Doggie day care owner concerned changes to animal control bylaw will shut down business

LITTLE CURRENT—A Little Current business owner is concerned about how changes to the Northeast Town animal control bylaw will affect his business.

The Northeast Town council was scheduled to reviewed recommended changes to the bylaw from the community services and public works committee at last night’s (Wednesday, March 1) council meeting.

The major proposed change to the bylaw was the definition of ‘kennel,’ limiting kennels to an area zoned for the purpose of boarding and breeding dogs and associated commercial activity and only on property of at least five acres.

Under the changes, kennels would be defined as “a building, structure or fenced area (or part of) where dogs are kept, raised, boarded and used for commercial purposes including, but not limited to, the keeping of rescue animals and operating doggie daycares.”

“The changes to this bylaw will shut down my business,” said Scott Richer, owner of Ruffin It Pet Services. “We have had no complaints to us, no issues, never a dog bite, or a noise complaint—our neighbours love seeing the dogs playing in the outdoor fenced area. Now the town is shutting us down. We feel targeted.”

“We are a small business providing a needed service to the area,” added Mr. Richer. “The changes (to the bylaw) will also affect charities and animal foster families that aren’t hurting anyone.”

Mr. Richer said that the proposed bylaw changes, combined with other issues with the municipality and the loss of his job, have led he and his wife to consider closing their business and leaving the community.

The Expositor spoke with Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson who assured The Expositor that neither Mr. Richer nor his business were being targeted by the municipality.

“The changes to the bylaw have nothing to do with a specific individual or business,” said Mr. Williamson, explaining that council discussed changes to the bylaw to make it more detailed and clean up any confusion with specific wording and other small issues.

He also noted that the changes wouldn’t affect anyone with a home business. He explained that the changes to the bylaw, if passed, would have no impact on home industry or home occupation, unless it was a commercial operation meaning that the business had employees.

However, business such as Mr. Richer’s would be subject to the additional proposed changes to the bylaw, one of which involves barking.

“We are a small business providing a needed service to the area,” added Mr. Richer.

“No person shall allow a dog to unreasonably disturb the peace, quiet, comfort or repose of any person or neighbour in any dwelling unit for a period of 30 minutes by way of barking, crying or howling. Failure to do so constitutes a breach of the bylaw,” states the Northeast Town animal control bylaw (the proposed amended draft).

If the changes and the additions to the bylaw were passed at the March 1 Northeast Town council meeting, anyone who is having issues with a neighbour’s barking dog can contact the Rainbow District Animal Control (the town’s animal bylaw enforcement agency) and request a noise log. The individual will fill out their information, the date, time and duration of the noise, and submit it to the Rainbow District Animal Control which will follow up the claim with an investigation.

See next week’s Expositor for council’s decision on the proposed amendments to the animal control bylaw.