Disposing of a deceased pet in Yellowknife
Two weeks ago, we reported on an incident in which the body of a pet dog was placed in a dumpster at the Yellowknife River day-use area.
The action was taken by an officer from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) after the deceased dog had been removed from the Yellowknife River.
The husky, named Greenie, had been missing for weeks. Her owner, Kaja Kotulak, expressed distress at this means of disposing of the dog’s body – and that she had not been directly informed of her dog’s discovery, despite the presence of a tag.
At the time, the department said the officer had been trying to dispose of the dog “as discreetly as possible” as there were children in the vicinity, and had not noticed any tag on the body, otherwise they “would certainly have followed up with the owner to notify them.”
The report documenting this incident drew a large volume of comment from readers, including some who asked: what’s the most appropriate way to dispose of a domesticated animal in Yellowknife?
In many instances, your vet will take care of this. Great Slave Animal Hospital, for example, lists an on-site cremation service on its website. Your vet will know what to do if a pet should happen to pass away.
However, if for any reason (such as in this instance) a vet is not involved, the rules to follow governing disposal of the animal are found in the City of Yellowknife’s bylaws.
Bylaw 4376, which deals with solid waste management, classifies animal carcasses as “special waste.” If not being taken care of by a vet or other authority, the bylaw requires that this type of waste be disposed of by residents at the city’s dump, for a small fee.
The same bylaw expressly forbids the placing of such special waste in dumpsters, as occurred in this instance.
A sign on a dumpster at a territorial park urges residents not to place animal carcasses inside. Photo: Submitted
‘Room for improvement’
Cabin Radio understands the officer in question was responding to a call from the public about the deceased dog on their own time, out of hours, using their own vehicle.
Two individuals identifying themselves as friends of the officer described the officer choosing to respond with their partner, in civilian clothes, as – in the words of one – “nobody else was taking the call.”
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it had “no further information to provide” regarding the incident and did not grant any interviews regarding what had taken place.
Ordinarily, the City of Yellowknife said, its municipal enforcement (MED) officers would expect to take care of any similar animal disposal within city limits – including at the Yellowknife River day-use area.
“If contacted regarding a deceased domestic animal within the municipal boundary, the standard procedure is for an MED officer to attempt to contact the owner,” the City said in a statement.
“If unable to identify an owner, MED would dispose of the animal at the Yellowknife Solid Waste Facility in accordance with the Solid Waste By-law No 4376.”
Greenie, a nine-year-old Siberian husky, was found deceased at the Yellowknife River day-use area earlier in June. Photo: Submitted
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said its officer had attempted to contact municipal enforcement on the day. The City said it has no record of any contact that day regarding a deceased animal.
That discrepancy, alongside the apparent necessity for the officer to use their own vehicle to respond, suggests a gap in protocol when it comes to how the various agencies react to a situation such as this.
Asked if the procedure for handling reports of deceased animals needed to improve, both the City and the department agreed in generic terms.
“There is always room for improvements to processes and services,” said the City.
“ENR recognizes there is always room for improvements to processes and services, and the department and the City of Yellowknife continue to communicate on ways in which we can work together to improve services for residents,” an ENR spokesperson wrote.