Fears that a proposed boarding kennel could turn into a “pit bull” breeding facility were raised at a public hearing in the District of Port Hardy Council chambers June 23.
Dylan and Kristy Shaw, who own and operate Island’s Edge Contracting Ltd., have purchased property in the industrial park on Bronze Road (on the way to Storey’s Beach) where they are planning to house their contracting business, a caretaker’s dwelling, and in the future, a dog kennel operation.
District of Port Hardy administration recommended that instead of changing its existing zoning bylaws, that the property in question be considered for a new zoning category – Comprehensive Development 6, which would permit all of the existing uses of the Light Industrial zone as well as the additional use of animal kennel. This zoning would allow the property owners to keep, breed and train animals.
The Shaws are hobby breeders of American Bully dogs.
The American Bully is a recognized breed that is a combination of American Pit Bull Terriers mixed with several other breeds, including the American Bulldog, English Bulldog, and Olde English Bulldogge.
According to the United Kennel Club website, “the American Bully is a companion breed exhibiting confidence, a zest for life, along with an exuberant willingness to please and bond with their family, thus making the American Bully an excellent family companion.”
Despite the American Bully’s fierce and powerful appearance their demeanour is gentle. They are great with kids, and extremely friendly with strangers, other dogs, and other animals.
Human or dog aggression, extreme shyness, or viciousness is very uncharacteristic of the American Bully.”
While those in attendance supported a boarding kennel, some do not support the Shaws breeding what they feel are aggressive dogs on the North Island and feel that the change in the bylaw would clear the path for this to happen.
“My girlfriend totally freaked” when she learned there were going to be American Bully dogs on the property, said adjacent owner Dan Carter.
“She is now afraid to go there because of the possibility of Pit Bulls next door. I am totally against this. No way,” Carter said.
“Initially we gave our blessing because they told us they were going to be operating a boarding kennel,” said Dan Clare.
“Recently we found out they were going to be breeding Bullies,” Clare said, withdrawing his support for the rezoning.
“Please don’t allow this bylaw to go through,” he said.
“We’ve been made aware that there are some concerns,” said Kristy Shaw, one of the owners of the proposed facility, adding that their goal is to provide a service to residents of the North Island.
“We do not breed Pit Bulls. We have never had one complaint in the seven years we have had our dogs,” Shaw said, adding the animals are licensed and registered show dogs and people have “unwarranted concerns about our family pets.”
Breeding them is a passion, not a financial operation, she said, stating that they breed two litters a year.
“We are not planning the construction of a dog breeding kennel,” she said, and their policy is “not to distribute our litters” on the North Island.
“I’m not a fan of Pit Bulls, however, Pit Bulls aren’t illegal in town. Until that day, I think it’s a moot point,” said Lawrence O’Connor, adding he is sure there are guidelines the couple will have to follow.
“I’m not a neighbour out there, but it is an industrial area, what better place to have a dog kennel? I fully support him,” O’Connor said.
“I am concerned about where the dogs end up,” said Michelle Smith-Andrews, adding she is also concerned about the lack of animal control in the area.
“My concern is that we don’t have the authorities up here if we have a problem. We are relying on help from the RCMP,” Smith-Andrews said, adding she was very lucky that her dog Molly is still alive after she was attacked by a Pit Bull.
“There was nothing we could do to get the dog off our dog,” she said.
Smith-Andrews said Pit Bulls and Bullies “are not aggressive per se,” however, their “prey drive is high. It’s a powerful dog.”
Once the bylaw is changed “minds can change. You could have 50 Pit Bulls or Bullies. At $5,000 a dog it’s pretty tempting,” said Clare.
Some wondered if it was possible to have parameters in place that would limit the number of breeding dogs that are allowed.
Mayor Hank Bood thanked the residents for their participation. Later in the evening council agreed to postpone giving third and final reading to the bylaw until they have a chance to review the comments made at the meeting as well as the written submissions that were received.