Kamloops two-dog limit bylaw up for reconsideration

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO

KAMLOOPS - Some Kamloops city councillors think now is time to get rid of bylaw which limits the number of dogs in a household to two.

Roughly five or six times a year a resident will come before council asking for a variance to the city's dog bylaw.

Sometimes they have two dogs and are asking permission for a third but most of the time the third dog is already living in the home and a warning from a bylaw officer leads to the variance application because the owner had no idea it was against the rules.

That wasn't the case earlier this week when a resident attended a council meeting to explain her family had two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs they show at competitions and bought a third dog of the same breed. The dog owner said she knew about the two-dog rule, but was confused about the process so decided to get the dog and ask for a variance later.

When an application is made the dog owner must pay a $350 fee and file paperwork to bylaw enforcement. An officer than reviews the file and makes a recommendation to council. In this case, bylaw recommended the application be denied.

"Staff do not support this application because purchasing a third dog to show at competitions is not a sufficient reason for a variance," wrote Community Safety and Enforcement manager John Ramsey in his report.

The resident pleaded her case and pointed out that even though the dogs are medium-sized and grow to be roughly 70 to 85 lbs., she has a very large yard with plenty of room for them. She also brought a neighbour who supported her application.

After hearing from the owner and reading the recommendation from bylaw, council voted five to one in favour of approving the application.

This decision by council is anything but unique and the fact the application process seems to be more of a formality and has the councillor who voted against the variance wondering why they are wasting everyone's time.

"If we're going to allow three dogs lets just waive the bylaw and stop making people come in and pay to have three dogs," Coun. Pat Wallace said. "They're paying a fair amount for the hearing, and then they give us the money and we say 'sure'." 

"So rather than make people come in and pay us to say yes, why can't we just say if you have a big lot you can have three dogs and a horse if you want because it's not going to bother anyone."

Wallace said her decision to vote against the variance wasn't personal and had nothing to do with this particular dog owner, but she feels that bylaws are in place for a reason and need to be upheld.

Though Coun. Dennis Walsh voted to allow the resident to have a third dog, he admits there is something wrong with the current process.

"It seems to me like this bylaw needs reconsideration," Walsh said. "It's defective I think. From my experience I can't recall... not approving a third dog."

To change the bylaw, council must put forward a notice of motion. Council has yet to do that.

The current bylaw reads, "no one person, or more than one person, shall keep, harbour, or have more than two dogs over the age of six months on any parcel of land or dwelling unit within the City, provided however, that this section shall not apply to a person operating a kennel or hobby kennel, in a licensed veterinary clinic, or who is operating the parcel as a working cattle ranch or farm."

Guide dogs are exempt from the bylaw.


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