New rules for dog daycares and pet owners in Winnipeg come into effect this summer

New standards for dog daycares and limits on when pet owners can leave their pets in cars are part of a set of rules that will come into effect July 1 in the City of Winnipeg.

The city has announced details of an update to its responsible pet ownership bylaw that has been making its way through council since August last year, when the city announced it was considering changes the rules radically.

Council voted in favor of the bylaw changes at the end of April.

These updated rules, posted on the city’s website this week, include a requirement that large breeds of dogs be kept separate from smaller ones in pet daycares.

“Dog daycares were essentially unregulated, and now there’s a shift where we’ve established, working with the industry, basic standards for dog daycares,” Leland Gordon, head of the Winnipeg Animal Protection Service.

Last year, two dogs were killed by a larger dog at a Winnipeg daycare.

The rule changes also set ratios for the number of staff that must be present at daycares – one staff member for every 25 small dogs or 20 large dogs.

Owners on board

Dog owners at Bonnycastle Dog Park in Winnipeg on Thursday afternoon applauded the change.

Guylaine Sanfilippo, who has an eight-month-old puppy, said dogs sometimes act on instinct, which can have dire consequences.

“It can be really devastating if they bite,” she said.

“No dog deserves to be in this situation, nor their owners.”

Ji Han Kim said he sometimes got nervous when his golden pup played with bigger, more aggressive dogs.

“It makes me a little frustrated and makes my pup frustrated,” he said.

Although most dogs are well-behaved, it makes sense to separate them based on size, Kim said.

Some dog owners were surprised to learn that the rules for dog daycare weren’t already in place.

“I really think there should have been [those rules] all this time,” said Morgan Law, who was also at Bonnycastle Dog Park. “It’s kind of weird to think there wasn’t.

Illegal to leave pets in hot cars

The rule changes also make it an offense to leave animals in your car when the temperature reaches 22°C or higher.

“It’s so frustrating for so many people every summer,” Gordon said.

“You’ll see on social media where people are so frustrated because they’re in a parking lot and there’s a dog sitting in the car in the heat.”

The regulations also prohibit cycling with a dog strapped in when the temperature is 22°C or higher, as dogs can suffer from heat exhaustion or burnt paw pads from the hot pavement.

Some of the changes were prompted by tragic events in Manitoba and other jurisdictions.

City dwellers are now prohibited from setting body traps in their backyards. Last year, a dog died as its owner watched helplessly after being trapped in a coniour trap hidden along a treeline near a rural road north of Winnipeg.

Ruby, a spaniel, beagle and terrier mix, died last year when she got caught in a coyote trap. The rule changes prohibit the use of bodily traps outside of town. (Submitted by Cathy Gagnon)

“A tragic incident like this could have happened in Winnipeg, and so now you can’t put these type of body traps outside in your backyard,” Gordon said.

Feeding any wildlife except birds is also now prohibited. The change was prompted by coyote attacks in Vancouver’s Stanley Park last fall after some people were found to have been feeding the animals, Gordon said.

Rules “at risk”

People will also be required to watch their dogs when they are outside in the backyard.

The rule does not prohibit people from letting their dogs run around for brief periods, but is intended to crack down on people who regularly leave their dogs outside unattended for long periods of time.

The city is also looking to crack down on repeat offenders.

“We have a handful of people in Winnipeg who are irresponsible pet owners,” Gordon said.

“Their dog goes out very often… [or] biting people, or they don’t do any veterinary care for their pet – even basic vaccinations,” he said.

“So what we did was we developed the at-risk category.”

This category allows specific requirements to be imposed on a pet owner if there is evidence of “irresponsible pet ownership,” the city said.

This may include taking care of the animal and its care, and temporarily or permanently prohibiting the owner from acquiring additional animals.

New rules for pet owners in Winnipeg

New standards for dog daycares and limits on when pet owners can leave their pets in cars are part of a set of rules that will come into effect July 1 in the City of Winnipeg.

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