Letters to the Editor

Sake of appearances

Janet Olson (right) and Marlene Keefe addressed city councils in 2012-2013.  - File photo
Janet Olson (right) and Marlene Keefe addressed city councils in 2012-2013.
— image credit: File photo


Nothing has changed in Surrey to end the physical and emotional cruelty inflicted on permanently chained dogs in Surrey, despite the new bylaw limiting dog chaining to four hours a day (Surrey to ban tethering of dogs, ​April 26, 2012; Tether bylaw doubted, Nov. 14, 2013).

As the founder of Campaign for Animal Rights Legislation, I warned Mayor Dianne Watts and her council during my anti-chaining presentation to them in April 2011 that numerous Canadian and U.S. municipalities had found that time-limited tethering laws proved to be unenforceable and that only a total tethering ban was effective and enforceable.

However, council ignored my warnings and the experience of other municipalities and, as a result, Surrey continues to be a haven for owners of permanently chained dogs.

I cite the case of a permanently chained pit bull cross in North Surrey on a concrete driveway who was reported by a neighbour.  Susan Fitzgerald contacted Surrey Animal Control after the bylaw was enacted. An animal control officer responded and the dog was temporarily removed from his chain and put into a dark, unheated workshop on the property.

Within days, the dog was back on his chain full time. When Fitzgerald was unable to reach the officer again, she contacted the SPCA and was advised that, other than ensuring a flap had been installed on the entrance to the doghouse and an insulating layer of straw had been placed on the floor, there was nothing they could do.

As animal control notes, the time-limited tethering bylaw is essentially unenforceable, as it is difficult for the officers to confirm how long the dog had been on the chain.

As the doghouse was preferable to the large, dark unheated workshop, Fitzgerald stopped calling. And the dog remains on his chain full time.

This is exactly what we told the city would happen. We advised them that passing anti-tethering bylaws, without also passing cruel-confinement legislation – making it illegal to permanently confine dogs to pens, sheds and garages – would result in even worse living conditions for formerly chained dogs.

I do not believe that Surrey council was serious about improving the life of chained dogs in their community. If they were, they would have enacted a ban on the unattended tethering of dogs as New West, Lion’s Bay and Delta have done and as we recommended.

I believe Surrey just wanted to give the appearance of improving the lives of chained dogs.

That is all they have achieved.

Janet Olson, Surrey



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