Nova Scotia

Halifax council mulls stiffer dog attack fines

Halifax Regional Council has asked for a review of the city's animal control by-laws to see if stiffer fines will prevent dog attacks.

Halifax Regional Council has asked for a review of the city's animal control by-laws to see if stiffer fines will prevent dog attacks.

The move follows a recent rash of incidents involving both pets and people. In separate incidents, two small dogs  — a Jack Russell terrier and a Shih Tzu — were killed by larger dogs in Dartmouth.

Two weeks ago, Kathy Martin of Dartmouth was bitten on the face, ear, and neck by an off-leash pit bull at Martinique Beach, a provincially owned park on the Eastern Shore, where dogs are supposed to be on leash.

Right now, the fine for having a dog running at large or involved in an attack is only $200. 

Dartmouth Centre Coun. Gloria McCluskey thinks the fine should be a minimum of $1,000, and the dog owner should be held responsible for any expenses that are incurred as a result of the attack.

"Residents are afraid to be out walking; I hear that from people. We need to get tough," she said.

Albro Lake-Harbourview Coun. Jim Smith said he fully supports the move, but  he thinks more bylaw officers may be needed.

"I just recently have had quite a situation with dogs running off leash," he said.

McCluskey also wants leashes be limited to two metres long, and retractable leashes banned because they don't give people enough control over their dogs and says this type of rule is used elsewhere.  

"The two-metre leash came from the Toronto by-law," she said.

A report outlining the options will come back to council for further debate before the rules are changed.

There have been 96 reported dog attacks in HRM this summer, and 17 of those involved an injury to a person or another animal, according to animal services.

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