Abbotsford city council is throwing a bone to dog lovers.
On Monday night council voted in principle to allow owners to have three dogs per household.
The city’s current bylaw allows a maximum of two dogs per lot, which also applies to an entire rental apartment complex or a house with a secondary suite.
City staff, which supported the change, noted animal control calls are generally the result of irresponsible dog owners and occur irrespective of the number of dogs kept.
Animal control officers attended a total of 1, 345 incidents last year, the majority for dogs at large or for barking.
A total of 8,500 dogs were licenced in Abbotsford in 2011.
One third of all the households with a licenced dog had two animals.
However, staff suspects some households were already housing a third dog that couldn’t be licenced under the bylaws.
Of 19 surrounding municipalities, 11, including Chilliwack and Mission, allow three dogs.
Port Moody was the sole community to allow four dogs per household.
It was suggested raising the number of allowable animals would provide more homes for unwanted dogs and increase licencing revenue.
Data from a 2001 Ipsos Reid poll on pet ownership showed 50 per cent of respondents believe people should be limited in the number of pets they own, according to a staff report.
The poll also indicated Canadians consider animal companionship to be important, with 70 per cent believing they were beneficial to a kid’s development and 40 per cent believing they can be a good substitute for human companionship.
People who have Kennel licences, limited to agricultural areas, can still exceed the maximum and property owners can still impose dog limits.
The new initiative was brought about after resident Diane Davies made an appeal to council.
There are no restrictions on the number of cats an Abbotsford pet owner can have.
The issue must go to public hearing before the new bylaw can be passed.