Port Coquitlam council is being asked to approve bylaw changes to strengthen curbs against aggressive and dangerous dogs in the city.
The call for changes comes after a busy year in which bylaw officers fielded more than 1,200 calls about animals, including 51 calls about aggressive dogs — nearly one complaint a week in 2021.
Tuesday (Feb. 1), Port Coquitlam councillors approved the amendments to provide more clarity on rules for aggressive dogs.
Under the new rules, dogs deemed aggressive or dangerous and required to be muzzled will have to wear 'humane' basket-style muzzles to prevent bites, instead of head straps or loops, called haltis.
Also known as a gentle leader, head halter, or head collar, a dog halti goes over the dog's head with the bigger loop going around the dog's neck and the smaller loop going over the muzzle.
However, the city doesn't see these as being strong enough to prevent dog bites.
Dogs required to wear a muzzle in a public place will have to wear a humane basket-style fastening or covering device that encloses the nose and mouth of a dog and is strong enough and well-fitted enough to prevent the dog from biting.
The new definition of muzzle is being added to "clarify the restrictions for the care and control of aggressive and dangerous dogs, and enhance the city’s enforcement options with respect to addressing complaints related to such dogs," according to a staff report.
A new fine for a dog bite is also being introduced and the bylaw amendment will also more clearly define a 'public place.'
Once approved, bylaw officers will be able to ticket owners whose dogs bite another dog or a human up to $375.
The proposed bylaw amendments would also more clearly define a "public place."
Under the new provisions, a public place will be defined as a "highway, street, lane, boulevard, park, or any other real property owned, held, vested in, or operated, managed or administered by the city or by a school located within the city."
This isn’t the first time that city animal bylaws have been updated.
In 2017, council adopted the current bylaw but lack of clarity on some of the definitions prompted an update.
"From time to time bylaws are reviewed and amended to ensure they remain consistent with current legislation and continue to serve as efficient and effective tools for gaining compliance with the city’s regulatory requirements," the staff report states.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 'AGGRESSIVE' AND 'DANGEROUS'
According to the animal control bylaw, a bylaw officer who determines a dog to be an aggressive dog by its behaviour or temperament will issue a notice to the owner who has 14 days to do the following:
- Have the dog marked with permanent identification by a vet and send the ID to the city, the owner will then get an aggressive dog licence
- Keep them under control and secured
Among other requirements, an aggressive dog may have to be muzzled if the animal control officer believes it has “without provocation” bitten, inflicted minor injury, assaulted, pursued or harassed a person or another animal on more than occasion.
However, the aggressive designation may be appealed after a year and possibly granted if there haven’t been any other issues of aggression.
Similar rules apply for a dog deemed dangerous. As well, the dog will have to be photographed and the owner required to put up a dangerous dog sign on their property.
Dogs deemed aggressive or dangerous dogs are also not allowed in off-leash areas, according to city bylaws.
For all the rules that apply to aggressive and dangerous dogs, you are encouraged to study the city's animal control bylaw, and subsequent amendments following approval of changes. Find out more information about the changes here.