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Westlock County to craft "responsible pet-ownership bylaw" in new year

Land-use bylaw prohibits property-owners from keeping more than two dogs over the age of six months
A recent notice published in the Town & Country This Week about dogs prompted a discussion about a potential new "responsible pet-ownership bylaw" that the county intends to create in the new year.

WESTLOCK — Sometime in the new year, Westlock County will likely be revisiting the bylaws that concern the keeping of dogs with the idea of crafting a new “responsible pet-ownership bylaw,” chief administrative officer Tony Kulbisky told councillors at their Nov. 14 meeting. 

Kulbisky shared the news while responding to a concern raised by Coun. Stuart Fox-Robinson, who said he had gotten a number of calls from residents about a notice that appeared in the Nov. 7 edition of the Town & Country This Week

The notice stated that enforcement services had received reports about properties within the Hamlet of Regal Park Village that may be harbouring more than two dogs. 

Under the county’s land-use bylaw, only two dogs over the age of six months are allowed in Urban General and country residential districts, as well as isolated country residential parcels within the Agricultural and Natural Use districts. 

Having more than two dogs over the age of six months, such as for the purpose of breeding, can only be permitted at the discretion of the development authority. 

Fox-Robinson said they have some “truly phenomenally responsible pet-owners" within the county, but acknowledged there were others who don’t really care about their animals. With that in mind, he asked Kulbisky to shed some light on the notice. 

Kulbisky said it was believed there were a large number of dogs attached to one property-owner in one area, but the notice was meant to bring awareness to the fact the land-use bylaw limiting the number of dogs on each residential property. 

“It was meant to … highlight the concerns across the whole county,” he said. 

It should be noted that the county also has a separate dog control bylaw. Kulbisky said they will be re-visiting that bylaw, as well as the land-use bylaw, with the idea of creating a “responsible pet-ownership bylaw.’ 

Shifting focus on to the pet-owners instead of the animals is why administration plans to visit this new responsible pet-ownership bylaw, Kulbisky indicated. 

“In most cases, dogs are not the problem. It could be the owner of the actual pet itself,” he said. “If we rename it the responsible pet ownership bylaw, it focuses attention away from the animal on to the actual owner of the pet.” 

Kulbisky added that the revised responsible pet ownership bylaw would likely come to a committee of the whole meeting in early 2024, and this process will likely involve some engagement with the public.

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