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 firstname.lastname@example.org.