Canmore’s animal control bylaw will address several new issues, including pigeons, vicious dogs and those who drive around with Fido in the back of a pick-up truck.
The new bylaw was in front of council for all three readings last week, but some concerns about whether or not there should be public consultation saw it fall short of passing all readings.
Bylaw services manager Greg Burt presented the bylaw, which also consolidates part of the waste control bylaw that restricts animal attractants and birdfeed outdoors.
The specific inclusion of a section prohibiting leaving animals unattended in public caused some concern.
Burt explained the previous bylaw restricted leaving a dog tied up outside the grocery store or a bar, but the new wording makes it specific and clear and bylaw staff will enforce it with discretion.
“We felt it was prudent to specifically include that in there,” he said, adding the week before there had been a complaint of a child bit by a dog left tied up outside Sobeys. “It makes it clear that if you go somewhere you cannot leave your animal unattended.”
Councillor Joanna McCallum said with Canmore promoting pedestrian activity and being a Natural Step community, the section appears to discourage residents from taking their pets with them on errands.
“This prohibits people from doing errands with animals on foot,” she said, adding downtown businesses leave out water for dogs. “I am struggling with unattended dogs and I would like to hear from the community.”
A motion to hold a public hearing on the proposed changes was defeated, with only McCallum and Coun. Gordie Miskow supporting it.
Miskow said he has lived in Canmore his entire life and was not aware of some of the current bylaw’s provisions.
Miskow said dog owners may be blindsided by the changes and an opportunity for consultation and input is needed.
Councillors John Borrowman and Hans Helder supported consultation with the community, but did not support the push for a public hearing.
Helder called the bylaw comprehensive, clear and well-informed, but said a transition period and consultation would increase its profile.
“It is just good practice to give people the opportunity to have some consideration of something they probably haven’t thought of,” he said.
Coun. Jim Ridley pointed out that 1,200 dogs are licenced and the last municipal census showed there are 1,645 in the community.
Ridley said with 25 per cent of dog owners blatantly disregarding requirements to licence their pets he is not sure what kind of response there would be to a public hearing.
A significant new section to the bylaw requires animals to be secured in a vehicle with the intent of increasing safety for dogs and motorists.
Burt said last year a driver of a pickup truck with a dog tethered in the box with a leash longer than the edge saw that animal fall out and be dragged some distance.
He said the dog survived and the provision has the support of the Bow Valley SPCA and veterinarians in the community.
While vicious dogs were dealt with previously with the bylaw, nuisance animals were not.
Burt said the section provides administration a tool to deal with owners whose dogs have become a nuisance in the community due to two or more specific offences under the bylaw.
That tool includes imposing specific conditions relating to control of the dog on public and private property. It also increases the fine amount for a violation, allows bylaw to prohibit the dog from going to a dog park and is reviewed annually.
Dogs deemed vicious under the bylaw allows the Town the authority to impose specific conditions on the care and control of an animal and provides the owner the opportunity to appeal that decision to the CAO.
Burt said the section of the bylaw is not breed specific, but based on the animal’s behaviour and includes if the pet has threatened or created a reasonable apprehension of a threat to wildlife.
It also allows for increased fines and licencing fees.
“There are very few vicious dogs in Canmore,” Burt said. “I would not (anticipate) using these steps often.”
The new bylaw also changes licence fees for dogs, with a one-year licence of $50, a $5 increase, and a $99 three-year dog licence, a decrease of $16.76, without a discount for those that are spayed or neutered.
The licence fee for a nuisance dog is set at $100 and $300 for a vicious dog.
Burt said the bylaw also phases out the senior dog licence fee of $21 for those animals over the age of nine years old.
While the discounted licence is eliminated those who have dogs currently licenced under it will be able to continue.
The definition of prohibited animals is updated to include bees, pigs, roosters, pigeons and feral animals.
Burt said the change has been a result of previous complaints and inquiries the Town has received.
Mayor Ron Casey proposed to amend the bylaw to allow the chief administrative officer the ability to allow a resident to keep a prohibited animal.
“While I cannot necessarily see any situation where an exception would be needed I think there needs to be some opportunity for allowance there,” said the mayor. “There needs to be a little bit of common sense.”
The motion, however, was defeated.
Keeping pigeons is also a new section of the bylaw. Burt explained as a result of complaints received this section prohibits people from placing any item on their property, including birdseed, with the intent of attracting pigeons.