Addressing a dog’s behaviour could be the answer to removing the “aggressive dog” label, and that’s why Coun. Pete Fry wants to see a change to the City of Vancouver’s bylaw.
“Since the time that the bylaws were originally written,” Fry said, “we’ve seen a whole new emergence in the science in behaviour studies and in fact we now have professional animal behaviourists.”
Right now, he said, the bylaw that designates an otherwise “aggressive dog” leaves the canine to a restricted lifestyle, saying it’s possible that a dog could be rehabilitated.
That’s especially true in the case of adopting, he said — which often comes with a lot of “unknowns.”
“When you get a used dog, you often don’t know what kind of baggage they come with and this recognizes that often times, incidents can happen as a result of perhaps that prior to the dog getting happiness, some kind of trauma led to a reactive behavior,” said Fry.
“In many cases,” he said, “the active aggression that would result in the designation of an aggressive dog may be the result of any number of factors including reactive fear-based biting, other forms of trauma — just dog-on-dog aggression.”
So what would happen if an owner were given the opportunity to access those rehabilitation resources for their canine?
“If the guardian of this dog were to work with an animal behaviourist and remedy the behaviour problem,” said Fry, “the guardian could then re-apply for a reassessment and possibly remove the designation, which would otherwise sentence that dog to a lifetime of muzzling and isolation.”
He said an adjustment to the bylaw would give many dogs a second chance at a happier life.
Fry, along with Coun. Michael Wiebe, submitted the motion that will go to Vancouver council on Tuesday.