Current animal control bylaw has no teeth, regional committee hears

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PENTICTON - Staff at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen have been given the go ahead to work on a new animal control bylaw for rural areas.

A discussion that began looking at introducing a new dog control bylaw turned into a request for a bylaw to include all animals following a Thursday, Feb.11 committee meeting.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen bylaw enforcement coordinator Roza Aylwin told the Planning and Development Committee the regional district’s three animal control bylaws currently in place have inconsistencies that cause confusion for bylaw enforcement officers in the rural areas, due to difficulties in defining jurisdictional boundaries when out in the field.

Aylwin was seeking a new bylaw to control dogs, noting current legislation was needed to provide a better definition of aggressive dogs. She said the district logged few complaints about other animals, adding the regional district had no means of impound or transport for livestock and larger animals.

“Birds are almost impossible to catch, and feral cat issues usually revolve around the need to catch, spay and neuter them. One complaint alone cost the regional district $1,000," she noted in her report to the committee.

She said a “dog only” bylaw would be in keeping with other jurisdictions including the City of Penticton and the Central and North Okanagan Regional Districts.

Aylwin said the district’s present animal control bylaw “lacked teeth” when it came to dealing with dangerous and aggressive dogs. She said a new bylaw would more completely define an aggressive dog and introduce the definition of a vicious dog in order to provide greater means for bylaw control officers to control incidents.

Penticton Director Judy Sentes said she was aware of a situation in Kaleden where the recent introduction of ostriches to a neighbourhood is causing problems because of containment issues with the birds, who apparently have escaped on more than one occasion. 

Once out, they exhibited aggressive behaviour, scaring children and upsetting horse riders from a nearby equestrian facility.

Kaleden director Tom Siddon said he would like to see public feedback prior to the regional district basing an animal control policy strictly on dogs, noting residents can have issues with other animals.

“What are people supposed to do when they encounter a nuisance animal that isn’t a dog?” he asked.

Princeton Director Frank Armitage suggested staff look at a new animal control bylaw as opposed to one strictly for dogs.

“Let’s see what the rest of the world does - we’re not the first ones to deal with this,” he said.

The committee agreed to an alternative recommendation to have staff develop a new animal control bylaw for all rural electoral areas in the regional district.

No date was set for the the matter to return to committee.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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