Fraser Valley Regional District communications manager Jennifer Kinneman visits Moose, one of the dogs at the Community Animal Response and Education (CARE) Centre operated by the FVRD.

Fraser Valley Regional District communications manager Jennifer Kinneman visits Moose, one of the dogs at the Community Animal Response and Education (CARE) Centre operated by the FVRD.

Life in the dog pound

Fraser Valley Regional District’s (FVRD) shelter does more than house stray dogs

Emaciated and mangy, his skin torn and pockmarked, the dog now called Clark Kent was not a pretty sight upon arrival at the Fraser Valley Regional District’s (FVRD) animal shelter.

Two weeks after he was found wandering in a farming area, the pit bull cross might still not be dog show material, but he is energetic, friendly and 12 pounds heavier. He sits when told by a trainer and, as new faces look on, holds his pose for 30 seconds – far longer than ever before.

Life at the pound seems to have been good to Clark Kent.


The FVRD’s animal control division is a nine-person rehab centre, justice system and adoption agency rolled into one.

In January, Abbotsford turned over all animal control issues to the FVRD, although it has been sending its outlaw dogs here, to the Community Animal Response and Education (CARE) centre, since 2011.

Down a short gravel road beside Chilliwack’s Wolfe Road water treatment facility, a large gate bars entry to the centre. Beyond it, a cramped trailer on the site houses two dispatchers, along with animal control services supervisor Trina Douglas and another employee. (It’s anticipated that a larger building will be moved onto the site later this year to provide more space.) Behind the office is the kennel, which can hold 24 animals. On this day, there are 17 dogs present. Another seven are in foster homes.

In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 321 dogs moved through the centre, just 51 of which were licensed. The shelter averaged 80 per cent capacity, with foster homes used on those days when there were more dogs than kennels.

Inside the trailer, the dispatchers take and relay  complaints to officers in the field – one each in Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

Although 2015 ushered in a new animal control regimen in Abbotsford, because the Chilliwack shelter has been taking Abbotsford dogs for years, policies regarding animals found “at large,” like Clark Kent, remain the same.

Once an animal – the facility can also accommodate small livestock like goats, chickens and sheep – is taken into custody and transferred to the kennel, a countdown begins.

Sixty per cent of animals apprehended in 2013 were claimed – a rate Douglas says has improved in recent years. Another nine per cent are either given a free ride home or taken home with a fine.

Staff use any identification found on the dog to find an owner, although information found via tags and microchips is frequently outdated. If no one comes to claim an animal within 96 hours, staff starts the adoption process, which includes vaccinations and spaying or neutering. It’s a process that can take weeks or even months, depending on the state of the animal.


Moose, a Tibetan mastiff mix around two years old or younger, was spotted wandering a Fraser Valley farming area in October.

The dog’s fur was a mess and he was extremely skinny. It took an animal control officer an hour to corral him.

“I don’t know if he’d ever been around people,” Douglas says.

Today, Moose is still timid and unwilling to enter a vehicle. His adoption page reads, optimistically, “coming soon.” At the present though, he would need an experienced owner with ample time. The mission of the CARE centre staff is to lower that bar for potential families.

There is no deadline for his rehabilitation; the shelter does not euthanize unadoptable dogs. Only animals with serious medical issues, or those that have seriously injured a person or “exhibited severe behavioural/aggression issues are euthanized. In 2013, nine per cent of dogs were put down.

Every day, the dogs are taken for walks and let out to socialize. Less sociable animals get one-on-one training and care.

“Each dog gets something different depending on what their needs are,” Douglas says.

And slowly, Moose is improving, becoming healthier and more friendly.

Once available for adoption, he and Clark Kent will be listed on When a prospective match is made, they will head to foster homes, hopefully leaving the pound behind for good.

For now though, Moose is happy to wander the pound’s yard with Fraser Valley Regional District communications manager Jennifer Kinneman.

“I’m just amazed at the amount of care and effort that these folks put into the dogs,” says Kinneman.

Abbotsford News

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