BC SPCA has ‘no legal authority’ to help catch wolf-dog loose in Coombs

BC SPCA has 'no legal authority' to help catch wolf-dog loose in Coombs
File photo of the wolf-dog

Though there have been some hoping the BC SPCA will step in the help catch the wolf-dog that is loose in Coombs, the organization says its hands are tied by various legislation.

The wolf-dog has been evading capturers in the region since at least Sept. 7, when it was “dumped” in the area.

There are many groups in the area helping try to catch the wolf-dog, but the BC SPCA has been notably absent. Now, the organization explains why.

“Under current legislation, the BC SPCA has no legal authority to apprehend this animal,” the BC SPCA says in a statement on its website.

The designation of the wolf-dog itself is the first issue. The BC SPCA has the authority in the province to intervene in cases of domestic animal cruelty, neglect and distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Wild animals fall under provincial jurisdiction through the Wildlife Act.

However, the wolf-dog is a mix between a domesticated dog and wild wolf.

“It is important to note that the Wildlife Act does not currently apply to hybrid wild-domestic animals,” the SPCA explains. “The roaming wolf-dog hybrid falls into the category of a stray animal as a result.”

Since it is deemed a stray animal, it would fall under the jurisdiction of animal control, and the BC SPCA does not have a contract for animal control in the Regional District of Nanaimo, meaning it can’t step in.

“However, the Society has long advocated for the inclusion of all exotic and wild-domestic hybrid animals in the Controlled Alien Species (CAS) regulation,” the SPCA says. “Aside from their risks to humans and other animals, there are serious animal welfare and ecological concerns associated with exotic and hybrid pets.”

At the 2023 Union of BC Municipalities meeting, a resolution was put forward asking the province to ban all hybrid animals that are lower than F4 generation. F4 means that there have been four rounds of breeding since the original wild cat (F1).

“The BC SPCA is opposed to the keeping, breeding, sale, display or trade of hybrid wild animals (including exotic species), such as, wolf-dogs, savannah cats, zorses (horse-zebra) and other wild-domestic crosses,” the SPCA says.

“The Society actively encourages the adoption of legislation, regulation and policies that prohibit their importation, breeding, display and sale, protect their welfare, and minimize their risk to the environment and human health and safety.”

The SPCA says Coastal Animal Control Services of B.C. has the local animal control contract in the RDN, but the RCMP has been assisting due to the multiple successful attempts at evading capture.


Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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