County considers short leash for vicious dogs

Irresponsible dog owners in the County of Stettler could face stiffer penalties after all if they cannot control their animals that bite people and animals or damage other peoples’ property.

Irresponsible dog owners in the County of Stettler could face stiffer penalties after all if they cannot control their animals that bite people and animals or damage other peoples’ property.

Council is now ready to give vicious dogs and their owners a short leash to protect residents and people.

At its regular meeting Nov. 10, county council gave first readings changes to the dog bylaw after they were turned down by council at its meeting in October.

“I brought it back to protect our ratepayers and residents” said Councillor Vic Carey, who responded to Reeve Earl Marshal who asked why the bylaw returned to council.

Last month, Carey presented the issue after a vicious attack by a dog in the Gadsby area that he represents on council.

“We never had a problem (with vicious dogs) in the county,” said Reeve Marshall.

Council now invites residents and dog owners an opportunity to view and comment on the proposed changes before council considers final reading to adopt the bylaw at its next meeting Dec. 9, suggested by Councillor Joe Gendre.

“This bylaw (update) was done in the proper spirit,” said Councillor Wayne Nixon.

During the October meeting, proposed changes in the bylaw were turned down by a majority of councillors, mainly dog owners.

“The current dog-control bylaw (1387-08) lacks any authority for the County of Stettler to handle vicious dogs and/or vicious dog attacks,” said chief administrative officer Tim Fox.

“The proposed bylaw will assist Alberta Animal Services under contract with the county to better enforce dog control, deal with vicious dogs to protect people and ensure the county receives adequate reimbursement for costs with the appropriate penalty structure in place.

The new bylaw has significant penalties and fines in place to cover costs associated with the enforcement of the bylaw and to handle vicious dogs,” said Fox.

Under the proposed changes, a vicious dog means a dog that chases, injures or bites a person or animal, threatens, or maliciously damages property without being provoked.

The owner of a dog must ensure that the dog does not run at large off owner’s property and is under control and restrained.

“If a dog is deemed to be a vicious dog, then there are stricter guidelines to keep the dog under control while on and off the owner’s property,” said Fox.

Dog owner faces a minimum fine of $500 for a vicious dog that chases, injures or bites a person or animal or fails to keep a vicious dog confined.

A minimum of $250 will be applied to a dog owner for a vicious dog that damages or destroys property, fails to keep a vicious dog under control of adult, fails to keep a vicious dog muzzled, harnessed, leashed, confined or a vicious dog running at large.

Owner of a dog that causes damage to property will be fined $100 for the first offence, $200 for second offence and $300 for third offence.

Owner of a dog that bites or attacks a person or other animal faces court.

Owner of a dog that chases a person, animal, vehicle, bicycle faces fines.

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