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Colchester County makes major changes with animal control

A couple of dogs play in the water around Portapique. Colchester County recently made major changes in the area of animal control.
A couple of dogs play in the water around Portapique. Colchester County recently made major changes in the area of animal control. - Contributed

TRURO, N.S.

The County of Colchester has hired a new interim animal control officer and will rely on the SPCA to provide kennel service.

“We’ve hired someone to fill in as a stop-gap measure,” said Crawford MacPherson, director of community development with the county. “He’ll work weekdays, and the SPCA has agreed to provide kennel service, and after-hours and weekend coverage for animal calls. This is set up for an undetermined amount of time.”

After the death of longtime animal control officer Elsie DeBay in April, Lindsay Russell, who had previously worked with DeBay, handled animal control duties. She left the position in July.

Russell said she was apprehensive about the direction being taken. Two days following DeBay’s funeral, she said, she was informed the animal control work station was to move to another location and a day later that was done.

“It made me question whether there would be an in-house animal control officer. I didn’t take it personally, but I felt it illustrated the direction animal control would be going in. Something was shifting, and it wasn’t good.

“Two days after the work station was relocated, I told my manager I wouldn’t be applying for the job when it came up.”

Not knowing what would happen, Russell, who is a veterinary technician, had been applying for other jobs. She’s been hired at an animal hospital.

Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair said council will be looking into options around animal control.

“The service is in transition. We need to look around and see what’s available.”

Councillor Ron Cavanaugh wants to assess the situation closely.

“This isn’t something to be taken lightly,” he said. “I was assured the current situation would be short term, and we’ll be looking at something else moving forward.

“I’d like to see the service continuing the way it was with Elsie, with animals going through the rescue.”

DeBay handed dogs needing to be rehomed over to Animal Rescue Coalition, which handled veterinary care before placing them up for adoption.

Joanne Landsburg, chief provincial inspector with the Nova Scotia SPCA, said the agency has contracts for kenneling, sometimes combined with animal control duties, with several municipalities.

“We have officers trained with enforcement and animal handling, and will have somebody available to handle after-hours stuff,” she said. “This is for a short period of time. They asked us to help with some after-hours emergency calls and kenneling, and we have somebody willing to do that. We want the public to know the SPCA has people who are highly trained, and we plan to do a good job for the municipality.”

Russell spent a couple of days working with Dave Henderson, the person hired to take over, and then voluntarily spent the weekend helping.

“I think he’ll be able to do a good job if they keep him there,” she said. “I think it’s important to have an in-house animal control officer.

“The big thing is to carry on what Elsie was doing: rescuing and rehoming animals.”

lynn.curwin@trurodaily.com

Related: Acting Colchester County animal control officer reflects on learning from Elsie DeBay

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