Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A draft dog bylaw for Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Yesterday I sent a letter to the Mayor of Yarmouth and each of their Councillors, asking them to consider a proposed draft bylaw that I had written - which is based on the draft bylaw they have proposed that they are going to be talking about at their May 9th Council meeting.  I've pasted the letter I wrote to them and also the draft bylaw below.

Since I wrote the letter I've been told that the mayor is pro-bsl, which isn't good news.  I hope that he is open to different points of view.  I stated pretty plainly in my letter why I was writing to them and why I hoped they didn't pass bsl in their town - so I'll just paste what I wrote to them - I'll also paste their email addresses in case you want to write to them too.

These are their email addresses -

This is the facebook group for the town of Yarmouth -

Mayor Phil Mooney -
Deputy Mayor Byron Boudreau -
Councillor Esther Dares -
Councillor Ken Langille -
Councillor Daniel MacIsaac -
Councillor Neil MacKenzie -
Councillor Martin Pink -

Dear Whomever:

I am hopeful that you will oblige me and take a look at some small revisions that I have made to your proposed new dog bylaw that you'll be debating on March 9, 2011.

I became involved with the writing of dog bylaws, and the politics around them back in 2005 when Halifax began to rewrite their bylaw A300 and I've had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Peter Kelly on a couple of occasions on this subject, as well as be part of a group of organizations that included the CKC, the NS SPCA, and the NS VMA that was struck to talk about revisions to A300 as well.

I am also an active participant in the long fought battle to keep breed specific legislation out of Nova Scotia because I passionately believe that there are many other much more viable alternatives that will keep our province so much more safer if only we will follow the lead of other areas who have already "invented the wheel" for us.

I noticed as well that you have used parts of another town's dog bylaw - Parrsboro Nova Scotia - a bylaw that I consider to be one of the best dog bylaws in all of Canada - and they have chosen to go with a "dangerous dog" bylaw instead of a "breed specific" section.

In my attachment - I have included "endnotes" that explain specifically why I have changed, or added to your proposed new bylaw.

If there is any way that you could include my "proposed bylaw" in your deliberations - I would most sincerely appreciate it.

Thank-you very much for any consideration you can offer. It's my belief that Nova Scotia is as close to shangri-la as you can find - and it's also my belief that every dog should be treated as an individual - just like humans. Breed specific legislation takes that option completely away.

In this age when tourism is so vital to our province - we should be looking to make our areas more inclusive - not archaic and ugly - judging our most loved companions on looks alone.

Joan Sinden


and this is the version of the bylaw that I'm proposing -


1. This By-Law is entitled the “Dog Bylaw”.


2. In this Bylaw:

“fierce and dangerous dog” is any dog that:
(a) is a Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier; Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler or any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of the aforementioned breeds.
(b) has attacked or injured a person;
(c) has attacked or injured an animal;
(d) in a vicious or terrorizing manner, approaches any person in an apparent attitude of attack;
(e) is owned or harboured in whole or in part for the purpose of dog fighting; or trained for dog fighting; provided that no dog shall be deemed fierce or dangerous if it is a professionally trained guard dog while lawfully engaged for law enforcement.
(f) that is kept for the purpose of security or protection, whether residential, commercial or industrial, of persons or property.

1. "dangerous dog" means any individual dog:
i. that has killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner's property;
ii. that has bitten or injured a human being or domestic animal without provocation, on public or private property;
iii. that is attack trained;
iv. that is kept for the purpose of security or protection, whether residential, commercial or industrial of persons or property and
v. that has shown the disposition, tendency to be threatening or aggressive. Endnote 1

2. “destroy” means kill;

3. “dog" means any dog, male or female, or any animal that is the result of the breeding of a dog with any other animal;

4. "extraordinary expense" means any expense incurred by [Town] Staff in relation to a dog except for provision of food and shelter;

5. "Town Staff" means the person appointed by the Chief Administrative Officer or Council to act on the Town's behalf for the purposes of this Bylaw, and includes the dog control officer, pound keeper; inspector or police officer.

6. "owner" means the owner of a dog and any person who possesses, has the care or control of, or harbours a dog and, where such a person is a minor, includes a parent, guardian or custodian of such a person;

7. “Town” means Town of Yarmouth

Provision of Needs

3. Every person who keeps an animal within the Town shall provide the animal or cause it to be provided with:
a) clean, fresh drinking water available and suitable food of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal, healthy growth and the maintenance of normal, healthy body weight;
b) food and water receptacles kept clean and disinfected and located so as to avoid contamination by excreta;
c) the opportunity for periodic exercise sufficient to maintain good health, including the opportunity to be unfettered from a fixed area and exercised regularly under appropriate control; and
d) necessary veterinary medical care when the animal exhibits signs of pain, illness or suffering;

4. Every person who keeps an animal which normally resides outside, or which is kept outside unsupervised for extended periods of time, shall ensure the animal is provided with an enclosure that meets the following criteria:
a) a total area that is at least twice the length of the animal in all directions;
b) contains a house or shelter that will provide protection from heat, cold and wet that is appropriate to the animal's weight and type of coat. Such shelter must provide sufficient space to allow the animal the ability to turn around freely and lie in a normal position;
c) in an area providing sufficient shade to protect the animal from the direct rays of the
d) sun at all times; and
e) pens and run areas must be regularly cleaned and sanitized and excreta removed and properly disposed of daily.

5. No person may cause an animal to be hitched, tied or fastened to a fixed object where a choke collar or choke chain forms part of the securing apparatus, or where a rope or cord is tied directly around the animal's neck.

6. No person may cause an animal to be hitched, tied or fastened to a fixed object as the primary means of confinement for an extended period of time.

7 No person may cause an animal to be confined in an enclosed space, including a car, without adequate ventilation.

8 No person may transport an animal in a vehicle outside the passenger compartment unless it is adequately confined or unless it is secured in a body harness or other manner of fastening which is adequate to prevent it from falling off the vehicle or otherwise injuring itself.

Unsanitary Conditions Prohibited

9. No person shall keep an animal in an unsanitary condition within the Town of Yarmouth. Conditions shall be considered unsanitary where the keeping of the animal results in an accumulation of faecal matter, an odour, insect infestation or rodent attractants which endanger the health of the animal or any person, or which disturb or are likely to disturb the enjoyment, comfort or convenience of any person in or about any dwelling, office, hospital or commercial establishment.


10. On or before the 1st day of April in each year the owner of any dog shall register such dog with the Town and obtain from the Town a tag for such dog.

11. Every owner of a dog shall, within ten (10) days of having become owner, register such dog with the Town and obtain from the Town a tag for such dog.

12. In order to register a dog, an owner shall pay the annual registration fees in accordance with Schedule A of this bylaw and shall supply the Town with the following:

(a) Name, civic address, mailing address and telephone number of the owner;
(b) Name and breed of the dog;
(c) Description of the dog including whether the dog is male or female, spayed or unsprayed or neutered or unneutered as the case may be; and, at the discretion of the owner, the following additional information may be supplied:
(d) A photograph of the dog;
(e) Identification information such as micro-chip implants, tattoos or other special markings; and
(f) The name of the veterinary clinic frequented by the dog and veterinary file ID number.

13. Registration shall be effective until the first day of April in the year following the year of registration.

14. The registration fee shall be reduced by 50 percent in the year of acquisition where the owner acquires ownership of the dog after September 30.

15. The owner of every dog shall keep on the dog a collar with the tag issued for that dog by Town Staff at the time of registration. Such a tag shall be kept securely fixed on the dog at all times during the year until a replacement tag is issued. However, such a tag may be removed while the dog is being used for lawful hunting purposes in the presence and under the control of the dog’s owner and wearing a collar bearing the owner’s name and address.

16. The owner of a kennel of purebred dogs that are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club may, in any year, pay a fee set by the Council, by policy, as a tax upon the kennel for that year and, upon payment of the amount, the owner of the kennel is exempt from any further fee regarding the dogs for that year. Endnote 2
17. The owner of a dog shall deliver in writing to Town Staff a statement of the number of dogs owned or harboured, or that are kept upon the premises occupied by the owner within 10 days after having received notice requiring it to be provided.

Registration Exemptions

18. The following are exempt from registration:

(a) the Town Staff or the Yarmouth SPCA shall not be required to register a stray;

(b) a dog shall be exempt from registration and registration fees in the event the owner proves that the dog is under the age of three months; and,

19. A dog that is trained to assist and assists a person with a disability is exempt from paying a registration fee but not from registration.

Dog Control Provisions

20. If a dog defecates on any public or private property other than the property of its owner, the owner shall cause such faeces to be removed immediately.

21. No owner shall suffer, permit, allow or for any reason have his or her dog bark or howl excessively or in any other manner disturb the quiet of any person.

22. No owner of a dog shall permit his or her dog to, without provocation:

(a) chase, bite or attack any person or animal;

(b) behave in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or animals;

(c) damage public or private property; or

(d) run at large within the Town except in designated off-leash areas.

Number of dogs allowed

22. No more than two (2) dogs shall be permitted to remain upon or in any land, house, shelter, room or place, building, structure or premises within the Town unless:

(a) the premises are lawfully used for the care and treatment of dogs operated by a licensed veterinarian

(b) the premises are temporarily being used for the purpose of a dog show

(c) the owner is a not-for-profit association engaged in the provision of specialized dog services, including but not limited to guide dogs, police dogs and search and rescue dogs

23. This Section does not apply to offspring under 12 weeks of age. Endnote 3

Dogs Running At Large

23. Any dog which is off the premises occupied by the owner without being on a leash or harness, under the continuous restraint and control of some person is deemed to be running at large for the purposes of this bylaw. A dog which is tethered on a tether of sufficient length to permit the dog to leave the property boundaries of the premises occupied by the owner is deemed to be running at large, except that an unleashed and unharnessed dog that is under continuous human restraint and control shall not be deemed to be running at large if at the time the dog is:

(a) participating in an organized dog exhibition event or dog field trials;

(b) participating in a search and rescue operation or law-enforcement operation;

(c) assisting a person with a disability, provided the dog is trained for such purpose; or
(d) within a Town public park where the area is designated by signage as an area in which dogs are permitted to be without a leash subject to such limitations as are posted.

Fierce and Dangerous Dogs

24. The owner of a dangerous dog as defined in Section 2(1), or as declared by a judge, shall ensure that within ten (10) days:

a) such dog is registered with the Town as a dangerous dog in accordance with the fees outlined in Schedule A

b) such dog is spayed or neutered

c) they comply with the dog control provisions as outlined in Sections 20-22

d) at all times when off the owner's property, the dog shall be muzzled

e) at all times when off the owner's property, the dog shall be on a leash not longer than 1.2 metres with a tensile strength of at least 140 kilograms and under the control of a responsible person sixteen years of age or older

f) when such dog is on the property of the owner, it shall be either securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure, suitable to prevent the escape of the dangerous dog and capable of preventing the entry of any person not in control of the dog. Such pen or structure must have minimum dimensions of two metres by four metres and must have secure sides and a secure top. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than thirty centimetres deep. The enclosure must also provide protection from the elements for the dog. The pen or structure shall not be within one metre of the property line or within three metres of a neighbouring dwelling unit. Such dog may not be chained as a means of confinement.

g) a sign is displayed at each entrance to the property and building in which the dog is kept warning in writing, as well as with a symbol, that there is a dangerous dog on the property. This sign shall be visible and legible from the nearest road or thoroughfare.

h) a policy of liability insurance, satisfactory to the Town, is in force in the amount of at least $500,000, covering the twelve month period during which licensing is sought, for injuries caused by the owner's dangerous dog. This policy shall contain a provision requiring the community to be named as an additional insured for the sole purpose of the community to be notified by the insurance company of any cancellation, termination or expiration of the policy Endnote 4

25. The Town shall have the authority to make whatever inquiry is deemed necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions outlined in this section.

26. If the owner of a dog that has been designated as dangerous is unwilling or unable to comply with the requirements of this section after fourteen days, the said dog shall then be humanely euthanized by an animal shelter, animal control agency or licensed veterinarian. Any dog that has been designated as dangerous under this bylaw may not be offered for adoption.

27. The owner of a dangerous dog who is unwilling or unable to comply with the provisions of this section of the By-law, will have all current dog licenses revoked, and no future dog licenses will be issued for a period of 5 years.


28. Town staff may, without notice to or complaint against the owner, impound any dog that:

(a) runs at large contrary to this bylaw;

(b) is not wearing a tag required by this bylaw;

(c) is not registered pursuant to this bylaw;

(d) is fierce and dangerous;

(e) Is rabid or appears to be rabid or exhibits symptoms of canine madness; or

(f) persistently disturbs the quiet of the neighbourhood by barking, howling or otherwise.

29. Owners seeking to redeem an impounded dog must pay an impoundment fee as outlined in Schedule A of this bylaw.

30. Subject to Section 28 of this Bylaw, except in the case where a dog is impounded for being dangerous, or is rabid or exhibits symptoms of canine madness, the owner of a dog which has been impounded, upon proof of ownership of the dog, may redeem the dog after payment to the Pound Keeper, or making arrangement for payment satisfactory to the Pound Keeper, of the Impounding Fee and the Daily Pound Fee(s), along with reimbursement for any Extraordinary Expenses incurred by the Town Staff in relation to the dog.

31. In the case of redemption of a dog which has not been registered pursuant to this Bylaw, the owner shall also be required to register the dog and pay the registration fee before being allowed to redeem the dog.

32. Any dog which has not been redeemed by its owner at the expiry of a period of 72 hours after being impounded may be given away, sold or destroyed in a humane way by the Pound Keeper and, if sold, the proceeds shall belong to the Town.

32. Any dog who has not been reclaimed after a period of seventy-two (72) hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, may, after the expiration of that period, be offered to the local SPCA for adoption.
33. Whenever the 72 hours of impounding time expires on a weekend, the Pound Keeper shall hold such dog until the expiry of the first business day following the weekend to permit the owner to redeem the dog. Endnote 5

34. Upon any dog being impounded the Pound Keeper shall check for a tag and if a tag is found, the Pound Keeper shall make at least one attempt to contact the registered owner of the dog using the tag number on the records of Town Staff. Provided however that if a dog is missing, the onus is on the owner of the dog to ascertain within the time period provided for impounding under this Bylaw, whether the dog has been impounded, and neither the Pound Keeper nor the Town shall incur liability in the event of failure to give Notice to the owner, if the owner has not made inquiry of the Pound Keeper to determine whether the dog was impounded.


34. Town Staff may, without notice to or complaint against the owner, destroy on sight or after capture any dog that:

(a) is fierce and dangerous;

(b) is rabid or appears to be rabid or exhibits symptoms of canine madness.

35. Town staff may, after one written warning, has been given to the owner that a dog has been running at large or eluding capture, destroy such dog on sight or after capture.

36. Town staff may, kill on sight any dog that is running at large and which he or she believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, to pose a danger to a person or a animal or to property of persons other than the owner. Endnote 6

Proceedings Against Dog Owner

35. A proceeding may be commenced in the Provincial Court against an owner of a dog if it is alleged that,

(a) the dog has bitten, attacked or injured a person or domestic animal;

(b) the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or animals; or

(c) the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from:

(i) biting, attacking or injuring a person or domestic animal; or

(ii) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or animals.

36. In exercising its powers to make an order under Section 35, the Provincial Court Judge may take into consideration the following circumstances:

(a) the dog’s past and present temperament and behaviour

(b) the seriousness of the injuries caused by the biting or attack

(c) unusual contributing circumstances tending to justify the dog’s action

(d) the improbability that a similar attack will be repeated

(e) the dog’s physical potential for inflicting harm

(f) precautions taken by the owner to preclude similar attacks in the future

(g) any other circumstances that the court considers to be relevant

37. If, in a proceeding under Section 35, the court finds that the dog has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal or that the dog’s behaviour is such that the dog is a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals, and the court is satisfied that an order is necessary for the protection of the public, the court may order,

(a) that the owner of the dog take the measures specified in the order for the more effective control of the dog or for purposes of public safety.

(b) that the dog be destroyed in the manner specified in the order; or

(c) prohibiting the dog’s owner from owning another dog for a specified period of time.

End notes:

1.  Taken directly from Parrsboro, Nova Scotia’s dog bylaw -

A “dangerous dog law” instead of a “fierce and dangerous dog” law is much preferred because it targets the correct demographic – individual dogs and their owner – not entire dog breeds, and mixed breed dogs simply because of the way that they look.

It has been suggested that “fierce and dangerous dog” laws prevent dog bites because they target the breeds who do the majority of the dog attacks – but that is a misnomer. Statistics show that where breed specific legislation has been enacted – dog bites have not been decreased.

BSL and breed restrictions give a false sense of security – the city of Denver Colorado is one of the most famous cities for having a breed ban on pit bulls – and they say that their pit bull bite stats went down from 77% down to 9% - but when you look at their actual numbers – that was over a three-year period from 2005 to 2007. To get this "success," Denver killed 1,776 pit bulls, many of them pets. Meanwhile, non-pit bull bites went down only 10 percent (from 465 to 420)—and the decrease seems to be merely reflecting local trends in dog bite numbers, not any concerted public safety actions on Denver's part.

Why isn't Denver interested in protecting the vast majority of dog bite victims (400+ victims per year)?

Almost every dangerous dog conversation the city has ever held revolves around pit bulls and how the city is dealing with pit bulls. Nothing is being done about all those other victims, all those other preventable injuries, all those other mishandled dogs.

Pit bull bites
39 to 9 - which is a 77% drop

Non pit bull bites
465 to 420 - which is a 10% drop

Total bites 504 to 429 - Shouldn't those 420 other dog bite victims be taken into consideration as well?

That's the false sense of security that bsl brings to legislation.

If Denver had dangerous dog legislation instead of breed specific legislation – 100% of the dog bite victims in their city would have justice for their injuries – and all the dogs there would be properly handled afterwards through their courts. ( from -  )

2. Taken directly from Nova Scotia’s Municipal Government Act – Section 175(4) -

Allowing the registration of CKC breeders separately from single dog registrations is a good thing – a “win-win” scenario – it allows the town to keep track of how many “breeding operations” are within the town limits – and it also is a cost savings for the breeders because they don’t have to register each of their dogs individually. It is also an enticement to prospective breeders to aspire to becoming a “CKC registered” breeder instead of a simple non-registered breeder – which would be completely non-regulated.

3. Pet Limit Laws: Pet limit laws have been shown to punish responsible pet owners and rescue organizations like the NS SPCA because they lower the number of good homes that the rescue groups can adopt pets to, at the same time forcing otherwise responsible pet owners to surrender their “over the limit” pets to those same shelters – causing them to have to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals because they have no other options.

It also raises the chances of litigation for the Municipality when pet owners are caught with too many animals and they don’t want to give up their pets – there have been many, many cases of successful litigation against municipalities elsewhere when pet limit laws were challenged by individual pet owners – and they were allowed to keep all of their pets.

Pet limit laws do not prevent or punish hoarders – Animal hoarding is a mental disease and a crime whereby individuals keep large numbers of animals beyond their capacity to care for them resulting in neglect and cruelty and often death, and they are often marginalized and live well outside the confines of the law – and one individual may be able to responsibly care for an nurture several animals, another may be unable to care for even one.

It would also keep people from registering their animals for fear that if they register more than 2 of their pets they will be “flagged” as having more than the limit the town requires – so Yarmouth will be turning otherwise responsible owners into scofflaws simply through this one small aspect of their proposed bylaw.

The Yarmouth SPCA is very proud of their status as a “no-kill” shelter. If the 2 pet limit was instituted in the town of Yarmouth – it would be impossible for them to maintain their status as such. It is an unnecessary variance that punishes responsible pet owners – yet doesn’t touch the pet owners it’s meant to regulate. (from -  )

4. Mandating liability insurance for dogs who have been deemed dangerous does nothing but raise insurance premiums for all dog owners – and is almost impossible to get from any insurance carrier. You will find this item in any dangerous dog bylaw because it doesn’t protect dog bite victims and it hurts every person who holds house insurance – not just dangerous dog owners.

5. Taken from Windsor Nova Scotia’s dog bylaw -

Taken from Windsor Nova Scotia’s newly revised dog bylaw where they worked directly with the provincial office of the NS SPCA – the Yarmouth SPCA, as well at the NS SPCA – both have a “no kill” philosophy – so Yarmouth Animal Control can safely proclaim that with this adoption pact that they also will have a “no kill” Animal Control policy as well.

6. The ability for Town Staff to shoot a dog on sight (or after capture) without notice to or complaint against the owner for infractions such as running at large, or eluding capture – and town staff being able to shoot on sight any dog is rabid or exhibits symptoms of canine madness:

We do not have rabies in Nova Scotia yet in any number to be aware of – about 3 or 4 cases in the last 10 years – and only 1 or 2 of those (maybe) have been in a dog – to allow the shooting on sight of any dog for the perceived case of rabies based on those statistics – is not a reasonable argument.

On page 27 and 28 of the Westville Nova Scotia dog bylaw -  - you will find an explanation as to why “shoot on sight” statutes are in dog bylaws – it is because at one time more rural areas inserted them into bylaws for their ability to be able to shoot dogs that were being a nuisance to wildlife – it chasing wildlife – indeed, the Nova Scotia Wildlife Act still has a section allowing the shooting of dogs running at large in their statutes when unattended by their humans.

It is perhaps appropriate when they are running at large in the woods after a deer – but not in the middle of a town when they are running down the middle of Main Street. If they are menacing and attacking a human – Police officers or another designated (armed) town official will obviously still be empowered through their other duties to shoot the dog – but a bylaw enforcement officer should not have the ability to shoot a dog on sight simply for a dog running at large in the 21st century.


  1. That's an amazing post Joan. You are a wonder and a terrific spokesperson for dog issues in Nova Scotia.

    This all takes a lot of your time.

    Me and my dogs thank you.

    Sybil (who fled Ontario because of BSL)

  2. Awesome post Joan! You hit the nail right on the head ... as always !!!!

  3. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Nice post, pitty you used euthanize instead of kill regarding the shelter destroying healthy dogs and even dogs deemed dangerous. Would also be nice for you to write about the qualifications or lack thereof of the SPCA folks. I think you need to be an actual Animal Behavourist (PHD) level education to determine if a dog is vicious and untrainable.

  4. Anonymous2:17 PM

    My dog has Valley Bull in her...but she is the most loving and gentle dog...and she is very mindful of my youngest daughter would be heartbroken if they took and killed her puppy...