PORT McNEILL — Passage of a new animal control bylaw was put on hold last week as councillors continue to fine-tune compromise language in the bill.
In an effort to ensure public safety while allowing incidents to be reviewed on a per-case basis, councillors approved an amendment forwarded by Shelley Downey adding the term “when unprovoked” to the bylaw’s description of a dog deemed so dangerous it would need to be put down or moved outside town limits.
“I like this,” coun. Gaby Wickstrom said. “I didn’t want to see a one-strike, you’re out policy.”
Creation of the new bylaw was prompted by a dog attack earlier this year that resulted in the death of a family pet. Owners of both the attacking dogs and the victim have attended meetings, and both have previously made statements to council in support of different versions of the bylaw.
Starting with a version using language from Campbell River’s animal control bylaw and written by Town staffer Sue Harvey, council made several changes while passing first, second and third readings.
But before a final vote on the bylaw at the regular meeting July 4, councillors Downey and Shirley Ackland both presented findings from independent research into bylaws in other B.C. communities.
Several modifications to the bylaw’s description were suggested, including “menacing” and “aggressive” dog, that might result in penalties short of euthanasia or exile.
“Twenty-five different municipalities in this Province have their own wording, and only one had ‘aggressive’ dog,” said Ackland. “If you open the description to interpretation, you leave (enforcement) discretion with the animal control officer.”
Downey countered that the bylaw’s description of dangerous dog is too narrow and that she could not support that language.
Citing language in the Courtenay animal control bylaw that specified dogs known by their owner to be at risk of biting or chasing making an unprovoked attack on a person or other domestic animal be subject to the harshest penalties. Other factors, including defense of self or owner in an incident resulting in death or injury to another animal, would be considered in assessing a lesser punishment.
“This bylaw would allow me to keep my dog,” Downey said.
Council approved adding the language to the bylaw and returned it to Harvey for drafting. It is expected to come to vote during council’s next meeting July 18.
Coast Guard grants
Council approved several grants-in-aid for Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit 50.
The grants will allow the auxiliary moorage space for its 7.33-metre rescue boat, allow use of the currently shuttered former marina office for storage of rescue gear and charts, and provide permission for auxiliary members to park on harbour property for training and when dispatched on search and rescue missions