I would like to express my disappointment in the recommendations from City of Burnaby staff to not only keep the breed-specific legislation (BSL) in place, but make it more restrictive for pet owners living in and visiting our community.
Considering that the city had a year to research this topic, I am shocked and disappointed that they chose to undertake so little research. With many other municipalities recently going through the same process, why has Burnaby not seen fit to consult with any of them?
In previous emails sent to council and city staff, I stated that Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, New Westminster, North Vancouver and Delta have all removed BSL from their animal control bylaws in very recent years and replaced them with breed-neutral laws. As part of my delegation in June of 2012, I advised mayor, council and city staff that the City of Coquitlam animal control supervisor, Sarah Bull, welcomed Burnaby staff to get in touch her so that she could offer insight and feedback regarding the process her municipality had recently completed. Ms. Bull informs me that to date she has not heard from anyone in Burnaby.
The report provided to council was lacking in many areas, but most disappointing was the fact that city staff looked to the United States for data to support their position regarding BSL. I assume this was done because there is no Canadian data available, which maintains that BSL works or supports its implementation into municipal law.
The report goes on to compare bites from pitbull type dogs to those of bites from German Shepherds. Since the "pitbull" is not a breed, the staff would have had to count at least three registered breeds of dogs and their mixes in order to come up with their "pitbull" numbers. However, when stating the number of bites from German shepherds, it appears staff only counted the purebred single breed without including any bites that may have come from their related family members such as the Dutch shepherds, English shepherds, Belgian malinos and any of their mixes. Of course, if you are to compare a group of dogs to a single dog, your numbers are guaranteed to be higher, thereby accomplishing the goal of implying that one breed is more vicious than another.
Perhaps even more interesting, a Freedom of Information request provided to a community member in 2012 regarding the number of dog bite incidents in Burnaby appears to differ from the statistics Burnaby staff presented in their report. This would lead me to believe that city staff is misleading the public for their own agenda. Transparency in a matter like this is of the utmost importance, and information provided to staff through research, including statistics and figures related to their findings, should have been made available to the public, along with any recommendations made by the BCSPCA in order to corroborate the city's final position.
It is also my understanding that the B.C. SPCA was provided a copy of the proposed regulations prior to the report being made public and that they opposed many of the suggested recommendations and offered multiple adjustments which were all but ignored by city staff.
Again, does the City of Burnaby believe they know more about animal control, dog behaviour and risk factors than the professionals in the field of animal care and control? What would prompt city staff to ignore the recommendations of the B.C. SPCA?
It is my opinion that the City of Burnaby has not performed a serious, in-depth investigation into an issue which will impact so many pet owners; an investigation that the residents of Burnaby are entitled to.
To close this letter, I would like to you to know that our dog is our family. She gives us an incredible amount of joy. As anyone with a dog can understand, she provides unconditional love and has never asked for anything more in return than a belly rub and food in her dish. Should council continue to ignore the calls from the public for the removal of this discriminatory bylaw, I will continue to challenge the decision until it is removed once and for all.
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