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Animal regulations with some teeth

Whistler residents divided over calls to ban specific dog breeds

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"It is more about the owners than it is about the dogs themselves.

"It is definitely a problem with no easy solution and when it comes down to it public safety is number one. But I really think it is better to evaluate it on a case by case basis."

Sea to Sky veterinarian Dr. David Lane is strongly opposed to a breed-specific bylaw ban.

"I keep calling it doggy racism," he said.

"I very much think it is political pandering by people who don’t really know the issue and they are making the decisions.

"What I think should exist are strong laws to deal with aggressive dogs and irresponsible owners who don’t control their dogs."

One way for dog owners to take responsibility is to take training, said Lane, who works with WAG in evaluating their dogs.

"It teaches you how to speak dog and a lot of people are misinterpreting what the dog is trying to say," he said.

And residents should report all run-ins with aggressive dogs to the bylaw department, since it can take action more easily if it has a record of the dog’s past behaviour.

There are two types of complementary regulations in place to deal with dangerous dogs in Whistler. The local animal control act outlines the rules for owning dogs in Whistler and what can happen if owners contravene the bylaw. It defines what a dangerous dog is – one which has bitten, attacked or aggressively pursued a person or animal, or one with a known propensity to attack animals or people – and says these dogs must be leashed and, muzzled while in public places.

Fines of up to $2,000 can be issued for failing to comply with the bylaw. It’s up to animal control officers to determine if a dog is dangerous.

Whistler has no plans to change its bylaws or ban pit bulls.

Along with the municipal rules are those outlined in the Local Government Act, which allow the animal control officer to seize, impound and detain dangerous dogs in the interest of public safety.

Many pit bull owners feel their pets are being unfairly stereotyped. Doug Lundgren owns two pit bulls, Moses and Eddie, both of which he adopted through rescue organizations.

"The dogs themselves are probably the most affectionate dogs there are," said the Whistler resident.

He feels a pit bull ban would be a big mistake.