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Victoria animal control officers get more power

Victoria city council has approved new powers for animal control officers to enter a property without the consent of its owner.

City bylaws officers already have this authority.

Mayor Dean Fortin raised one concern, drawing on his legal background.

"It strikes me odd that if peace officers want to enter your property, there is a high standard that they must meet, to get a search warrant … but now an animal control officer can just go wander into your backyard," he said.

Not so, said Rob Woodland, director of legislative and regulatory services.

Animal control officers will have to give reasonable notice and can only enter a property in response to a complaint, he said.

Coun. Chris Coleman also questioned the implications of the new powers.

"If I go in to check out a complaint … and I find some other material (of a criminal nature), am I under a duty to report that?" he asked.

"That's something our solicitor would have to answer for you," Woodland replied.

Issues of animal welfare, however, outweighed these concerns.

If a dog is chained to a tree without proper shelter or water, "being able to respond is important," said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

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