An effort that began six months ago to make it possible for pet owners with more than the two dogs or three cats allowed by the city’s animal ownership bylaw to license their pets was defeated in a 6-2 vote at Thompson’s city council meeting Oct. 28.
Councillors Jeff Fountain and Duncan Wong, both members of the city’s public safety committee, which took the first step towards increasing the number of pets allowed back in April, were the only votes in favour of the bylaw amendment, which would have allowed any combination of five animals, up to a maximum of four dogs, for owners who had the support of their neighbours and received a clean bill of health for their animals from a veterinarian.
But the six council members who voted against the amendment – Mayor Colleeen Smook, deputy mayor Kathy Valentino and councillors Andre Proulx, Les Ellsworth, Brian Lundmark and Earl Colbourne – said it would put more work onto an already overburdened animal control officer or simply that it was too complicated.
Jesse Bienias, one of the pet owners who helped start this latest attempt to increase the number of pets that can be licensed after a previous request to the public safety committee was turned down in 2016, said before councillors debated and voted on the bylaw that the effort was met by a lot of roadblocks.
“This is my third kick at the can trying to change this,” he said, objecting to responsible dog owners being lumped in with those who let their pets run loose and commit other infractions. “You’re more likely to get stabbed by a kid in this town then bit by a dog. I fail to see why we’re all thrown under the blanket of this loose dog thing.”
Proulx said he felt the process to license additional animals involved too much red tape.
“I’d just like to see it simple,” he said. “Raising [the number of dogs allowed] to four would be, to me, a lot easier than having a special permit.”
The other councillors who voted against the amendment said they felt it would create additional work for the animal control officer, who can’t keep up with the number of complaints about loose dogs he receives now.
“I won’t support this because there’s more bad dog owners out there than there is good dog owners and we’ve got no control over them,” said Colbourne.
“I’m against it because we can’t enforce the current bylaw that we have now,” said Ellsworth.
Smook said she had heard from more people who oppose this amendment than support it.
“That is what I have always gone but, the majority of citizens that have spoken to me,” she said. “My public has changed my mind. To blanketly let this whole town have four dogs apiece ... the people that are coming to me don’t want that.”
Fountain decried that argument as false.
“You have to go through a rigorous application process,” he said. “The argument that the floodgates are going to be open and everyone’s going to have four dogs is not necessarily true.”
Wong also questioned that reasoning.
“They try to bring attention to say, ‘Oh, we don’t have the resources to enforce.' Baloney. Baloney. We don’t have them to begin with anyway.”