Council gave first three readings Monday to the Responsible Animal Ownership Bylaw, which, if passed, replaces the city’s previous animal control bylaw.
Most notable differences will see the city move away from breed-specific bylaws and, for the first time, require cats to be licensed.
“One of the main things we looked at is how do we deal with and how deal with identify dangerous or restricted dogs,” said Fred Crittenden, manager of city bylaw services.
He added a recent survey of city residents found 68.3 per cent of respondent did not like the idea of restrictions on dogs based on breed or appearance. That is a complete turnaround from 2003 when 64 per cent of residents felt that restrictions should be based on breed or appearance.
He said 83.5 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of restrictions of dogs based on behaviour.
Under the new bylaw, problem animals will fall into one of three categories – nuisance, aggressive, or dangerous.
An animal control officer may, on having reasonable and probable grounds to believe an animal that has been involved in incidents that have resulted in two or more bylaw offence convictions.
An aggressive designation will be given to a dog that has bitten, aggressively harassed, or chased other animals; displayed aggressive behaviour towards a person or animal; bitten a person or other animal, causing minor injury, whether on the property of the owner or not; or damaged or destroyed any property.
A dangerous dog will be one that has killed or seriously injured a person and has killed or seriously injured a domestic animal while in a public place or while on private property owned or occupied by the person responsible for the dog, or an animal control officer has reasonable grounds to believe [the dog] is likely to kill or cause serious injury.
Both aggressive and dangerous dogs will have several restrictions placed on them, such as being sterilized and microchipped. The owners of a dangerous dog must carry $2 million in liability insurance, have an inspected and approve enclosure for the dog, and pay an annual licence fee of $500.
“We want to make it uncomfortable for people who have dogs in the community that pose a risk to our residents and their pets,” said Crittenden.