WEDNESDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Let us hope the provincial government acts quickly on Kamloops City council’s request to expand the authority of municipal bylaws officers to break into automobiles when a dog’s life is at stake.
There were some surprised faces around the council table Tuesday when bylaws staff said it’s currently illegal for them to do so. While bylaws supervisor Jon Wilson acknowledged that a bylaws officer would probably do it anyway if the situation was dire, he or she might technically be charged with breaking and entering.
RCMP and B.C. SPCA officers do have the authority to break a car window if they think a pet might be in danger on a hot day, but the fact a bylaws officer can’t do it presents a legal gap. Very often they’re the ones who deal with such situations.
While the most lethal time of year will soon be past, the provincial government should act with all due dispatch to rectify the problem. Council will also ask the Union of B.C. Municipalities for support, and it’s highly likely other mayors and councils throughout the province will throw their weight behind the Kamloops initiative. Wilson said his peers in other B.C. cities are behind it as well.
In the meantime, the City can move ahead with boosting fines to dog owners who risk the lives of their pets by leaving them in the confinement of a vehicle on a hot day.
The only disappointment about council’s actions on Tuesday was its lack of attention to the accompanying issue of untethered dogs in the backs of moving pickup trucks. This is an all-too-common occurrence, and it puts dogs in extreme danger.
It’s already illegal under provincial law but council should give itself the clout to do something about it at the municipal level.