A difference of opinion in what constitutes a dangerous dog has a Langford homeowner frustrated with the Capital Regional District’s animal control service.
John England said a Rottweiler cross belonging to an upstairs tenant at his house on Deville Road – since evicted – showed aggressive and threatening behaviour on four separate occasions in his yard.
The first incident involved two small children from next door who were over visiting a couple of months ago. The kids were in the habit of climbing over his fence to get in, he said, and the dog went after them as they came into the yard.
After that, he said, he had the tenant sign an agreement to keep the dog leashed when it was outdoors. When that and subsequent warnings didn’t work, he said, he called West Shore RCMP, who directed him to CRD animal control, which is contracted to monitor Langford and most other municipalities in the Capital Region.
England said the animal control officer who responded to his first complaint ticketed the owner for not having a dog licence, but did not address the aggressive nature of the dog.
“They said there’s nothing they can do since it was something that happened on private property,” England said.
“When a dog is exhibiting ongoing aggressive behaviour toward people especially children, they have to act. It’s just a matter of time before that dog hurts someone.”
England’s wife, Lorna, described an incident that happened earlier this month when she came in the front driveway gate to their home and walked the long driveway toward their home.
“I had met the dog before and it seemed fine, but this time I was in a bit of a hurry and he charged up toward me,” she said. “The dog scared me. It was crouched down, teeth baring.”
She stood stock still near the house and called out for her husband, afraid the dog might attack, she said.
CRD animal control eventually made a second visit to the home, but took no action at the time against the dog’s owner. England said he has provided the tenant’s phone number so officers could keep tabs on the dog’s behaviour at its next address.
CRD chief bylaw officer Don Brown said since the dog “hasn’t done anything,” that is, it hasn’t bitten anyone, there was little they could do. It’s also not uncommon for dogs in a yard to want to aggressively protect their property, he added.
Animal control officers have the power to declare a dog to be “dangerous” after assessing the situation, Brown said.
He added that England took the right step to remedy the situation, which was to evict the tenant using Residential Tenancy Act regulations for ignoring warnings about the dog.
Langford’s animal bylaw makes no references to the behaviour of dogs owned by residents on private property, but does state that “An owner of a vicious dog shall keep it muzzled and on a leash.”
Asked whether changes need to be made to the bylaw to better spell out the rights of landlords or tenants in these type of situations, Brown said no.
The renter, who took the suite in January and moved out by mid-July, did not have a dog upon moving in, England said. He said the experience has not put him off renting to someone with a dog, but he would more likely allow a small dog.