Please accept this petition as an urgent request for change in the Community Charter, Section 49 “Special Powers in Relation to Dangerous Dogs” or alternatively, introduce a new mediation process for the prosecution of “alleged” Dangerous Dogs.
Section 49 provides “Absolute Power” and unbalanced wide discretion to Animal Control Authorities with little defense for dog guardians and their beloved family pets which are classified as “property”. Dogs are sentient beings.
The powers granted under this legislation have been abused by various Animal Control Authorities throughout the Province of British Columbia. This has resulted in the cruel and inhumane long-term confinement of dogs in short-term confinement facilities, without recourse, due to court backlogs. Bail or interim release for dogs pending judgment is not legislated. The law is silent and contentious on many pertinent issues including “bail” for dogs.
The question of whether a dog is “Dangerous”, is based on the sole belief of ONE person, the Animal Control Officer and cannot be challenged without a hearing, generally a year or more away. This sole “belief” enables an Animal Control Officer to seize, impound and apply to destroy a dog. Animal Control Authorities are educated in enforcement. They are not educated in dog behaviour and have no professional ability to predict a dog’s future behaviour. The legislation should not allow an Animal Control Officer to make an application to destroy a dog based on one Animal Control Officer’s belief that the animal will kill or seriously injure a person because they are not trained in dog behaviour.
Animal Control Authorities fail to first exhaust their own Municipal Bylaws. They instead invoke the use of Section 49 without having established internal policies and procedures for their lawful use. They fail to investigate complaints and prejudically protect the complainants. Dogs are seized unlawfully (without warrant) and Animal Control Officers have been known to invent and misrepresent facts on their sworn “Applications to Destroy”. Animal Control Authorities fail or refuse to negotiate Consent Orders to release the dog with conditions. Instead, after much time and money, releases are ordered by Judges with conditions, which could have been negotiated earlier by Consent Order.
In some cases, a Judge has decided that the “alleged” dangerous dog is not dangerous at all and has granted unconditional release of the dog back to its guardian. This verdict is rendered after many months of cruel confinement of the dog in short-term confinement facilities, in addition to financial and psychological distress to the dog guardian. Further veterinary expense is required to rehabilitate the dog at the dog guardian’s expense. When faced with the reality of inhumane long-term confinement of their family pet as well as unaffordable legal and expert dog behaviour assessment expenses, many dog guardians are forced to surrender their dogs for euthanization without due process.
In other cases, Animal Control Authorities have euthanized dogs immediately upon Judgment failing to adhere to the prescribed 40 day appeal period after Judgment. In addition, Animal Control Authorities have seized dogs under the pretense of taking the dog away for assessment and instead have immediately euthanized the dog without the dog guardian’s knowledge or approval. In at least one case a dog was kept in confinement pending verdict despite the fact a veterinarian confirmed the dog was dying in its cage because the Judge did not believe he had the authority to grant an interim release. Dogs have been confined up to two years in short-term facilities.
We advocate for legislation that not only ensures public safety but that also ensures the protection of the beloved “property” of dog guardians. We advocate for balance in this legislation, rather than “Absolute Power” for Animal Control Authorities.