Off leash dogs are no longer off the city’s radar

Dogs that attack dogs in off-leash areas could be deemed “dangerous,” confined and land their owners big fines if a proposed change to…

Dogs that attack dogs in off-leash areas could be deemed “dangerous,” confined and land their owners big fines if a proposed change to Whitehorse’s animal control bylaw is passed.

The existing bylaw is tough on dogs that attack other dogs in residential areas — where the animals must wear leashes — but vague in wilderness areas where leashes are optional, John Taylor, manager of bylaw services, told council on Tuesday.

The amendment, introduced Tuesday, would mean a dog attacking another dog in a leash-optional area “shall be deemed to have done so with the consent of its owner,” said Taylor.

“Will this deal with the sort of issues we read about in the newspaper the other night,” asked city councillor Dave Austin.

“Yes,” replied Taylor.

On Friday, The News reported the gruesome story of Christine Kallikragas and her Pomeranian, Pilot.

During a walk on an off-leash trail on Wednesday, Pilot was attacked at his neck and hind by two Italian mastiffs as Kallikragas desperately tried to push the dogs away.

All three dogs were unleashed.

After Kallikragas was able to free Pilot from the jaws of the mastiffs and rush him to a veterinarian, he was pronounced dead.

Whitehorse bylaw is investigating the incident and has flown Pilot’s body to Vancouver for examination, said Taylor on Wednesday.

Though the owner of the mastiffs has been fined $150, the investigation is ongoing, Taylor said.

The proposed amendment would address flawed wording in the current bylaw and provide the city with the power to lay charges for similar incidents, he explained.

“When we created the off-leash areas, we had forgotten to take into consideration that we could have two dogs, off leash, attacking each other,” said Taylor on Wednesday.

If passed, the amendment will “provide a mechanism within the bylaw to proceed with charges,” he said.

All areas 50 metres away from a residential property line are classified as off-leash areas, Taylor explained.

The city is more interested in conditions to be placed on an attacking animal than in fines for attacks — which can go up to $10,000, he said.

Following a conviction, a dog classified as dangerous must be tattooed, neutered, confined within a secure enclosure on the owner’s property, muzzled and on a leash when off the property, and the owner must buy an insurance policy to cover any civil liabilities.

“We go more for the conditions than a monetary fine, because we want to prevent a reoccurrence,” Taylor said.

The animal control amendment will receive first and second reading at next week’s council meeting.

Of bronze dogs, white horses and Rocky Balboa

When trees in a planter at First Avenue and Main Street were recently removed, Stephen Reynolds saw opportunity.

Reynolds, the manager of the Yukon Quest, is proposing city council reconsider his waterfront proposal to build a 18-metre-long bronze statue of a dog sled team and a permanent span over the street to serve as the start/finish line for the Quest.

“To renovate that area would have meant a change to the planter, and we were aware there would be potential resistance to that,” said Reynolds on Wednesday.

“But now that change has already happened, we thought it was a good time to remind council our ideas about the waterfront were there in the hopper,” he said.

A statue featuring 14 dogs pulling a sled and a musher is estimated to cost between $400,000 and $1 million, Reynolds told council.

Funding will be sought from the federal and territorial government, as well as corporate and private sponsors.

“It’s by no means in this year’s budget,” said Reynolds.

“It would basically denote the start of a 1,000-mile sled dog race in downtown Whitehorse,” he said.

“That, we think, would be an excellent promotional tool for the city, the territory, and our race.”

All the statue talk seemingly got councillor Dave Stockdale in a, er, monumental mood.

Stockdale recalled a shelved proposal to build a massive white horse that would be placed in the Yukon River to greet visitors.

“I think it’s something we should consider,” he said at council on Tuesday.

“Maybe we should look to see if we have any money to pursue such a thing,” he said, noting the past proposals had been estimated to cost in the millions of dollars.

In related statue news, Philadelphia’s Art Commission is set to vote whether to move an 2.4-metre-tall bronze statue of fictional boxer Rocky Balboa — as played by Sylvester Stallone — from storage to the steps of the city’s art museum.