Updates encourage responsible pet ownership and animal welfare
Dogs are a huge part of Whistler’s identity as a mountain town. As such, strengthening animal welfare rules and encouraging responsible and respectful pet ownership are the drivers behind the updated Animal Responsibility Bylaw recently adopted by Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) Council.
The Bylaw increases fines for actions that endanger people or animals and provides a tiered system for aggressive dog behaviour. It also updates the list of prohibited animals in Whistler.
The updated fines include but are not limited to:
- Leaving a dog unattended in a hot car ($200)
- Failure to provide food, water, vet care or protection from heat or cold ($150)
- Leaving a dog tethered and unattended on public property ($100)
- Allowing a dog to run at large ($200)
- Dog bite ($250)
Previously, a dog acting aggressively or viciously could be deemed “dangerous” which carried a lifetime designation. Under the new bylaw, a dog can be deemed “aggressive” or “vicious”. Dogs that have displayed aggressive behaviour or caused minor injury and are designated “aggressive” have the opportunity to have that designation reviewed a year later if there is no further aggressive behaviour and the dog has successfully completed a dog behaviour course. The dog must be muzzled in off leash areas and kept on a one-metre leash when off the owner’s property. Owners of “vicious” dogs which have caused harm to an individual or another animal, must not allow the dog in off leash areas, muzzle the dog, post vicious dog signs, provide proof of liability insurance and submit photos identifying the dog to RMOW Bylaw Services. Both “aggressive” and “vicious” designations result in higher dog licence fees, impound fees and fines.
Under the updated bylaw, dog licensing fees will increase from $15 to $25; however, dog owners may purchase their licences from Whistler’s animal shelter (Whistler Animals Galore/ WAG) with 50 per cent of the licence fees going to support the shelter. All dogs in Whistler are required to be licenced. Currently, there are just over 700 dogs licensed in Whistler. All dogs need to be licensed as licensing benefits dog owners by providing one free trip home if a licensed dog ends up at WAG. Licensed dog owners will not have to pay an impound fee. As well, having an accurate count of the number of dogs in Whistler helps the RMOW plan for dog amenities such as off-leash park space and trails. Licensing supports WAG and the care of injured or homeless pets.
Under the new bylaw, cats will now be required to have identification affixed, with the owners contact information. Identification can be affixed by a collar, harness, traceable tattoo or microchip.
Guide Dogs and Service Dogs have been defined as in the BC Guide Dog and Service Dog Act and must meet the requirements in the act in order to be considered a Guide Dog or Service Dog.
What the updated bylaw does not change is the requirement for dogs to be leashed at all times everywhere in Whistler when not in an off-leash area. One of the primary reasons dogs are required to be on a leash in Whistler is to limit bear and dog encounters. Two dogs have been killed in Whistler this year by bears and in 2016 a sow and her two cubs had to be destroyed at Lost Lake after she became aggressive towards dogs and people after being repeatedly harassed by off-leash dogs. Having your dog on a leash also makes it more likely you will notice when your dog poops, helping keep our parks and trails clean.
For more information please visit whistler.ca/dogs.