The dogs are gone but the lingering stench in Tony Rapaz’s garage on Trethewey Avenue is enough to make you keel over.
The smell of dog urine and feces permeates the air inside and out of the building, as Rapaz moves in and out, sorting through the mess.
Four pitbulls had been living in the open garage, behind a half wall, following the eviction of his tenants there over the weekend. He gave the tenants until May 4 to remove the dogs, and when they weren’t able to do that, Rapaz barked up every tree he could imagine to have them removed. On Wednesday night, the SPCA arrived to do just that.
The SPCA said Thursday morning that two of the dogs would be reunited with their owner Thursday. However, the other two dogs are in the care of FVRD’s animal control. Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the dog owner is also working the FVRD to find a workable solution for the two seized dogs.
The dog owner was also on site to help with the removal of the dogs from the property, said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the SPCA. She explained how the dogs came to be removed from the property.
“What happened is originally Animal Control was called,” she said. “The SCPA couldn’t really do anything at the beginning as there weren’t any cruelty concerns.”
That is until Wednesday, when the dogs weren’t able to be fed due to lack of access to the property. The SPCA responded with the FVRD. The SPCA took two of the pitbulls into custody, and two were deemed to be dangerous by the FVRD, as well as unlicensed.
Gaetz, who is also chair of the FVRD, said the onus to ensure these situations don’t happen lays on the landlord’s lap.
“Our mothers’ adage of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is applicable here,” she said. “The landlord has a responsibility to ensure his tenants do not cause problems to the neighbourhood.”
That’s possible through more rigorous background checks, including criminal record checks. Landlords can also get information and tips on protecting property from bad rental situations by visiting the Chilliwack Community Policing office, Gaetz added.
“It doesn’t really matter what kind of accommodations you offer, he doesn’t have to live there,” she added, and neighbouring residents “deserve to live in peace.”
“If he did a criminal record check he would have known if these people had a problem in the past,” she said. But even the best efforts are sometimes not enough, she said, and in those cases the FVRD and the City of Chilliwack are available to help.
“We’re here to assist if people fall through the cracks,” he said.
Rapaz has said the dogs did not belong to the ex-tenants, but possibly one of their relatives. Officials had originally told Rapaz that the house was still occupied, and so the dogs could not be removed.
As he removed garbage from the garage on Thursday morning, Rapaz also found items that prompted him to call the RCMP again. Among the items left behind were a panel lift marked as a rental from a local business, boxes of animal furs, and several large appliances.