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Bylaw is a doggone joke

Big Brother is watching you. OK, maybe not you, but your friendly and trusty companion.

Big Brother is watching you. OK, maybe not you, but your friendly and trusty companion.

At least that's how it appears this week, now that District of Sechelt council is one reading away from instituting a puzzling new bylaw amendment in the licensing and control of dogs.

The bylaw amendment, called the responsibilities of owner - animal control of care, has a clause in it stating that no owner of a dog shall permit his or her dog to, without provocation, chase, bite or attack any person, animal or bird or cause damage to any property.

Now we get not attacking a person, and that's a good thing. And we get not causing damage to property, which is also a good thing. But if you, as a dog owner, are out walking Fido in a park and Fido is on a leash and a bird comes flying by and Fido wants to chase after it, you as the owner could face a fine because the bird did not provoke your dog to chase it? Huh? Is Sechelt council kidding with this one?Dogs love chasing birds and squirrels. It's in their nature. They are not doing any harm. But now Big Brother - oh, excuse us, Sechelt council - is going to fine you if you, or rather Fido, is caught.

This bylaw goes against the very nature of what dogs do.

How are the bylaw officers supposed to enforce this? Do they stake out all the dog parks and watch to see if your dog goes after a bird or small animal, then out comes the ticket book? And how is the bylaw officer supposed to determine that your dog wasn't provoked? Do our bylaw officers have some special powers, by which they can somehow tell what the animals are thinking? Can they tell that the dog and the squirrel got into some territorial argument, some turf war and they want to fight and chase after each other?

Not everyone on council has lost all their senses.

Councillors Fred Taylor and Alice Janisch voted against the bylaw amendment. Taylor pointed out that if a dog was chasing a rat in a back yard or protecting its owner from a bear, it would be considered a crime under this bylaw. He went a little further in stating we're unnecessarily criminalizing behaviour in our community.

We couldn't agree more.

It's impossible to legislate human behaviour, but it's downright inane to think you can legislate a dog's behaviour.

We wish council much luck trying to enforce this one.