City clarifies dog bylaw, review process set up

A new dog bylaw that clarifies definitions and establishes a clear ticket review process is one step closer to reality.

A new dog bylaw that clarifies definitions and establishes a clear ticket review process is one step closer to reality.

City council gave first reading on Monday to a revised dog bylaw that spells out definitions surrounding “a dog running at large” and “a dog running at large in an off-leash area,” establishing a clear appeals process and penalties.

The review stems from the request from Mark Yabar, a Red Deer resident, who received a $250 fine and impound fee of $42 after his dog took off for the pond at Three Mile Bend in 2011.

Yabar fought the ticket in provincial court and lost. Yabar wrote in a letter to city council that the bylaw does not meet the city residents expectations “because of its ambiguous provisions and excessively punitive penalties.”

The proposed bylaw differentiates between the owner of a dog being guilty of an offence if the dog running at large in an off-leash area or the dog is running at large in other areas of the city.

In the past, the issuing officer would review the ticket. City council had requested a more collaborative approach to the appeal process.

Now the reviews will be submitted to the city’s Inspections and Licensing department and all dog bylaw ticket reviews will be looked at by a supervisor or manager and the ticket issuing officer.

Coun. Tara Veer said from the public’s perspective, many would like an independent review but she thinks it’s a step in the right direction with the manager meeting with the citizens.

“I think ultimately it will be an area where we will try this out,” she said.

“It is a step in the right direction but we might need a comprehensive and transparent appeal process in the future.’

She added the bylaw is moving in the right direction by adding clarity but council should continue to monitor it and perhaps not wait so long to review it the next time.

“I think we could offer greater differentiation between the provisions pertaining to regular dogs and aggressive dogs,” she said.

“In particular, I think we need to look at the fines and make sure our fines are effective deterrents without be oppressive for the public that we serve.”

There will be new signs installed at Three Mile Bend to be consistent with the signs already in place at the Oxbows Off-Leash Dog Park, near Delburne Street and 40th Avenue.

The existing bylaw was implemented in 2009.

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