Responsible pet owners know that owning a cat or dog is not just about the love they give you, but the care you take of them. Part of this caring and responsibility involves knowing your local pet bylaws so you can do your due diligence in licensing and looking after your animal. Not all bylaws are created equal, however.
In 2015, the BC SPCA did a province-wide comparison of animal bylaws. It was actually a surprisingly damning result when considering that only 61 out of 162 BC municipalities stipulate in their bylaws that animals must be provided adequate food, water, and veterinary care, and only 50 municipalities require that animals kept outdoors have adequate shelter. Shockingly, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam are both guilty of these omissions, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Did you know that each of the municipal governments in the Tri-Cities has their own set of animal control bylaws? We decided to look at these bylaws to see what is similar and more notably, what differs across Port Moody, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam.
One interesting difference is in the way that the cities define aggressive dogs. While both Coquitlam and Port Moody differentiate between aggressive and vicious dogs, Port Coquitlam has no definition of vicious dogs. Instead, Port Coquitlam specifically denotes that an aggressive dog may not only be one who has a propensity to bite or has bitten or pursued another animal or human without provocation, an aggressive dog can also be one owned primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting. The dog fighting description is as far as PoCo goes in describing harmful dogs, whereas Port Moody and Coquitlam both note vicious and even dangerous dogs when discussing more serious injury (though PoCo does note that dangerous dogs are defined in BC’s Community Charter). Port Moody’s bylaw is most comprehensive in that it even mentions dogs that have killed or are at serious risk of causing injuries resulting in death. All three cities define how aggressive dogs are to be handled, including related fines.
Definitions of enclosures vary across the Tri-Cities, as Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam both refer to structure heights of at least 1.8 meters, whereas Port Moody defines enclosures primarily as locked pens or structures that prevent the entry of small children or the escape of vicious dogs. There is currently no bylaw mentioning tethering in any of the Tri-Cities. The BC SPCA noted in 2015 that we all should follow the lead of Lions Bay and New Westminster, where owners are not allowed to leave unattended dogs tethered outside at all, not even for an hour. Notably, our neighbours in Burnaby stipulate you’re only allowed to leave tethered dogs unattended for a maximum of one hour per day. Interestingly, the February 2016 “Port Moody Good Neighbour Guidelines” do mention that “Dogs cannot be left unattended while tethered or tied on public or private property” though there is no mention of tethering time in the bylaws. One must ask, why the Tri-Cities doesn’t have these types of provisions that protect the animals and make for friendlier neighbours?
Excrement disposal is defined under part of the Control section of the bylaw for both PoCo and PoMo but not in Coquitlam. Both Port cities stipulate that owners must immediately dispose of animal excrement when said waste is left on property other than the owners’. In Port Moody failure to remove excrement results in a fine that increases per repeat offense. Both Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam also fine owners for failure to remove excrement.
Dog-at-large fees are similar across the Tri-Cities, with a $100 fine being due within a certain time frame before the fees go up but, notably, only Port Moody increases fines for repeat offenses. Both Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam restrict the roaming of female dogs in heat whereas Port Moody makes no such provisions specifically for female dogs in heat (they do discuss roaming dogs in general, however). Noise and communicable diseases are covered in PoMo’s bylaws, while Coquitlam also restricts animals with communicable diseases.
Additionally, while there is no specific mention in any of the bylaws about pets in vehicles, the Port Moody Good Neighbour Guidelines also state that “Owners must not leave their pet unattended in a vehicle unless there is suitable ventilation and weather conditions are appropriate. When in a vehicle, a pet’s movement must be restricted to prevent access to people outside the vehicle.” The Tri-Cities municipalities also differ on how they discuss control of cats, but that will be a part our next blog post – so stay tuned!