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ROTHENBURGER: City’s dog-control bylaw is in need of a thorough review

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

KAMLOOPS LOVES DOGS. They get their very own parks to run around in, there are plentiful trails to take them for walks on, and a plentiful supply of kennels and trainers and pet stores to help make them good members of our families.

I’m one of those who firmly believes that dogs make our lives better. But, sometimes, things go wrong, and both dogs and people get hurt.

Rushing to judgment on individual cases such as the recent one involving a small child and a neighbour’s dog isn’t productive — all the facts have to be collected. So, let’s talk about some generalities with respect to the dog bylaw.

That bylaw divides problem dogs into three categories — dangerous, aggressive and nuisance. It’s the dangerous ones that cause the most concern.

According to the dog bylaw, a dangerous dog is one that has “killed or seriously injured a person” or a domestic animal, or that an animal control officer believes is likely to do so.

Nobody is allowed to own a dangerous dog.

That sounds pretty straight forward but, in fact, dangerous dog cases can become very complicated. The nuances of investigations can bring into question whether the dog was provoked or has a previous history of aggression.

Dog owners tend to overlook the imperfections of their dogs — such as, “our Snookums has never done anything like that before” — and will fight in the courts any attempt to mete out appropriate consequences.

Sometimes it seems as though dogs get better treatment than people. If somebody beats the crap out of somebody he or she isn’t let off with a lecture because it was the first time it happened.

Any dog that seriously injures a person without provocation needs to be removed permanently.

There have been enough tragic first-time incidents in Kamloops that a serious review of the City’s dog bylaw, and how it’s enforced, is in order.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on ROTHENBURGER: City’s dog-control bylaw is in need of a thorough review

  1. Richard Carlson // November 2, 2021 at 11:53 AM // Reply

    Communities reactions to “aggressive dogs” is exactly opposite to the remedial actions that stand the best chance of achieving the desired outcomes. Typical reactions are “lock them up”. Locking up dogs in a back yard with out training them how to interact with other dogs and people only makes the dog a greater risk should the dog escape the confinement in the future. All dogs should be exposed to all normal community situations from an early age. Owners should be obligated to enriching their dogs lives. It should be illegal to keep a dog isolated and confined for more than some set limit per day. Dogs that are regularly walked where they met other dogs, people and cats are much less likely to be aggressive. With regards to dogs deemed to be aggressive, the effective remedy is to require the owner to enroll the dog in a appropriate training school, and to demonstrate that the dogs environment and daily experience is conducive to rehabilitation and acceptable behavior. Dog owners that are unwilling to undertake these measures should be required to surrender their dog to the BCSPCA, where they will be assessed and worked with and then if possible, be adopted out to suitable owners.

    Dogs have been a part of our lives for over ten thousand years. There is no point taking impulsive short sighted actions to modify their role in our lives.

  2. Perhaps reviewing the “nuisance property” by law needs to happen first. There is no remedy for removal.
    We have more forgivable bylaws to deal with dogs than we do property issues!!

  3. Good points raised, Mel. It’s tough when our society “farms out” our personal safety through taxation paid to the municipality.
    My sister-in-law was walking heir dog along Harrington Drive in Westsyde a few years ago when their dog (on leash) was attacked by two dogs that rushed out of the front door of a residence. After a review, the dogs were labelled as being “aggressive” and the owner had to pay bigger fees every year to keep the dogs as well as keep them basically locked up in a fenced area so that they would not repeat the attack on someone else’s dog.
    My brother got to pay the vet bill, take care of the dog through its recovery and my sister-in-law was so traumatized she never walked their dog again.
    Of late, a fellow who lives a short walk away told me about a dog living near them which mauled the cat that was living in the same house. The incident had taken place inside the house. Evidently, the cat’s injuries were so bad the cat had to be euthanized. Should this be treated as a warning sign? Are we right to fear walking by the place with our dog as we watch to make sure the front door is open or closed? Since the story is “second hand” or hear say, what is there to report as fact to any agency that is paid for protecting the general public? I feel the fellow who told me had an obligation to go further with things but that is only my opinion.
    For the family of the little boy who was bitten, there may still be the avenue of civil action through the court.

  4. Fully behind a dog bylaw review and most importantly the commitment to enforce it.

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