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Fernie introduces new Animal Responsibility bylaw

The City of Fernie is taking a different approach to animal welfare and controlling aggressive dogs, among other rules.

The changes come with the City of Fernie’s new Animal Responsibility Bylaw.

City officials said it is based on the BC SPCA’s Animal Responsibility Model Bylaws and includes several new rules around pets.

The new bylaw focuses on regulating animal behaviour and specific regulations and rules for dogs that have been deemed aggressive, vicious or dangerous. This replaces the previous bylaw that regulated specific dog breeds.

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For example, if an Animal Control Officer deems a dog to be aggressive, the owner can take their pet to off-leash areas, but it must be muzzled while there. Meanwhile, dangerous dogs must be on a leash and muzzled at all times when they are not on the owner’s property.

More provisions to protect domestic animals in the community have been introduced with the bylaw as well, such as standards for access to food and water and veterinary visits. Other considerations are rules requiring adequate outdoor shelter if animals are kept outside and transporting animals outside of a vehicle’s cab.

Violations of the bylaw can result in a ticket of up to $1,000 from the City of Fernie, or between $500 and $10,000 if prosecuted under provincial law.

Fernie officials will launch an education campaign to teach residents about the new bylaw over the next three months before enforcement begins.

“This modernized Animal Responsibility Bylaw includes regulations that help to better protect the welfare of our community’s animals and hold dog owners more accountable for preventing aggressive incidents. It also helps promote a more thoughtful and considerate approach to sharing the community’s trails, parks, and open spaces,” said Camille Neal, Fernie’s Bylaw Enforcement Officer.

Residents are encouraged to call in any violations or lost dogs they may notice to bylaw enforcement at [email protected] or 250-423-2244.

“Reporting incidents is critical to the success of this new program and will help keep our community better protected, so don’t hesitate to report. It’s important that we work together to make our trails and parks safe for everyone,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza.

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