Burnaby council gets tough on vicious dogs, including pit bulls and German shepherds

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      Dog bites are trending upward in Burnaby.

      That's one of the reasons why city council passed a motion last night clearing the way for significantly higher licensing fees on vicious dogs.

      A staff report by finance director Denise Jorgenson points out that there were 69 reported bites on other animals and humans in 2007, rising to 81 by 2012.

      "Based on data collected until [the] end of May 2013 projected incidents for 2013 are 94," she adds.

      Pit bulls account for just two percent of the licensed dogs in the city.

      However, they were responsible for 24.7 percent of the bites since 2007 in which the breed could be identified.

      Under the Community Charter, anyone affected by the proposed revisions to Burnaby's animal control bylaw has until September 20 to provide written feedback.

      Responses will be presented to council before a vote takes place on implementing a new fee structure.

      Of the 477 bites since 2007, Jorgenson writes that it was only possible to identify the breed in half of the incidents.

      After pit bulls, the second-highest number of bites were by German shepherds, accounting for 14.6 percent of those that could be identified by breed. 

      German shepherds account for 5.4 percent of all licensed dogs and 7.3 percent of all dog bites. This includes those attacks in which the breed couldn't be determined.

      Jorgenson's report cites Dogsbite.org statistics indicating that 61 percent of U.S. fatalities in 2012 from dog attacks involved pit bulls. This represented 23 of the 38 deaths.

      Burnaby, West Vancouver, and Richmond are the only three municipalities with a breed-specific dog bylaw

      The Burnaby report proposes a $100 licensing fee on spayed or neutered vicious dogs.

      Owners of unalterted vicious dogs would be required to pay a $150 licensing fee.

      Fees for spayed or neutered dogs is normally $26; unaltered-dog owners pay a $52 fee.

      Jorgenson has also recommended a doubling of impoundment fees for licensed dogs to $50 for the first time, rising to $300 for the third time. Fees would increase to $350 on a third impoundment for unlicensed dogs.

      Owners of dogs that show aggression would pay a $200 fine, with $500 to those whose dogs have bitten.

      Jorgenson's report is available here.



      Darryl Halse

      Sep 10, 2013 at 10:01am

      Let me ask you one simple, unbiased question: How do higher fees prevent dog bites?

      Allow me to point out that the person responsible for this report and proposal is FINANCE DIRECTOR Denise Jorgenson. FINANCE. Not animal control, not parks department, FINANCE.

      So ask yourself whether this is really about animal welfare and protecting the people of Burnaby from irresponsible pet owners or whether it's just another cash grab from your elected officials.

      Absolutely shameful.

      J. Bishop

      Sep 10, 2013 at 11:25am

      How is increasing licensing fees going to reduce dog bites? Why not have the dogs required to wear muzzles when in public? Why not have all dogs required to wear muzzles in public. As an owner of two non aggressive pit bulls there have been more than one incident where socially challenged dogs ( usually small breeds) have behaved in a way that dogs interpret as aggressive or assertive behaviour. If there was an incident it would be my dogs that would be labelled aggressive purely because of their breed.

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      Amanda J

      Sep 10, 2013 at 12:15pm

      Dogbite.org is biased. The information from that site is complete garbage.

      A RESPONSIBLE dog owner

      Sep 10, 2013 at 12:50pm

      When will people figure out that the issue ISN'T about specific breeds.. the issues/problems stem from the irresponsible people who neglect to train or care for their dogs properly..THEY (the owners) are the ones that should be banned.. charging them fees they don't pay anyway isn't going to stop anything..
      (BTW, Ask any vet where the majority of their bites come from..
      The answer? Cocker Spaniels!!!when do those inbred viciously little buggers get banned?)

      I bred German Shepherds for over 20 years (retired now)
      My philosophy is that ANY dog that bites without just cause (self defense, protection - and even then the situation would be closely analysed before a decision were made) is euthanized. Forget the fines.. put the INDIVIDUAL dog to sleep and don't paint entire breeds with 1 brush..
      There are no bad dogs, just bad owners...


      Sep 10, 2013 at 12:53pm

      @Darryl Halse: Higher fees might prevent a few people from owning unacceptable dogs. But the real solution is to ban their sale and ownership in an urban area (with appropriate "grandfathering").

      What the "it's not the dog but the owner" lobby always fails to recognize is that we will NEVER have an opportunity to train, test, license and monitor dog owners. Never. Therefore, complaining about irresponsible owners is pointless.

      What we CAN do is stop the sale and new ownership of dogs big enough and strong enough to take down an adult, let alone a child. Such dogs have no place in a city, any more than bears, wolves and cougars are tolerated in a city. Confining big dogs to a city yard and a leash is unfair to both dog and human.

      (PS - In rural areas, dogs that attack and injure or kill other animals are routinely shot by other people in the area. No fines, no reprimand - boom. Done. Unfortunately, I don't have the option to pull out a rifle and take care of the problem.)

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      Common Sense

      Sep 10, 2013 at 1:00pm

      It all comes down to "untrained/unsocialized" behaviour (this applies to humans as well) ... Pitbulls & German Shepards can be fantastic, harmless, friendly & lovable companions, just as toy-poodle can be vicious ... irresponsible owners should be reprimanded for sure, but yeah ... this fee is a completely unfounded cash grab.

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      Sep 10, 2013 at 1:56pm

      @Common Sense -- I'll take my chances with a "vicious", ankle-bitting toy poodle. My five-year-old son could have booted one into the next yard. Not so much with a pit bull.

      The ego-driven pit bull owners should be assessed a $10,000 annual fee, plus proof of $5 million insurance liability for dog attacks.

      Dog Owner

      Sep 10, 2013 at 3:31pm

      Hopefully higher fees will deter low-brow idiots from owning these inherently dangerous animals in the first place, which in turn should reduce the number of bites from these two breeds. Other breeds should be on this list too. But this is a good start.

      Next: An annual fee to offset costs to the city to clean up dog shit-laden garbage cans in parks, plus generally enforcing by-laws and related fine collections, not to mention an environmental fee to deal with massive waste disposal issues.

      For more on this latter issue, see: Number-crunching on dog doo tells woeful tale, by Stephen Hume, http://goo.gl/iy11Mx

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      Dog Owner 2

      Sep 10, 2013 at 3:56pm

      From Martin's article (find the link in his comment above):

      “In England, if your dog bites someone, you get a criminal record. It forces people to be somewhat more responsible. Right now [in Vancouver], people are not motivated; there are no real consequences.”

      This is where we need be.

      And after reading that article, I would add a provincial fee to offset health care costs for dog bite injuries.

      Ultimately, the thinking here is that it becomes cost prohibitive for average people to own what is really a luxury item, which in turn should reduce dog bites and general dog over-population concerns.

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