Surrey drafting ban on chaining dogs
A White Rock woman before the courts for allegedly stealing dogs addressed Surrey council on Monday afternoon, asking for a ban on the chaining and tethering of canines.
Janet Olson, founder of A Better Life Dog Rescue, has been charged with theft, break and enter and commit indictable offence, fraud and breach of undertaking or recognizance.
Olson told The Leader on Dec. 1, 2011 that the initial dog she was charged with taking was suffering badly and that she had the "moral right" to take it.
She's since been charged with several other incidents in Abbotsford (November 2009), Surrey (February 2010 and April 2011), Richmond (July 2010), White Rock (January 2011) and Coquitlam (November 2011).
She is scheduled to be back in court on May 1.
On Monday, Olson – as part of a group calling itself the Campaign to Ban the Confinement of Resident Dogs – appeared before Surrey council to give an impassioned plea for a ban on the chaining and tethering of dogs in the city.
The presentation was accompanied by disturbing slide show and video images showing dogs in distress and even some that had hung themselves while trying to jump over a fence while chained.
"In 2008, a St. Bernard who became hopelessly entangled in her tether tried to chew off her own leg in an attempt to free herself," Olson told council. "Many chained dogs have hung themselves as they've jumped over their doghouses and fences, such as these dogs did. And this last picture is a dog who strangled to death in Surrey, after hours of trying to free himself from his tangled tether."
Olson said all of that physical pain pales in comparison to the trauma the dogs endure by being isolated and constantly alone.
She wants an outright ban on chaining dogs up in back yards.
Surrey council looked deeply troubled by what they had seen and heard.
"I don't think that there's one person around this council table that has any disagreement with what you are proposing," said Mayor Dianne Watts, adding she was behind the group "150 per cent."
Coun. Mary Martin called the presentation "heartbreaking" and asked Olson how many dogs are living in these conditions in Surrey.
Olson estimated about a few hundred dogs were confined by chains.
Coun. Barbara Steele said she'd be asking for an emergency motion to go before the Local Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA), which would likely be passed and forwarded to the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
At the same time, Surrey will draft a bylaw of its own, legislation which Olson will be invited to provide input for.
The group was ecstatic by the reaction from council.
"I'm absolutely thrilled. The response was far better than we anticipated," Olson said after the meeting. "It is just staggering for us, better than we had ever hoped for."
Asked why she hadn't tried to lobby council before, Olson said it was all about picking the right moment.
"The timing was just right, because we'd heard Surrey was thinking about changing their bylaws, so to do it before it got to that point, it probably would have been fruitless."
The issue could go to the LMLGA as soon as its annual general meeting on May 9 in Whistler.