By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
With further opposition to the proposed final version of Oshawa’s responsible pet owner’s (RPO) bylaw, councillors have voted to send it back to staff following concerns from local pet activists.
In March 2015, council passed amendments that led to restrictions on the tethering of animals and animals in vehicles. Now, despite further additions to the bylaw which address regulations for dog pens and houses, activists are calling for more specific measures to protect animals.
At issue, specifically, is the lack of any provisions to provide shade for animals who are tethered or left in a pen for long periods of time.
“I would have thought this was one of the most fundamental and basic aspects,” said activist Martin Field, noting that in the past year, 14 heat alerts and eight extreme heat alerts were issued. “It would give a profound amount of relief to an animal.”
Activists also disagreed with the staff report, which stated adding more specific wording for pen sizes and other aspects for bylaw officers to investigate would prohibit the ability to do their jobs.
“If you have specific wording that is clear for the owner of the pet and the bylaw officer, that is the law, then that’s it,” said local activist Jillian Lauder.
However, according to the report, staff felt that a balance could be found through educating the public
“The assessment determined that a balance could be achieved by establishing a number of more specific examples in the RPO bylaw which would educate the public on providing a basic level of care for animals,” the staff report reads.
Yet, the group in attendance in opposition to the changes felt the more prescriptive wording would be essential for the effective protection of Oshawa’s pets.
“I think it will help,” stated Karen Ormerod, the executive director of the Human Society of Durham Region. “I don’t think people will be able to get away with the treatment they have in the past.”
For Councillor Rick Kerr, he said that the bylaw officers, who will be the frontline enforcers of the new rules, are saying they are looking for some flexibility in the regulations.
Regardless, Kerr said the bylaw, as is, would be a good place to start.
“Nothing is carved in stone,” he said.
The comments received from the public at the meeting were referred back to staff for a report to come back at the end of October.