Erika Paul, the SPCA’s senior animal protection and outreach officer, told North Cowichan’s council on Wednesday that putting the onus of responsibility back on the pet owners is one of the purposes of a new animal bylaw being considered by the municipality. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Vancouver Island council removes breed-specific clauses from animal bylaw

Breed-specific legislation to be scrapped

Pit bulls, pit bull crosses and related breeds will no longer be targeted with special legislation as part of the Municipality of North Cowichan’s new and updated animal responsibility bylaw.

Council decided at a committee of the whole meeting on March 20 that breed-specific legislation, which is in the municipality’s current animal control bylaw, will be removed in the new one.

The current bylaw defines a “vicious dog” as a dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack other animals and humans, or a dog which has bitten or attacked, without provocation, another animal or human.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN CONSIDERS REVISING ANIMAL BYLAWS

The bylaw also includes in the vicious dog category pit bulls, American pit bull terriers, English bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers or any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of the mentioned breeds, excepting any dog registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.

Dogs who have been deemed “vicious” by the bylaw must be muzzled and on a leash under the care and control of a competent person whenever it is at large or in a public place.

They currently also face higher licensing and pound fees, even if individual dogs have no history of aggression.

A staff report was recommending that the vicious category be removed and replaced with two new categories; “aggressive” and “restricted”, with restricted including the pit bulls and the other breeds, but council’s decision on Wednesday means those designations will likely be completely dropped in the new bylaw.

The staff report stated that the muzzling of pit bulls and the other breeds and mixed breeds deemed vicious was the subject of much debate at a meeting in January seeking public input into the new bylaw.

North Cowichan’s corporate officer Karen Robertson, who wrote the staff report, said those who want the clause removed indicated that there hasn’t been enough long-term data collection and analysis to confidently state that breed-specific legislation works.

RELATED STORY: OFFICIALS SAY PIT BULLS DON’T ATTACK MORE THAN OTHER DOGS IN VICTORIA

As well, she said that the average person can have difficulty in identifying the difference between the various restricted breeds, and concerns were raised that other breeds that may have aggressive tendencies would be excluded from the bylaw.

Robertson said many of those who want the clause retained pointed out that hundreds of years of breeding for aggression has resulted in a dog that has a much higher prey drive than most breeds and their minds and bodies are designed to fight as much as a border collie enjoys stalking and herding sheep.

Christi Wright, from the United Paws for a Cause group that originally asked for changes to the animal bylaw, told the committee that she would like to see breed-specific legislation removed from the bylaw.

“The responsibility should be placed on pet owners, rather than specific breeds,” she said.

“Breed-specific legislation is costly and difficult to enforce, and doesn’t address the responsibility of the pet owners. Dogs that end up being deemed vicious are usually unsupervised, not neutered and not used to other dogs.”

RELATED STORY: ‘BREED NOT TO BLAME’, SAYS VICTIM OF PIT BULL ATTACK

Sue Stockland, director of Coastal Animal Services which is in charge of animal control in North Cowichan, said she realizes it’s a contentious issue, but it’s a fact that pit bulls and the other restricted breeds in the current bylaw have a long history of being bred for fighting and the killing of other animals.

She said these traits are more likely to show up in these breeds.

“Members of these breeds are bred to enjoy fighting and will fight to the death,” she said.

“Pit bulls give off no warning signals that they will attack so many owners don’t see the attack coming and can’t redirect the dog. Not all of them will attack, but there is higher chance they will over other breeds.”

Erika Paul, the SPCA’s senior animal protection and outreach officer, said she has never seen a dog-fighting ring in North Cowichan.

She said that while the breeds may have historically been bred to fight and be aggressive, most are not used for those purposes anymore.

“Over time, their blood lines are becoming diluted and the aggressive characteristics are being bred out of them,” Paul said.

“These are people’s pets and it’s up to them to ensure that they are good community members. Putting the onus back on the pet owners is one of the purposes of this new bylaw.”

The proposed new bylaw also calls for restrictions on how many pets a household can have and other animal welfare provisions.

The proposed new bylaw is expected to be tabled at council’s regular meeting on April 3 where it will be considered for its first three readings.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

REVIEW: Bard to Broadway’s ‘Hairspray’ captivates from start to finish

Strong musical numbers deliver to a packed audience in Qualicum Beach

Developers go back to drawing board after high-rise application deferred by Parksville council

IAG Developments has proposed a multi-building development on city’s waterfront

WATCH: Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first extended steps in nearly three decades

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Parksville man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Nick Major, 21, was a taekwondo instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

How to judge the sand sculptures like a pro at the 2019 Parksville Beach Festival

World-class arbiter gives insight on how to choose a winner

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Port Alberni beach closed due to high bacterial count

Tides make source of issues at Canal Waterfront Park difficult to determine

Man involved in beating and tasering over a drug debt to be sentenced in Nanaimo

Colin Damen Gary Lamontagne pleaded guilty to charges, including aggravated assault

Film features Chez Monique, an off-the-grid restaurant on West Coast Trail in B.C.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Man stabbed in leg outside Vancouver Island courthouse

Campbell River RCMP responded to a report from BC Ambulance of a… Continue reading

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Most Read