A little over a year ago, Vera Isaac took on the role of By-law Enforcement Officer after several years with the Listuguj Police Department and the Listuguj Rangers. This new position deals with all the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government laws/by-laws – such as cannabis control, fisheries, gaming, etc., but the one by-law that is most extensive would be the Dog Control By-law. You can find this by-law in its entirety, and other community by-laws at listuguj.ca.
Before the By-law Enforcement Officer position was put into effect, Animal Control complaints and concerns were often called into the Listuguj Police Department. During the time she was working with the police, she compiled a file over the years of all the Animal Control related complaints that were received. Isaac went to Chief and Council with these files and declared a public security issue in the community of Listuguj. This helped Animal Control Services become what it is today. Currently, two Animal Control officers (“dog catchers”) patrol the area, as well as Isaac herself.
At this time, there are no fines associated with the current Dog By-law in the community. There are impoundment fees available, but unfortunately, Listuguj does not have an animal shelter. “Right now, the only thing we’re doing is mediation and conflict resolution – giving out warnings that’s all we can do without a shelter,” said Isaac. The Animal Control officers’ main tasks are patrolling the area, picking up any roaming or lost dogs, and returning them to their homes. Lost or missing pet posts are often posted on social media by Animal Control officers as well. Isaac is hoping that the Dog Control By-law will be amended and the staff will be able to issue fines soon. Possible grounds for fines include dogs at large or trespassing, excessive barking/howling, failure to pick up after a dog, having more than three dogs in a household, failure to have a dog on a leash, and of course, dog bites or attacks – which could result in criminal charges.
Another possibility for the future is for Listuguj to have its very own animal shelter. Right now, Capital and Infrastructure are in the early planning stages for the shelter. As is the case with many animal shelters, the Restigouche County SPCA in Dalhousie is often overcrowded with lost or surrendered animals and cannot make exceptions for pets in Listuguj. Unfortunately, there are no shelter or animal control options on the Quebec side either. Isaac created a proposal, which would include various indoor and outdoor enclosures for pets, Animal Control officers, animal care attendants, and a veterinarian housed in the shelter, as well as low-cost vaccination and spay/neutering clinics on-site. The plan is to have the shelter located in a more secluded area of the community to limit the barking in neighborhoods. “Once we have this in place, we can have a better grip on the dog situation,” said Isaac.
It’s no secret that roaming dogs are at times problematic and concerning. Isaac said this is the number one issue for Animal Control Services. “The biggest challenge is to get the community on board with taking responsibility for their pets, tying their dogs, and just taking care of them,” said Isaac. With so many dogs roaming, there is an increase in the number of packs. When dogs travel in packs, they become very territorial and dangerous. Even the friendliest, most well-behaved dog’s demeanor can completely change when it travels with a pack. Typically, these packs are formed during peak mating seasons. Over time, the Animal Control officers have learned which months they tend to see a rise in packs and will increase patrol. Preventing dogs from being at large is not the only thing that can stop packs from forming. “Spaying and neutering pets will eliminate the dog packs and aggression,” said Isaac.
Isaac stressed that pet owners are always responsible for their pets and need to take accountability. According to the Dog Control By-Law, if an individual does not have their dog properly secured on their property, and it bites or hurts a person or another animal, they are held responsible and could be charged with criminal negligence.
Even though it may not be as severe and as evident in the community, there is also a cat problem. Isaac said there is a reproducing issue when it comes to cats, and this could result in more dog attacks in the community.
Animal Control encourages community members to register their dogs with the Listuguj Police Department. The annual fee is $25, and the dog will receive a license tag with the owner’s information, address, and the dog’s information including immunization records.
Even though the Listuguj Bylaw Enforcement and Public Security recognize the dogs at large issue, they are also aware there are a lot of responsible pet owners, who love and care for their pets in the community. Dogs and cats make great companions and when cared for responsibly, can enrich our lives.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Animal Control in the area, please contact Vera Isaac at 506-987-4524.
By Ann Marie Jacques