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Controversial dog bylaw adopted

A dog ownership bylaw that sparked controversy in the Capital News's letters pages as well as a variety of online forums was adopted by the Regional District this week.

The Responsible Dog Ownership bylaw was accepted after almost a year of review of similar bylaws in other communities across the country as well as community input. It outlines the regulations that dog owners are expected to follow in the Central Okanagan and its member municipalities.

“Our goal with the bylaw, as the name says, is to encourage, support and reward Responsible Dog Ownership in the Central Okanagan," said Bruce Smith, RDCO communications officer.

"We believe that most dog owners are good neighbours and practice the four principles of responsible dog ownership.  They license their dog each year because it’s the law.   They spay or neuter their pet and understand they must care and control their dog at all times and leash their dog when it’s off their property.   In addition, they pick up after their dog both on and off their property.  Finally, they don’t allow their dog to become a threat or nuisance to their neighbours or other citizens in the community.”

Owners who have a responsible attitude should not have any problem with the bylaw, Smith added.

Among the bylaw changes:

  • Licensed dog owners will receive a one-time ‘free’ ticket home without penalty from Dog Control in the event their dog is found at large and reported to the Regional Dog Pound.
  • A leash of two meters or less in length in order to control a dog in public areas.
  • Dogs must not be tethered for longer than four hours a day and inside a stationary vehicle or enclosure must be protected from direct sunlight and provided adequate ventilation.
  • Owners of dogs newly deemed dangerous will be required to post signs advising a dangerous dog is on the property.
  • Dog owners that let their dog run at large, off leash in an area not designated for off-leash activity or choose not to pick up after their pet face higher fines.

The Regional Board has maintained the two dog limit that was in the previous bylaw.  It has asked for more information in order to consider an amendment that would raise the maximum number of dogs allowed to three.

"With more dog owners choosing responsible behaviour, we look forward to a safer, more dog welcoming community and a continuing reduction in the number of unfortunate and in many cases preventable incidents," said Smith.

The bylaw recognizes of the goals and objectives of the Regional Dog Service Review that was adopted by the Regional Board in the fall of 2012.  Information about the new bylaw, responsible dog ownership, licensing and the ‘My Dog Matters’ rewards program for licensed dog owners visit regionaldistrict.com/dogs.

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