Animal ownership has its rewards and its responsibilities.
The information on this page is provided to give dog owners a better understanding of their obligations and the authorities of Animal Control Officers.
Animal Control Bylaws
- Owners are required to meet the minimum standards of the Animal Control Bylaw (nothing more).
- There can be legal consequences for non-compliance.
Specific ANIMAL CONTROL BYLAWS are available from the menu on the left. Click on the respective municipality.
Top Six (6) Bylaw Requirements Regulating the Care and Control of Dogs:
- Dogs must be firmly held on a leash in all public places (except: designated Leash Optional Areas).
- Dogs over the age of four (4) months must be licensed & display a current year tag on their collar.
- Dogs cannot be left unattended in any public place whether or not the dog is secured by a leash.
- Owners are responsible for the immediate removal & lawful disposal of any excrement deposited by their dog(s)
- Owners are responsible to ensure their dog does not cause a noise disturbance at anytime.
- Dogs are PROHIBITED from the following areas: Ross Bay Cemetery; Pioneer Square; any playground safety surface; the area surrounding the Heronry and Watering Can play area in Beacon Hill Park (signs are posted); Gonzales Beach (June 1 to August 31).
Animal Control Officers (ACOs) are appointed or authorized by Council to enforce Animal Control Bylaws.
- Officers can investigate any circumstance in which a dog is found (public or private property) to ensure minimum standards of the Animal Control Bylaw are being adhered to.
- Anyone in possession of an animal is required to abide by bylaw regulations.
Persons with dogs must identify themselves
- Any person found in care and control of a dog is required to identify themselves (name, address & phone number) and provide information about the dog, specifically: licence status, breed, sex, age, name, general description, number of dogs kept on the premises.
In the City of Victoria and the Township of Esquimalt a dog can be immediately IMPOUNDED* if the dog:
(a) Is not firmly held on a leash (by a person competent to restrain the dog)
(b) Is not wearing a current year licence tag on its collar
(c) Is on private lands without consent of the owner/occupier of the lands
(d) Is in an area prohibited by the Bylaw
(e) Is a Dangerous Dog** and is not wearing a muzzle and/or not firmly held on a leash
* Impounded Dogs are immediately released to their owners upon full payment of impound fees.
** Dangerous Dogs that have been impounded can be held for 14 days.
Animal Control Officers (ACOs) are Peace Officers
It has been established through case law that ACOs are Peace Officers when they are enforcing a bylaw. Persons who fail to provide required information, provide false information, run away or prevent an ACO from conducting their lawful duty can be charged under the bylaw and/or charged criminally for Obstructing a Peace Officer. Animal Control Officers can use their Citizens Power of Arrest and arrest persons who obstruct them and hold the violator for police. ACOs may also detain anyone in possession of a dog to determine whether bylaw regulations are being met and continue the detention for the purposes of: issuing a Warning Notice; Municipal Ticket or to seize and impound a dog.
Voluntary compliance is the goal.
- ACOs seek voluntary compliance and want dog owners to know "a little cooperation goes a long way".
- ACOs are more likely to give a verbal or written warning rather than issue a ticket or impound a dog.
- In 2009 ACOs issued 368 verbal warnings, 1403 written warnings and issued only 135 Municipal Tickets (fines).
- ACOs do not have quotas, nor are they directed to generate revenue through ticketing.
- ACOs do not earn commissions on any revenue generated by their enforcement actions. 100% of all revenue collected is remitted to the respective Municipality.
- ACOs have free leashes and free poop bags and give them out (free) to any dog owner who may be in need of these items, thereby enabling immediate compliance with basic bylaw regulations.
- ACOs also carry and sell dog licences directly from their vans (cash & VISA accepted). Those persons who cannot immediately purchase a licence are usually given a warning notice with adequate time to purchase a licence.
The City of Victoria, District of Oak Bay and the Township of Esquimalt all recognize the value of dog ownership, but they also support non-dog owners & their right to use parks & public places without suffering nuisance or aggression from dogs. Victoria has limited green space and in those parks with designated Leash Optional Areas the lands are shared-use spaces (not exclusive to dogs). Dog Owners must still have adequate control over their dogs when using these areas. ACOs frequently patrol all parks to ensure bylaw compliance.
DOG LICENCES ARE MANDATORY
Municipalities expect Dog Owners to pay their share.
- A dog licence is a yearly tax that must be paid by anyone keeping a dog over the age of 4 months. Property tax payers cannot be expected to pay the entire cost of operating an Animal Control and Poundkeeping service.
- Reasons & Benefits To Licence Your Dog
- A dog licence is a mandatory requirement of the Animal Responsibility Bylaw. It provides legal permission for a person to keep a dog in a municipality.
- A dog licence is identification. Basic owner information is provided to anyone who finds a dog wearing a City of Victoria licence tag 24/7/365. Hundreds of dogs are quickly reunited with their owners each year because they were found wearing a current licence and these owners got their dogs back without making a trip to the Pound or paying impound fees.
- If your dog is impounded in the City of Victoria, a $50, $100 or $150 penalty is added to impoundment fees if you do not possess a current dog licence.
- Licences encourage owner accountability thereby increasing public safety and efficiency of animal control and pound operations.
- Licence fees contribute to offsetting the full cost of operating an animal control and poundkeeping service by property taxpayers alone.
- Licences also contribute to the cost of maintaining and supplying poop-bag dispensers. On average 120,000 bags are taken from dispensers each month - that's 1.4 million bags a year.
- ACOs are tasked with the duty to ensure all dogs are licenced. Owners can be fined (depending on the municipality) up to $125 per day for non-compliance.
- We strictly enforce licence regulations.
Education or Enforcement
- Although ACOs constantly work to educate pet owners about Animal Control regulations and responsible pet ownership it is ultimately the owner’s responsibility to ensure they know all applicable regulations pertaining to the care and control of their animal.
- Responsible owners will seek out information from websites, posted signs, City Hall, Animal Control, etc. to ensure their actions are in compliance with Bylaw regulations.
- Persons who provide false information or flee from Animal Control Officers or are chronic violators can expect punitive enforcement actions (fines / impoundment fees / charges).
- Persons who fail to act responsibly with their dogs, jeopardize often hard fought for privileges earned by other dog owners.
- ACOs are permitted to use discretion when making enforcement decisions. Discretion = freedom to choose. ACOs may choose to issue a Ticket or Impound an animal. Discretion doesn't necessarily mean the violator gets a break.