Council broadens liability resolution to include all pets

Fort St. John council won’t discriminate against dogs in their liability act resolution for the upcoming North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) convention this spring.

Recognizing that other pets can cause damage or injury as well as their canine counterparts, council decided to push for a Pet Owner’s Liability Act rather than a Dog Owner’s Liability Act at the upcoming government meeting in May.

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“Let’s not pick on the dogs, there are other culprits out there,” Mayor Lori Ackerman said in council Monday.

Staff had drafted a resolution for consideration at council’s request, and after some brief discussion opted to swap out the word "dog" for "pet."

The resolution states any pet owner should be held liable for their animal’s damage to property, or injury caused to another person or domestic animal, and that victims should be able to seek financial retribution.

British Columbia does not have legislation pertaining to either a dog owner’s responsibility nor a pet owner’s responsibility when their pet causes harm or damage.

Council will ask the NCLGA to petition the Union of B.C. Municipalities to request the provincial government to establish the liability act.

“It would expand the scope of it, and the reality is, once we get this to the North Central Local Government Association and to UBCM, there may be debate and conversation along the way that brings it back to dog owner liability, or whatever the case may be,” Ackerman said.

“But the reality is we shouldn’t be picking on any particular breed, and we shouldn’t be pointing out just dogs.”

Coun. Larry Evans voiced his agreement.

Council did not identify any other resolutions to be brought forward to NCLGA.

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