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Fernie updates animal responsibility bylaw

The new bylaw is an amalgamation of best practices recommended by the BC SPCA

The City of Fernie has adopted a new animal responsibility bylaw that is modeled on the BC SPCA’s recommended animal responsibility bylaws, which are a amalgamation of best practices drawn from around the province.

According to the city, the new bylaw “focuses instead on animal behaviour and specific regulations for dogs that have been deemed aggressive, vicious, or dangerous. The bylaw also includes more provisions that better protect domestic animals in our community, including tethering standards of a maximum of 1 hour unattended; outdoor shelter requirements; regulations for transporting animals in the outside compartment of vehicles; and basic standards of care.”

The previous animal control bylaw has been repealed. It had included breed-specific designations, listing Pit Bull Terriers, American Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls (and any dog that was a crossbreed of a Pit Bull), Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terriers as ‘proscribed dog breeds’.

All proscribed breeds (and individual dogs of any other breed deemed dangerous by the municipality) were banned from being in public without a leash and muzzle. They were also required to be kept either indoors or in an enclosed pen “or other structure capable of preventing the entry of young children and adequately constructed to prevent (them) from escaping.”

Under the new bylaw, the above restrictions only apply to dogs that have been deemed an aggressive dog by the municipality after reports of aggressive, vicious or dangerous behaviour has been reported and recorded by the city’s bylaw enforcement office.

Nycki Wannamaker of Twin Meadows Animal Rescue Society said the new bylaw was more fair on dogs and dog owners because it removed the breed-specific designations.

“One of the most exciting changes to me is that this will shift focus off of “aggressive breeds” to actual aggressive dogs,” she said.

“All dogs are innocent until proven otherwise now.”

Bylaw enforcement officer, Camille Neal said that the new bylaws would help better protect the welfare of Fernie’s animals, and hold dog owners more accountable for the prevention of aggressive incidents.

“It also helps promote a more thoughtful and considerate approach to sharing the community’s trails, parks, and open spaces so that all members of the community can enjoy everything Fernie has to offer,” she said.

Information on the new bylaw can be found on the City of Fernie website, along with information of licensing fees and penalties for infractions. The bylaw itself can be read on the City of Fernie’s civic web section.

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Municipal Government