New rules for dog daycares, Winnipeg pet owners coming into effect this summer

New standards for dog daycares and limits on when pet owners can leave their animals in cars are part of a new package of rules adopted by the City of Winnipeg.

Updates to pet ownership bylaw also created 'at-risk' category for 'irresponsible pet owners'

Dogs frolic in the Bonnycastle off-leash park on Assiniboine Avenue in Winnipeg Thursday. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

New standards for dog daycares and limits on when pet owners can leave their animals in cars are part of a package of rules that will come into effect July 1 in the City of Winnipeg.

The city has announced the specifics of an update to its Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw that has been working its way through council since August of last year, when the city announced it was considering sweeping changes to the bylaw.

Council voted in favour of changes to the bylaw in late April.

Those updated rules, posted to the city's website this week, include a requirement that large dog breeds be kept separate from smaller ones at pet daycares.

"Doggy daycares were essentially unregulated, and now there's a change where we've established, working with the industry, basic standards for doggy daycares," Leland Gordon, head of Winnipeg's animal welfare service, said Thursday.

Last year, two dogs were killed by a larger one at a Winnipeg daycare.

The bylaw changes also set ratios for the number of staff that must be on hand at daycares — one staff member for every 25 small dogs or 20 large dogs.

Owners on board

Dog owners at Winnipeg's Bonnycastle Dog Park Thursday afternoon applauded the change.

Guylaine Sanfilippo, who has an eight-month-old puppy, said dogs sometimes act on instinct, which can have terrible consequences. 

Guylaine Sanfilippo with her dog, Bear. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

"It can be really devastating if they do go in to bite," she said. 

"No dog deserves to be in that situation, or their owners."

Ji Hwan Kim said he sometimes gets nervous when his golden doodle puppy plays with bigger dogs that are more aggressive. 

Ji Hwan Kim and Elizabeth Suppes with their dog, Haru. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

"It kind of makes me frustrated and makes my puppy frustrated," he said.

Though most dogs are well-behaved, it makes sense to separate them based on size, Kim said. 

Some dog owners were surprised to learn the rules for dog daycares weren't already in place.

"I really think that there should have been [those rules] for the whole time," said Morgan Law, who was also at Bonnycastle Dog Park. "It's kind of weird to think that there weren't any."

Morgan Law with her dog, Trip. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Illegal to leave animals in hot cars

The changes to the bylaw also make it an offence for people to leave animals in their cars when temperatures reach 22 C or hotter.

"That's so frustrating to so many people every summer," Gordon said.

"You'll see on social media where people are so frustrated because they're in a parking lot and there's a dog sitting in the car in the heat."

The bylaw also prohibits riding a bike with a tethered dog when the temperature is 22 C or higher, since dogs can suffer heat exhaustion or burnt paw pads from hot pavement.

Some of the changes were prompted by tragic events in Manitoba and other jurisdictions.

People in the city are now prohibited from putting out body-hold traps in their backyards. Last year, a dog died while its owner watched helplessly after it was snared in a conibear trap hidden along a treeline near a rural road north of Winnipeg.

Ruby, a spaniel, beagle and terrier cross, died last year when she got caught in a trap intended for coyotes. The bylaw changes prohibit using body traps outdoors in the city. (Submitted by Cathy Gagnon)

"A tragic incident like that could have happened in Winnipeg, and so now you can't set those types of body-hold traps outside in your backyard," said Gordon.

Feeding any wildlife except for birds is also now prohibited. That change was motivated by coyote attacks in Vancouver's Stanley Park last fall, after it was discovered that some people had been feeding the animals, Gordon said.

'At-risk' rules

People will also be required to monitor their dogs when they are outside in the backyard. 

The rule doesn't prohibit people from letting their dogs out to run around for brief periods, but is meant to crack down on people who regularly leave their dogs outside unsupervised for an extended amount of time.

The city is also looking to crack down on repeat offenders.

"We have a handful of people in Winnipeg who are irresponsible pet owners," Gordon said.

"Their dog is getting out very frequently … [or] biting people, or they're not doing any vet care on their pet — even the basic vaccinations," he said.

"So what we did is we developed the at-risk category."

That category allows specific requirements to be placed on a pet owner if there is evidence of "irresponsible pet ownership," the city says.

That can include taking the animal into custody and having it rehomed, and temporarily or permanently restricting the owner from acquiring additional animals.

New rules for Winnipeg pet owners

4 months ago
Duration 2:14
New standards for dog daycares and limits on when pet owners can leave their animals in cars are part of a package of rules that will come into effect July 1 in the City of Winnipeg.

With files from Emily Brass and Cameron MacLean


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