Senseless bylaw

Castlegar’s decade-old bylaw which quite deliberately discriminates against owners of certain breeds of dogs is one of those rules that doesn’t make sense in principle or in practice.

Castlegar’s decade-old bylaw which quite deliberately discriminates against owners of certain breeds of dogs is one of those rules that doesn’t make sense in principle or in practice.

The decision to charge owners of pit bulls and Staffordshire terriers $1,000 a year to license their animals was, according to the mayor who presided over its creation, a purposeful attempt to force these breeds of dog out of the city and if their owners went with them, so be it. The justification for this unusual action — pushing existing or prospective citizens out of Castlegar — was that these particular breeds of dog are just too vicious to have around.

Hogwash.

While behavioural tendencies do vary between different types of dogs, every responsible dog owner knows that training has a far greater influence on behaviour than breeding. A well trained pit bull poses less danger to the public than a poorly trained poodle. Need proof? Just look carefully around town and you’ll see plenty of these supposedly vicious dogs co-existing peacefully with canines and humans alike.

This, of course, brings us to the practical problem with the bylaw: It’s not being enforced.

There are precisely zero licences at city hall for pit bulls or Staffordshire terriers. The owners of these dogs are simply ignoring the bylaw. (The majority of dog owners in this city choose not to license their animals, it should be noted. There are currently 215 valid dog licences at city hall, but it’s safe to assume there are far more dogs than that in Castlegar.)

The only thing this bylaw is accomplishing is deterring law-abiding, would-be residents from moving to Castlegar. Responsible owners of these particular breeds of dog aren’t made to feel welcome in this community when faced with such exorbitant licensing fees. Ultimately, that is our loss as a city.

The current council ought to revisit this bylaw and either abolish it or replace it with licensing rules that make more sense.

– Castlegar News

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