City council agreed to issue a notice of intent Tuesday to neighbours of a North Kamloops woman requesting to have a third dog.
The vote allowing the variance to proceed passed by a vote of three to five after an impassioned appeal by Tosha Moen.
The City's Dog Responsibility and Control Bylaw provides for a review process so that residents who pay a $350 fee can possibly obtain a third canine under circumstances to be considered by council, much like a zoning variance.
"I understand that this is and has been a sensitive issue as of late," Moen said. "There you are, caught in the middle, trying to weigh the balance and make decisions that are best for both parties."
Moen was denied a variance when she first appeared before council in December, but council rescinded that decision in order to consider her appeal.
She said her lab/shepherd cross is nine years old and unable to keep up with her young border collie cross on wilderness treks. Moen said the dogs provide her with safe companionship, since she often hikes alone.
Moen said she wants to be a responsible citizen, so she was making the request prior to obtaining a dog rather than after the fact. Her presentation included a short slide show of some of her more picturesque and remote destinations.
Councillors Nancy Bepple, Ken Christian and Pat Wallace opposed the motion.
"There are many different reasons why people have extra dogs, but from my perspective the reason for having (the bylaw) isn't to allow people to go get extra dogs," Bepple said. She acknowledged, though that the aspect of responsible citizenship complicated the matter.
Coun. Tina Lange softened her initial opposition precisely for that reason.
"I know that Ms. Moen does for her dogs more than some people do for their children," Wallace said. Approving the variance would open the door to more requests, she added.
"The bylaw exists for a reason. If we want to make exceptions, we should just scrap the bylaw."
"It's really not, in my mind, about where you go and your needs," Christian said. "People don't like laws in general, but what they really don't like is inconsistent application of the law."
Mayor Peter Milobar noted that the three-dog option has been in place for a while, but the City had to add further checks when, after granting requests, neighbours came forward with objections.