What’s Wrong with the Proposed Animal Bylaws in Calgary and How You Can Speak Up!
24 May 2021
And please speak up…
In my conversations from dog owners this past week, there are two camps when it comes to the new proposed animal bylaws in Calgary. Camp 1 is all over it, involved in the engagement process, and mad as heck. Camp 2 hasn’t heard about them at all! My hope is to help the latter group to know what the Pet Bylaw Committee is proposing and how it could impact them and their dogs!
Right off the bat, I want to say that dog bylaws are necessary. There are plenty of important aspects of animal ownership that should be regulated and enforced. That’s not the problem. The problem is the wording (or rather the lack of clear wording and the potential for biased, arbitrary, or authoritarian interpretation) of the proposed bylaws as they are currently written.
Now, the rest of what I want to pass along, I have taken from the Alberta Animal Owners Facebook page. It’s a new association, and I think you can expect to hear more from them on a multitude of subjects over the years!
Here’s a couple of links to information within that group:
The Engagement process so far: https://engage.calgary.ca/petbylaw
A presentation to Councilors on Concerns:
A comparison document (old to new bylaws):
Firstly, it is recognized and appreciated that the City did not adopt breed-specific legislation. They listened to the stakeholders on the consultation process. However, there are plenty of other areas in the document where the wording could be improved upon.
Here is the detailed information and the concerns with the changes:
Part 2: Licensing Requirements
An owner Obtain a license on the first day on which the Animal Services Centre is open for business after becoming the Owner of the Animal
- This clause does not allow for a grace period for new pet owners to assess the fit of the animal in their home. This is especially important for rescues who have been re-homed.
A Person must not own more than six (6) dogs and six (6) cats that are more than three months of age and a Person must not permit more than six (6) dogs and six (6) cats that are more than three months of age to reside in one dwelling unit.
- This clause does not take into consideration breeders with multiple generations of dogs, or owners who own dogs for competition sports and who often compete with multiple dogs. Both owner groups tend to maintain their older dogs into their geriatric years and bring up young dogs for competition, show, or breeding prospects respectively.
- There’s no evidence that this licensing approach reduces animal hoarding, smells, or noise.
- While there is an indication that Excess Animal Permits would be available, they are not in the Fee Schedules.
Part 3: Owner Responsible for Behaviour of Animal
An Owner must not operate a wheeled conveyance such as a bicycle, e-bicycle, skateboard, roller-skates, scooter, e- scooter, Segway, or other similar vehicle on a Pathway, with any Animal on a Leash
- This is not a new update, however, it’s surprising that this is still a bylaw in Calgary when other cities, such as Edmonton don’t have this bylaw in place and do not report any issues.
- Allowing responsible pet owners the ability to exercise an animal on a bicycle with adequate safety measures in place that safely attach the dog to the bicycle will allow responsible pet owners the ability to exercise dogs who may not be good candidates for off-leash parks.
The Owner of an Animal must not leave an Animal unattended in a motor vehicle when the temperature outdoors is below minus 15 (fifteen) Celsius or above plus 15 (fifteen) degrees Celsius.
- This clause does not appear to consider any individual scenario or allow responsible pet owners the ability to manage their animals based on their individual needs. Breeds such as Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds would have no issue in -15C temperatures, alternatively, other breeds may not have any issues in +15C temperatures. Further, ventilation, shade cloths, blankets, water available etc. are all mitigation strategies that can safely allow animals to be left in a vehicle.
- This clause causes significant issues for responsible pet owners attending any dog event where crating is required in the vehicle.
- This clause does not consider an exemption for police dogs who often remain in the police vehicles unattended with mitigating actions in place to assure the safety of the dogs.
- This clause does not take into account short periods of time that an animal might be unattended in a vehicle without showing signs of distress (i.e. putting your animal in a car and then coming back in to a business to pay for a service.)
The Owner of an Animal must ensure that such Animal does not bark, howl, or otherwise make or cause a noise which disturbs any Person.
Whether any sound annoys or disturbs a Person, or otherwise constitutes objectionable noise, is a question of fact to be determined by a Court hearing a prosecution pursuant to this section of the Bylaw.
- This clause could increase litigation because property right’s override bylaw, and it would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there is an issue with the noise.
- This clause leaves the definition of noise up to personal interpretation and does not provide criteria to thwart unnecessary complaints to bylaw.
The Owner of an Animal must ensure that such Animal does not:
(1) Bite, bark at, or chase stock, Animals, bicycles, automobiles, or other vehicles
(2) chase or otherwise threaten a Person or Persons, whether on the property of the Owner or not
(4) do any act that injures a Person or Persons, whether on the property of the Owner or not
(7) Attack another Animal causing Severe Injury, whether on the property of the Owner or not
- These clauses do not consider the territorial nature of animals. Most dogs will bark or act threateningly towards an intruder on their own property, whether human or another animal.
Part 5: Nuisance Animals
The Chief Bylaw Officer may designate an Animal to be a Nuisance Animal….
- This clause changes the jurisdiction of designating an Animal a Nuisance from the Provincial Court to the Chief Bylaw Officer. This approach does not favour an objective process and could allow for personal opinion and judgement to make decisions around an Animals future.
Part 6: Vicious Animals
The Chief Bylaw Officer may designate an Animal to be a Vicious Animal…
The Chief Bylaw Officer may order the Owner of an Animal alleged to be a Vicious Animal to surrender the Animal to an Officer to be impounded at the Animal Services Centre pending the outcome of the Chief Bylaw Officer’s decision on whether the Animal should be designated a Vicious Animal and any related appeal.
- This clause changes the jurisdiction of designating an Animal Vicious from the Provincial Court to the Chief Bylaw Officer. This approach does not favor an objective process and could allow for personal opinion and judgement to make decisions around an Animals future.
If the Animal is in an unaltered state, within 10 (ten) days of receiving the notice of the designation, have the Vicious Animal neutered or spayed at the Owner’s expense;
- Altering an animal is an unnecessary action. There is little evidence to support altering as a means to fixing unwanted behaviors.
- Some studies indicate that aggression can be made worse after sexual alteration.
REQUEST FOR ACTION
We are encouraging all of our clients, all Calgarians, all dog owners from anywhere in the province, country, or world to let the City of Calgary Council know that these proposed bylaws need further work. Calgary’s animal bylaws were once looked upon as the model for all other jurisdictions, but some of this wording takes us a few steps away from that distinction.
So, we need you to write. A form letter has been created.
Find it here: https://caninefitness.com/index.php?pid=83
Please feel free to use it, or to write your own personal letter. Write to ALL of the councilors, the Mayor, and the project manager for the revision, Jennifer Lawlor.
Here is a link to a form that will allow you to email ALL of the councilors at once:
And then also send your letter to Mayor Naheed Nenshi at: firstname.lastname@example.org and to the project manager Jennifer Lawlor at: PetBylaw@calgary.ca
Thanks everyone! Stay informed and take action! The deadline to do so is May 31st. We want Calgary (and area) to be the best place to own a dog.
P.S. I found a listing of all of the councillors emails if you would rather email directly.
Ward 1- Ward Sutherland – email@example.com
Ward 2- Joe Magliocca – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 3- Jyoti Gondek – email@example.com
Ward 4- Sean Chu – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 5- George Chahal – email@example.com
Ward 6- Jeff Davison – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 7- Druh Farrell – email@example.com
Ward 8- Evan Woolley – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 9- Gian Carlo Carra – email@example.com
Ward 10- currently empty
Ward 11- Jeromy Farkas – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 12- Shane Keating – email@example.com
Ward 13- Diane Colley-Urquhart – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 14- Peter Demong – email@example.com