Society

Non-Breed-Specific Law Could Create Licensing Category of “Nuisance Dog” with Stiff Penalties

| by Denise A Justin
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In order to tighten enforcement against dogs which attack other animals or humans and become chronic offenders—regardless of breed--the city of Edmonton, Canada, may create a new category of licensing with higher fines and tough penalties for “nuisance” dogs and those with a history of violence.

Last October the city’s Community Services Committee began studying how to revise the Animal Licensing and Control Bylaws to improve enforcement against dog attacks. A survey found that many local residents supported removing the existing restrictions on certain breeds and imposing requirements against dogs that are either involved in a number of less serious attacks, or at least one attack that causes injury. The city removed the breed-specific (BSL) sections on October 17, 2012, according to CTV-News.

The new provisions being considered include requiring the owner of a “nuisance dog” to personally carry liability insurance that would cover any harmful act by his/her dog, and would also mandate they use a muzzle or a secured enclosure for their dog. The new law would also allow follow-ups with city officials.

Under Canada’s Dangerous Dogs Act, the city could go so far as to pursue a court order to impose stringent restrictions or even have the dog euthanized.

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Based on about 5,000 complaints last year, Peace Officer Direcctor John Simmons said that, for the most part, officers report they deal with repeat offenders – which is why officials believe there’s a need for a change.

“It’s an increased frustration on citizens when these types of events occur, and if it doesn’t get remedied,” Simmons said. “What we’re looking to do is create a new license change that would bring with it conditions that can be placed upon the animals to assure we do affect that change.”

In the report presented to the Committee on Tuesday, an additional category of licensing a “Nuisance Dog” would be created, with an even higher fee to license a dog convicted in multiple offenses.

The proposal also suggests increasing fines for owners-- to prevent owners (not just their dogs) from breaking laws and ignoring responsibility for their pets. As an example, the report states the current fine for failing to control or having an off-leash dog is $100. If the amendment is approved, the fine for subsequent offenses would be $250. According to the report, the amendment would be consistent with other municipalities in Canada.

With many animal-control agencies watching the positive public/animal-safety results this proposal could bring, it is also likely to become a template for American cities plagued by out-of-control canines, whose behavior is blamed almost solely on "irresponsible owners” by vocal animal activists.

Edmonton officials are fine-tuning the details of “Nuisance Dog” licensing before bringing it back to the Committee. It will be interesting to see if this innovative approach to making owners accountable receives support from advocates for breeds that are most-frequently mentioned in dog-attack reports.

Source: Edmonton CTV News