Waterloo is strengthening its by-laws around aggressive or dangerous dogs.Â
Shayne Turner is Director of Municipal Enforcement Services at the City of Waterloo.
He appeared on The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS on Tuesday.Â
“To set the stage, the City of Waterloo has had our current by-law on dealing with aggressive dog behaviour in place since 1998. During a review of that by-law, and dealing with some of the situations we have in the City, we realized it could be stronger. So we looked at what other municipalities are doing by shifting the focus a bit away from the dog, and placing it more on the dog owner. This gives us the ability to not just designate the dog, but also charge the owner if they do not comply on all the conditions.”
Turner said there are two key pieces to the changes approved by Waterloo city council this week.Â
“If a dog is designated as potentially dangerous, the owner is given an order with conditions on it that they must comply with. That includes things like muzzling, and keeping the animal properly contained with fencing. Typically in the past, if the owner wasn’t complying – we would place more conditions on the dog. Now, we can prosecute the dog owner – and we can also go onto the property. If there are any physical alterations required like a larger pen or higher fence, we can do that at the owner’s expense.”
When asked if the City can remove the dog from the owner’s possession, Turner said it is possible.Â
“That can only happen in a situation where the dog’s designation has reached a prohibited level. So we have three levels – potentially dangerous, dangerous, and prohibited. Once it hits prohibited – that’s when the dog has to be surrendered.”
Turner said owners can face some serious fines and penalties as a result.
“It really depends on the courts – but the maximum fine as of right now is $5,000.”
Turner added the current by-laws and regulations around dogs in Waterloo have been in place for around 20 years.Â
“We have a longer term review underway, we’re going to completely re-write the by-law and we plan on bringing that to council in 2019. But these amendments are really housekeeping, and this is just a phase one approach.”
When it comes to dogs, Turner said most of the complaints they receive are about dogs off-leash, and noise complaints about barking.Â
The new measures to the by-law were released on Monday night at council, but there is still some work to be done.
“To be honest, I’m not sure when final approval will be made. Probably late spring or early fall, but the key piece was getting over the first hump. Now that we’ve got these new rules in place on a short term basis, that’s really going to help,” said Turner.Â
You can read the amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Designation By-law in Waterloo below.
– Staff will be able to take action to obtain compliance through prosecution, should the dog owner fail to comply with the conditions of a designation.
– Providing the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society officers with a level of discretion to choose the relevant conditions to place on a designation order.Â
– Providing the authority for City staff to issue a work order or order to discontinue, and to initiate certain work, when the dog owner fails to do so, in order to gain compliance with conditions on the order.Â
– Providing discretion for the KWHS, in collaboration with Municipal Enforcement and Legal Services in determining how best to deal with a dog that has been surrendered or seized when it has been designated as prohibited. Currently, the by-law indicates that the dog is to be destroyed.Â