Horse-drawn trolleys carry holiday passengers downtown on a recent weekend. This trolley was followed by activists protesting the treatment of carriage horses, a matter which may be covered in a proposed City bylaw. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Carriage horse safety in proposed animal care bylaw for Victoria

Regulated protection for working animals, pets being considered for City

The City of Victoria could be looking at updated bylaws to protect animals and regulate their ownership early next year.

Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe wants the City to consider the BC SPCA’s recommendations outlined in a position paper, released in September. An update to the bylaw would outline additional responsibilities for owners and sellers of animals, including the owners of aggressive dogs and exotic animals; as well as spelling out regulatory standards for animal care, licensing, cat overpopulation and the feeding of wild animals.

But rather than being an “animal control” bylaw, Thornton-Joe said, the focus in Victoria should be on protecting animals and making owners take responsibility for their pets.

“I always say that every dog deserves a home, but not every home deserves a dog,” she said.

“An animal that is taken care of is less problematic to the public. The animal is trained well, knows who the alpha is, there’s less problems in interactions between animal-to-animal, and animals and people.”

Animal hoarding is another area that would be regulated, as well as the welfare of urban chickens and bees.

“More people are wanting to do beekeeping and raise chickens,” Thornton-Joe said.

“We need to make sure that, not only is it not a nuisance to neighbours, but we have to make sure the care is being considered.”

Care of the horses that pull carriages and wagons is another area that the City would look at.

“That’s a more heated discussion, as some people would like us to go toward banning horse-drawn carriages altogether. But for now, as long as horse-drawn carriages are going to continue, I want to look at what we can do for the safety of the horses,” she said.

Thornton-Joe said council may consider a provision that mandates carriage horses be identified by a number connected to the horse’s health and veterinary records. If the public has concerns for a horse’s treatment, they can be identified by that number.

Council will hear an update on a potential bylaw in the new year.

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