A 13-year-old Golden Retriever is not usually the cause of civic trouble – but Cody the dog is kicking up a lot of controversy in Victoria.
“Cody got a final warning ticket from animal control for being outside of the store, not on a leash,” says his owner Charmaine Britton.
For years, Cody has been greeting shoppers at Charmaine’s Past and Present, a furniture store on Fort Street in a busy shopping thoroughfare. He’s so popular, he even has his own hours.
“He’s very gentle, he certainly doesn’t go out on the street, he certainly doesn’t annoy people,” says Margaret White, a regular customer. “It’s everyone who comes to him.”
Now, as news of his situation is making the rounds online, many are rushing to his defence.
“We are overwhelmed with responses from those who care about Cody, and even those who’ve never met Cody are feeling very sympathetic,” explains Britton.
But others are simply angry. They point out, that just three blocks away the more than 100 homeless people residing in Victoria’s tent city are constantly breaking city bylaws without being ticketed.
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“There’s lots of animals roaming around tent city, as well as panhandlers downtown with their dogs,” Andrew Smith says.
“The question is, why do they get a free pass?”
The City says it understands the frustration but stands behinds the officer’s actions, but councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe says they have no choice in the matter.
“There’s a lot of tension and unhappiness from the people who are living in tent city and the people who are living around tent city. That being said, as a City we can’t say we have to do this and not do that, ” she says.
For Cody, the new rules – he now has to stay inside or be on leash with someone holding him – are taking some getting used to. But all the love he’s receiving is helping to ease him into the new arrangement.
“I had no idea he had touched the lives of this many people,” says Britton.
“It is just amazing.”