Thank you for your wonderful article “Why you should have to acquire a licence to own a dog in Vancouver” – your observations are, unfortunately, right on!
If you’re interested, you could give your New Year’s wish some teeth by joining iCare (Informed Citizens Advocating for Responsibility and Enforcement), a local group of concerned citizens who are advocating for responsible dog ownership. You can learn more about iCare at: http://www.icarevancouver.org/
FYI, here are iCare’s key messages:
What the City Needs To Do
To solve the current problems and restore harmony in our parks, iCare recommends the following actions on the part of the city of Vancouver:
1. The city needs to increase Animal Control bylaw compliance
o Vancouver’s current dog licensing rate should be increased from the current 24% to Calgary’s 90%.
o The current 60% of Vancouver citizens who report having witnessed or experienced problems with off-leash dogs should be reduced to 10%.
o Ensure owners dispose of their dog’s waste in an environmentally sustainable way.
2. It’s not rocket science – the city can increase bylaw compliance by enforcing Animal Control Bylaws
Per Calgary’s successful campaign that Ian Robertson praises in the Courier article:
Ticket owners whose dogs are not licensed.
Ticket owners who do not who do not pick up after their dog, or who do not leash their dog.
Increase Animal Control Officers’ enforcement powers by providing Special Constable status. Animal Control Officers are currently only effective if accompanied by a police officer. This is because if a dog owner refuses to give their name to identify them to receive a ticket, the officer is powerless to do anything. Special Constable status would allow the officer to lay charges when this occurs.
If Animal Control is not able to step up to adequate enforcement, transfer enforcement responsibility to Engineering (they already issue parking tickets).
3. And they can also increase compliance by Changing the Current Off-leash Program
Vancouver’s current Off-Leash Program was build with input from a few, limited sources (Vandog, Animal Control and the SPCA). Therefore, put a moratorium on the current program, and build a new off-leash program that:
Represents and balances the needs of all community stakeholders, including the approximately 90% of Vancouverites who do not own dogs.
Incorporates best practices learned from successful off-leash programs (e.g. Calgary’s).
Contains comprehensive criteria that are consistently applied to the selection of Off-Leash Areas.