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Category "Vancouver Police"

29May

SPCA promotes human-pet bond after dog stolen from Vancouver homeless man

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Dave M., a homeless man who didn’t want his last name used, says his Alaskan Eskimo dog Cutiepie was stolen on Granville Street. He’s holding a poster he is hoping will help him find his dog.


Mike Bell / PNG

The bond between humans and animals is so powerful that the mental and physical health of a pet owner can be lifted just by having their animal in their life, according to the SPCA.

Despite that, there is still some stigma toward pet ownership by people who are living on the streets, spokeswoman for the B.C. SPCA, Lorie Chortyk, said Wednesday.

The animal welfare organization is among the groups that work to support relationships between homeless people — many of whom have been through tough times in their lives — and their pets.

“Often for these individuals this is the first time they’ve ever experienced unconditional love,” Chortyk said.

“I think anyone who’s had a pet understands how powerful that bond is. But if you haven’t experienced that unconditional love, that bond is even stronger. And those individuals protect that animal and protect that bond even more.”


Dave M., a homeless man who didn’t want his last name used, says his Alaskan Eskimo dog Cutiepie was stolen on Granville Street. He’s holding a poster he is hoping will help him find his dog.

Mike Bell /

PNG

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Chortyk’s comments came a few days after a white American Eskimo dog named Cutiepie was stolen from a man living on the sidewalk out front of the Hudson’s Bay department store on Granville Street in Downtown Vancouver.

Dave M, who declined to give his full last name, said he had left Cutiepie with his belongings while he used the washroom around 2:30 p.m. Friday. When he returned, the dog was gone. A frantic search of the surrounding streets was fruitless.

Cutiepie has been in Dave’s life for about six years. He presumed the then-eight-year-old dog had been abandoned before she arrived at his house in Mission, he said.

Asked if he knew who might have taken his dog, Dave said: “I’ve heard a couple people say (to the dog) ‘we’re going to give you a good home’, like, maybe four walls and a roof. … but I spend 24 hours a day with my dog. I take care of her. She’s my baby.”


Dave M., a homeless man who didn’t want his last name used, says his Alaskan Eskimo dog Cutiepie was stolen on Granville Street.

Mike Bell /

PNG

Dave, who has lived on the street for the past eight months, described Cutiepie as looking like a polar bear, with white hair, short little legs, a small head and a fat body. She’s a calm dog who loved being petted and she would spend hours in his lap being groomed, he said.

Dave asked anyone who has seen Cutiepie to alert the SPCA or the VPD, with whom he said he has filed a police report.

The SPCA has a program to help people who live on the streets care for their pets, and in Chortyk’s experience, people in that situation tend to be “so dedicated” to that cause.

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“Certainly, we’ve met a lot of people who will go without food themselves in order to make sure that their pets are well taken care of,” she said.

Through its Charlie’s pet food bank initiative, the SPCA offers things like nail trims, training tips, veterinary care, surgeries and referrals, as well as food, toys, carriers and leashes. The program is open to donations.

If anyone is concerned about the well-being of any animal they can contact the SPCA at 1-855-622-7722, and the organization can send out a staff member to assess the situation. If needed, they can either take the animal into care or try to help the owner, Chortyk said.

Studies and surveys around the world have repeatedly shown the importance pets can have in the lives of street-involved people, according to a 2014 research review written by Emma Woolley in her capacity as a research assistant with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

Woolley referenced a 2012 paper by Leslie Irvine, titled Animals as Lifechangers and Lifesavers: Pets in the Redemption Narratives of Homeless People, who conducted a series of interviews at pet clinics in the U.S. and found pets had led their owners to give up drugs, escape depression or even choose to continue living.

A Chihuahua was stolen from a panhandler around East Hastings and Nanaimo St. last year, according to CBC. The dog was later recovered by police after it was spotted by a good Samaritan.

Steve Addison, a VPD spokesman, encouraged anyone with information about a crime to call police. He said VPD did not have readily available data on the frequency of pets being stolen.

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24Apr

Daphne Bramham: Decriminalization alone won’t end B.C.’s overdose crisis

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A man injects drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Despite significant efforts to combat overdose deaths in British Columbia, the provincial coroner says illicit drug overdose deaths increased to 1,489, just over the 2017 death total.


JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The problem with the provincial health officer’s special report recommending decriminalization of all illicit drug users  is that Dr. Bonnie Henry chose to make that her only recommendation.

Three years after a public health emergency was declared because of an epidemic of deaths from illicit opioids, B.C. still has no comprehensive addictions strategy.

It has a stunning lack of treatment services, no universal access to services, no simple pathway to what few services there are, no provincial standards or regulation of privately operated treatment and recovery homes services.

Government ministries such as health, mental health and addictions services, social development and housing remain siloed and the root causes of addiction remain largely unaddressed.

While there has been substantial investment in harm-reduction measures including overdose prevention sites, free naloxone kits (to reverse an opioid overdose), low-barrier shelters and poverty reduction, the needs are greater.

Overdose deaths have only hit a plateau – not dropped. Every day, four people British Columbians die.

Yet, Henry is adamant that decriminalization is the most important next step.

“It’s about a focus and an intent,” she said. “Instead of police focusing on requirement of the Criminal Code, it builds off-ramps to connect with services. And, that in itself, ensures those systems are built.”

The majority of those who have died of overdoses were young men using alone at home. Without fear of being arrested and with the stigma of addiction being reduced, the expectation is that addicts or recreational users would be more likely to go to a supervised injection site, use with a friend (with a naloxone kit at the ready) or call for help if they overdose.

Henry calls decriminalization “a necessary next step to stop the death toll from rising and to make harm-reduction services more readily available.”

But it’s a question whether those recreational users would do that, because many addicts say that they use alone for a variety of reasons — not least of which is that they don’t want to share their drugs or they don’t want anyone to know what they do when they’re high.

The report recommended two options for British Columbia to work around the Criminal Code provisions.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth firmly and quickly said no to both. But he noted there are pilot projects in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Vernon where rather than charging for possession, police are linking users with services. An evaluation of those will be completed in the fall and, depending on the results, they may be expended to other communities.

Henry makes no secret of the fact that her ultimate goals for Canada are full legalization and regulation of all drugs to ensure that there is a safe supply. If that were to happen, Canada would be the first in the world to do that.

Portugal is mentioned frequently in the report and by Henry. Possession for personal use was decriminalized more than 20 years ago. But it was done only as part of a comprehensive, drug strategy.

Police still arrest anyone found with illicit drugs. They are taken to a police station where the drugs are weighed. If the amount is above the maximum limit set for personal use, they are charged and go through the criminal justice system.

If the amount is below the limit, tickets are issued and users told to appear at the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Use within 24 hours. There, they meet with a social worker or counsellor before going before a three-person tribunal, which recommends a plan for treatment.

People don’t have to comply. But if they are arrested again, the commission can impose community service, require that they seek treatment, impose fines and even confiscate people’s property to pay those fines.

That’s not the kind of decriminalization Henry is recommending. Instead, the onus here would be on police officers – not trained addictions specialists, psychologists or social workers — to connect users with services.

Part of the reason for the difference is that Portugal’s goal wasn’t legalization or keeping addicts alive until they chose to go treatment. Its focus was and is on getting addicts into treatment and recovery so they could resume their place in society.

Harm reduction is only a small part of the Portuguese plan. Its first supervised injection site has only recently opened. But there is free and easy access to methadone (which dampens heroin addicts’ craving for the drug) and free needles to stop the spread of infection.

These harm reduction measures are deemed to temporary bridges to abstinence for all but older, hardcore, long-term heroin users rather than long-term solutions. Of course, fentanyl and carfentanil have yet to be found in its illicit drug supply.

Its treatment services as extensive and include everything from outpatient treatment to three years’ residency in a therapeutic community during which time the users’ families are provided with income supplements.

Nothing in this decriminalization report moves British Columbia anywhere close to that kind of comprehensive system. And until we get there, it’s hard to imagine that this overdose crisis ending anytime soon.

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Twitter: @bramham_daphne


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20Nov

Vancouver police arrest man in connection with West End assault

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Vancouver police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the alleged assault of a woman in a West End apartment building on Saturday.

Just before 3 a.m., a woman reported being attacked after she was followed by an unknown man into her building on Bute Street near Pendrell Street.

Investigators said the attack was sexually motivated.

Police released security camera images of “a person of interest” on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday, they had a man in custody.

“Tips from the public were crucial in helping to identify the suspect,” VPD Sgt. Jason Doucette said in a release.


A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera.

Vancouver Police Department /

PNG

The man’s name has not been released.

Doucette says the VPD are anticipating he will be charged with sexual assault and robbery.


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17Nov

Vancouver police investigate West End assault

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Vancouver police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down a person of interest in a West End assault Saturday, who was photographed by a security camera.

Just before 3 a.m., a woman reported being attacked after she was followed by a man into her apartment building on Bute Street near Pendrell Street. She did not know him and it appears to be an isolated incident, but investigators believe it was sexually motivated, the police said in a news release.


A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera. [PNG Merlin Archive]

Vancouver Police Department /

PNG

The man is described as white, in his 20s or 30s, with a slim build, short dark hair and dark facial stubble. He was wearing a burgundy toque, a black zip-up jacket and blue jeans. He may have been walking with a limp.


A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera. [PNG Merlin Archive]

Vancouver Police Department /

PNG

Detectives ask anyone with information that could help their investigation or who recognizes the person of interest to call their tip line at 604-717-0601 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.


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