B.C. SPCA has weighed in on the debate about whether a dog tethering bylaw should be enacted in the Township of Langley.

SPCA enters Langley dog tethering debate

“Model Animal Responsibility bylaw” proposes four-hour limit

The B.C. SPCA says the Township of Langley should set a four-hour maximum allowable tethering time for dogs.

The proposal by the provincial animal protection agency came after a Township staff review concluded time-based anti-tether regulations would be “nearly impossible to enforce, due to staff resources required and the practicality of evidence collection.”

The Oct. 20 staff memo to the mayor and council warned more bylaw enforcement staff would have to be hired because an officer would have to stake out a suspected violation to prove a dog had been tethered longer than the allowed time.

In a Nov. 6 letter to Township mayor and council, BC SPCA policy and outreach officer Andy Morris suggested Langley should adopt the standards of a proposed “Model Animal Responsibility bylaw” drafted by the agency, “in particular” the section that would say no person “may cause, permit or allow an animal … to be hitched, tied, or fastened to a fixed object for longer than four (4) hours within a 24 hour period.”

Morris says the SPCA recognizes “there will be difficulty” enforcing the tethering ban, but goes on to suggest the municipality could use the approach applied to noise bylaws “such as a time-stamped video or visits.”

Failing that, Morris suggests Langley could do what New Westminster does and simply ban tethering unattended dogs, calling it “the most easily enforceable bylaw.”

Coun. Charlie Fox bristled at the unsolicited suggestions when the letter was discussed during the Nov. 23 afternoon meeting of Township council, noting that the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is in charge of enforcing the animal control bylaw (in both the City and the Township of Langley) not the SPCA, which looks after animal cruelty cases province-wide.

“Who asked for these suggestions?” Fox said.

“I think they’ve (the SPCA) gone a little too far here.”

The SPCA letter and model bylaw have been referred to staff for assessment and a report back to council.

The tethering issue was raised by Aldergrove resident Callie McHardy in June, when she told council she was “surprised” to learn there was no anti-tether bylaw in Langley.

McHardy said she discovered that when she tried to get help for a dog near her home.

“There’s a dog that’s always chained up,” McHardy said.

A  review last year by Langley City’s manager of legislative services, Carolyn Mushata, found tethering restrictions would be “extremely difficult to enforce” and “almost impossible to monitor.”

Mushata’s report warned restricting outdoor tethering “may lead to even worse confinement conditions within the interior of the home, making the situation almost impossible to address.”

Mushata said LAPS receives one or two complaints a month about tethered or chained dogs in both the City and Township.