The Village of Cumberland wants to clarify language around animal control, especially when it comes to aggressive, biting or dangerous dogs.
Corporate officer Rachel Parker updated council at a committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 10 about proposed changes to the animal control bylaw.
The review of the bylaw was prompted by challenges around the designation of aggressive, biting and dangerous dogs, as staff felt the need to clear up regulations.
“The intent isn’t to punish the owner of the dog. It’s to protect the health of the community and the residents,” Parker said.
The main area of conflict has been around the first level of designations for dogs, as many requirements of the bylaw are expensive and have been met with resistance.
“We wanted to reduce those requirements connected to those dogs,” she said.
Staff is suggesting moving several of these requirements to the level two, or ‘biting dog’ designation. These include requiring a microchip, that the dog be confined to indoors or a secure kennel on the property, that the dog is in the control of someone at least 16 years of age. As well, the changes cover consequences if the dog is let loose, impounded or involved in incidents.
“We’d like to move all of those requirements to the biting dog level,” she said.
There are some additional requirements for level one ‘aggressive’ dogs for the owner to keep control of the dog.
There is a special licence for the dogs in question. The fee was $100 but the plan is to reduce this to $50 to more accurately reflect costs. Parker said it will basically be the same licences for aggressive and biting dogs, though they will have different-coloured tags. There is also level three or ‘dangerous dogs’ – those that have killed or seriously injured a person or domestic animal, or that an animal control officer has grounds to believe would likely do so. They are not permitted within the Village without permission.
Finally, another change is around the authority to designate a dog. This currently rests with the animal control officer, but this will be switched to the manager of protective services for the Village.
Parker said, along with these proposed changes, they are suggesting some other changes, especially around some housekeeping issues with the bylaw.
During discussion, Coun. Gwyn Sproule had questions about details such as the cost of microchips and who would insert them. Staff responded veterinarians can insert the chips and the procedure should cost roughly $100.
Coun. Sean Sullivan wanted to know about impound fees going down and how this affects the approximately $1,300 the Village pays the SPCA for services. Parker responded that the amount is a set fee from the SPCA to make kennels available to the Village when impounding dogs.
Council members expressed support for the proposed changes and passed a motion to direct staff to prepare amendments to the bylaw, which will then have to come back to council.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to make a lot of the changes that we require,” Mayor Leslie Baird said.
According to the staff report, council revised its animal control bylaw in 2017, but staff felt there were parts that needed revision.