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Halifax's Proposed "Cat Police"

June 28th, 2007, 01:08 PM
Halifax City Council has been debating (they spent more time on this than on the decision to forego the Commonwealth Games for example) whether to enact new cat laws - including permitting 3 cats per household (I have 4 but maybe there would be a clawback - pun very much intended). There would be a new building to house cats AND dogs that are picked up by whoever is responsible - there is no real plan proposed!

It is all in all a mess and here is tongue in cheek article in today's Halifax Herald:

Act II, Scene I: Cat-astrophe


Scene: A quiet street in one of HRMís many suburbs. A car drives up and parks in front of a house. The car bears an emblem with the words "Cat Police" on its doors. The driver, wearing a uniform with a "Cat Official" badge on the jacket, gets out and walks up to the door and rings the bell. After a few moments, the householder opens the door.

Householder: "Good morning. What can I do for you?"

Cat Official: "Donít try getting around me, Iím here on official business. Itís been reported that you have a cat on your premises. Is that so?"

H: "A cat? Why, whatever gave you that idea?"

CO: "We have our sources. Do you or donít you?"

H: "A cat, hmm!" (Calls over his shoulder Ė "Honey, thereís a man here who wants to know if we have a cat. Have you seen Tibbles, I mean, have you seen one around?" Muffled noises in the background.) "She says she hasnít seen one."

CO: "Well, you know itís an offence to have one and if we see one around, we have the ability to seize it."

H: (To himself Ė "And get a faceful of claws in the process.") "Why, what did Tibbles, I mean, what did this cat youíre inquiring about do?"

CO: "Well, it didnít need to do anything. Itís enough that it might be around."

H: "Well, that seems pretty extreme. I mean, what could a Ö Ouch, stop that."

CO: "What was that you said, sir? Were you talking to somebody in the house?"

H: "No, no, it was just a sudden cramp." (In a lower tone, while rubbing one calf): "Do that again and Iíll give you to the Cat Police." (Back to the official): "Well, if I see one, Iíll let you know."

CO: "Do that. Weíre trying to keep our city free of anything that could possibly spoil its perfection." (Closes his notebook, snaps a salute, and goes back to his car and drives off.)

H (To himself): "Yes, and what about drug pushers, purse snatchers, people who beat up little old ladies, as well as a host of others who cause far more serious problems than cats Ė or dogs, for that matter?"

Think the foregoing is ridiculous? Itís about on par with the thinking thatís given rise to the proposed cat bylaw, not to mention the discussion that actually has put it on the agenda for a public meeting. However, since it seems to be getting serious consideration, and even though my fondness for cats is well-known, I would venture to toss out for consideration a few impartial thoughts.

The biggest cat problem here, or anywhere else, is that there are owners who lack common sense and do not realize that a pet is a living creature and that having one carries certain obligations, toward the animal and toward others who may be affected by it or its actions.

Legislation is not going to solve this and prevent abuse any more than it solves or prevents a variety of other problems, such as drunk driving. When it comes to some of these problems, even education has a hard time having any impact. Still, education is more likely to be effective than any "Cat Police."

Moreover, laws which are unenforceable, "more honoured in the breach than the observance" (to quote from Hamlet), only lead to public contempt for laws in general. Such laws, bylaws or other regulations breed ridicule which, in turn, reflects on the people who came up with the legislation in the first place.

Itís tempting to mess about with the lyrics of a 1970 pop song, One Toke Over the Line, from Brewer and Shipleyís Tarkio album, which turns up now and again on Oldies but Goodies programs:

"One cat over the line, sweet Mary,

One cat over the line.

Sittiní downtown in a police station,

One cat over the line."

Lorna Inness is a former senior editor with The Chronicle Herald.

June 29th, 2007, 06:38 AM
So what are they going to do with the well taken care of "fourth household cats", take it to the already over populated, underfunded shelter, where the poor thing can wait in a cage, hoping for another family, meanwhile there is a family that loved this cat and was willing to take care of him/her:mad: ?

I agree with you, Cyberkitten, I would think Halifax would have more pressing issues to spend their money on.

June 29th, 2007, 01:01 PM
You are right; this is a totally unenforceable bylaw. As an animal lover and former cat owner (well more like owned by the cat) I think the idea here should be to find away to deal with the delinquent pet owners and not try to put in place some bylaw that they cannot enforce. It should not be - "you can't own more than three cats!' - It should be "that guy who owns seven cats who doesn't neuter them and lets them destroy then neighbour's property" should face some penalty. Intentions are good, but letís deal with the system that doesn't work first, before we start adding more to it. I think the could better spend their time dealing with more important issues

June 29th, 2007, 01:30 PM
Here in Pascagoula as part of the civil code -- no citizen within the city limits is allowed to have in excess of five domesticated animals (of the pet not livestock variety as defined elsewhere in the code) in any combination of cats and dogs. I wasn't even aware of the law until recently... And it just so happens that we came right under the wire as far as being legal with our three cats and two dogs.

Obviously -- this is also an 'unenforcable' law... However, when we asked our mayor (who happens to be a neighbor) about the law... He said that it is very frequently used when people are charged with some other civil violation. That is.. they may not be coming into your home to count the heads of animals inside... but if they come in for any other reason they will gladly add the charge to the laundry list.

Of course what scares me about this going on up there, CK is you guys have to license your animals don't you? So at any given time the powers that be DO have a record of who is keeping what animal. See.. that's scary. I would live in fear of a knock at the door.

On a side note -- very very recently our own county board of supervisors debated banning pit bulls. :frustrated: There have been a lot of attacks locally recenty and several fighting rings broken up in a very small area.... And thankfully the ban against one breed was very very quickly shot down by most of the board (and the board attorneys)... HOWEVER... one of the members immediately introduced a measure to ban ALL DOGS from within the city limits!!! And they actually considered it. It eventually was dropped but they say that a rewording of the same measure might pass at a later date. Augh.

July 10th, 2007, 06:57 AM

Odd twist to the bylaw discussions....