If you were on Facebook in the last 24 hours you might have been angry at the town on Stellarton for a little while.
Last night they had on their website a new dog bylaw that was going to a 3rd reading and if it was passed they were going to have breed specific legislation in their town - specifically - if you owned a dog that was "a American pit bull terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier, an American Staffordshire terrier, or any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of the aforementioned breeds" shall, for the purpose of the by-law, be what they were calling a "restricted dog".
I have talked a lot on this blog about breed specific legislation and Nova Scotia - keeping it from coming here province wide, and the fact that it exists here in pockets in various places and has for a long time.
Currently bsl exists in the district of the municipality of Guysborough, Clark's Harbour, the town of Digby, the county of Richmond, and the district of the Municipality of Antigonish - so to add another area in Stellarton would have been just awful since we are such a peace loving province and we all love our dogs so much.
It turns out that luckily it was just a big administrative mix up with whoever posted the pdf of the dog bylaw on the town's website yesterday - the dog bylaw that they are working on and that will hopefully pass on April 23, 2018 is not going to have any breed specific legislation in it at all - whereas before a fierce or dangerous animal was partially described by breed - now it is only described by it's actions - "if it has attacked or bitten a person or animal". And that is the kind of bylaw that works and protects everyone - what is called a "breed neutral bylaw".
Now that we have that emergency over - I hope you will indulge me - because we still have a very large problem here in Nova Scotia - not just the pockets of bsl that exist in the five areas that I mentioned above - but with something that you've maybe never heard of before - a piece of legislation called "The Municipal Government Act".
It lays out all the pieces of legislation that towns and municipalities can write around the province - and it has a section on dog bylaws. If something isn't written in the Municipal Government Act or "MGA" - you can't write it into any of your bylaws.
And there are some things in the dog section of the Municipal Government Act that are truly awful - with the first one being of course - breed specific legislation - what it says there about that is:
1(e) defining fierce or dangerous dogs, including defining them by breed, cross-breed, partial breed or type;
(f) regulating the keeping of fierce or dangerous dogs;
(h) authorizing the dog control officer to impound, sell, kill or otherwise dispose of dogs
(iii) that are fierce or dangerous,
So at a council meeting tonight in your town or city - your council members could without any public input - impose breed specific legislation in your town - and authorize your animal control officers to impound any they believe are fierce and dangerous - based entirely on the basis of how they look and they can kill sell or otherwise dispose of your dog - with no so say by you - simply by the way they look.
This is directly from the Municipal Government Act here in Nova Scotia
And it gets better
176 (1) Where a peace officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that a person is harbouring, keeping or has under care, control or direction a dog that is fierce or dangerous, rabid or appears to be rabid, that exhibits symptoms of canine madness or that persistently disturbs the quiet of a neighbourhood by barking, howling or otherwise contrary to a by-law, a justice of the peace may, by warrant, authorize and empower the person named in the warrant to
(a) enter and search the place where the dog is, at any time;
(b) open or remove any obstacle preventing access to the dog; and
(c) seize and deliver the dog to the pound and for such purpose, break, remove or undo any fastening of the dog to the premises.
(2) Where the person named in the warrant is unable to seize the dog in safety, the person may destroy the dog
So the peace officer gets a warrant because they think you have a fierce or dangerous dog - your beloved wide mouthed, small eyed labrador retriever - and with that they can come into your house - look all through your house while looking for that DOG - and they see a marijuana pipe - what do you think is going to be most important to them then? Your dog or your drug paraphenalia?
I have been saying for probably a decade that breed specific legislation needs to be taken out of the Municipal Government Act - if we could get that done then no area of Nova Scotia would be able to enact bsl without us knowing about it number one - and wouldn't be able to do it at all.
If you want to effect change for all the dogs of Nova Scotia - you should contact your MLA with your concerns about the MGA - and that you think that breed specific legislation should be taken out of it because Nova Scotian's love all their dogs
You'll find the list of MLA's in Nova Scotia on the Nova Scotia government website and then send them an email telling them how you feel about this subject.
Probably one you'll want to stay away from is Lloyd Hines - if he's your MLA - shame on you - you shouldn't have voted him in in the first place - he's the person who said this about dogs:
"I don't want to be the warden of the Municipality of Guysborough and have to go to the funeral of some kid who was eaten."He's probably the worst person in Nova Scotia. I can't stand him. Blech.