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South Slave

Fort Smith considering legal action against ‘problem dog owners’

Last modified: October 1, 2021 at 7:21am


Fort Smith is considering taking legal action against problem dog owners in the community, councillors were told last week.

Senior administrative officer Cynthia White told a council meeting the town is working with its lawyers to “initiate some legal action on some problem dog owners.”

White said the legal action would “be happening shortly, in the next couple of days.”

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In an email to Cabin Radio this week, Mayor Lynn Napier said there are “a small number of dog owners who have violations under the Dog Control Bylaw.”

Napier wrote: “We are working to ensure that dog owners around the community are in compliance with the bylaw and ensuring that, for repeat violations of the bylaw, we are able to keep the dog owners in compliance, including through apprehension of the dogs.”

The mayor said town lawyers have confirmed the next step is to serve some owners with notice that they must comply with the bylaw. The bylaw states all dogs must be registered and bars residents from owning more than two dogs unless they have a dog team and have paid an annual kennel fee.

At the meeting, White said dealing with the owners of some dogs often proves “a bit of a process” and asked residents to be patient.

“We want to make sure we follow all of the legal steps to ensure that we can remediate this issue in a permanent way,” White said.

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Napier said the town sought legal advice as staff may be “apprehending a number of dogs” and wanted to confirm the legal process and legislation under which that action falls.

In a later email after this article was first published, Napier added the town was “working with a no-kill shelter in Alberta which has agreed to take any of the apprehended dogs for retraining and rehoming.”

Fort Smith’s issues with loose, aggressive dogs date back years. In 2018, residents described having to seek shelter in nearby homes and being nipped at or bitten by dogs on the streets.

In the past, the town has taken action by seizing dogs. Some dogs were returned after the owners paid fines for breaking the bylaw.

The “problem dog owners” this year have not been publicly identified.

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