City sniffing out new dog bylaws

PHOTO: Beach Metro News

City councillors will consider new rules this spring for owners of vicious and dangerous dogs.

A “vicious animal” licence, such as the kind the City of Calgary has for dogs with a history of attacking people or pets, is one of several ideas in a background report presented Nov. 26 to councillors on Toronto’s licensing committee.

Based on public meetings, an online survey, and talks with animal experts, the report also looked at dog policies in 15 other cities and found Toronto is an outlier for having no vicious dogs rule and somewhat lower fines.

The report also noted that in Calgary, where 90 per cent of dogs are licensed compared with 30 per cent in Toronto, the city does a better job explaining that licensing fees are not a tax grab, but a way of funding animal shelters and other services.

A list of recommended bylaw changes based on the report will go to city council in April.

Of the 2,500 people who answered the online survey, the largest group came from Ward 32. While most respondents said they have never made a formal complaint about dogs, nearly half of dog owners said they avoid taking their dog to certain parts of the city because of a vicious or threatening dog.

During five public meetings, the report authors heard many suggestions for how to reduce dog bites, dogs-at-large and other issues, including stepped-up enforcement and preventing young, unaccompanied children and non-neutered dogs from entering off-leash dog parks.

For a summary of the report findings, see

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