- BC Games
Sept. 20 deadline for feedback on pitbull regs
The public will have until Sept. 20 to provide feedback on Burnaby city hall's proposal to keep pitbulls muzzled in public.
The proposal is part of the update to its animal control bylaw that's been over a year in the making.
It's perhaps the most contentious part as it seeks to maintain and strengthen breed-specific legislation in which pitbulls are the only type of dog specified under the definition of a vicious dog.
Currently, all pitbulls and other vicious dogs which have bitten without provocation must be muzzled while in a public place and kept in an enclosure in a fenced yard.
The proposal would keep those rules in place and add additional fines and licence fees for vicious dogs.
People will now have a chance to write in or appear as a delegation at a council meeting to comment on the proposed changes, said Mayor Derek Corrigan at Monday's council meeting.
"We want to be able to give everyone a chance to respond."
April Fahr, executive director of the Vancouver-based HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society said in an earlier interview that neighbouring municipalities in New Westminster, Coquitlam and Vancouver experience fewer dog bites involving pitbulls than Burnaby despite not having such breed-specific legislation.
Recent research has shown that the issue is not about the breed but how they're bred and treated by their owners which determines pitbulls' aggressiveness, Fahr said.
She also noted that Burnaby dog bite statistics HugABull received through a freedom of information request showed a lower incidence of pitbull bites than those cited in the city's staff report on the issue.
Burnaby finance director Denise Jorgenson said staff took note of the anomalies and reviewed the numbers supplied by the BC SPCA, which operates the city's animal shelter, and concluded that the number of bites attributed to pitbulls was fewer than stated in the report.
Between 2007 and May 2013 there were 477 dog bites reported, of which 239 or half were the breed of dog identified.
Of those, 52 were by pitbulls, down from 59 originally reported, Jorgenson said. That makes up 10.9 per cent of the total overall bites.
Identifying the breed of dog involved "can at times be complex," she explained, and the change in numbers comes from working with the BC SPCA and applying "a more conservative definition."
She added, "The conclusions in the report remain unchanged." Pitbulls continue to make up the largest proportion of bites recorded.
Jorgenson added that the report also did not include the results of a second petition the city received in July in which 172 signatures from people in a number of municipalities called for the removal of the breed-specific legislation.
That's in addition to the 425-signature petition mentioned in the report (of which 174 signatures were from Burnaby residents), calling for pitbulls being removed from the vicious dog definition.
Other proposed changes in the bylaw range from adding a list of prohibited animals in the city, including poisonous or venomous reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, and increasing the number of dogs allowed per household from two to three.
The other contentious issue, on whether pet stores should be banned from selling animals, will be the subject of a future staff report.