TORONTO – Reports of animal cruelty and suffering prompted the city of Mississauga to create new rules governing how animals are kept in extreme weather.
“Leaving a dog out on a chain with no socialization, no interaction, and totally ignoring it for 24 hours a day is cruelty to animals,” says Councillor Pat Saito, chair of the Animal Standards of Care Committee.
More specifically, pet owners can no longer leave their animals out in extreme weather without adequate shelter. Extreme weather is defined as (but not limited to) whenever Environment Canada issues an alert or warning related to temperature, humidity, rain or hail.
Animal Services will decide if an outdoor shelter is adequate.
Pets can also no longer be tethered for more than four hours in a 24-hour period must also be visible to their owners at all times. The tether must be at least three metres or 9.84 feet long.
Some of the other changes include the following:
- Animal Services officers will be authorized to walk on to private land to inspect and ensure the bylaws is being followed – in effect immediately.
- Doghouses must insulated and large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, lie down and stretch. The shelters must also have clean dry bedding and shade and be in good repair. There are extra requirements for each additional dog.
- Pens must be 9.3 square metres or 100 square feet and have to be increased by 2.8 square metres (30 square feet) for each additional dog.
- Animals cannot be left unattended in cars during extremely hot or cold weather. If they are in cars, they must have suitable ventilation and be restrained.
- Owners must provide veterinary care to pets to relieve distress from injury neglect or disease.
Some dog owners in Mississauga welcomed the changes.
“I completely agree because I see way too many animals being mistreated,” says Ronda.
But Asad Shah, a dog trainer and walker, questioned how such bylaws would be enforced.
“Common sense prevails over bylaws,” he said. “How are you going to implement something like that, how are you going to chalk a dog if it’s been four hours or three hours? It’s not like a car parked on the street.”
Saito says the system will be complaint driven, and should not cost extra as it will rely on the Animal Services officers already on the road investigating complaints.
It could, however, cost residents who run afoul of the bylaws.
“They may be taken to court, and if they are, it will be the fines set by the judge in that case,” says Saito
Most of the bylaw changes come into effect on December 1.