After some deliberation, RMWB Council voted in favour of the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw on Nov. 19, 2019.
Debate on the motion included presentations from several delegates and friendly amendments.
“That’s always a big topic.” Said Mayor Don Scott. “We all love pets in this region, but everybody wants to make sure public safety is paramount.”
The bylaw would replace the Animal Control Bylaw from 2002.
Since 2018, residents reported 123 complaints to Bylaw Services, which included seven attacks at municipal dog parks.
Also, the administration would look into building another dog park possibly in the area of Parsons Creek.
“There was a lot of talk about the Thickwood Dog Park: There wasn’t enough space, so I would think that would be the number one priority.”
Delegates ranging from homeowners to licensed dog service providers shared their views on the bylaw.
They supported the bylaw in principle, however, there were issues with the number of licensed pets one could own.
According to the Bylaw, there was a limit stating an owner could take up to three dogs to off-leash areas at once.
Therefore, Councillor Peddle put forward an amendment to increase the number to four.
Mayor Don Scott said clarifications and consistency are key for a bylaw like this.
“Basically, the amendments brought forward confirmed that four animals [are] more consistently used throughout the bylaw. We didn’t want someone to leave one animal at home and that three to the dog park because there’s a restriction.”
Mayor Scott also shared his concerns for public safety in particular when it comes to dogs of larger sizes.
“[Councillor Meagher] said if you have three or four large animals, should the rules be the same or three or four small animals, so we are going to have a review of the numbers and that will be done within 90 days.”
At which time, the administration would review the Bylaw and make any recommendations.
Next, Councillor Inglis found what he thought was an error with penalties.
— Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (@RMWoodBuffalo) November 20, 2019
Inglis said a resident would pay $250 for a misplaced pet license, which costs $50, but another resident found to have an unlicensed pet may only pay $150.
Therefore, the RMWB Council and administration agreed to reduce the penalty for a misplaced license to $50.
They also included the word “issued” in section 12 of the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw covering this infraction.
“An owner shall ensure that a cat or dog is wearing an issued license tag at all times when the animal is off the owner’s property.”
There will also be a fine of $250 for failing to clean up after an animal on a property that is not their own.
Ultimately, Mayor Don Scott said Bylaw officers would educate residents about the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.
“If you have an animal and you take it to a dog park, you must clean up after that animal. There [are] now sanctions associated with that [and] at the same time we’re making the community safer.”
Residents should expect more enforcement at neighbourhood parks.
RMWB Council voted in favour of amending the Community Standards Appeal Committee Bylaw, which would oversee appeals for dangerous animals.
They also approved the Municipality’s third-quarter report, Capital Budget amendments, and recognized Nov. 21 as Hometown Hockey Day.