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Picture Butte pondering changes to dog bylaw

Posted on November 19, 2019 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Potential changes to Picture Butte’s dog bylaw could put some owners in the doghouse.

During their regular Nov. 12 meeting, Picture Butte town council reviewed a potential dog bylaw for the town.

The proposed bylaw 885-19 — or the Dog Control Bylaw — combines and updates two existing bylaws, bylaw no. 650-87 — the Restricted Dog Bylaw — and 690-92 — the Dog Bylaw — and is based on the City of Lethbridge’s dog bylaw.

The proposed bylaw carries several key changes.

A new definition and process for dealing with aggressive dogs was added, in Sections 1 and 4, where the previous Restricted Dog Bylaw identified certain breeds as restricted dogs and outlined a process that a resident must follow if they owned a restricted dog breed.

The proposed bylaw does not restrict any breed of dog, but defines what an aggressive dog is and outlines a process for how the town will deal with aggressive dogs.

An Aggressive Dog Appeal Committee was created, in Section 5, where there is an appeal process for a person that has their dog declared as an aggressive dog.

These appeals would be apart of a regular council meeting.

A Fostering Dogs section, or Section 7, was added in. The old bylaw does not address residents that foster dogs, and would allow a resident to apply for a Fostering Dog License, which would allow them to have a maximum of four dogs. The four dogs may, for example, include one personally owned and licensed dog and three foster dogs or any other combination up to being able to foster four dogs.

Tags for foster dogs would be purchased from the town and be transferable between foster dogs within the year that that the tags were purchased, and there would be a process to follow to determine if an owner qualifies for such a license.

There is a new section for a Dog Fancier License, in Section 8.

There was no process outlined in the old bylaw on how administration should process dog fancier license applications in the previous bylaw, and this outlines a process that can be followed to determine if an owner qualifies for such a license.

Changes were made in Section 10 regarding impounded dogs include the town impounding them at their dog pound, or Animal Service Centre, located at the public works shop, as described in Section 10.5.

Unclaimed dogs will go to rescue dog organizations that will accept any dogs that we have not been able to reunite with their owners. The town would only give unclaimed dogs to these rescue organizations.

“The town will only give unclaimed dogs to those animal car centres,” said Keith Davis, town CAO.

“We’re not going to be in the business of adopting dogs out, we’re not in the business of selling dogs. We’re going to turn it over to care facilities that already do it.”

Fees and rates associated with the dog bylaws are now included and updated in the town’s Services, Fees, Rates and Charges Bylaw.

Coun. Joe Watson felt that the charge for a dog running at large was a bit steep at $100 for a first time offence, and proposed a tiered system for it.

“Give a guy a break if the dog got out and went chasing around, playing with the kids, or something like that, once,” said Watson.

Coun. Cynthia Papworth disagreed, noting that if they charge them $100 for the first offence they will be more careful.

“They’re either going to put them in a better pen, a better fence. We have them running down our street too, and I can tell the one can get picked up every day,” said Papworth. “Maybe if they got charged right away $100, you wouldn’t see them on the street after that.”

Mayor Cathy Moore said she would like to see the fee for dog not wearing a license to be higher, noting there are a lot of dogs around but they don’t seem to sell a lot of licenses.

Davis noted that they had fees for dog not wearing listen — $25 — and dog not licensed — $150 — and Moore clarified she meant an unlicensed dog.

Coun. Henry de Kok said he would prefer to not change the fees, as it could be hard to track how many times a dog owner was ticketed for a dog running at large.

Davis said it would be up to the discretion of the bylaw enforcement officer. Residents also have the option of appealing any fine they received from the town.

Watson noted they could run into trouble if the bylaw officer gives a round of warnings to some residents at first but then starts handling out fines, even to first-time offenders.

De Kok said they could just include that the bylaw officer has the discretion to give one written warning, so it was on the books.

Council unanimously passed a motion for administration to bring the bylaw back to the next council meeting with changes.

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