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 city councillors looking at bylaw that would keep cats from roaming neighbourhoods

Draft bylaw 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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Qualicum Beach will put aside money for future purchase of electric vehicle and to put up charging stations. (Photo Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions)
Qualicum Beach to put aside funds for purchase of electric vehicles, charging stations

Citizens can donate funds to help reduce emissions in town

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read