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Animal owners beware!

Proposed bylaw could land you in hot water

Proposed changes to Kitimat’s Animal Control bylaw will significantly beef up the District of Kitimat’s ability to intervene should it become apparent animals are not being cared for properly.

Tabled at Monday night’s council meeting, Animal Welfare Bylaw 1954 proposes changes to Police and Fire Regulations – Animal Control, Subdivision 5, which will make a number of offences against animals punishable with a fine of up to $100.

District of Kitimat Chief Administrative Officer Warren Weycheshen said a group of concerned citizens circulated a petition earlier this year asking the District to consider animal welfare regulations.

Weycheshen said the DoK drafted the bylaw, with amendments suggested by the Humane Society, focussing on areas that are under the DoK’s control, as well as tightening regulations on when animals need to be leashed.

The draft bylaw, which will be presented for First, Second and Third readings at the council meeting on Tuesday, September 3, focusses on the welfare of animals, especially with regard to proper care and treatment, including requiring that animals be provided with sufficient clean water and quality food “to allow for normal growth and maintenance of normal body weight.”

READ MORE: The current District of Kitimat bylaw

Their owners will also be required to ensure water and food bowls are disinfected and kept clean to avoid contamination by poop.

Provision is also made for ensuring animals be exercised regularly “to maintain good health, including the opportunity to be free from a fixed area and exercised regularly under appropriate control.”

Most significantly, the animals’ owners will be required to provide animals that are kept outside permanently with outside shelters.

“Such shelters must provide sufficient space to allow the animal the ability to turn around freely and to easily stand, sit and lie in a normal position.”

Owners will also be required to protect their animals from extreme heat and cold, and from the rain, and provide veterinary medical care when animals exhibit “signs of pain or suffering.”

Also contained in the proposed bylaw are changes to the definition of what constitutes an animal “running at large,” addressing a shortfall in the existing bylaw relating to where dogs are allowed to be off-leash within the municipal boundaries.

“The bylaw sets out that animals must be leashed if not on their own property, unless they are in an enclosure, or are in a designated off-leash area being the dog park, Hirsch Creek or the Dike Road,” said Weycheshen.

READ MORE: Kitimat woman attacked by off-leash dogs, twice

Kitimat Humane Society manager Maryann Ouellet applauded the proposed bylaw, saying it will give the organization the authority it has always needed to ensure the proper wellbeing of animals in the District.

“We have several issues in town regarding how pets are cared for, or lack of care, and living in enclosures on chains. The proposed bylaw will give us more power to pursue owners through animal control and welfare laws,” said Ouellet.

She said another plus is that the bylaw will match leash regulations with the ability to enforce those regulations.

READ MORE: Postal worker bitten during 2018 dog attack

”This will give us more muscle and the ability to ticket, as well as enforcing bylaws, especially with regards dogs being locked up in hot cars or dogs living outside in extreme cold weather conditions.”

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