District of Houston municipal office and council chambers.

District of Houston procedure for dog bylaw complaints

At the District of Houston council chambers on July 18, 2017 it was reported that in the month of June five bylaw complaints concerning dogs, three parking complaints, one unsightly premise complaint, and two miscellaneous complaints were received.

“I had someone come to me and say we have bylaw complaints, and we have a bylaw officer, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of teeth in the bylaw and contravention followups, and was wondering what is being done about that?” asked counsellor John Siebenga.

“There is a process that we have to follow, we can’t seize dogs,” said Michael Glavin, Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Houston. “Actually, the only time we can seize an animal is through the courts, so our hands are tied there.”

Glavin said that in order to seize an animal the district has to do their due diligence procedure of issuing three written letters to the owners must be given.

“Unless it is a dangerous dog,” said Glavin. “If it is a dangerous dog all bets are off. I would go to the court immediately and ask for an injunction.”

Glavin said that the reported bylaw complaints regarding dogs are under the process.

“Letters and notice have been given, and after we start issuing tickets,” he added. “To the public it may seem like we are not doing anything, but we are doing our due diligence.”

“How many tickets have been issued and are there any repeated offenders?” asked counsellor Tim Anderson.

“We have given two tickets to one owner in town so far,” said Jim Daigneault, bylaw officer for the District of Houston.

“If the dog is running loose, does it matter if it has a license to issue a court order?” asked counsellor Dennis Tait.

“All dogs over six months old must have a license,” said Glavin. “If we pick up a dog, the dog is then impounded and the owners do not get the dog back until all fees have been paid. Dogs must be on a leash at all times if off the owners property.”

Glavin said that the problem is that we can only accommodate an animal for five days, “and after that we have to send the dog away to a credible dog sanctuary, [put the dog down], or someone could adopt it.”

Most of the dogs are picked up by the owner,” he added.

Houston council accepted the report.

In the story “Unattended dogs roaming in Houston,” published in the Houston Today May 14, 2017 issue, Belinda Brosseau, a Houston resident presented to the District of Houston her concerns regarding the unattended dogs roaming in town and her issue to take her children out for a walk around her neighbourhood.

Recently, another Houston resident that would like to remain anonymous said to Houston Today, “If we had dog catchers then people would know where their dogs are and not post on the Houston Buy & Sale saying their dog is missing.”

The concerned Houston resident added, “Everyday I have other people’s dogs sitting in my yard. I can’t walk my little dog because there are other unleashed and aggressive dogs roaming our street.”

The same resident said that the dog feces is another issue in town.

“We all live here, let’s keep it beautiful, and take pride in our community, pick up your own dog [feces]. There should be no reason why people should not clean up after their own dog,” said the concerned Houston resident.

“I think the district should invest in more garbage cans with little dog bags to encourage people to pick up after their animals,” added the resident. “Garbage cans are not expense. I’m sure there are some businesses in town that would be happy to donate some to the community.”

The resident said that steeper fines, better repercussions, and a more proactive approach would keep the recreational enjoyment of walking around town with your kids or animals, and going out for a run by yourself or with a friend safer and more enjoyable.