MODG's dog bylaw to be revised

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – A Canso family and their supporters were prepared to dig in for a long battle with the Municipality of the District of Guysborough to be able to keep their beloved family pet, a dog named Chico, but in the end a fight wasn't necessary. Council voted to send its dog bylaw to staff for review and recommendations for changes at its committee of the whole meeting on July 4.

"I think it's a good solution," Warden Vernon Pitts told The Journal after the meeting. "We need to revisit that law. It was last looked at in 2004. It's time."

Chico's family had been told by a bylaw enforcement officer that they would have to re-home the dog outside of MODG, as it was banned according to the current bylaw. That bylaw makes it an offence to have a "fierce and dangerous" dog in the municipality, and the definition of what constitutes such a dog, according to the bylaw, includes "A Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier; Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler or any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of the aforementioned breeds."

Chico's owner, Carieann Parker, said she was surprised by council's vote on the matter last Wednesday.

"I really didn't think I'd have this much support with the council," she said after the meeting. "I'm happy...I'm very excited to go home and tell my kids.

"We would have tried to go to court to try to save our cherished family member. I love my dog."

Describing Chico as "a big goofball," Parker said a dog's nature is shaped by how it is raised. "If you are going to raise a dog to be mean, he'll be mean. If you're going to raise a dog to be around children, he's going to be good around children.”

Parker has three young children.

Warden Pitts appears to agree with her assessment of what makes some dogs vicious.

"In my opinion I think we should be placing the onus of responsibility on the owner of the dog, as oppose to the breed of the dog," he said.

Municipal staff will look at how other jurisdictions approach dog bylaws, as they prepare recommendations for council.

"We have to realize that this is going to take some time," said Pitts. "Let's allow them the time that is required. But nothing is going to happen to that dog or other dogs in the meantime, unless something was to happen like a dog bit someone."