Joelene Hutcheson brought supporters, a video and considerable passion to her plea for relief from large, potentially aggressive dogs at large in her neighbourhood.
“I beg something to be done,” Hutcheson told Tillsonburg Town Council Monday evening.
The dogs reside at a Bidwell Street residence, said Hutcheson, adding they escape “frequently” from the owner’s yard.
“We are all witnesses to these dogs being at large,” she said, indicating her husband Trayton Kilvy and a solid cadre of supporters.
The size and aggressive behaviour of the dogs have caused concern for pedestrians in the neighbourhood said Hutcheson, including patrons of her daycare and children walking to school. Some parents have taken to carrying baseball bats as defensive weapons, she said.
Hutcheson referred to town bylaws to further her argument through definitions of a “potentially dangerous dog”, “at large” and “barking.’
“This dog barks constantly, constantly,” she said.
Hutcheson suggested an enclosure as one option.
If there is a positive to the situation, she said, it is that it has united neighbours in search of a solution.
“This is a concern,” said Mayor John Lessif after thanking Hutcheson and the broader delegation for approaching council. He indicated his understanding the town by-law officer and Oxford OPP have been involved, asking if Hutcheson could comment on any progress.
“That’s why I’m here,” she responded, indicating responses that their hands were essentially tied.
A meeting with Director of Development and Communication David Samis and Chief Building Officer Geno Vanhaelewyn had been set up prior to Hutcheson's appearance before council.
“Our staff have to follow the bylaw,” said Lessif, adding if that approach was not effective, alternatives may be available. “Possibly staff can advise you on that.”
Councillor Chris Rosehart asked whether an enclosure would prevent excessive barking.
Hutcheson said she could live with the barking, what she couldn’t live with is fear for her children’s safety.
“I’m extremely frustrated,” Hutcheson said outside council chambers following her delegation presentation. “More than frustrated, I’m fearful.
“That’s my biggest concern, is safety,” she added.
The situation is occupying considerable bylaw officer and police time, added Kilvy, expressing his desire for a timely solution.
“I’m sure there are better things for them to be doing with their time.”
Hutcheson met with Samis and Vanhaelewyn Tuesday afternoon, confirmed Samis. The basis of the meeting was outlining the legal ins and outs of the by-law, as well as process and enforcement.
“We tried to give her the best information we could, given the by-law.”
A follow-up meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday (September 18), Samis added.
The News attempted to contact a person identified as the owner of the dogs in question via telephone, but was unable to do so.