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)

North Cowichan 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

VIDEO: Hold onto your funny bones: Ron James is back on the Island

He’s been called ‘a genius’, and ‘funniest man in Canada’. Find out why when he comes to town.

Chemainus campground on the chopping block as ALC deadline looms

Owners fighting to continue facility’s operation, with a huge outpouring of support

Malahat truck crash cleared but over 200 still without power

Hydro poles taken out in Monday afternoon crash

Controversial Chemainus building must be torn down

Weight of evidence from bylaw enforcement staff and police is enough for North Cowichan council

UPDATE with VIDEO: Home on Allenby Road suffers early morning fire

The fire department was first called to the scene at 6:30 a.m.

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Two Nanaimo residents share $5-million Lotto 6/49 prize

Jesse Logan and Teresa Winters Day matched all six numbers in Aug. 21 Lotto 6/49 draw

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

Most Read