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Too many dogs, says neighbour

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Niven Lake resident is calling on city council to limit the number of dogs people can keep on their properties.

Cecile Beemer, who lives on Ballantyne Court, took pictures of what she said is of her neighbour's feces-strewn yard and passed them around to city council last week. She said her neighbour's dogs are often outside at all hours barking and left unattended.

"Since 2004, our neighbours have kept anywhere from two to seven large dogs in their backyard," she said.

"These dogs are left outside, unattended for extended periods of time barking, and the property is often not cleaned on a regular basis and smells strongly of feces."

She asked council to update the city's dog bylaw, which has not been revised since 2002.

Beemer said last summer, after complaining to the city, her neighbours were ordered to clean up their yard. She said they did, but the yard is strewn with feces yet again.

She pointed to other cities in Canada, including communities in the Northwest Territories, that have restrictions on the number of animals one can own or require special permits to go over the capped number. Fort Smith and Hay River only allow two dogs per household unless given written consent to own more.

"My neighbour could have 50 dogs on their property and there is nothing we can do about it," said Beemer.

Beemer's neighbour declined to comment when contacted by Yellowknifer last week.

Some city councillors expressed shock upon learning about the conditions in the neighbour's yard, and wanted to know where the city was in terms of redrafting the bylaw.

"Either we have a problem with the bylaw not being enforced properly or we have a weak bylaw which leaves administration hampered as to what it can do to deal with it," said Coun. David Wind.

Public Safety director Dennis Marchiori told council the city attempted to put a cap of three on the number of dogs a resident can keep in 2004 but the council of the day turned it down.

He said the process to begin redrafting the bylaw began late last year but it will take up to 14 months to revise it.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said rewriting the bylaw has been slow over the past year partly because of the territorial government's efforts to strengthen its own Dog Act. That act went into effect May 15, 2011.

"The Dog Act would be territorial, and changes to our animal control bylaw would have to be in sync with that," he said.

Nicole Spencer, president of the NWT SPCA, was present at the meeting and said she would be hesitant to support restrictions on the number of dogs a homeowner can own.

"Based on discussions the board has had in the past we really don't think that limits to the number of dogs will do anything," she said. "What would be an appropriate limit? And who is to say I can't take care of four dogs?"

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