Dogs who are deemed dangerous in the Fraser Valley will now need to pose for a mugshot.
This is a sweeping change in municipalities from Abbotsford to Harrison Hot Springs, and most points in between. The Fraser Valley Regional Board voted unanimously to amend their bylaw on Jan. 26, following a brief report by FVRD’s manager of environmental services, Stacey Barker.
“First and foremost this is for the safety to the animal control officers,” she told the board. In the cases where a dog is known to be dangerous or aggressive, officers can identify those dogs prior to engaging with them when visiting a home.
“If the officer is moving in, it’s best to give them a head’s up,” Barker said.
But there are many other reasons for the mugshots, including preventing injuries to the dogs themselves. The amendment includes a change in definition to “aggressive dog” to include “aggressively pursuing a vehicle.”
“We’ve had situations where there has been damage to vehicles, and popped tires,” she says, from dogs that are aggressive towards vehicles. There are other dogs who will stand a driver or passenger inside a vehicle, while “snarling at windows.”
“This will prevent motor vehicle accidents as well as injury to the dog itself,” she says, by encouraging owners of dogs who are known to be aggressive from roaming freely and causing potential havoc or harm.
“We certainly know that dogs chase cars,” she said.
A photo registry of dangerous dogs will also prevent false accusations from members of the public who feel an aggressive dog is not being cared for responsibly.
“In some cases, it’s not that (aggressive) dog at all, and the owner of the dog is acting responsibly,” Barker said. “It helps in those situations.”
The Dangerous and Aggressive Dog Regulation Bylaw works through compliance and awareness, Barker added.
This change to the bylaw is not about deeming dogs dangerous, said Jennifer Kinneman, FVRD’s manager of communications.
“This is only if they’ve been deemed aggressive or dangerous,” she said, which is a formal process that includes an investigation.
This will also help neighbouring municipalities. Because if a dog is deemed dangerous, that information is passed on when a dog’s owner moves.
“If you were to move to Metro Vancouver, that doesn’t mean your record goes away,” she said.
The photos add more information to basic written descriptions of dogs, and can identify markings, shape and size more accurately.
The bylaw is effective in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, the District of Kent, Harrison Hot Springs and FVRD’s electoral areas D (Popkum, Bridal Falls) and E (Chilliwack River Valley).
The photos are to be provided by the owner.
The penalty for not providing a photo to identify a dangerous dog is $500, with compliance agreements available. That is in addition to other aggressive dog contraventions such as not being securely confined, not on a leash, not with a competent person, without a muzzle, or a microchip. Each of those are also accompanied by a $500 fine.