Dogs at large an ongoing issue in Ile-a-la Crosse

by Phil Ambroziak

Municipal officials in Ile-a-la Crosse believe the level of responsibility of some pet owners has gone to the dogs.

The northern village continues to struggle with the ongoing issue of dogs at large.

According to Cpl. Jason Olney of the Ile-a-la Crosse detachment of the RCMP, the community does employ a dog catcher to deal with the situation, but he also said it’s a job that isn’t always classified as an easy one.

“I don’t know if they (dogs at large) all have owners – that’s where the dog catcher’s job becomes tough,” Olney said. “I just know dogs are a big problem. Last fall, a child was getting onto a school bus when he was pulled off the steps by a stray dog. Many of the dogs around here are very rowdy. I also recall a few years ago when a child had his face bit up by a dog.”

Olney was referring to Shiloh Berscheid who, in September 2009, was mauled by a stray dog.

According to the officer, the village dog catcher is authorized to snare dogs in a humane way and, if need be, destroy them. This was reiterated by Ile-a-la Crosse Mayor Duane Favel, who said dogs at large have been an ongoing issue in northern Saskatchewan for some time.

“We certainly value people having pets, but on the other hand, if they’re not going to be accountable, the municipality is forced to take action because of the number of complaints we receive,” Favel said. “We do have a person who has taken responsibility for keeping an eye out for dogs on the loose. He will pick up the dogs and, if they have a tag, he will call the municipal office and the administrator will phone the owner. Usually there is a way to track down the owners, but, worse case scenario, the dogs have to be destroyed. It’s not an easy thing to do, but one person has accepted the responsibility.”

The mayor also believes there are a number of dog owners who neglect their pets.

“Someone needs to take the initiative to keep the community safe – people shouldn’t be fearful when they walk down the street,” he said.

“People are concerned to the point they have to carry sticks when out for a walk just to defend themselves against stray dogs,” Olney added.

Favel believes one of the best methods of accomplishing this is to educate the public on pet responsibility and to perhaps establish a humane society.

“We could really use something like that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the RCMP continues to investigate a suspicious vehicle fire involving a van belonging to the village’s dog catcher. While police would not confirm whether or not the vehicle was targeted because of the role the owner plays in the community, they did admit this was not the first incident in which the same vehicle was damaged.

“In the past, his tires have been slashed,” explained Olney. “The fire is still under investigation and there are no suspects at this time.”

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