City Moving Towards No-kill Policy

By Svjetlana Mlinarevic

The City of Portage la Prairie is moving towards a policy of being a no-kill municipality after more than 35 years of euthanizing animals.

“Since we made the switch, we have partnered in the community with a local veterinarian and the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter in an attempt to maintain a zero kill practice here,” said Coun. Brent Froese, chair of public safety. “In the last couple of months since the commissionaires have come on board as animal control providers, we have had zero kills. We have returned all pets to their owners or put them up for adoption.”

Although not official, the no-kill mandate came into play after former animal control officer Wendell Hawker retired in September. He submitted his final public safety report to council this month, which stated from January to September the city had euthanized 66 animals (13 dogs and 53 cats); that number is down from last year’s total of 115 (18 dogs and 97 cats). Hawker also reported a total of 235 calls for animal control during that time.

The Graphic reported last year that 160 dogs and cats were euthanized in the Portage la Prairie area, almost double the amount killed in 2012. Of those animals that were put to sleep, 140 were cats.

Froese said council hasn’t had any discussions of making the no-kill mandate official by including it into the animal control bylaw, but that “on a matter of principle we’re there.”

Currently, the city and RM of Portage have a three-year agreement with local farmer Jeff Wiebe to house the animals until they are reunited with their owners or sent to Winnipeg. His shelter can hold about 17 animals.

Froese said there isn’t an agreement with the Portage Animal Welfare Society to use its shelter as both parties failed to reach an agreement during early talks, but he did say that one of the commissionaires does act as a liaison between the city and the shelter should an animal need placement.

Once the contract between Wiebe and the municipal governments expire, Froese said the city and RM would have to look at what options are available to them.

If someone has lost their pet, Froese advises them to visit the city’s public safety page on its website as photos of all animals that are found are posted there. As of press time, there were two dogs listed. Froese said the city will also post photos from pet owners if they are missing their dogs and cats.

As for fees, pet owners can expect to pay $20 a day for housing their dog or cat at the shelter plus veterinary fees. Froese said the fees and charges shouldn’t be a deterrent for owners.

“Certainly, there’s a cost in having us look for dogs and pick them up and there’s a risk to the community to have the dogs run at large, so I guess it’s a fair penalty as compared to other municipalities and, I guess, if you really care about your pet, you’ll pay the fee, get him back, and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

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