With BC elections just over a month away, this is an important time to speak up for better, fairer, evidence-based dog laws in BC. There are still many areas in our province that have antiquated legislation, and in some cases council members haven’t been motivated to bring their animal control policies into the year 2014. Right now, as they are seeking their votes and networking within the community, is the time to bring these issues into the public conversation.
The best thing you can do to start is to get talking. Start speaking to your neighbors and friends (and even strangers!) and help spread the word about breed-specific legislation in BC. We all know that discrimination based on looks alone is wrong, but it seems some city councils aren’t hearing that message… yet. Get in touch with your current city councillors, and their opposition, and find out their stance on BSL. Let them know your feelings, and that your vote goes to the councillor with the most level-headed perspective – not someone who refuses to listen to reason and enact responsible dog laws. Having an objective view, and focusing on education and prevention – instead of punishing proactively based on looks – is what we want from the people running our cities.
Remember that even if your neighbors don’t specifically care about dog- or breed-related issues, they should care about their city councillors listening to their voice; council is meant to represent the public, and if our concerns are pushed aside and ignored, we’re not really living in a democracy at all. There are some communities in BC (like Burnaby and Richmond, for example) where councillors have openly stated they would never consider repealing BSL. If you live in one of these places, get in touch with city council, and ask if they still feel that way. Letting council know this is something that matters to their voting public helps to show that it isn’t something that will just go away, and they can’t ignore their constituents. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that already has breed-neutral, responsible laws, contact your councillor and let them know you support them – and tell them why!
Globally, the trend is towards repealing BSL in favor of more neutral laws that promote responsible ownership and target based on behaviour, not breed. Entire countries like Italy have completely removed long-standing bans, and eighteen US states have actually put legislation in place prohibiting BSL-type laws; even the US White House administration has publically spoken out against BSL, saying it’s ineffective! Locally, New Westminster and Coquitlam have recently adopted some of the most progressive animal control bylaws in the province, after taking the time to fully review their existing laws and take public input into consideration. Let’s start helping our communities to see BSL for what it is, and start taking the steps towards responsible dog ownership.
Finally – the last step after all this questioning, supporting and educating is to get out and vote. Mark November 15th on your calendar, head to your local polling station, and put your voice on paper. All our hard work in trying to overturn BSL will never work if we don’t all get out and vote. Figure out which candidate is the right one for you, and show your support on election day.
Between now and then, if you’d like to learn more about breed-specific legislation in BC, please take a few minutes to check out the BSL page on our website.
Here are some BSL communities in BC, where restrictions range from muzzle and leash laws to a full ban within the city limits. If we have missed any, please email email@example.com and we will add them to the list.