The staff at a Chilliwack dog shelter want people in the Eastern Fraser Valley to know that their duties don’t just fall under ‘animal control.’
Trina Douglas has worked with the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) for years. About six years ago, the FVRD’s dog shelter was rebranded to the Community Animal Response and Education (CARE) Centre.
What hasn’t changed is the fact that they have always adopted out dogs.
Many people think that staff at the CARE Centre pick up dogs and kill them, or bring them to the SPCA, Douglas said.
“That’s the public perception,” she said. “Through the view of the public… you look at cartoons where there’s a dog catcher with a net. That’s not us. That’s not what we do.”
Yes, they impound stray dogs. But once they have that dog, they don’t euthanize it. The first thing they do is try to find its owner and if the owner is not found within four business days, the dog legally belongs to FVRD.
Douglas wants the public to know that there are two separate pieces: the CARE Centre and animal control. FVRD’s animal control services include bylaw enforcement pertaining to dogs, such as dogs bites and other things that are bothering people about dogs. They also enforce bylaws in regards to poultry and livestock.
Staff at the CARE Centre only pick up dogs in their service areas of Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Harrison Hot Springs, Kent and Mission, plus FVRD electoral areas D, E, G and H. They also offer limited services to some First Nation communities.
Even within Chilliwack, there are areas that they service and areas that they don’t, Douglas points out.
So what’s the difference between the SPCA and the CARE Centre?
At the SPCA, their job is to protect animals from people. At the CARE Centre, they protect people from animals.
The pets at the SPCA are animal cruelty cases, seized dogs, owner surrenders and sometimes strays, if it’s outside the CARE Centre service areas.
The animals that come into the CARE Centre are strays and dogs at large.
Also, where the SPCA takes in cats, birds and other small animals, the CARE Centre only takes dogs into its 24-kennel shelter.
Douglas admits it is confusing.
“It’s challenging for the public because your average person doesn’t know,” Douglas said.
What it boils down to is if you see a loose dog running around in the previously-mentioned service areas, call the CARE Centre at 844-495-2273. They will determine if it’s within their service area outlined by the bylaws.
Once a dog arrives at the CARE Centre, it is held as a stray for four days. If the owner does not come forward, staff begin working with the dog so it can be adopted.
Some dogs have received physical and mental rehabilitation to prepare them for adoption. They work on the dog’s behaviour and deal with any medical needs right away.
The earliest a dog can be adopted out is 14 days after it has been impounded.
Some dogs have been at the CARE Centre for months.
Marvel is about two years old and came to the centre about four months ago when she was pregnant. She gave birth to eight puppies about 11 weeks ago. At least four of the puppies have been adopted.
Other dogs have been at the shelter much longer than a few months.
One dog named Susie has been there for a year. She’s now in foster, and her adoption has not yet been finalized.
“It’s not about moving the dogs to the first home. We’re matching up people and dogs,” Douglas said.
They also provide support to people who adopt/foster by continuing to work with the person and the dog once it’s in its new home. If the adoption doesn’t work out for whatever reason, the person is not stuck with that dog – it will go back to the CARE Centre to find another home.
The adoption fee is $300 and it includes vet care, microchip, immunizations, tattoo, deworming, flea treatment and spay/neuter. The adoption fee does not include a dog licence. All dogs four months or older must have a current licence and the fine for owning an unlicensed dog is $200.
To report a loose dog, or to inquire about adopting one, call 844-495-2273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. CARE Centre hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.