No fence or dog run, no three pooches, council tells man

'I try to do the best I can. I've complied most of the time. I've paid every fine'

Paying fines and licensing his dogs when caught by City bylaws wasn't enough to convince council a Barnhartvale man should be allowed an extra dog.

Council rejected a request Tuesday from Otto Duczak, whose daughter Juliana has fallen on tough times and returned home with her two dogs in tow.

Problem is, Duczak and his wife already have a dog. The City only allows two dogs per household unless the property owner gets a variance.

The household also has a history of dogs being caught at large by City bylaws dating back to 2005.

Duczak said the report council received from the bylaws department was "scathing" and he asked to rebut some of the points it contained. He handed in 11 letters of support signed by neighbours. One neighbour wrote council in opposition to the dog variance.

The report mentioned several complaints about the dogs at the property, some of them relating to another dog that Duczak said he got rid of a while ago.

Two of the three remaining dogs are his daughter's, and she does want to get back on her feet and move out some day, he said.

"I feel I'm a responsible dog owner," he said, admitting he hasn't always had his animals licensed, but said it isn't always something he remembers to do.

"I try to do the best I can. I've complied most of the time. I've paid every fine."

The bylaws report states Duczak didn't always have the dogs licensed, they were often found at large and there have been complaints about one of the dogs biting another dog, threatening a woman walking by, chasing cars and charging passersby.

He keeps the dogs chained to his garage and has them trained to stay on the property and bark at strangers, he said.

But when councillors suggested they might approve the three dog variance if he would fence the yard or at least put in a dog run, Duczak refused.

Coun. Arjun Singh said if Duczak promised to fence his yard, he might get his vote. But Duczak said his wife doesn't want a fence - she likes their yard open.

He didn't want to fence it, either, because of the cost.

"I'll change in every way I can except the fencing. My wife just doesn't want a fence. It would destroy the atmosphere of the property. She's against that. We have a big property," he said.

Coun. Tina Lange said she felt the dogs would be happier running around safe in a fenced yard than chained up or getting loose and being at risk of being struck by a car.

Coun. Marg Spina said a dog run wouldn't be that expensive and would keep the dogs safe. Plus Duczak wouldn't face any more bylaws fines and the City wouldn't have to send staff up to his property so often.

"A dog run is an opportunity, a pen is better than being chained up. I want to know what you bring to the table?" she said.

"I'll just have to be more alert, keep the dogs on the chain more. I would guess a fence would cost $20,000," he said.

"My daughter moved back but is trying to move back out. She's been trying to move out. When she moves out, the problem's gone."

His daughter, on the verge of tears, asked council to not take the dogs away.

But Coun. Nancy Bepple said while Duczak seems to think compliance is paying fines, compliance is actually following the bylaws. She moved to deny the three-dog request.

"We're not discussing the dogs' behavior here. We have to look at the behavior of the dog owners. I think perhaps they can fine a foster home for one dog for the short term. All I heard was he would be happy to pay fines for future infractions. That doesn't give me a warm sense."

Mayor Peter Milobar opposed her motion, noting the complaints from neighbours weren't about noise, which is typically what tips the scales on the three-dog issue.

Lange supported the motion, saying she was sympathetic to the daughter but wanted assurance a dog run would at least be built.

"To expect the City will continue to make visits, write reports, and the homeowner won't support his daughter in keeping those dogs by offering to build a dog run."

Those who voted to deny included Bepple, Lange, Singh and councillors Pat Wallace and Nelly Dever.

Those who didn't were Milobar, Spina, Ken Christian and Donovan Cavers.

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