10/01/2013 06:04 EDT | Updated 10/01/2013 07:07 EDT

Burnaby Pit Bull Bylaw Hikes Fines (POLL)

portrait of an american...
portrait of an american...

Burnaby has clamped down on dangerous dogs over the objections of pit bull advocates.

Dog owners now face $500 fines if their pets bite people and $200 fines for aggressive dog incidents without bites. Impound fees are increasing to $400 from $200 and off leash fines are increasing to $200 from $100. Impound periods, meanwhile, are increasing from 10 to 21 days, according to a city staff report.

The bylaw defines a vicious dog as any that has bitten or injured a human or domestic animal without provocation (but not dogs that have bitten trespassers) or a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an American Pit Bull Terrier or any dog generally recognized as a pit bull.

Staff recommended strengthening the bylaw after statistics showed that pit bulls were responsible for 24.7 per cent of dog bites where the breed could be identified, while 14.6 per cent were attributed to German shepherds. The amendments passed unanimously.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said at Monday night's council meeting that he did not want to remove the breed-specific legislation and then feel responsible for a child being attacked by a pit bull, The Burnaby Now reported.

"It's unfortunate this dog was bred by human beings in order to be a fighting dog, in order to be a dog that learned how to fight to kill and to sustain an attack," he said.

"Unfortunately though, there are people out there who use this dog like a weapon. There are people out there who consider this dog is part of their macho image."

The amendments didn't sit well with Kristen Neratini, a pit bull owner and member of the HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society, who said council ignored a petition, delegations from academics and an animal law litigator who pushed to remove the pit bull wording from the bylaw.

"We have a council in place that rather than looking at the hard facts, respecting the voice of their community they choose to ignore it, choose to listen to their own voices," she told the newspaper.

Neratini had previously urged council to remove pit bulls from the bylaw at a June 2012 council meeting.

Council received 108 feedback letters about the bylaw amendments. Ninety-five were against the new regulations while 13 supported them.

SFU mathematics professor and Burnaby resident Mary Catherine Kropinski, who has a dog but is not a pit bull owner, questioned whether the dog bite statistics had to do with pit bulls or a rising population of dogs in the city, The Burnaby News-Leader reported.

Kropinski also said it was unfair to compare pit bull bites against incidents involving German shepherds.

"It kind of exaggerates the number of pitbull bites," she said.

Burnaby Animal Control Bylaw Report

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