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Proposed bylaw targets owners who leave dogs in hot vehicles

Nanaimo city council is considering a bylaw that would see people ticketed for leaving dogs in vehicles during hot weather. Similar bylaws are in place in other B.C. communities like Surrey and Delta. - News Bulletin File
Nanaimo city council is considering a bylaw that would see people ticketed for leaving dogs in vehicles during hot weather. Similar bylaws are in place in other B.C. communities like Surrey and Delta.
— image credit: News Bulletin File

Animal advocates want the city to turn up the heat on people who leave dogs in hot cars.

Nanaimo city council will look into a new bylaw that could see people ticketed for keeping pooches in their cars during hot weather.

Animal advocates are calling for the city to consider a new ventilation law which they say would act as a deterrent and give enforcers another tool to deal with the issue of dogs in distress.

Similar bylaws have already rolled out in  B.C. communities like Surrey and Delta.

According to the Nanaimo SPCA, it received a total 54 alerts of dogs left in vehicles this July. One dog died this year from overheating.

“We plaster the province with signs and advertising about don’t leave your dog in hot cars and every single summer we see again, again and again it happening every day,” said Leon Davis, Nanaimo SPCA branch manager. “If education isn’t working maybe some sort of legislation has to take its place or complement it at least.”

But just how much bite should the bylaw have?

Nanaimo resident Julie MacTire, who supported the bid for a bylaw, said her aim is to address people who cause extreme distress or death to animals by leaving them in cars, but wouldn’t want to see the law used as a club to punish people just for running into 7-Eleven for five minutes.

However, Coun. Bill Bestwick said it should be a “stick” and it should be strong enough that it’s “not just something that’s weak and feeble and non-enforceable.”

“Make it so that it actually has some teeth because it shouldn’t take very many of those within our community that people start to go, ‘oh, holy cow,’ and to be a little bit vigilant about it,” he said.

The SPCA is also hoping the city considers other animal welfare laws around basic care and inadequate and dangerous tethering. City staff members will meet with animal control and the SPCA to talk about proposals and will look into what municipalities are allowed to regulate, best practices and whether the city should make changes to animal control or create a standalone bylaw.

When a report and bylaw will be presented to council has not been announced.

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