Nova Scotia

Guysborough councillors vote to change 'fierce and dangerous' dog bylaw

The future bylaw will remove references to specific breeds such as pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers.

Future bylaw will remove references to specific breeds such as pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers

Chico is part American Staffordshire terrier, one of the breeds deemed 'fierce or dangerous' under the dog control bylaw of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. (Submitted by Carrieann Parker)

Owning a Rottweiler is no longer grounds for jail time in the municipality of Guysborough.

The council for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough voted on Wednesday to remove references to specific dog breeds in its dog control bylaw.

The bylaw had stated that owners of "fierce or dangerous dogs" — defined as pit bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers or any mixed-breed dog that includes any of those breeds — are in violation of the bylaw and can be fined between $100 and $600 or be jailed for up to 30 days.

It also stated that the municipality can impound or destroy any fierce or dangerous dog without notifying the owner.

Dog owner relieved

But after a family in Canso was told last week that they'd have to get rid of their dog Chico because he violates that bylaw, councillors decided it was time to revisit the rules.

Councillors also agreed Wednesday to temporarily suspend enforcement of the sections of the bylaw that mention specific dog breeds and to strengthen the bylaw to protect the public.

Chico's owner, Carrieann Parker, said she cried as she heard the news that Chico is no longer an outlaw.

"It means we can stay in Canso and live our lives the way we wish to live our lives with our pet that we love."

Chico with his family, clockwise from top left, Bradley MacNabb, Carrieann Parker, Devon MacNabb, Kayleb MacNabb and William MacNabb. (Submitted by Carrieann Parker)

About two months ago, someone complained to the municipality that Chico wasn't allowed in the area. A few weeks later, a municipal worker arrived at Parker's door to take a DNA sample from Chico's mouth to determine what breed he is.

On Friday, Parker received a letter stating that the DNA test results showed Chico is mostly American Staffordshire terrier and therefore must be rehomed outside the municipality.

"It's a big step for us and the other people in the municipality to be able to own whatever kind of dog they want," Parker said of the changes.

Municipal staff have been tasked with drafting a new dog control bylaw.

Vernon Pitts is the warden of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. (CBC)

Warden Vernon Pitts said staff will do some research on the issue.

"What are they doing in other jurisdictions? What works, what doesn't work? What is enforceable, what is not enforceable?"

Pitts said he doesn't want to see "Rottweilers and pit bulls running wild in the municipality."

"So maybe it'll come down to something where if you have a breed that has a propensity to be fierce or cross, you might have to put a muzzle on them, but you have to have them on a leash. To me, that's doable. And to me, that's a very simple fix."

Pitts said he expects staff's draft bylaw to be brought to council in about a month.