Animal Control Bylaw Under Review
Prince George, B.C. -Council for the City of Prince George has given the green light for Bylaw Services to review the City’s Animal control bylaw.
The approval clears the way for the development of a new bylaw that would put more responsibility on pet owners.
According to Bylaw Services, measures such as designating certain breeds of dogs as “dangerous” and requiring the animals to be muzzled when in public and in an “enclosure” at home, have had little effect in protecting the protect the public from dogs that bite.
According to their report, identifying a dog that is “”restricted” is difficult as is evident in the image posted above. The City relies on the honesty of the owner when it comes to licensing such animals. Only 50 such animals are currently licensed in the City, however, Bylaw Services is certain there are many more.
Restricted dogs in Prince George are:
- Pit Bull Terrier,
- American Pit Bull Terrier,
- Pit Bull,
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier,
- American Staffordshire Terrier, and
- crossbreeds of each.
The number of bite incidents in which the restricted breeds were involved has increased, but not all bites involved such breeds. In fact, in the10 years since the current bylaw came into effect a restricted breed was identified in 23 of every 100 incidents. That compares to 14 of every 100 incidents in the 5 years prior to the current bylaw coming into effect.
Restricting breeds, and labeling the breed as ‘dangerous’ is opposed by the BC SPCA and the Canadian Kennel Club. Both organizations say there are a number of factors which contribute to a dog being aggressive and genetics is just one of those factors.
Bylaw Services Manager Fred Crittenden says there is also an issue with cats. He says while “Unidentifiable free roaming cats” create nuisance complaints for his office, (657 last year) the owner of a cat can simply pay a nominal impoundment fee to have their cat returned should it be impounded. The report says “creating a bylaw to encourage spaying or neutering and having permanent forms of identification cats would allow for a more effective way of dealing with nuisance cats and the overpopulation.”
Councillor Jillian Merrick says her research has brought her to conclude the current animal control bylaw is “Woefully inadequate.”
Councillor Brian Skakun was on Council when the restricted dog rule was brought into effect. “There was a need then and there is a need today” said Skakun, who referred to a letter from a woman who suffered from a ‘pit bull’ attack. “These dogs need to be muzzled.”
Councillor Terri McConnachie admitted this issue is “Very highly charged, an issue that brings up a lot of emotions on both sides of the equation.” She supports reviewing the bylaw, but noted “All dogs can bite, all dogs have teeth.”
“It’s a concern in almost every community” said Councillor Murry Krause but said it’s far too prevalent, “It’s not just people being bitten, but its people and children being frightened.”
Council has unanimously approved staff developing a new bylaw.