On Saskatoon’s city council agenda on June 28: potholes, sewers, the operating budget—and dog pee. City staff presented a report on the vexing issue of whether it would be possible to fine the owners of pets caught peeing on private property.
After noticing an increase in the number of calls about telltale yellow patches on grass, councillor Bev Dubois asked staff in September to report back on the feasibility of an anti-pee bylaw. Dubois estimates she’s received more than two dozen calls about errant pee during her three terms in office. “Summer is short here,” says Dubois. “People like to enjoy their yards, their trees and their flowers without having to deal with [urine].” She says at least one family suspected a neighbour of encouraging their dog to lift a vengeful leg on their lawn “on purpose.”
Dubois reasoned that if human urination was successfully banned in 2004, surely they could outlaw pet urine, too. But the human urination bylaw is enforced by police who catch people with their pants down, the report noted. There aren’t enough animal control officers to reassign to pee patrol, so proving the crime would be difficult, the report said. “It is not clear whether testimony that a dog lifted a leg or squatted would be sufficient to prove the offence if urine marks in snow or dirt were not evident,” wrote staff. Considering the difficult legal tests involved, city council decided a bylaw is a bad idea. Councillor Gord Wyant later called the debate “embarrassing,” reported the Star Phoenix newspaper.
While she accepts the decision, Dubois is not embarrassed about asking for the report. “It’s not for me to personally decide what I take to council,” she says. “[A law would be] difficult to enforce, but now I know that and all the citizens of Saskatoon know that.”