Enforcement Services Report on Loose Dogs and Cats in Morinville

by Colin Smith

If you see a dog or cat that is not on a leash and not on its owner’s property, let Morinville Enforcement Services know.

That’s the message to community residents from Sergeant William Norton, Supervisor of Enforcement Services.

Norton presented the 2023 Animal At Large Report to council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 25, in response to a motion introduced by Councillor Stephen Dafoe and passed by council at its May 28 meeting.

According to Morinville’s current Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, cats and dogs are not permitted to be “at large” in the town, which is defined as being “at any place other than the owner’s property or other permitted property” if not being held by a leash. “The dog/cat must remain under control regardless of the presence of a leash.”

Norton stated that in 2023, dog or cat at large complaints made up 6.8 per cent of all incidents investigated by Morinville Enforcement Services.

A total of 33 dog-at-large complaints were investigated, or 3.2% of total incidents.

Fourteen of these complaints were recorded “gone on arrival,” meaning the loose dogs were not located by officers. Another 17 incidents resulted in officers issuing warnings to the dog owner. The remaining two incidents were referred to Sturgeon County as the animals were in their jurisdiction.

No fines were issued for dogs-at-large incidents.

Last year, officers investigated 38 cat-at-large complaint incidents, 3.6% of the total.

Nine warnings were issued to the respective owners after they retrieved their animal from impoundment and paid all applicable fees.

There were unsolved incidents in which a cat was trapped, but no owner claimed the animal.

Norton pointed out that of the 23 unsolved incidents, sixteen were the result of a complex file in which enforcement partnered with a property owner to proactively address a pocket of loose cats on their property.

Six incidents were considered unfounded.

There were no fines issued for cat-at-large incidents.

Norton informed council that loose dogs are considered by Enforcement Services to be a high-priority call due to safety considerations, with the main goal being to contact the dog’s owner and return it to its home.

If the owner cannot be determined, it is brought to the pound. The owner will then have to pay all fines, fees and licencing before it is released.

Officers do not actively search for cats at large.

Enforcement Services does provide animal traps free of charge to residents with cat complaints. If a cat is trapped, officers attempt to identify and locate the owners and return the animal.

If officers are unable to bring the cat home, the cat it is impounded. As is the case of dogs, if the cat is impounded, its owner must pay all associated fees, fines, and licencing before having it returned.

In response to a question from Dafoe, Norton said the best thing that Morinville residents can do if they encounter a cat or dog at large is to report it to the authorities, which will help them determine current trends and the extent of the problem.

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