Barking dogs, fine schedule to put more bite in animal control bylaw

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
March 12th, 2013

Barking dogs and new fines are among the revisions made to the Regional District Kootenay Boundary animal control bylaw up for approval by the board of directors at the end of March.

The new bylaw had first, second and third reading at the regular board meeting in late February. Now stakeholders are being consulted for input before the bylaw will be brought forward for final approval. If approved, it will affect residents of Grand Forks, Greenwood, Christina Lake, Area C and Area D.

The most significant change to the bylaw is the part on barking dogs.

It states, “A person must not keep or harbour a dog that is habitually noisy or loud to the extent that it disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of any person in the neighbourhood or vicinity. Persons keeping dogs that contravene this section, upon the complaint of two or more incidents, will be subject to the following fees: first offence is $25, the second offence is $100, the third offence is $150 and any offence thereafter is $150.”

The new bylaw couldn’t come sooner for some Area D residents

During the annual Town Hall meeting in Grand Forks on Monday, March 4, several residents were hot under the collar over the barking dog issue in their neighbourhoods.

At the onset of the meeting, one Area D resident stood up and asked if after four years of complaining, was anything going to be done about the barking dogs he experiences in his neighbourhood, which is located along the US Canada border by Danville, Washington.

“There is mayhem ruining our neighbourhood and we have no control over peoples’ right to enjoy quietness,” he said.

RDKB Chief Administrative Officer John MacLean happily told the man the owners of barking dogs will soon be finable under the new bylaw.

“There are prohibitions in there that some people might not like, and barking dogs is included in that,” MacLean.

Another resident brought up the issue of a dog kennel located in Area D that some residents aren’t happy with.

“We know of the kennel issue in Area D and it has been identified as an item we need to discuss as a community,” said MacLean.

Under the original bylaw, Boundary Animal Control Officer Richard Smith said there was nothing he could do about barking dog complaints.

“Before (the bylaw) I couldn’t fine people and now there’s a new fine schedule,” said Smith.

Regardless of having a bylaw with more teeth, complainants still have the burden of proof for anything to be acted on, said MacLean. MacLean suggested keeping a log of the date and time the dogs are seen or heard barking.

One resident pointed out that is a flawed system. She said where she lives on the Johnson flats; the sound can carry for kilometers. So the dog that is barking might not be your neighbor’s dog but someone else’s.

“(Barking) will be a really hard thing to enforce,” agrees Smith. “I’ve gone by (a residence with a barking dog complaint) and sat there for hours without a peep from the dog.”

Barking isn’t the top issue of contention in this area for animal control. It’s loose and stray dogs, said Smith.

Not every part of the bylaw is applicable to all areas of the region. Area C has opted out of the dog limit part of the bylaw. Area D will soon have a three-dog limit per household unless there is a kennel license, while Christina Lake will continue to have no limit.

Area C director Grace McGregor said she chose to opt out of limiting the number of dogs a person can have.

“We didn’t go down that road because there is no issue in Christina Lake,” said McGregor. “We’re happy with the way it is at the lake.”

But not everyone is happy with the way it is at the lake. Smith said many of the complaints he gets about loose and stray dogs come from the lake area.

Some dog owners concerned too much is missing in the new bylaw

The Kootenay Boundary Pet Dog Association has invited interim Area D director Roly Russell, Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor and animal control officer Richard Smith to discuss what’s missing in the new bylaw before it has a final reading at the regular RDKB board meeting at the end of March.

The group put out a letter to the public, which can be viewed at https://boundarysentinel.com/news/letter-new-dog-bylaws-raise-questions-rdkb-residents-23622#.UT4g5anJDFI encouraging all those who feel as they do to attend.

The association feels that the bylaw is missing important components like cruelty and neglect, boarding and grooming businesses.

The town hall style meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in the Seniors Center in Grand Forks.

This bylaw is not where cruelty or zoning issues belong

Elaine Kumar, RDKB director of corporate administration, said issues of boarding, grooming and cruelty to animals does not belong on this kind of bylaw.

This bylaw is for control issues and licensing, she said during a private interview with The Boundary Sentinel.

She said the issues around kennels, boarding and grooming facilities is a zoning issue and should be discussed at the upcoming Official Community Plan (OCP) public meeting that has yet to be determined.

“There are very little properties that allow for kennels in Area D,” said Kumar.

As for cruelty and neglect, those are issues for the province and not for individual regional districts, she said. The SPCA often enforces those laws.

Some resources of interest:

A good brochure on how to stop a barking dog was published by the Capital Regional District in Victoria, BC. To view it, go to:  http://www.crd.bc.ca/animal/documents/CRD_BarkingDogs.pdf

To call Smith for more information or to make a complaint about a dog or domestic livestock call him at 250-444-0371.

Found or lost animals can be seen on the new Facebook page at Boundary Animal Control.  

To view the complete draft of the new bylaw visit: www.rdkb.com.

Categories: GeneralIssues