The BC SPCA is applauding a new Animal Responsibility Bylaw that the City of Surrey approved at its council meeting Monday night. Key objectives of the new bylaw include mitigating the safety risks associated with aggressive dogs and promoting responsible dog ownership.
“It’s extremely encouraging to see a B.C. municipality finally stepping up with a truly proactive approach to the serious problem of irresponsible dog ownership in our communities,” says BC SPCA senior manager of stakeholder relations Geoff Urton, noting the new bylaw is in line with the BC SPCA’s municipal model bylaw recommendations.
“Surrey is demonstrating real leadership with this dog ownership bylaw, which is now the best in the province, and other municipalities should take note.”
Developed in consultation with the BC SPCA, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and an animal behaviourist, among others, the Animal Responsibility Bylaw is intended to modernize and update existing bylaws.
As a result of the updates, there are now more tools for the City to deal with dogs behaving aggressively in the community, yet there are no breed-specific restrictions, which are ineffective and do not adequately address the problem of dog aggression in a community, Urton notes.
“Under the old bylaw, a dog would have to physically attack an individual before it could be deemed as dangerous,” says Surrey manager of bylaws and licensing services Jas Rehal.
“The new bylaw gives us the latitude to intervene when a dog is behaving aggressively and before a dog bite or attack occurs.”
Key safety and welfare updates in the new bylaw include:
- Someone must be home if dogs are outside on a chain or a cable run, preventing injury or attack from other animals;
- A staged response to dog aggression allows the city to ask owners to address early aggression with an approved trainer before it becomes worse;
- Dangerous dogs must have permanent identification, be actively engaged in training with an approved trainer, and be spayed or neutered;
- Violations have been added for abandoning, teasing or tormenting an animal, causing or permitting suffering to any animal and training any animal for fighting.
The new bylaw was approved and given first, second and third readings Monday night and will be adopted at the Feb. 20 council meeting.