A draft bylaw currently under review will lay out the responsibilities of pet owners and could keep cats from being ‘at large’ in neighbourhoods. (Stock photo)

A draft bylaw currently under review will lay out the responsibilities of pet owners and could keep cats from being ‘at large’ in neighbourhoods. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo looks at bylaw that would keep cats from roaming neighbourhoods

Sweeping draft lays out provisions for animal welfare, owner duties and city enforcement

A new bylaw, governing pet owners’ responsibilities toward their pets and even how many pets a person can own, is in the works in Nanaimo.

Karen Robertson, deputy city clerk, presented a draft animal responsibility bylaw to Nanaimo city council at a governance and priorities committee meeting Monday, with delegates Alison Cuffley, B.C. SPCA government relations officer, and Leon Davis, Nanaimo and District B.C. SPCA branch manager.

Cuffley and Davis were among the consultants who contributed advice and feedback for the bylaw, patterned after the B.C. SPCA’s bylaws, and includes recommendations that arose from the city’s recent animal control service review. The bylaw covers animal welfare, control, licensing, duties of animal owners, penalties and enforcement and will replace Nanaimo’s existing licensing and control of animals bylaw adopted in 1995.

Under the new bylaw, owners will need to have cats, dogs and rabbits spayed or neutered and have permanent identification in the form of a tattoo or microchip.

Davis said at the meeting that the Nanaimo SPCA’s biggest challenge is cats. Since 2011, the branch has taken in more than 8,700 cats, including 3,500 strays and more than 1,600 unwanted kittens, compared to more than 2,800 dogs over the same period.

B.C. SPCA’s SNIP spaying-neutering program, partly funded by the city to help low-income pet owners and control stray cat populations, has helped lower numbers of unwanted cats since it was started in 2008, Davis said, but its effectiveness has tapered off, leaving hundreds of cats still being dealt with annually by the SPCA and CatNap, which looks after feral cat colonies.

Cats roaming freely can spread disease, Davis said, citing a case of a cat that was brought to the branch when a boy contracted ringworm after the stray was taken into the boy’s home.

“We took the cat in and it took us six weeks, I think, to resolve the ringworm,” Davis said. “I don’t know what it is, but in the province we don’t know anywhere that has ringworm like Nanaimo. It’s a really hard thing for us to treat and deal with.”

One recommendation for the bylaw is a prohibition against cats at large, meaning owners would have to keep cats indoors or on a leash outdoors to keep cats from roaming to prevent them from being injured by other cats and dogs or even eaten by wildlife, injured or killed in traffic, exposed to contagious disease and parasites and extreme weather, poisoned, stolen or harmed through animal cruelty.

Roaming cats, Robertson said, also cause problems by digging in gardens, spraying to mark territory and preying on songbirds.

“This was a particular concern expressed by a couple of councillors and it’s also been the subject of a number of complaints by Nanaimo citizens,” she said. “North Cowichan, Duncan, Victoria and Esquimalt bylaws, which were primarily used as examples, all prohibit cats from being at large.”

READ ALSO: Consultant recommending extensive renovations to City of Nanaimo’s pound

Pet hoarding is another problem the SPCA encounters. There is currently no upper limit in Nanaimo on how many animals can be kept in a home. Davis said he likes a provision in the draft bylaw that will impose a limit of six companion animals, including no more than four dogs over the age of 16 weeks and no more than five cats over the age of 12 weeks. It also recommends a per-household limit of four small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and small birds. Exemptions will be made for people temporarily fostering dogs and cats.

“I’ve attended properties that have had over 100 cats,” Davis said. “[Two summers ago] a whole lot of illegal venomous spiders had been brought into the country and the same property also had hundreds of illegal Dubai cockroaches, hundreds and hundreds of them, and they grew and they grew because they were a seizure so we have to wait until the appeal process goes through and these cockroaches were multiplying and growing and it was unpleasant.”

Limits on allowable numbers of companion animals likely won’t affect too many Nanaimo pet owners. Of 7,239 people who took out dog licences last year, only 32 residents have more than four dogs, according to city statistics.

The reference to restricted dogs in the existing bylaw, a term referring to pit bull terriers, Staffordshire terriers, or dogs of mixed breeding that includes the bloodline of those breeds, will also be removed and replaced with a new provision reflecting current legislation around aggressive dogs in general that will require owners to hold liability insurance, muzzle dogs deemed aggressive and post warning signs on their properties.

The governance and priorities committee voted unanimously to have city staff forward the draft bylaw as a report to council this Monday, Nov. 16.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

animal welfareBCSPCACommunity

Just Posted

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Victoria police were called to a single-vehicle crash shortly before 3 a.m. Nov. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
Driver dies after fiery early morning crash in Vic West

The driver was the sole occupant of the single-vehicle crash involving a hydro pole

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Campbell River city council recently held a roundtable meeting with leaders from the aquaculture and forestry industries to discuss how they can be part of a post-COVID economic recovery in the region.
North Island officials holding roundtable on aquaculture, forestry

Will go forward with quarterly meetings involving industry leaders to address issues in the sectors

West Shore RCMP arrested four suspects in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in View Royal Nov. 26. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP arrests four following armed robbery

A victim was assaulted and robbed in View Royal early Thursday morning

These boards were delivered to Brooklyn Elementary before being stolen this fall. Facebook photo
Vandalism damage at Comox Valley schools way up this year

The amount in 2020/21 is already 50 per cent higher than the previous year

Most Read