Councillors in the Village of Chipman, N.B. say they will start banning “dangerous dogs” instead of specific breeds as the village works to amend its bylaws that currently ban Rottweilers and pit bulls.
Chipman Mayor Carson Atkinson said the changes come after council realized it’s difficult to enforce the ban.
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“If you can’t enforce a bylaw because you can’t determine what the actual specific breed of a dog is, why do you have something that looks like a mess that you can’t correct,” Atkinson said.
Village councillor Lindsey Fraser said they’ve also received calls from half-a-dozen prospective tourists inquiring about whether or not they can bring their dogs with them to the community.
“We’d rather be case-by-case on the animal rather than targeting a breed,” Fraser said.
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Atkinson said they want to encourage “responsible dog ownership” in the community.
The ban has never been enforced but Fraser said a new dog park brought about the need to re-examine the existing bylaw.
Atkinson said it’s important to have bylaws that reflect what residents want. He said the village doesn’t want to marginalize anyone.
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Staff at the Fredericton SPCA say it’s good news that the ban is being reviewed. Staff say that any dog can bite, regardless of breed.
Fredericton SPCA director of operations Annette James said they evaluate dogs based on their temperament, not breed specifics.
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She said they then determine if a dog could be a risk and decide whether there’s any behaviour modification work that needs to be done.
James said a dog’s life experience will determine its behaviour.
“If it wasn’t raised properly, wasn’t socialized properly, or if it was handled roughly by an owner [or] taught to be more reactive [or more] aggressive than to be calm and relaxed, those are all specifics that make up a dogs temperament and behaviour,” James said.
She said she hopes more communities evaluate dogs on a “case-by-case basis when it comes to aggression.”
“That’s sort of where it really really needs to go,” James said.
Fraser said Chipman would love to be a leader in non-breed-based bylaws and believe that other communities will follow-suit.
Officials from the neighbouring Village of Minto say they are also reviewing their dog bylaws.
The plan, Fraser said, is to officially have the bylaw changed by the summer, before camping season begins.