I don't think it's a secret that members of the local dog community have banded together a couple weeks ago, in an unprecedented meeting, really - given the dog politics climate in recent months with the contentious goings on after bill 186 went through the Provincial legislature - and is soon going to be coming back into the public space again - but nonetheless - a couple weeks ago - members of the NS SPCA, Canadian Kennel Club, Dog Legislation Council of Canada, Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership, and Students Animal Law Law Association of Dalhousie University met to go through the current bylaw A300 as it's written to pick out piece by piece what is wrong with the bylaw and submit what we think needs to be changed to make the bylaw safer and better for dog owners, fanciers, and the public at large.
A couple days after that meeting, representatives from that group met with Mayor Peter Kelly - and we submitted changes that we felt needed to be made to make the bylaw a workable document for the city, and for dog owners.
The city's bureaucrats are already working on some sections of the bylaw - so there's some parts that are no use in talking about - because they aren't interested at all in having any conversations about them - but there's other parts that are showing themselves to still being completely abysmal that they don't seem to be thinking about at all.
One thing is the idea about the fact that when a dog is impounded because they've been deemed fierce and dangerous - but the dog's owner has decided they want to fight for the life of their dog - that poor dog can be stuck in a cage for a year because of the way the court system in set up. This obviously is just completely unacceptable.
I met with Peter Kelly - - and we submitted several model bylaws that addressed this - and when we met with him a couple weeks ago - we submitted those bylaws again. Any bylaw that allows a city to impound a dog for any reason and take away the dog from his owner for litigation - MUST set pre-set time limits. To have a dog rot in a cage is WRONG. How anyone on either side would disagree with this is a sadist.
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers has a model dangerous dog law on their website - and they've got a great section that addresses this specifically -
The chief officer of the public pound or animal control department or head of the local law enforcement agency shall notify the owner or keeper of the dog that a hearing will be held by the municipal court or the hearing entity, as the case may be, at which time he or she may present evidence as to why the dog should not be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be served with notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition, either personally or by first-class mail with return receipt requested. The hearing shall be held promptly – within no less than five working days nor more than 10 working days after service of notice upon the owner or keeper of the dog. The hearing shall be open to the public. The court may admit into evidence all relevant evidence, including incident reports and the affidavits of witnesses, limit the scope of discovery, and may shorten the time to produce records or witnesses. A jury shall not be available. The court may find, upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the dog is potentially dangerous or vicious and make other orders authorized by this chapter.
and it goes on ... blah blah blah ... The hearing shall be conducted in the same manner and within the time periods set forth in Section 121 and subdivision (a).
As well - this dangerous dog bylaw sample has a sliding scale of aggression severity/danger - which is great. You can read the whole dangerous dog legislation bylaw at http://www.apdt.com/about/ps/pdf/ModelDogLaw.pdf
Another huge problem with A300 is felt by dog owners who have hobby kennels - prior to A300 they used to be able to register their kennels and pay a $100 yearly kennel fee and have as many dogs as they wanted - but now they have to pay registrations for each of their dogs - and kennels now fall under the 21 different land use bylaws, and not every land use bylaw even has a definition for kennels - so some areas of the HRM don't allow kennels at all - so purebreed people are especially screwed. I've written about this in 2 different spots, first in a post called "Another defect of Bylaw A300" and then recently in a post called "HRM is diabological in its hatred of dog owners"
This was another topic covered by the umbrella group of dog advocates a couple weeks ago. Hopefully they'll take some of our ideas into consideration, because dogs are suffering, and they don't have to be.