Morinville’s new pet bylaw, effective January 1, states both cats and dogs are prohibited from roaming freely in Town.
by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
On Jan. 1, Morinville’s new pet bylaw officially came into effect. Among other things, this bylaw upheld the Town’s previous requirement stating no pets—dogs or cats—are allowed to roam freely in town.
That provision—which was almost removed when the bylaw was redrafted last year—is one way the Town is encouraging residents to keep their pets safe in the winter, particularly in a region where cold weather can be downright dangerous.
This rings especially true when it comes to felines, asserted Elyse Prince, Clinic Manger at Morinville Vet Clinic (MVC), which also serves as the Town’s pound, in an interview on Jan. 9. “Morinville is extremely lucky to have a bylaw that…states all felines should remain indoors; I couldn’t agree more,” she said.
“The bylaw also encourages impounding felines or canines who are [found] wandering,” added Prince, who stressed residents should feel comfortable calling Municipal Enforcement Officers if they see an animal lose in times of cold winter weather. If it is safe to do so, and during MVC’s operating hours, residents can also bring in any roaming animals they may discover themselves.
In a statement, Community Peace Officer, Sergeant Will Norton confirmed he encourages people to call Enforcement right away; “[people should call] regardless of weather, but it becomes more concerning when it is increasingly hot or cold outside,” he said.
Norton remarked it’s important to notify Enforcement right away since it not only boosts the chance of the animal finding its way home faster, but it can also prevent a pet from getting itself into a dangerous situation, such as being struck by a vehicle or being involved in an altercation.
Meanwhile, back at the pound, Prince said the clinic does field calls from concerned residents about pets left outside whenever a cold snap makes its way back into town. Notably, folks will call in with concerns regarding neighbouring pets who are usually considered to be “outside pets.”
Prince said, in these cases, the rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. “Pets can tolerate different temperatures depending on their size and health. Even well-acclimated pets can suffer from frostbite or hypothermia, which can be fatal. Your outside dog or cat should be brought indoors when the temperature plummets.”
Outdoor pets, she noted, should always have access to a well insulated and heated building.
“Before Christmas, we accepted two kittens with severe hypothermia and frostbite,” she explained. “Even after critical stabilization efforts we lost one. The other kitten made a full recovery, and if it wasn’t for the compassionate soul who found them and brought them in right away, both kittens would have succumbed to hypothermia.”
Morinville’s pound currently has five cats who were recently found roaming that will soon be available for adoption.
In December, the Alberta SPCA reported it received a record number of calls from concerned people regarding animals believed to be in distress, due primarily to the cold weather and severe winds.
Besides local municipal bylaws, animals are also legally protected under the Province’s Animal Protection Act which covers situations of distress due to neglect or abuse and, also, the Canadian Criminal Code for cases of cruelty or neglect.