Tethering a bone of contention for city council

The B.C. SPCA is advocating to get anti-tethering bylaws put in place across the province.
Image Credit: B.C. SPCA

KAMLOOPS - The hows, whens and ifs of tethering dogs took a back seat to whether it would actually change the behaviour of bad dog owners and how much it would cost the city if a bylaw was in place to limit tethering practices.

Claudine Sleik sent a letter to council urging for a tethering bylaw last month but based on the lack of complaints to the bylaws department council members turned down the idea. An online petition then began, quickly gathering support from around the world, and this week Sleik and other supporters presented the petition and officially asked for a bylaw to be created.

Sleik and Lindsay Curry spoke of the five freedoms the B.C. SPCA believes should be in place for all animals and while no council member was willing to speak against the need to take care of pets at least one was willing to question putting a priority on them.

“I’m not suggesting we don’t care about dogs, because we do, we put thousands of taxpayers money into looking after dogs and people pay for that who don’t even have dogs,” Coun. Tina Lange said while asking council to not consider putting through a bylaw, adding, “There’s the five freedoms for pets, I wish we cared that much about the children in our community.”

Ken Christian agreed the five freedoms are important, but noted, “You can’t legislate common sense and the more you try the deeper you get yourself into trouble.”

Community Safety Manager Jon Wilson said because there is no bylaw in place the city does not often receive calls specifically due to tethering, though he agrees barking and other calls can sometimes be linked back to tethering.

About 25 per cent of calls for service to bylaws are dog-related and while Wilson agreed creating a new bylaw would have a financial impact, right now it's hard to know how great it would be.

According to B.C. SPCA statistics there were 118 cruelty complaints between 2010 and 2014. There are many more calls that begin as a different care issue but investigator Kent Kokoska estimates the Kamloops branch receives a total of about 10 calls related to tethering every month. The Kamloops B.C. SPCA branch considers tethering to be second only behind dogs left in hot cars when it comes to dog issues in the city.

More than 30 communities have adopted some type of tethering bylaw in the past three years. The regulations vary from no unattended tethering allowed at all to a maximum of nine hours per day.

In asking for the implementation of a bylaw, the delegation of animals supporters asked council to consider time limits and guidelines on types of collar and shelter requirements. The hope was that a bylaw would help curb tethering by enabling better education about the issue.

Lange’s motion to dismiss the idea of a bylaw was overturned in a split vote, with only Lange and councillors Christian, Marg Spina and Pat Wallace willing to completely dismiss the idea. A second motion to have staff look into creating a bylaw to address tethering was also defeated, with only councillors Denis Walsh, Dieter Dudy and Donovan Cavers willing to support it.

The accompanying petition has more than 2,400 signatures from around the world.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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