Dog control bylaw could ban off-leash walking in rural areas

Directors at RDOS urged staff to reexamine wording in a dog control bylaw before a vote takes place.

What’s a working dog? And, what does at-large really mean?

Those are questions some directors at the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen want answers to before passing a beefed up dog control bylaw that would effect Areas A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

Mark Pendergraft, director for Area A (rural Osoyoos) took exception to several terms in the bylaw that he felt left too much up for interpretation.

He particularly honed in on the part of the proposed bylaw stating dogs need to be on-leash at all times except at dog parks or designated off-leash areas where they need to be under the control of owners.

He took objection to it as many rural people take their dogs walking off-leash and was concerned they would no longer be able to do that.

“To me this is kind of a citified bylaw. It’s trying to fit everyone into a size eight shoe and it doesn’t fit everybody,” he said.

RDOS staff said the bylaw would be complaint driven and thought that those choosing to walk their dogs off-leash in remote areas would not illicit any complaints. They further stated most complaints need to be filed in writing before an investigation started unless under emergency situations and charges would be at the discretion of the bylaw officer.

“If you make a complaint and they don’t act it’s frustrating too. It (the bylaw) should be written properly. Discretion is never a great way to do it.”

Pendergraft also took aim at the term ‘working dog,’ which in the proposed bylaw only includes dogs used to herd livestock or perform similar work. A working dog is allowed off-leash while working. The proposed bylaw specifically notes guard dogs are not included in the classification of working dog.

“It doesn’t necessarily say police dogs or hunting dogs. It has nothing to do with herding but they have to be off-leash to do their job.”

Staff was directed to re-look at the proposed and elaborate and change some of the terminology before it came back before the board to be voted on.

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