Both the Township and City of Langley have concluded that limits on the amount of time residents are permitted to tether dogs would be all but impossible to enforce.

Tethering limit ‘nearly impossible’ to enforce

Memo to Township council says officer would have to stake out a suspected violation to prove case

More staff would have to be hired to enforce a time limit on tethering dogs outdoors in Langley Township, a report to council says.

The Oct. 20 unsigned memo to mayor and council by the community development division warns an officer would have to stake out a suspected violation longer than the maximum allowed time in order to prove the limit was violated.

“In order to effectively investigate complaints and be able to prove an offence, an animal control officer would be required to be on scene and observe the tethered dog for the duration of the allowed period to prove that a violation has taken place,” the report said.

That makes time-based anti-tether regulations “nearly impossible to enforce, due to staff resources required and the practicality of evidence collection” the memo concluded.

The memo said a survey of municipalities with no-tether regulations found enforcement action is rarely taken, with one unnamed municipality recording 54 complaints in 2014 without issuing a single ticket.

As reported by the BC SPCA, only 19 out of 152 municipalities and two out of 27 regional districts set limits on tethering, but those limits vary considerably, from a maximum tethered time of 23 hours a day in Whistler to one hour a day in Burnaby.

The memo noted some municipalities don’t set a maximum time, but forbid leaving a tethered dog unattended.

“The purpose of (that approach to) regulation was to reduce the risk of tethered dogs harming themselves by getting caught up in the tether for extended period of times.”

The issue was raised by an Aldergrove resident in June.

Callie McHardy told council she was “surprised” to learn there was no anti-tether bylaw in Langley when she tried to get help for a dog near her home.

“Just down the street, there’s a dog that’s always chained up,” McHardy told Township council.

Some Langley dogs are left on a tether, unattended, for 24 hours a day, McHardy said.

“They just live their lives on the end of chains.”

Langley City reviewed the same issue last year and found tethering restrictions would be “extremely difficult to enforce” and “almost impossible to monitor,” said the report by Carolyn Mushata, manager of legislative services.

Mushata said the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) receives one or two complaints a month about tethered or chained dogs in both the City and Township.

Limiting the time a dog can be tethered would be “very difficult” to enforce unless it was banned entirely or only allowed when the owner is in attendance, LAPS predicted.

The Mushata 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.”

“Regulating confinement and tethering of dogs would be extremely difficult to enforce and is not recommended,” the report concluded.

The City animal control law was left unchanged.

It requires tethering of dogs, aggressive or not, “in such a manner to prevent the dog from leaving the property.”

It does not set any restrictions on the time or method of tethering or size of the confinement area.

But it does ban the use of choke chains around the neck and confinement of a dog in an enclosed space, including a vehicle, without “adequate ventilation.”

The report to City council said provincial and federal laws forbid “unnecessary suffering” by animals, but “the legal test for these offences is high, so it is difficult to bring charges under the current legislation.”

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