The New Brunswick government is proposing changes that would restrict how long dogs can be tethered outside, roughly three months after a Kent County woman complained a local dog had been buried in snow while attached to its house by a rope.
Local Government Minister Danny Soucy announced the proposed changes on Friday.
"After consultation with several stakeholder groups, we believe that these changes are moderate, appropriate and enforceable," Soucy said in a statement.
"We also looked at challenges and best practices from other jurisdictions."
Soucy said in an interview with CBC's Shift that the proposed changes strike to balance animal safety with the needs of owners.
'We need to look after our animals properly and we need to make sure, as a society, that we care for the animals that we call our pets.' - Local Government Minister Danny Soucy
"We can make sure that animals are protected from 24 hours a day of tethering," he said in an interview.
"But also people that own dogs that they have the opportunity to be able to tether them if they are not able to supervise them during a period of time during the day because not everyone has a fenced-in area."
The changes do not hamper an owner's ability to tether a dog outside during the day, but Soucy said people need to take care of their animals.
"We need to look after our animals properly and we need to make sure, as a society, that we care for the animals that we call our pets," the local government minister said.
The provincial government has posted the proposed changes on its public consultation website and will now allow a 28-day feedback period. If the reforms are approved, they will come into force on Dec. 1
Owners will no longer be able to tether dogs outside between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. for more than 30 minutes "unless the person is outdoors and within 25 m of the dog."
The provincial government is also proposing changes that would allow steps to be taken "regarding improperly confined animals prior to the animals’ health being impaired."
Existing New Brunswick regulations allow animals to be left outside 24 hours a day, as long as their basic needs, such as access to food, water and shelter, are met.
In April, a Kent County woman removed a dog that was trapped inside its doghouse by blowing snow. The woman who took the dog was charged with theft.
The dog's owner was away at the time, but said a family member had been delivering food and water to the animal.
Soucy said the Kent County case was one factor that he considered when pushing for the changes, but he stressed his department has been working with other groups on these proposed changes.
"This has been discussed for quite awhile now," he said.
Any dog owners who break these rules could also be hit with significant fines in the future. Soucy said the fines could range between $500 and $200,000.