New Brunswick is about to become the first province in Canada to ban the tethering of dogs 24 hours a day and take a tough stance on people who mistreat their dogs.
Starting Dec. 1, dogs cannot be kept outside all night, with a few exceptions according to Hilary Howes, executive director of the New Brunswick SPCA.
“The new law says that you cannot tether your dog between 11 o'clock at night and six o'clock in the morning except for short durations, if you have to let them out for a pee break or whatever, half an hour max,” he said.
“The exception to that would be you can keep your dog out all night if you put it in a pen with a good dog house, a dog house adequate enough to protect it from the cold, insulated with straw or other materials.”
Howes says there are specific guidelines as to what will constitute a dog house. He says people won’t be able to fashion a makeshift house with improper materials.
'You're just not going to be allowed to sort of turn over an old freezer, kick the end out of it and have that classified as a dog house.' - Hilary Howes, executive director New Brunswick SPCA
“You're just not going to be allowed to sort of turn over an old freezer, kick the end out of it and have that classified as a dog house,” he said.
The regulatory changes come following a 28-day public consultation period and just months after public outrage over a Kent County dog being tethered to its snowed-in doghouse while its owner was away.
Efforts to change the law began several years ago when there were complaints about a large dog that was left tied up outside through all weather conditions in Bear Island, near Mactaquac. The SPCA received lots of complaints about the dog's treatment, but no laws were being broken.
Eventually, the dog named Copper was rescued.
After the story of Copper hit social media, several advocacy groups and the NBSPCA lobbied for change.
Tethering during the day is still permitted year round, but again, a proper shelter must be provided.
Howes says whistleblowers are a big part of their business, and they ask people to notify them when they see abuse.
“We have 25 inspectors scattered throughout New Brunswick,” he said. “And in the case of tethering it's going to be a much more expensive enforcement because we're going to have to do a lot more at night. It means often times doubling up on staff. And I think that's one of the reasons why tethering laws haven't been implemented in other provinces because of the expense.”
When an inspector arrives to the scene, the first avenue will be to try and educate the owner. If the owner doesn’t agree to education, then a compliance warning will be issued.
Howes says after that, if there is no compliance, an initial fine is $140. If the case ends up in court, a judge can impose a further fine up to $640.
The new, expanded rules will also cover measures for keeping dogs in cars in summer, not cleaning pens and never exercising your dog.
Howes says you have to provide the dog with a decent quality of life because they are social animals.
New Brunswick has a history of taking animal protection further than most provinces he says.
“We're the only province in Canada, for example, that has pet establishment licence requirement,” Howes said. “If you're selling a dog in New Brunswick you need a licence to do so. And that's really done a lot of shut down the bad puppy mills that we had in this province at one time.”
Owners can get more information on the changes at www.gnb.ca or www.nbspca.ca.
An initial version of this story stated the SPCA rescued a dog near Mactaquac and named it Copper. In fact, the dog was rescued by an unnamed person or group.Nov 13, 2014 10:48 AM AT