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Dog Days Of Summer

Gizmo at Cheeseman Park beach, where the endangered Piping Plover has been known to nest.

PORT AUX BASQUES – Every year as the snow recedes and summer closes in, there are always animal control posts peppering local social media. After so many years, you can practically set your watch by it.

With temperatures slowly but steadily rising over the past couple of weeks, complaints about dogs running loose have become more common.

In the Channel area, there are posts about the same loose and roaming dogs on an almost every day occurrence. Over in Grand Bay West there have been reports of unleashed dogs, and owners who fail to pick up after their pet. Dodging dog droppings can require some fancy footwork, no matter where you are in town.

That all tends to change once the Dog Catcher gets back to work though. It’s cheaper to buy a leash and a harness or collar that fit rather than continue to pay fines.

Town Manager Leon MacIsaac says that the Town, “sets aside funding each year for a seasonal Animal Control Officer, typically covering the summer through the early fall, with the current fines for offences set at $100 for roaming animals.”

Via an e-mail interview, MacIsaac goes on to detail what happens after a wayward pet is captured by the animal control officer.

“When a roaming animal is captured, it is held at the municipal depot. If the owner can be located, they are advised to collect their animal and pay the associated fine or fee. In the event an owner is not located within a 48 hour period, the animal is transferred to the nearest animal shelter facility.”

While MacIsaac says there are not a lot of complaints registered yearly regarding animals that have run loose, he does acknowledge that there are usually a half dozen or so calls per year.

As per municipal bylaws set down in 1969, pet owners are liable for any fees or penalties up to and including $100.

Beyond any fines, it is certainly a source of frustration for many homeowners in town who find strange dogs on their lawn, not to mention any waste that may have been left behind on their property. Moreover, even a relatively friendly animal can become unexpectedly aggressive when confronted by an unknown person or another animal.

The Humane Society of Canada estimates that over a half million dog bites occur every year in this country. The importance of avoiding dog bites is twofold: dog bites cause emotional and physical damage to the victim, and in most provinces or territories the owner is held directly responsible.

In the Revised Statutes of Newfoundland 1990 (Chapter D-26), a dog that inflicts harm may be destroyed, and its owner held liable for damages or even face criminal charges. Provincial regulations and Municipal regulations surrounding animal control are both available online, but the solution is simple.

Just keep your pet on a leash.

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