I WILL FIGHT TO HAVE THIS BYLAW AMENDED
Anyone who knows me knows I love dogs. I have always had a dog. I will never not have a dog.
So I have a lot to say about the bylaw that was passed on June 1st. It says, "Pet ownership will be limited to six dogs and six cats per household and the number of dogs a person can bring to an off-leash area will be limited to six per individual. The bylaw also includes increases to fines for aggressive pet behaviors."
Okay, I understand how someone who is not a dog person would be totally on board with that, but six dogs for a professional or experienced dog owner is not a lot. Regulating things like this only hurts professionals in the industry. I'll talk about two professions that might have care of over six dogs - Dog Walkers & Dog Breeders. I have had many dog walkers in the past and have never had ANY challenges with them walking more than six dogs. Of course, I do my research and maybe even go on a walk-a-long before I hire them and I would encourage everyone to do that. As for dog breeders, most often, having one litter of pups will instantly put you over six, and many of the breeders I know already own over six dogs - ones that are actively breeding and older ones that are no longer breeding. So if you look at this from a different lens, consider that most professional dog walkers and dog breeders are small businesses and entrepreneurs. How could council consider this without thinking about how this affects entrepreneurs in our city?
On the six dog ownership issue - people who hoard dogs and mistreat them will continue to do so, regardless of fines (they are a different kind of person) but for an experienced dog owner, this is not a lot.
So, like the City of Calgary, I did a bit of my own comprehensive engagement. I spoke with one of Calgary's top dog trainers, Beth O'Connor of Cultured Canines (two of my Goldens were graduates of Cultured Canines). I asked her about the new bylaw and she agreed with me on the limit of six dogs, but we talked about aggressiveness, which is likely how this even came to council.
"The definition of mistreatment of animals is what needs to be addressed." If someone leaves their dog outside 24/7/365 but the dog is provided water & food, it's not considered mistreatment (I gasped). Beth also says, "Increasing fines for an aggressive dog does NOTHING. Most dogs aren't aggressive and it's the ones that may have a bad day or have a fair disagreement that get dinged with these fines." Say you're walking at the dog park and a person trips and makes a ruckus in front of your dog and it gets spooked and nips, paying a fine won't change anything. It was a situation that occurs when animals are involved, they're animals.
As Beth mentioned most dogs aren't aggressive. I said to Beth, "I know that there really are aggressive dogs, what about those dogs? Beth said, "rather than paying a higher fine and potentially euthanizing the dog, how about it be mandated that the dog HAS to take a training class by a reputable trainer within a certain time frame?" I liked that idea because anyone who has taken a dog training class knows that it is a significant investment of time, and maybe that's what the dog is actually looking for - more 1:1 time with its owner.
All of this said, this bylaw is overreaching and isn't inclusive to the entrepreneurs who make their living in the dog industry.
Frank thinks this bylaw is silly too.