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Monday, September 26, 2022
Lincoln County Humane Society takes over animal control in NOTL

The Lincoln County Humane Society is now handling all animal-related needs in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The agency was awarded a joint contract between NOTL and the Town of Grimsby to take over animal services at the end of December.

It is a four-year contract, Lincoln County Humane Society executive director Kevin Strooband said.

For the past 22 years, Ken Reid was canine control officer for NOTL. Reid said the lack of transparency around the shift to a larger organization led him to feel he had been treated poorly by the town.

Lincoln County took over the service Jan. 1. Details about the terms of the contract are expected to be discussed at an upcoming meeting when councillors enact a bylaw to formalize the agreement, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said.

For now, all Disero would say was the town expects to see savings with the new expanded services.

“I’m glad that animal services will continue for Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m told that the (request for proposal) results are anticipating a savings in terms of our budget,” Disero said in an interview.

“Provided they are able to give the service that our residents expect, I’m happy about it.”

Disero said the reason council didn’t vote on the contract before it was awarded was because of the town's new procurement officer.

“We have a new procurement officer that is working with town staff to determine the best and most fair results for our RFPs,” said.

She said the Lincoln Humane Society’s proposal “met the budget and procurement criteria so no further approval is required except the bylaw approval.”

The handling of Reid’s contract was the subject of controversy in town last year, with upset residents voicing their disapproval over Reid no longer being canine control officer.

He told The Lake Report in December that he was considering applying to be a bylaw officer, an idea Disero said she is amenable to.

Reid has “done a lot of good work for the town over the years. If there is an opening for bylaw, certainly the staff should consider the experience that he has. I see no reason why he wouldn’t be a suitable candidate.”

But Reid has yet to apply.

“I’m trying to figure out what my next step might be,” Reid said in an interview Monday. “I don’t want to shut any doors.”

Reid said he also has yet to reach out to the Lincoln Humane Society to apply for a possible position.

As a potential bylaw officer, Reid has plenty of past experience. On top of the 22 years he spent enforcing NOTL’s canine bylaws, he is a certified provincial offences officer, worked for the Canadian Automobile Association and volunteered with the Vancouver police department through the Citizens Crime Watch program.

Reid said on one occasion, he actually helped recover a sheriff’s stolen car.

He thinks one of the best parts about having him as canine officer was the personal touch he brought to the town, like patrolling the streets of NOTL daily.

He has noticed an uptick in roadkill on municipal streets since the humane society took over.

“I used to pick them up if I was just driving by. The humane society’s not just driving by,” he said.

Reid said he also would routinely help people who were having car trouble when he was driving around, thanks to his experience with the CAA.

Since he won’t be cruising the town looking out for people’s lost animals and helping with car trouble, Reid wants to encourage residents to call the humane society if any of their pets do go missing.

“I just hope the community still puts in the calls. Their animals aren’t getting picked up because I’m not patrolling around looking for them,” he said.

Strooband said his organization is happy to be in NOTL full-time.

“We’re very excited because we’ve certainly had animals come in from people in Niagara-on-the-Lake and we’ve always enjoyed our interactions,” he said in an interview on Monday.

Strooband said NOTL residents can expect professionalism and customer service from the humane society. He emphasized that with the new contract, his organization becomes the “one-stop shop” for all animal-related issues.

“It’s good for residents to know exactly who to call and where to go,” he said.

Strooband said the public can expect a high level of animal care.

“We’re held to standards by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural affairs on how we govern a kennel. So, they come in for inspections and we’ve always done well with those,” he said.