The protection and destruction of animals - as well as the safety of humans - were top of mind for Coquitlam city council this week.
On Monday, council directed city staff to write a bylaw banning bow hunting within the municipal boundaries. The unanimous vote came after two bears were struck by arrows on private property in June - and one of the injured bruins stumbled into the nearby Minnekhada Regional Park.
Coun. Selina Robinson, who brought the motion forward, said the hunting incidents happened on farm land in northeast Coquitlam, close to the DeBoville Slough, which is frequented by dog walkers.
Coun. Mae Reid said, "I thought the bow and arrow went out with Robin Hood."
Coquitlam will now look at adopting similar bylaws passed in Chilliwack, Saanich, Langford and Whistler, which impose fines on bow hunters.
But Mayor Richard Stewart said in those municipalities, bow hunting is allowed for agricultural purposes as farmers are allowed to shoot animals using bow and arrows to protect their crops under the Right To Farm Act.
"Staff do not believe that such an argument is likely to succeed [locally]; however, this could be evaluated in more detail in a future report," Bill Susak, Coquitlam's general manager of engineering, wrote in a memo to council last month. "Similarly, the bylaw prohibition may also be subject to challenge by Aboriginal groups in the future but staff anticipate this could be managed at an administrative level."
Susak also told council that staff will consider updating the city's firearms bylaw in conjunction with the new bow hunting rules.
Also on Monday, city council unanimously voted to give three readings to update the Animal Care and Control Bylaw, adding another definition for dangerous dogs - and giving city enforcement more teeth.
Under the existing, 18-year-old policy, canines are either classified as "dogs" or "vicious dogs," leaving no middle ground for city bylaw or legal staff and dog owners.
The draft bylaw, which is expected to be adopted next month, allows for the term "aggressive dogs" - that is, dogs that have been aggressive in public and dogs that have caused minor injuries. Owners of aggressive dogs will have to keep their pooches on shorter leashes and won't be allowed to set their dogs free in off-leash dog zones.
"Vicious dogs," on the other hand, will now be defined as pets that have seriously hurt a person or animal, or caused multiple minor injuries at least once. Vicious dog owners will have to muzzle their canines in public, post warning signs on their land and keep their dogs confined when left alone. Owners of vicious dogs that are at large face a $500 fine.
Meanwhile, the city will also set up voluntary cat registration to help identify lost felines. Similar programs are already in place in Mission, Victoria, Oliver and Creston. According to a city staff report, only 10% of cats that are found and brought into the Coquitlam Animal Shelter are reunited with their owners, compared with 89% of dogs brought to the shelter.
The city registration service will be free when it starts. As well, the city plans to offer bimonthly micro-chipping clinics at the Mariner Way pound until December 2012 for dog and cat owners. The cost will be $10 per pet.