Thursday, October 27, 2005

My letter to the Mayor about the upcoming Bylaw300

I belong to a Yahoo group of people who want to see the proposed new Bylaw that's supposed to come into effect next June 2006 regarding dogs and cats - completely changed. It's an absolutely abysmally written thing as it currently is. Bloody awful. We'll be going back into the dark ages if it passes. Don't come to Halifax if it passes. You can view it at: http://www.halifax.ca/legislation/bylaws/hrm/documents/ProposedA-300By-Law.pdf - make sure you hold your nose while you're reading it though.

If you want to send in your own letter, email it to - BylawA300@halifax.ca

If you want to join our Yahoo Group of people who are working together to try and get the Bylaw changed so that it more accurately reflects what local dog owners want - go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bylawa300/ to join up.

Here's the letter I sent in today:

Dear Mayor Kelly and Interested Councillors and Staff,

I'd like to add my voice to the (I hope) growing list of HRM dog owners who are writing in and articulating their concerns about what will happen if the proposed bylaw A-300 passes uncontested and goes into effect June 2006. It will negatively impact the life of every dog in the city and degrade the quality of life of our companion animals that I personally believe are intrinsic to a healthy way of life – and could particularly be a point of interest and tourist attraction for visitors coming to our city.

I hope you will indulge me for one moment Mr. Kelly while I introduce myself – I have a website called "Charlie loves Halifax" – it's been on the internet since 2002 – and its byline is "Charlie loves Halifax, and he wants it to be dog-friendly!" It's all about places to take your dog in the Halifax Regional Municipality – all the different local parks – on-leash and off-leash, as well as stores that allow you to take your dog in with you when you go shopping – and there are actually a lot of businesses locally that allow this – and the numbers are growing. Local business owners are starting to realize that dog owners are a lucrative niche market – mostly "urban" people who have a certain amount of disposable income – if you know what I mean. My web site – which is a free, completely non-commercial website – I make NO money from it – I do it and maintain it simply because I think it's so important to get the information out there – has had over 100,000 hits.

People are starving for that kind of information – and those 100,000 hits are all LOCAL Halifax people looking for information on things to do WITH their dogs. There is a growing, active, political, group of dog owners in the Halifax Regional Municipality who currently number in perhaps the 100's – that I know of personally – who feel very strongly about their rights and the rights of their canine life companions. They (we) firmly believe that our dogs are a part of our family – as I'm sure you do – as I believe you have a dog too – and you don't see any difference between your dog barking in your backyard when you're out having a game of catch with him as when you're out in your backyard having a game of catch with your human children. It's just super unfortunate that your neighbours have someone to complain to (Animal Control) now because Bylaw A300 as it's written says that dogs aren't allowed to make ANY noise whatsoever. They have no one to complain to about your children screaming at the top of their lungs though. Ugh. (Please forgive me for that – I have dogs, not children! :) ).

At the beginning of my letter I mentioned that Bylaw A300 as it's written would hurt tourism potentially. I say that because I get a lot of emails due to my website. I've actually had people email me to say that they've moved here BECAUSE of my website – people actually care that much about their dogs that they will move to places because they think it will be good for their dogs. And my website does paint quite a rosy picture of our city. I can pretty honestly say that there is probably no other website on the internet quite like mine – that lists as many local parks and beaches and personally details them from a dog perspective. Currently I think that I have about 97 different pages on my site.

I also get a lot of emails from people who are planning on visiting Halifax – and Nova Scotia in general – because they've done a web search and they've found my website – and they want to visit the area as a tourist and they want to come here WITH their dogs.

I think that Halifax would be an awesome spot as a tourist destination for dog owners. It would be so easy to do. We already have many hotels that are dog friendly – all it would require is some tweaking of some city by-laws. But Bylaw A300 as its written would completely derail it. And as it's written right now – Bylaw A300 is totally NON-dog friendly. If Bylaw A300 passes Halifax will NOT be a dog-friendly city anymore. Charlie will NOT love Halifax anymore, and I don't know what I'll do.

So I am appealing to you as a fellow dog-owner Mr. Kelly – to please strike a committee with interested members of the public and employees of the city – to revise Bylaw A300 so that it reflects what is actually in the best interests of the citizens of the Halifax Regional Municipality – what is actually feasible, and enforceable, and what is humane and in line with the twenty-first century.

Thank-you for reading this all the way to the end!

My website if you'd like to go see it is at:

http://www.geocities.com/charlieloveshalifax/index.html




Joan Sinden
& Charlie, Buttercup, Daisy & Teddy (dogs)
& Gizmo, Whisky, & Liam (cats)
& Jada, Poppy & Greta (rats - who there are no provisions for in the bylaw currently!)

3 comments:

  1. Marjorie11:39 PM

    "Noise" is always a bit tricky to enforce.

    While it seems obvious that a dog barking frequently is likely to be a disturbance to neighbours, it is the definition of "frequently" that poses the biggest burden of proof.

    Many U.S. municipalities have been unable to get convictions for noise complaints involving barking dogs because judges simply don't perceive it as being a big problem.

    With evidence (such as video and sound recordings), many legislators have more clearly defined what is considered "unreasonable". That is typically barking that can be heard by neighbours for 5 or 10 minutes or more in any 60 minute period.

    Too many dog owners are oblivious to the disturbance their dogs cause. Responsible dog owners simply don't permit their dogs to disturb or inconvenience other, law-abiding citizens. At the same time, by being a responsible dog owner, one should demand all the rights and freedoms expected by non-dog owners.

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  2. Anonymous7:27 AM

    Excellent letter Joan. Your tourist spin on the inadequaties of this proposed by-law might cause further discussion (we hope!).

    Re: Majorie's post: "With evidence (such as video and sound recordings), many legislators have more clearly defined what is considered "unreasonable". That is typically barking that can be heard by neighbours for 5 or 10 minutes or more in any 60 minute period."

    I said as much in my letter to the HRM on this by-law. As one of the responsible dog owners that was served notice by AC that a complaint had been filed on me for barking dogs, I too want this definition and the parametres of what constitutes nuisance or incessant barking to be clearly defined. As Joan already knows, when my dogs bark (and I supervise them outside), they get one warning. 2nd time results in playtime being over and they go in the house. Someone in my neighbourhood is abusing the power the by-laws give them when they can complain about a bark that lasts under a minute in duration.

    Lisa

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  3. Anonymous7:28 AM

    I didn't spell check that previous post. Oops!

    Lisa

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