Vicious looking dog bearing it teeth

Possible Dog control Bylaws for Cortes (and Quadra?) Islands

The Director of Cortes Island is considering the idea of having a dog control bylaw drawn up for his area, and the Director of Quadra Island has expressed some interest.

The idea was discussed at the Wednesday July 19 Electoral Areas Services Committee (EASC) Meeting

Mark Vonesch, Regional Director for Area B (Cortes Island), explained, “This request for a bylaw came out of a situation where a dog was out of control multiple times, scaring people and ultimately ended up killing another dog on the island. The dog owners approached the RCMP and said, ‘this dog killed our dog.’ The RCMP told them that they weren’t able to do anything about it because there were no bylaws.”

Robyn Mawhinney, Regional Director for Area C, added, “On Quadra, I’m curious about this proposal.”   

Screenshot from Youtube video of the July 19, 2023 EASC meeting

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) David Leitch responded, “If the Area Director wants a dog control service on Cortes, it can be quite simple. It’s just creating a regulatory bylaw that states  whatever the Director would like with the intention of just having the RCMP enforce that. If you look at anything else, the costs can become significant.” 

“We have over the years examined dog control on Quadra many, many times, and I’m going to say the most challenging part of it was the Director at the time wanted control. I’m maybe using the wrong terms, but he wanted to seize dogs, have somewhere to put them, have a company on call to come and get them – and that is really the expensive part of dog control.”

In the staff report prepared for this meeting, it states that in June 2015 the Quadra RCMP informed the SRD that every year they have to deal with 2-3 vicious dog incidents, 3-4 incidents of dogs at large and as many as 20 other dog related issues.  

CAO Leitch:  “The RCMP wanted us to have a bylaw in place, so that if there was a dog control issue folks could phone the RCMP and the RCMP could deal with it. We were all happy with that. That’s quite an easy service to establish and it hit the wall at the cost of, again, the seizure, having a reserved spot in the pound and having a company on call to respond to calls.”  

Director Vonesch: “The key thing for me is that we’re doing something that’s appropriate for Cortes and, as the CAO, mentioned I’m not looking for something involving seizure.  I’m happy for the RCMP to enforce this.” 

Director Mawhinney: “I’m curious what the RCMP does exactly, if they don’t seize his dogs and put them in a pound somewhere.” 

CAO Leitch: “I’m going to speak to my exchanges with the RCMP. I’m not going to quote what they can do, but certainly on Quadra they wanted something  to enforce on our behalf and they can be delegated that authority to enforce our local bylaws.  It would depend on what that bylaw read. If they have, let’s say, an obligation under the laws of this country, if there was a vicious dog that was attacking people and doing harm, they would of course, move in and do something to seize the dog and take it to wherever their holding area was. Beyond that  level: concerns about noise, maybe dogs eating chickens, or whatever they’re doing – that would fall under a local bylaw. They would be happy to enforce that.” 

“If you’re interested in something similar, there is always a path to just that.  From my personal account, I can speak to talking with the RCMP. I don’t know if that individual constable is still there, but they were happy to enforce that for us.” 

Director Mawhinney: “I’m still not clear on what the police actually do. Do they have their own holding cell? What if there’s a dog that’s been found chasing deer, or eating a deer and it’s in the ditch? What can they do with a bylaw?” 

CAO Leitch: “Our bylaw would likely not speak to collection, because if a dog is violent enough that it’s hurting other animals or people, the RCMP have means to seize that and they have facilities. I’m not going to say something specific to the dog, but rather facilities to hold it. I know they have held dogs before.”  

“We wouldn’t create, in theory, a bylaw that would have seizure. It would be for the police. Let’s say, the dog was just barking all day. They would go in and give a notice and/or ticket the homeowner. Our bylaw presumably wouldn’t address the seizure, because if it did then we have to make that accommodation for it. So we would write the bylaw in terms of things that we had issues that didn’t include seizure. If there was a necessary seizure, that would go above and beyond. The RCMP would enforce that outside of what we were wanting. Again, they’ll do whatever they do with that, but our bylaw wouldn’t have to address it.” 

Director Vonesch: “For clarification, let’s just say we have a dog that’s out of control. It’s scaring children. It’s showing aggression and potential violence to other dogs. I heard you mention a ticket. So the RCMP can come in and give them a ticket. Is that the sort of the penalty that this will ultimately produce?” 

CAO Leitch: “We may look at introducing that. We can bring a draft bylaw and talk about what we want in there, but it’s really about the RCMP enforcing something.” 

“Let’s look at the next level. I don’t know if this all happened after the fact, right? So let’s say this dog was terrorizing other dogs and it ended up killing one. The RCMP are like, after the fact, ‘what are we supposed to do? There’s no bylaw.’ If there was  a rabid dog out there currently terrorizing folks and the RCMP felt that there was an imminent cause of harm, they would act on that.” 

“I think the important thing for us is we want an animal control bylaw.  Our intention is that the RCMP are going to enforce the bylaw and it’s not our intention to do seizures and hold animals.”  “It gets ugly  when you start holding people’s dogs. At first it’s cost, and then the people want the dog back and there’s a process to do with that.  I don’t believe we want to get into that, but we do want to have a regulatory bylaw. Whatever that says,  we can have a discussion. We can bring other bylaws forwardL see what other communities are doing, whether it involves ticketing as well and see what the appetite for it is.” 

Senior Manager Thomas Yates stated “Currently Cortes Island does not have the authority to get into the business of dog control. So the first step would be to establish a service.  Once that is established, then the board could look at what kind of regulations they want, who’s going to enforce it and whether those costs are public or not. All these kinds of issues that would be  relevant to the actual control of dogs, that would be the second step in the process.” 

EASC Chair Gerald Whalley: “Thank you Mr Yates. Mark, staff would bring back a draft, eventually, that you could look at. The board would look at it, amend it, approve it, or whatever.” 

Director Vonesch: “Great, I’d like to move that a further report and bylaw be prepared to establish a dog control service for Electoral Area B.” 

Chair Whalley: “Do we have a seconder.” 

Director Mawhinney: “I’ll second that.”  

Chair Whalley: “Discussion?”

No one responded.

Chair Whalley: “Those in favour?” 

Everyone raised their hands. 

Chair Whalley: “None opposed, that’s carried” 

The minutes of this EASC meeting state that Directors Vonesch and Mawhinney moved ‘that a further report and bylaw be prepared to establish a dog control service for Electoral Area B’ and the motion carried.

Top image credit: Vicious looking dog that could bite – Photo courtesy State Farm via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)