CALGARY — Pets on the lam in Calgary may soon find themselves in the crosshairs of tranquilizer guns wielded by city animal control officers.
Bill Bruce, the head of the city’s bylaw enforcement division, said elusive pooches and other pets can tie up officers for hours as officers try to collar them.
Some animals can pose a danger to the public and even cause vehicles to collide as drivers swerve to avoid strays, he said.
That has prompted officials to explore adding the sleep-inducing dart guns to their critter-collaring arsenal.
City officials have begun discussions with Alberta Fish and Wildlife and the province’s solicitor general on the use of such tranquilizer guns.
Animal control officers would determine the dosage of tranquilizer to be used, based on the animal’s estimated weight and would be ready with an antidote so they quickly regain consciousness once they’re corralled, Bruce said.
“The biggest problem are dogs called in that are running around freeways — it can be very dangerous for the public and the dogs,” he said.
He noted that many cities in the United States have been using the devices for years to deal with cagey pets.
Ed Pirogowicz, a Calgary fish and wildlife officer, said the guns have been used effectively against moose, bears, deer and cougars that have wandered into the city’s suburbs. He would welcome his fellow municipal officers having the same tool in their arsenal.
“It’s always nice to have an extra helping hand,” he said. Pirogowicz pointed out that the tranquilizer guns are only effective within 45 to 55 metres and pose no danger to the public.
He said in some cases, the injection of sedatives into a panicked animal’s system has caused some to die but noted such incidents are rare.
“It does happen where one will die but the last one we lost was about five or six years ago,” he said.
Bruce said officers would undergo extensive training with the guns and they would only be used in cases where animals or people are in peril.
People walking their dogs at a south Calgary park on Sunday were opposed to the idea, saying it should only be used on dogs that pose a danger.
“I think only if the animal is aggressive they should be able to and preferably with consent of the owner,” said Annie Isaac, with her dog Takoda.