by Tristan Turner
Community Peace Officer (CPO) William Norton gave a presentation to Council on an upcoming update to the Animal Control Bylaw that has not yet been finalized, hoping to get direction from councillors.
Much of the discussion following the presentation was about the different options CPO Norton presented surrounding the control of cats and the increasing costs associated with cats.
The Town spent $16,000 in veterinary and pound fees related to stray animals in 2014, most of that related to cats.
CPO Norton says 86 per cent of impounded cats never return to their owners because they aren’t properly identifiable, having no tags or microchips. Additionally, Norton cites very little compliance with rules on keeping cats on owner’s property as a large concern.
“The evidence shows that cats are happiest and healthiest when they’re in the home,” Norton said. But it has been proving difficult to get owners to understand this, and the rules on preventing cats from wandering away from their property are often broken.
The options given to council in response to this were as follows:
1. Status quo, little impounding of wandering cats; owner education.
2. Remove enforcement of cats from the bylaw entirely and focus on education
3. Stricter enforcement; mandatory licensing and proactive patrol; higher penalties and required education for owners.
4. Softer enforcement; make traps available to private individuals; allow for voluntary licensing.
Council came to no conclusions collectively, and the legislation is expected to be reworked and further developed before it comes back to council after their summer recess.
Councillor Stephen Dafoe advocated for a registration program for cats and dogs with a one-time fee rather than an annual license in order to enter animals into the Town’s data base. As such, a stray animal could be returned to the owner by having the finder enter the ID number into the Town’s website to acquire the owner’s phone number.
Also discussed during the bylaw was the possibility of introducing a town-wide on-leash requirement, something that Councilor Rob Ladouceur disagreed with, arguing that as long as your dog is “under control” and responsive to commands, he sees no issue with them being off-leash. Dafoe agreed that an on-leash component is not necessary for those dogs that are under voice or other commands, as is the case with the Bylaw now. The rest of Council offered no opposition to the on-leash requirement.
The new bylaw will also put into legislation the current rules posted for the off-leash dog park, something that isn’t enforceable until the revised Bylaw is passed.
The Animal Control Bylaw is expected to come back to Council after their summer recess.