Animal Control Bylaw Revision – Frequently Asked Questions

Does the new revised Animal Control Bylaw apply to all communities within the County boundaries?

The Towns of Beaverlodge, Sexsmith, Wembley and Village of Hythe are incorporated municipalities with their own bylaws.

We have been receiving a few questions about the Hamlet of Clairmont which encompasses Whispering Ridge and Westlake Village subdivisions.  This hamlet along with 14 others (Bezanson, Buffalo Lakes, Demmitt, Dimsdale, Elmworth, Goodfare, Halcourt, Huallen, La Glace, Lymburn, Teepee Creek, Valhalla Centre and Wedgewood) are in the County so the modernized bylaw applies to those residents.

What is the focus of the revised Animal Control Bylaw?

Regional Enforcement Services revised the Animal Control Bylaw with the community in mind. The bylaw promotes responsible pet ownership, finds a balance between safety and enjoyment, and provides protection for both people and pets. The 1997 dog bylaw was created for a predominantly rural municipality with a population of 13,000 people. In the years since, the County has significantly grown and this is reflected in the revised bylaw. The changes to the bylaw address those living with dogs in the more populated areas.

When did the process of changing the Animal Control Bylaw begin?  And what was the process for creating the revised legislation?

For the past two and a half years, Regional Enforcement Services has researched the bylaws and processes in place in the City of Grande Prairie as well as in multiple other urban and rural communities. A review was also done on animal license information, as well as on the number and types of recorded animal complaints and incidents the County.  Changes being implemented are based on this research. This is the first substantial revision to the Animal Control bylaw since 1997.

Why is the Animal Control Bylaw being changed?

There are three main drivers that have created the need for change:

Until 2010, the County contracted out its Animal Control responsibilities. In April 2010, the County took over Animal Control, and these new responsibilities need to be reflected in a revised bylaw.

  1. Until 2015, the County contracted out operation of the Regional Pound. The County took over Pound operations in 2015, and this has been very successful and cost effective. Again, these new responsibilities will be reflected in the revised bylaw.
  2. The current bylaw is still accepted by the courts but it is outdated. The bylaw will incorporate more modernized fines, stronger penalties for vicious and nuisance dogs, and a wider, more comprehensive approach to dog bylaws, updated forms, specific animal pound authority sections, and deal with community growth.

What are the most significant changes to the Animal Control Bylaw?

The most significant changes to the bylaw were made with community growth in mind. This is because the vast majority of feedback and concerns stem from the more populated areas of the County. The two most significant changes include eliminating restricted dog breeds, and increasing the number of dogs allowed on 10 acres or less from two to four.

Other changes include:

  • Removing “running at large” charges from dogs, should the County build any designated off-leash parks.
  • Protecting people from dogs in and around vehicles, and protecting dogs in and around vehicles.
  • Protecting recreational playing fields and school playground areas from dogs.
  • Penalties for dogs getting into garbage on public and private property.
  • Updating “threatening behaviours” to be more inclusive.
  • Adding formal rules for the live trapping of animals, and penalties for failing to abide by them.
  • Strengthening vicious dog requirements and penalties.
  • Increasing the time an animal can spend in the Pound.
  • Increasing the minimum penalties.
  • Adding penalties for second and subsequent offenses. 

What are the new fees associated with the revised Animal Control Bylaw?

Specified penalties for the bylaw can be found in Schedule “A”. They range from $100 to $1,000 and there are now provisions for first, second and third offences. The minimum penalty for infractions has increased from $50 to $100. These penalties reflect those of other municipalities as well as recent court decisions.

What are the new rules for off-leash areas?

The County does not currently have any “off-leash” areas. If an off-leash park is approved and opened, the change will allow dogs owners to comply with legislation within off-leash areas and be exempt from “running at large” penalties.

Are there any changes being implemented for dog licenses or tags?

There are no changes coming to the requirements for licensing and tagging pets. Both are required for all dogs over the age of six months that reside in the County. Dog licenses are free and available online at www.countygp.ab.ca/doglicenses or at the County Community Services Building located at 10808 - 100 Avenue in Clairmont (1.6 kilometres west of Highway 2 on Township Road 724). Once the license is processed, a tag is mailed to the owner’s residence. All dogs must have a securely fastened tag on at all times. 

Has the definition of “vicious dog” changed?

Yes, the definition of “vicious dog” has been clarified and strengthened to mean any dog, whether on public or private property, that shows a propensity, disposition or potential to attack without provocation, or a dog that has:

  • Chased, injured or bitten any other animal, livestock or human;
  • Damaged or destroyed any public or private property;
  • Threatened or created the reasonable apprehension of a threat to any other animal, livestock or human; or,
  • Has previously been determined to be a vicious dog by any other jurisdiction.

Peace Officers are responsible for determining if a dog is considered to be a “vicious dog.”  Dogs that are determined to be vicious will be tagged as such and become subject to stricter rules not applicable to other dogs. 

Penalties for vicious dogs have also increased.  Specific penalties can be found in Schedule “A” of the new bylaw.

What does the new Animal Control Bylaw define as threatening behaviours?

The definition of “threatening behaviours” has been clarified in the new bylaw.  Dogs will be considered to have threatening behaviours if they:

  • Chase or bite a person, dog, cat, livestock or any type of vehicle;
  • Cause damage to property, dogs, cats, livestock or animals;
  • Attack or threaten a person, dog, cat, livestock, fowl or animal; or,
  • Cause the death of a cat, livestock, fowl or animal.

Peace Officers are permitted to capture, trap or impound as well as issue a controlled confinement order for any dog deemed to have threatening behaviours. 

Have the rules about running at large changed in the new Animal Control Bylaw?

No, the rules have not changed, other than that animals complying with legislation within off-leash parks will not be considered to be “running at large”.  Otherwise, dogs are still not permitted to “run at large” within the County, and dogs must not be left unattended or tied to any object off of their property.  Peace Officers have the authority to capture, trap or impound any dog deemed to be “running at large”.

What are the new rules about dogs in motor vehicles?

Owners are not permitted to let their dog be in or on a vehicle where they may come into contact with another dog, animal or person. Dogs are also not allowed to ride on the outside of a moving vehicle if not secured in a manner that prevents them from jumping or falling out.

Does the revised Animal Control bylaw allow dogs in playgrounds or recreation areas?

No, dogs are not allowed on any school property play area, playground or recreation area.

What are the new rules about animals getting into garbage?

Owners are now responsible for ensuring dogs do not scatter any waste receptacle or scatter any garbage on public or private property that does not belong to the owner.

What happens to an impounded animal under the revised Animal Control bylaw?

Impounded, surrendered or stray animals may be taken to the Grande Prairie Regional Animal Pound and held for a period of five calendar days. These animals will be subject to a reclaim fee plus additional daily boarding costs. At the end of the impoundment period, if the owner does not reclaim the animal and pay the reclaim fee and boarding costs, the animal becomes the property of the County. The County supports local animal rescue and adoption agencies and our goal is transfer unclaimed animals into these adoption programs.  

What are the new rules about trapping animals?

People who have humanely trapped a dog, cat or other animal must keep them safe from harm.  In addition, they must notify or surrender the animal to a Peace Officer, or transfer the animal to the Regional Pound.

Where can I access the new Animal Control Bylaw?

The Animal Control Bylaw can be accessed at www.countygp.ab.ca/bylaws.

When will the new bylaw take effect? 

The new bylaw will take effect on May 8, 2017.

Who do I contact if I have questions about the new bylaw?

Residents with questions can contact Regional Enforcement Services at 780-532-9727 or via email at enforcementservices@countygp.ab.ca.   

Who do I contact about dog complaints?

Report dog-related issues or complaints to the Animal Control Unit at 780-532-9727. The Animal Control Unit deals only with dogs. It does not handle complaints about cats, farm animals or wildlife.

Who do I contact about a dog attack or vicious dog?

For an emergency that involves a dog, such as a dog attack or vicious dog at-large, contact the Grande Prairie RCMP at 780-830-5701 or the Beaverlodge RCMP at 780-354-2485.

Who do I contact about surrendering animals, a lost pet, or animal adoptions?

For all Animal Shelter, Pound Services and Adoption Services inquiries please contact the Regional Animal Care Facility by any of the following ways: 

Phone: 780-830-0199
Fax:780-532-4745
Email: regionalpound@countygp.ab.ca
In Person: Brochu Industrial Park, 12220 - 104 Avenue, Grande Prairie

Animal Shelter and Pound Services hours of operation are as follows:

  • Monday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Closed between noon and 1:00 p.m.
  • Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m.
  • Closed on all statutory holidays

Animal Adoptions Services hours of operation are as follows:

  • Tuesday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Closed between noon and 1:00 p.m.
  • Closed on all statutory holidays