The City of Surrey has approved a new Animal Responsibility Bylaw, allowing it to impose hefty fines on owners of aggressive dogs before an attack has even occurred.
“Our goal is to modernize our bylaws to further minimize the risk to the general public in respect to aggressive and dangerous dogs,” said Mayor Linda Hepner in a release.
Dogs must now be registered according to a tiered system – normal, aggressive, vicious or dangerous – so authorities are aware of potential problems before they occur.
Owners of aggressive, vicious or dangerous dogs can be fined $1,000 if they do not muzzle their dog when required.
New dangerous dog classifications
Aggressive, vicious and dangerous dogs are now defined as follows:
- the dog has unduly intimidated a person or animal, by snarling, growling or pursuing them in a threatening manner, or caused minor injury to them.
- the dog has caused minor injury to a person or animal more than once, or
- caused unprovoked serious injury to a person or animal, or
- has a known tendency to make unprovoked attacks, or
- has aggressively pursued or harassed a person without provocation.
- the dog has killed or seriously injured a person, or
- killed or seriously injured an animal on public or private property not owned or occupied by the dog owner, or
- previously been deemed a vicious dog and since attacked or injured a person or animal, or
- an animal control officer has reasonable grounds to believe the dog is likely to kill or seriously injure a person
The new rules were created in consultation with dog experts at the BC SPCA, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
As well, City staff consulted dog behaviour expert, Dr. Rebecca Ledger, who has served in court as an expert witness in animal cruelty and aggression cases.
Dangerous dog licensing $500/year
In a release on Wednesday, the BC SPCA’s Geoff Urton praised the City of Surrey for approving the new bylaw at a Council meeting on Tuesday night.
“It’s extremely encouraging to see a BC municipality finally stepping up with a truly proactive approach to the serious problem of irresponsible dog ownership in our communities,” said Urton.
“Surrey is demonstrating real leadership with this dog ownership bylaw, which is now the best in the province, and other municipalities should take note.”
The new bylaw will require dog owners to pay more for dog licensing according to how dangerous their dog is deemed.
The escalated licensing fees for the annual license fee will range from $43 for an “altered normal dog”, to $500 for a “dangerous dog.”
$200 fine for lack of guard dog warning
Among the other measures introduced as part of the new bylaw are:
- Someone must be home if certain dogs are outside on a chain or a cable run, preventing injury or attack from other animals
- Owners can be fined $200 for failing to post a sign warning of a guard dog on their property
- Animal control will be allowed to eject certain dogs from an off leash area and issue higher penalties of $300 for certain dogs running at large
- Dangerous dogs must have permanent identification, be actively engaged in training with an approved trainer, and be spayed or neutered
- Violations have been added for abandoning, teasing or tormenting an animal, causing or permitting suffering to any animal and training any animal for fighting
For the full bylaw, check here: surrey.ca.