have — then that could leave the city scrambling,” the mayor said.
“More notice would have been appreciated, quite frankly, but that said, the city has been able to scramble effectively and ensure that animals will be protected, which I’m very impressed with.”
The humane society said it will focus on shelter and veterinary services, adding enforcement wasn’t in its mandate.
WATCH BELOW (Jan. 25, 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.
As of Feb. 1, City of Edmonton peace officers who work in the Animal Control and Care division and have training in the area will assume responsibility of enforcing the Animal Protection Act for the time being.
“We heard that we have staff who can do this work and clearly we’ll provide more training, and they may need more equipment over time to be able to do this on an ongoing basis, but in the interim, we were told by staff, ‘We’ll make it work,'” Iveson said.
In 2018, there were 3,500 calls about the Animal Protection Act in Edmonton and the humane society investigated 761 files.
Until now, about $200,000 in pet licence fees has been given to the Edmonton Humane Society to help with enforcement.
“Obviously we’re going to want that back — some portion of it anyway, everything related to enforcement — in order to cover off what are now going to be city costs, at least in the interim,” Iveson said.
Council will discuss longer-term plans in March. City officials will look at other animal protection models, including Calgary’s, which sees the humane society cover enforcement.
“We won’t let any investigation drop in the meantime but setting up a sustainable approach to this, making sure we have all the training and human resources in place, that will take a little bit more time,” the mayor said.
“Whether the city’s doing this permanently remains to be seen but clearly, in the interim, we have to step up and make sure animal welfare is protected.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.