Edmonton

Edmonton model for animal protection could cost $800K a year

The City of Edmonton may spend $800,000 a year to enforce animal protection laws after the Edmonton Humane Society relinquished the duties in January this year.

City looks at long-term plan for taking over from Edmonton Humane Society

In February, City peace officers responded to 187 animal welfare calls after Edmonton Humane Society gave up enforcement duties in January. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

The City of Edmonton may spend $800,000 a year to enforce animal protection laws after the Edmonton Humane Society relinquished the duties in January this year.

In a new report released Thursday, the city outlines three options for council's consideration.

The preferred option, called the Edmonton model, includes four animal control peace officers and the equivalent of about two full-time staff to take care of kennels, veterinary concerns, dispatch, clerical duties and 311 calls, seven days a week.

Coun. Sarah Hamilton said she agrees with city administration's choice.

"It allows enforcement seven days a week and we know when it comes to enforcement issues, they don't take weekends off."

Three models

The city looked at two other options: the one previously used by the Edmonton Humane Society, which had two people enforcing the laws and one administration staff, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The $200,000 used by the Edmonton Humane Society was viewed as insufficient to meet the city's needs, the report says.

That level of resources would be a challenge to "handle call volumes, animal seizures, weekend and after-hours service, working alone safety risks, meeting public expectations," the report says.

The city also looked at Calgary's program, operated by the Calgary Humane Society, which has five animal protection officers and a dedicated dispatch and support staff to deal with calls seven days a week.

The report says the proposed Edmonton model is the middle ground between the previous EHS approach and "learnings" from both the Calgary and Winnipeg approaches.

EHS told the city in January it could no longer afford to respond to animal welfare calls, that it wasn't "an expert in enforcement." 

From Feb. 1 to Feb. 27, the City received 187 animal-protection act-related calls for service, seized 43 animals and began reviewing 121 files turned over from EHS.

Councillors bemoaned that EHS didn't give the city much time to adjust to taking over the duties.

"To me this is a delicate crisis," Hamilton said. "It's obviously an unfortunate situation that the Humane Society didn't want to continue doing that enforcement but perhaps in the end, it's best that is brought back into Animal Care and control, perhaps it's best for us as a city."

If council agrees to the Edmonton model, administration would prepare a funding plan for consideration during the spring operating budget adjustment and explore options to offset the cost of the new program.

Those options include reallocating three peace officers to do the animal protection act work and reconsidering money set aside in the financial stabilization reserve for cannabis legalization.

The report also suggests increasing the cost of the annual pet licence fees.

@natashariebe

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