Dangerous dog laws too strict, says Kelowna woman

A Kelowna woman wants changes to B.C.'s dangerous dog legislation because she says it gives animal control officers too much power, but not everyone agrees.

Karen Stiewe says bylaw officers can order a dog destroyed without a proper investigation

The story of Tali the German Shepherd is one of several posted online by a group working to change B.C.'s dangerous dogs legislation. (The Not So Dangerous Dogs of British Columbia/Facebook)

A Kelowna woman wants changes to B.C.'s dangerous dog legislation because she says it gives animal control officers too much power, but not everyone agrees.

Karen Stiewe says bylaw officers can seize a dog suspected of biting someone and order it destroyed, without doing a thorough investigation.

She says that's what happened to her German shepherd two years ago when it bit a jogger while running off-leash on a hiking trail.

After the dog was seized and ordered destroyed, Stiewe hired a lawyer and spent thousands of dollars to fight to save her dog. It took five months, and completion of a training course to secure the release of her dog.

Now one of the only places Stiewe can play fetch off-leash with her dog is in her fenced yard.

She says the system is unjust and she wants the province to change legislation around dangerous dogs.

"This is a bylaw officer that has been given a superpower to predict whether a dog will cause future harm and that's unfair."

Stiewe has collected 1,700 signatures on a petition asking the province to amend the dangerous dog bylaws granted to municipalities under the province's Community Charter legislation.

"B.C.'s dangerous dog law has so many missing items, that it just leaves it open to misinterpretation, confusion in the courts, animal cruelty, long-term confinement."        

No second chances                         

But nearby in West Kelowna, one mother thinks dangerous dogs don't deserve a second chance.

Tamie William's eight-year-old son was bitten two years ago by a dog that had a history of attacks.             

"If that dog had been dealt with the first time my son wouldn't be living forever with a scarred face," she says.

Williams says public safety should trump the rights of dogs.

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