City looking for dog ticket options

Red Deer city council questions whether there’s a better way to handle appeals on dog bylaw tickets rather than having some of them ending up in a costly court action.

Red Deer city council questions whether there’s a better way to handle appeals on dog bylaw tickets rather than having some of them ending up in a costly court action.

Currently, the officer who ticketed the person reviews the case. Now, staff is suggesting the review be held between the supervisor or manager of Inspections and Licensing, and the issuing officer.

The city conducts an administrative review, but there is no appeals process under the current municipal bylaw.

Council was told on Monday that if the individual isn’t happy with the decision, then it goes forward to court.

Coun. Buck Buchanan questioned whether there could be a better way of handling complaints on tickets since prosecution costs have been so high.

The city reports that dog bylaw prosecution costs amounted to just over $9,000 in 2005, $10,700 in 2006, just over $12,000 in 2007, and $17,745 in 2008.

When the new bylaw was implemented in 2009, the cost was just over $19,000 and $24,725 in 2010 and $22,922 in 2011.

Prosecution costs for 2012, up to the end of April, are $6,943.

Prosecution costs include costs such as preparing court dockets.

Coun. Lynne Mulder said she didn’t believe the administrative review was very transparent. “To me, it’s way overboard,” she said regarding court.

Penalties for a dog running at large in an off-leash area should be lower than a dog running loose in the community, added Mulder.

She suggested the $250 penalty for a dog running at large is too high for someone who lost control of their dog in Three Mile Bend or Oxbows.

She wondered if the fine should be $50 for a dog running loose in an off-leash park.

“The dangers and safety risks are different,” said Mulder.

The city conducted a review of its dog bylaw after Red Deer resident Mark Yabar received a $250 fine and an impound fee of $42 after his dog took off for the pond at Three Mile Bend in June 2011.

Red Deer city council postponed giving first reading on amending the dog control bylaw because it wanted staff to consider a number of matters. A report will come back on Sept. 4.

Coun. Tara Veer wondered about the proposed addition of adding “interference” involving an officer.

She wanted more clarity on what it means to interfere.

“I think citizens have the rights to ask questions, but not in an aggressive manner,” said Veer.

Administration also proposed within the bylaw that a dog would be deemed under the control of the owner if it “immediately responds to voice, sound or sight commands.”

That definition prompted a response from several councillors who own dog themselves. They would like more information as to what is designated an immediate response.

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