It has been brought to my attention that a number of individuals have concerns that my animal liability act would add to a problem that many dog owners are already trying to resolve. I want to assure everyone that this is not the case.
Section 49 in the Community Charter of BC is the current legislation with which a number of dog owners have significant issue. This part of the Community Charter allows an animal control officer to act on behalf of the interests of the municipality to seize dangerous dogs and apply for a provincial court order for the dog to be destroyed. Under the act, dogs may not be impounded and detained for more than 21 days.
I’ve heard from a few people now that section 49 is unfair to dog owners and that something needs to be done about this piece of legislation. I don’t doubt that there are some instances where section 49 has been abused and family dogs have been destroyed without a lot of evidence. Clearly, there may be some reforms needed to section 49.
However, the bill that I brought in has nothing to do with the seizure of “dangerous dogs”. It does not affect section 49, but it does now make pet owners liable. Currently, if a dog severely bites someone, under section 49 that dog could be seized and destroyed. However, the owner would not necessarily face any charges or be responsible for any damages, and to make matters worse that owner could go and get a new dog the next day.
The evidence clearly points towards irresponsible pet owners being the problem, and right now our legislation only penalizes the dogs themselves. The bill I brought forward contains nothing about when an animal can be seized or the process by which that happens. The bill I brought forward is strictly intended to make irresponsible owners liable for the actions of their pets. It is a framework from which other regulations could be added to solve the problem of dog attacks in a proactive way.