The City has finally come up with some guidelines for dog owners in the city, and pitbull owners and those of other more ah, energetic breeds will be held to a higher standard than the run of the mill mutt owner.
City council explored the new regulations which will come into effect after the next council meeting when the bylaw is given assent, with Councillor Thorkelson making note that it has suddenly become very expensive to be a dog owner, depending on the breed of dog that you wish to keep around the house.
Using the Pitbulls as an example, the new cost of licencing will be $150 a year for sterilized dogs and $200 for unsterilized dogs before March 1, pitbull owners will also be on the hook for some aesthetic changes to their homes, as they are now required to post signage warning the public of the animal's presence, keep the animal muzzled and leashed at all times in public or off-leash areas, and must provide for an enclosed pen or six-foot high fence in their backyards.
Should their animal still somehow manage to get into trouble, the impound fees that they are charged will be increased as the occurrences multiply, from $250 for a first offence, $500 for a second offence and $1,000 for each subsequent offence.
Unrestricted dogs will be bailed out of doggie jail for a singnifcantly less amount, ranging from $50 for a first offence, $85 for a second offence and $135 for subsequent offences.
With Mayor Herb Pond out of town and Acting Mayor Tony Briglio holding down the gavel, the remaining six members of council weighed their options and brought in the bylaw with bite by a measure of 4-2.
The Daily News featured all the snarling and gnashing of teeth of the council meeting as the front page story in Wednesday's paper.
COUNCILLORS GET THEIR TEETH INTO DANGEROUS DOG BYLAW
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Pages one and three
Pitbulls will be presumed guilty under the city's new dog control bylaw and as it is currently proposed, their owners will have to pay.
At Monday night's council meeting, in a four-to-two vote, council decided pitbulls and associated breeds (restricted dogs) would face the same restrictions, regulations and fees as dogs with a proven track record off attacking other animals or humans (dangerous or vicious dogs.)
"You are sure making it expensive for a lot of people in town," said Coun. Joy Thorkelson, after the new bylaw passed the first three readings.
"I just have a problem treating restricted dogs the same as dangerous dogs."
Under the new bylaw, anyone licensing a pitbull will face fees of $150 a year for sterilized dogs and $200 for unsterilized dogs before March 1, as well as be required to post signage warning the public of the animal's presence, keep the animal muzzled and leashed at all times in public or off-leash areas, and require an enclosed pen or six-foot high fence in their backyards. Impound fees will also be the same for "restricted" breeds and vicious dogs - $250 for a first offence, $500 for a second offence and $1,000 for each subsequent offence.
This compares to impoundment fees for unrestricted breeds of $50 for a first offence, $85 for a second offence and $135 for subsequent offences.
These are the same requirements for a "dangerous" or "vicious" dog that has attacked a person or animal or shown aggressive behaviour.
Thorkelson, who was supported by acting mayor Tony Briglio, made several attempts to change the bylaw to differentiate between "restricted" and "dangerous" dogs.
"We heard at the public hearing that we had on dogs and cats that there were two really varying opinions," she said.
On one hand, some people, such as the head veterinarian of the B.C. SPCA, felt legislating specific breeds was a waste of time, for there is good and bad in every breed and it is the owner who determines the characteristic of the animal. On the other hand, some people felt certain breeds have a track record and should be legislated.
"This bylaw says they are restricted dogs because they are supposed to be more dangerous ... " said Thorkelson.
"It makes the present ownership of these dogs very expensive and my concern is that we are going to find it is quite difficult for some of these people pay the money to have these dogs."
She suggested council apply a grandfather clause for existing pitbull owners, dropping the fee down to $100 in the first year and working up to $250 over time.
This way, it would discourage people from buying new restricted dogs but it would not punish existing owners of peaceful restricted dogs.
Pitbull owners already face significant added costs for fencing and signage, she said.
"It's a fair amount of money someone will have to put out to keep the dog," she said.
If a restricted dog became a dangerous or vicious dog, the owner would then face the full fee of $200.
Acting Mayor Tony Briglio also voiced his concern.
"I, for one, could go for a dangerous dog bylaw but not restricted just based on breed that an animal happened to be," he said.
However, neither councillors Sheila Gordon-Payne, Kathy Bedard or Ken Cote wanted to discuss the issue. Coun. Thorkelson voted against the bylaw when it was passed.
The bylaw is expected to receive assent at the next meeting and them come into force after that.