Surrey’s New Dog Bylaw Will Benefit Both Dog Owners and the Public

Keeping an extra eye on your pooch
Daniella Javier, Contributor

Opinion X - Dog Bylaw by Scott

(Scott McLelland)

No matter how friendly your dog may be, keeping it leashed and/or muzzled in public is a smart move. If you do that, you’ll avoid getting fined or restricted.

The City of Surrey is in the process of implementing its new Animal Responsibility Bylaw as a way to target aggressive dog behaviour before it escalates into an attack. The bylaw will also promote responsible dog ownership with the new rules and regulations, including higher fines.

Montreal and Winnipeg have implemented breed-specific bylaws, but the legislation in those cities, according to an article in The Vancouver Sun, singles out pit bull-type breeds, which is unfair to the canines. According to B.C. SPCA’s position statement, they do not support a breed-specific ban due to the fact that aggression can occur in any breed, and targeting pit bulls in particular won’t protect the public.

The Sun article also states that pit bull attacks only make up a small percentage of all reported dog bites. There are many dog breeds and the popularity of them changes over time. B.C. SPCA says a dog breed can be considered a “dangerous breed” today, but not tomorrow. In fact, some countries with breed legislations have up to 30 of such breeds on record.

With that in mind, the individuals involved in this bylaw want to assure everyone that the new rules and fines aren’t picking on a specific kind of dog.

According to The City of Surrey’s corporate report, there will be four types of canine categories: normal, aggressive, vicious, and dangerous. Depending on which category your dog fits into, there will be a higher fine to pay if it’s caught without a leash in public.

It currently costs owners $200 if their dog is not leashed in a public area, but the fine will be going up to $300 for owners with dogs that are considered aggressive. If someone’s dog falls under the category of “vicious” the fine will be $450. Lastly, if a dog is considered to be dangerous, the fine will range from $500-$1,000. This penalty will increase each time a dog is given a classification posing a greater public risk.

Some may find the higher fines unnecessary, but overall, it will hopefully encourage dog owners to keep their pets in control and in close range. Even if a dog is small, there may be times where other dogs or people may threaten them, which could result in an altercation. The City of Surrey’s corporate report states many complaints are about unleashed dogs engaging in inappropriate behavior because the dog owner cannot control their pets. For that reason, the fee increase is beneficial. After all, the city council has to intervene in some way, and this may be the best method for reducing dog attacks.

This bylaw is not meant to imply that dog owners and their furry friends can’t be trusted, but it’s rather a proactive approach to preventing dog attacks and other serious circumstances. The public should view this bylaw as an additional measure to avoid unnecessary issues with dogs. Under the old bylaw, dogs would only get classified as “dangerous” after an attack, whereas the new one will allow the city to act when a dog is behaving aggressively but has not yet harmed anyone else. If a dog’s behavior isn’t improving and is considered a threat, their owner may have to get a dog trainer, be confined, or have other restrictions as the last resort.

If you follow the rules simply by putting your dog on a leash, you’ll save yourself and everyone else a lot of unnecessary stress.

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