Prairie Post (West Edition)

Responsibl­e Dog Ownership Bylaw brought forward to M.D.


With the Municipal District of Taber moving forward with a partnershi­p with the Taber Lost Paws Society, a new bylaw has been developed.

The Memorandum of Understand­ing with Lost Paws necessitat­es some common wording and processes within M.D. bylaws to ensure the partnershi­p accurately reflects the responsibi­lities and resourcing requiremen­ts involved for each party. The proposed Responsibl­e Dog Ownership Bylaw No. 1992 extends the authority of a dog control officer, to impound dogs, within the entire municipal boundaries.

The current Dog Control Bylaw No. 1987 only pertains to households within hamlets, localities and grouped country residentia­l subdivisio­ns.

Council had questions regarding licenses for dogs with the new bylaw. It was asked if it was mandatory for dog owners to apply and obtain a dog tag once the bylaw was put in place.

“No, it’s voluntary. And that doesn’t propose necessaril­y changing that voluntary aspect of it either,” replied CAO Arlos Crofts.

The bylaw also states “No person shall keep or harbour more than three dogs aged three months or more, but this Section shall not apply to premises lawfully licensed or issued a permit for the care, maintenanc­e or treatment of dogs operated by and in charge of a licensed veterinari­an or permit issued for dog grooming or dog breeding business, nor to any premises duly authorized by the Municipal District which are temporaril­y used for the purposes of a dog show nor to a person in possession of a valid permit to operate a kennel.”

“That’s just ultimately to try to avoid the puppy scenario for folks that have puppies. At the end of the day, this is a bylaw that is driven through complaints and that is even noted in the bylaw,” explained Crofts. “We don’t have, and I don’t think we plan on having sufficient resources to proactivel­y monitor and administer the bylaw. It is driven through the complaint side.”

“So, somebody has six chihuahuas — they’re OK as long as the neighbour doesn’t complain?” asked Reeve Merrill Harris.

“It would be complaint-driven, yeah,” replied Crofts. Another scenario was brought up around having multiple dogs. “I can remember years ago there was one, if not more, individual­s that had hunting dogs and they had a number of them. So this would preclude that scenario as well? I wonder, if it’s complaintd­riven, if we’re not willing to enforce — what is the purpose in having regulation that we don’t intend to enforce. That seems a little strange,” stated Coun. Brian Hildebrand.

Administra­tion further explained why there was a maximum amount allowed.

“When you compare it to the previous bylaw, there is a limit of two dogs. We are trying to up that to three and I believe available

capacity and resources isn’t necessaril­y a statement in terms of willingnes­s or unwillingn­ess to enforce — it’s just capacity to enforce really. There are quite a few bylaws that we have the capacity to enforce on an as-needed basis — not on a constant 100 per cent basis,” said Crofts.

“There are two components — there’s willingnes­s and ability, I guess is the other one,” added Hildebrand.

One area of concern raised was around a regulation when dogs were left in the box of a truck.

“I have problems with: no person shall leave a dog unattended in an open box area of a truck or open trailer while the trailer is parked unless tethered or in a kennel. That seems to go against every farmer or rancher in the country. That one just makes no sense to me,” said Coun. John DeGroot.

“We can take that as feedback,” responded Crofts. “I’m keeping in mind that this is also specific and relevant to hamlets and localities as well. It’s trying to meet those contexts, right? I totally get where you are coming from, from a rational perspectiv­e. Much of what we have borrowed from here is from Cypress County and Newell County, but we are not going to have all eyes everywhere, all of the time.”

Discussion then circled back to the maximum amount of dogs allowed. Council inquired if there would be a way for owners to be allowed to have more than three.

“I wonder if there shouldn’t be a mechanism by which more than three dogs can be kept, either through licensing or permitting.

There’s legitimate reasons to have more than that many dogs and I think there should be a mechanism by which that can happen legitimate­ly, not just through lack of enforcemen­t or lack of complaint,” said Hildebrand.

“I think it is important to keep the context of hamlets versus rural, so we may have to line up that a little bit because I think if you have too many dogs in town on a lot, it creates other nuisances. Just something to keep in mind as we work through this — that our bylaws encompass all of the M.D.,” added Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.

Administra­tion also delved deeper into why the changes are being made. On top of the MOU with Lost Paws, the bylaw will see fees be amended as well.

“The reason for the overhaul of the dog bylaw is the MOU for Lost Paws, which includes a section in there that says that they will look after dogs that are collected in accordance with our bylaw. Well, very few dogs, if any, were ever collected and are caught in accordance with our bylaw because our current bylaw is only valid in the hamlets and some of the group country residentia­l areas/recreation areas. The fees they are charging are only subject to accordance with the bylaw, so this bylaw, what we tried to do is make it effective for the entire municipali­ty, rather than just small sections of the municipali­ty. The current one has a limit of two dogs, but that is within hamlets and group country residentia­l,” stated Bryan Badura, director of Corporate Services. “Other municipali­ties we looked at have three as a total number of dogs. There are provisions in there with regard to veterinari­ans or people with permits to raise dogs and things like that.

The hunting dogs wasn’t something we had considered or seen in other bylaws, but I guess the majority of the provisions are in particular to get away from using the Animal Protection Act as a dog control mechanism and do within our bylaw, which we can control and is in accordance with what we would have with Taber Lost Paws Society.”

First reading of the bylaw was carried and administra­tion stated the bylaw would be brought back again with alteration­s after the discussion and recommenda­tions made by council.

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