Tethering bylaw keeps bad owners on the loose

It is apparent that the City of Surrey is determined, once again, to only appear to want to end the suffering of chained dogs.

It has been a long year-and-a-half wait for anti-tethering legislation in Surrey.

And the wait has not be worth it.

It is apparent that the City of Surrey is determined, once again, to only appear to want to end the suffering of chained dogs in their community.

Their proposed legislation to limit the chaining of dogs to four hours in a 24-hour period sounds great in theory.

But how, in practice, is this time limit going to be enforced?

Will animal control officers wait outside a chained dog’s home to time how long the dog is chained?

When the owners of chained dogs see the city watching them, it is reasonable to assume that they will bring the dog inside until the officers leave, then return the dog back onto the chain?

Will officers stay outside a chained dogs home for 24 hours to ensure the maximum time is not exceeded? Will reports of permanently chained dogs by neighbours be taken at their word?

Or will neighbors be expected to videotape the dog’s time on a chain over a 24-hour period?

The drafting of effective legislation must, one would assume, go hand in hand with ensuring its enforceability.

If a council is only interested in appearing to be taking action, then this legislation is perfect.

During a presentation by the Campaign for Animal Rights Legislation, Surrey council was provided with feedback from communities that had initially enacted a time limit to tethering.

These communities had found the law too difficult and costly to enforce and ultimately enacted a tethering ban.

We also provided them with evidence that the incidence of attacks by chained dogs was only reduced by a tethering ban.

A time limit to tethering did nothing to reduce chained dog attacks, largely because time limits to tethering are practically unenforceable.

Surrey has one of the highest number of dog owners (read “voters”) who chain their dogs in the Lower Mainland.

This unenforceable legislation seems perfectly designed to try to appease frustrated animal lovers while at the same time doing nothing to alienate chained dog owners. It is all appearance without any substance.


Janet Olson

Campaign for Animal Rights Legislation

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