Attack at Osoyoos dog pound prompts talk of new shelter near Penticton

Fatal dog-on-dog attack highlighted need for more secure kennels, as RDOS seeks alternate arrangements for dangerous animals

Brutus

Brutus

A fatal dog-on-dog attack at the Osoyoos animal shelter has generated renewed interest in building a more secure facility closer to Penticton.

Public warnings were issued in August after a pit bull escaped from its kennel at the Osoyoos facility and killed a dog in an adjacent enclosure.

The pit bull, named Brutus, was then illegally removed from the site a day later. Police spoke to his owner, but were unable to find the dog. The owner of the dead animal, a stray border collie, could be not located.

Brutus was taken to the Osoyoos shelter after being captured within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen following an attack on another dog.

The Town of Osoyoos owns the facility, which is operated by a private company under contract to it and the RDOS. Both local governments are still sending dogs there.

“But we have located a temporary facility (to use) should we ever have another dangerous dog,” said RDOS development services manager Donna Butler.

“I think we’ve learned our lesson now. We would not send a dangerous dog to that (Osoyoos) facility,” she said.

Butler would not disclose the name nor location of the temporary shelter, but said it’s a privately owned site with fully enclosed kennels that seem more secure than what’s available in Osoyoos.

A newspaper in Osoyoos published a photo of Brutus’s enclosure that appears to show a metal door frame and chain-link fence damaged by the pit bull in order to get at the stray.

Butler said dog owners shouldn’t worry about their animal’s well-being if it’s impounded in Osoyoos.

“Ordinary dogs have been in there for years without incident. It’s perfectly fine for 99 per cent of the dogs. It’s just the one per cent you don’t know about,” she said.

Butler noted that animal-control contracts the RDOS, District of Summerland and City of Penticton have with private companies all expire this year, and she’s been in touch with counterparts to discuss the possibility of building a new regional facility that would incorporate extra-secure kennels for dogs like Brutus.

All dogs picked up within the RDOS are taken to Osoyoos, so a more centralized facility would also lessen the inconvenience for residents from the north end of the district who have to travel to collect their animal, she added.

“Again, there’s a cost for that and we have to determine if the (elected) boards are able to do that,” Butler said.

Rose Gingras, the animal-control officer under contract to Penticton and Summerland, said the 10-unit dog pound on Dartmouth Drive is safe, but dated, and its kennels incorporate varying amounts of chain-link fence.

The two most secure units, she explained, are built with cement blocks to a height of about one meter, with chain-link above that.

“And that is the area where many, many years ago I had a dog go through that chain-link into the kennel next to him,” she said. “He wasn’t trying to attack a dog — there was no dog in the kennel next to him — he was just trying to get out.”

The city owns the facility and Gingras lives in a house on site.

Mayor Garry Litke said he’s interested in exploring the idea of building a regional facility.

“I’m always open to new and better ways of doing things, and especially I’m open to partnerships, so if there’s a way to pool our resources to deal with a situation more effectively, I’m all for that,” he said.