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Archive for January 2014


As an animal lover in general, it’s easy to be drawn into debates about the best approaches to animal management. I’ve been squished by a Burmese python, taken rides on an elephant and played with young cheetahs. I’ve owned my own pets over the years and I live in Port Moody where bears, deer, coyotes and raccoons are regular visitors. I’m one of those people who snaps a photo of the deer munching on my garden and posts it on Facebook, and I had my list of complaints about the bear who finds my yard to be the most ideal access to the green belt behind our house – as well as a nice spot for a brief bathroom break before hopping my conveniently-low back fence. I think animals are great. But I believe we also need to be realistic about safety, and sometimes we humans are not the best at assessing risks and avoiding human-animal incidents.

In the LGMA’s December 2013 edition of Exchange magazine, both Urban Wildlife: Marvel and Menace and Dealing with Dangerous Pets, focus on the primary themes that safety comes first, training humans is critical and every community has the opportunity to develop local solutions that match local interests. It’s also fair to say that focusing on the local perspective can be challenging when external groups start to take ownership of the issue. For local governments, it’s clear that their mandate is focused on their local community but that doesn’t mean it’s easy when under external pressures. It appears that in some cases, situations need to be escalated through bylaws and the courts to get action. In others, it’s a public relations exercise to ensure residents and taxpayers support local actions.

The debates about whether the problem with dangerous dogs is based on the breeds or owners will likely not end any time soon. As an outsider looking in, it appears to me that it’s a bit of both. While the owner may be remiss in teaching its dog proper behaviour – or even encourage aggressive behaviour – the ramifications of that bad behaviour will differ by breed. A really rude teacup poodle is simply not the same threat level as a large dog with a bite that can’t easily be released until the dog agrees to do so. And as a former dog owner, I believe that even the best-trained dogs can have moments of unpredictability. So if you can’t guarantee the dog’s behaviour, and there is a proven physical risk based on data and past behaviours, I’d rather see safety measures even if they seem to infringe on a dog’s rights. But that’s just my opinion. The beauty of the shared stories in this edition of Exchange is that every community can make it’s own decisions on domestic pets, and the Province has regulations that set standards for wildlife and exotic animals.