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Cat ByLaw is Back in Halifax

September 10th, 2007, 09:36 PM
Halifax is considering a new bylaw re animals tho most of the changes involve cats. Here is a description from the sr. editor of the Chronicle herald:

"Although regulations concerning dogs have been in effect for many years, this bylaw includes cats. (It also adds controls on rabbits and waterfowl, among other species.) It is the provisions concerning cats which have generated strong feelings and which will continue to do so.

Probably the most contentious of the proposed regulations was that which would limit to three the number of cats per household. Council voted in late July to remove this restriction.

The bylaw provides for licensing and registering cats, and includes a scale of fees designed to offset the costs of adding felines to Animal Control. Given the track record of compliance concerning dogs, this would appear to be adding more unworkable legislation to the books. In all probability, it would be ignored by thousands while penalizing the small group of pet owners who would register their cats.

At the heart of the problem are the people who lack any sense of responsibility where cats are concerned. Education would seem to be the answer.

It is one thing to advocate a program of spaying and neutering, penalizing cats and owners if this has not been done; but here again, cost is a factor. A random check of veterinary hospitals in the metro area shows that spaying can run from a low of $173.10, plus $78.75 for pre-operation blood work, to anywhere in the range of $219 for a cat over six months; and neutering costs about $125, plus blood work. Taxes are additional. Vaccinations (anyone with any sense would get them) run about $79 to $81 per set. Microchips giving identification particulars range from $40 to $69.

Some veterinarians will give discounts; others will not. Some will take into consideration a familyís economic position. Veterinarians, after all, are running businesses.

Itís not just overpopulation that causes problems for shelters and clinics. Many are faced with people bringing in healthy animals to be destroyed because the owners have to move into apartments or seniorsí homes where animals are not allowed. This can be extremely cruel. For compassionate reasons, and because there is increasing recognition of the therapeutic value of pets, especially for older people, this matter should be getting more attention than it does.

One of the best ways to pit neighbour against neighbour is to enact the provisions in this bylaw which allow for anonymous reporting and the trapping of other peopleís animals.

The provision in the proposed enforcement strategy concerning complaints about a "cat defecating without the owner immediately picking up after it Ö" is nothing if not naive. "Hi, neighbour. Yes, I know Iím trampling through your tulip bed, but I thought I saw my cat over here and I wondered if I had to pick up after it. Itís the new bylaw, you know." Besides, donít they know that cats bury their excrement? Talk about digging up flower beds at random!

This proposed bylaw A-300 would replace existing bylaws in the former jurisdictions of Halifax, Dartmouth and Halifax County, presumably in the interests of harmony. If anyone needs reminding, the HRM contains not only the metro area but a vast amount of rural land where the problems would not be the same as in built-up areas. Sweeping bylaws which do not make this distinction create injustice and situations which would be impossible to police.

Suggestions about building a large $1-million shelter to house the cats brought in by such bylaw changes bear considerable thought. Few things escalate faster than building costs.

It would seem far better to give money, additional or new, to organizations already trying to deal with unwanted animals. Such groups as Bide-a-While (raising money for a new shelter), the SPCA, the Companion Animal Trust Fund, Pick of the Litter Society and Breakwater Cat Rescue League, among others, are out there trying to do a job, usually through volunteer efforts, and could use support.

The main problem is not animals, but people. I donít see anything in the proposed regulations that says, "Owners shall not dump cats Ö" (or dogs, for that matter). A key difficulty, of course, is being able to prove who dumped an animal. Scratch enforcement.

If council really wants to help the situation, there are more constructive ways than legislating. Help those already in the trenches, rather than set up a new bureaucracy."

I do think she has the cost of spaying rather high - mine cost less. However.... some vets do charge those costs. All in all, her editorial is a good one -educate people!!! I can see this not helping cats and more cats being brought to the shelters, sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

The new law is at this url if anyone wants to read it:

September 10th, 2007, 09:40 PM
On the positive side, cat "owners" will have to care for their kitties and hopefully keep them indoors and on their property were they won't get hurt!!! So that is extremely good. If one could keep the good pats of this bylaw, it would be OK!

September 11th, 2007, 11:01 AM
If bureaucrats would just get this through their thick skulls as a way to at least partly resolve the feral cat population, overflowing shelters and their sky-rocketing costs, angry neighbours and overworked by-law/animal control officers: City-operated, fees on a sliding-scale basis, spay and neuter clinics.

But no, let's not actually do anything about the problem or give people assistance to solve the problem themselves instead let's decree another set of important-sounding but mostly unenforceable regulations and while we're at it why don't we commission a task force and hire some overpriced consultants to conduct another comprehensive study. :rolleyes:

September 11th, 2007, 11:19 AM
If bureaucrats would just get this through their thick skulls as a way to at least partly resolve the feral cat population, overflowing shelters and their sky-rocketing costs, angry neighbours and overworked by-law/animal control officers: City-operated, fees on a sliding-scale basis, spay and neuter clinics.

But no, let's not actually do anything about the problem or give people assistance to solve the problem themselves instead let's decree another set of important-sounding but mostly unenforceable regulations and while we're at it why don't we commission a task force and hire some overpriced consultants to conduct another comprehensive study. :rolleyes:

Oh mumx3 you said it SO WELL

Politicians only seem to be able to make laws, not actually solve the problems.

September 11th, 2007, 06:06 PM
Here is the latest update: (and note: The little tabby kitten in the picture managed to free herself - a feral kitten fed and cared for by some Halifax people.)

Tabby tally not popular

By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter | 5:22 AM


REGISTERING HALIFAX’S estimated 225,000 cats is not the right route for the city to take, says a volunteer with a cat rescue organization.

"Leave the cats the way they are. It’s not practical, it’s not enforceable and frankly, from a taxpayer’s point of view . . . it doesn’t work," Allison Chubbs said in a recent interview.

The member of Pierre’s Alley Cats Society plans to speak out against cat registration at a public hearing Tuesday night at city hall.

The hearing is on the proposed Bylaw A-300, Respecting Animals, but most people refer to it as "the cat bylaw."

That’s because regional councillors have debated for years a plan to introduce controls on cats, and tomorrow night’s public hearing marks the first time that council has moved past the planning stages.

It all started in the spring of 2004, when Coun. Jim Smith received several complaints about a property full of cats in his Albro Lake-Harbourview district.

Since then, councillors have chewed over issues like trying to restrict the number of cats and dogs allowed in one home or banning the feeding of ducks and other birds all over the municipality.

While neither of those made it into the proposed bylaw, a few other contentious ideas did.

And councillors expect to get an earful when members of the public get their five minutes at the mike.

"It’s going to be a long evening," Coun. Gloria McCluskey (Dartmouth Centre) predicted in an interview.

She’s guessing the biggest issue will be a proposed shelter to care for the stray and unregistered cats "because the SPCA couldn’t care for them all."

The shelter is necessary because the bylaw — as it’s written — permits homeowners to trap cats who cross over onto their property.

Cat owners have three days to claim their pets — and hand over a pocketful of fees.

But stray, and unregistered, unclaimed cats won’t be as lucky.

They’ll be housed at the shelter and adopted out — if a home can be found.

That’s the same outdated thinking that saw the SPCA plan a wide-scale program to destroy stray cats in the Myrtle Street area of Dartmouth, says Ms. Chubbs. While that program was canned after public outcry, Ms. Chubbs says it’s time for city officials to start charting another course for stray cats.

"The quick fix, which satisfies the neighbour or deals with the nuisance complaint, is going to be to take all of them and put them all down," she said in an interview.

"But expect the same number to be back next year."

Instead, she would like to see the city introduce a trap, neuter and release program for colonies of strays.

"Instead of animal control going out and killing all of these animals, maybe they could have a vet clinic instead. Those are more viable options and they actually are long-term options," she said.

That’s where Pierre’s Alley Cats Society comes in. Named for a petty officer who has been successfully carrying out such a program at Halifax’s naval dockyards, the group has been trying to help control the population of the Myrtle Street cats.

"We’re here to give them some quality of life and make a difference, hopefully," she said.

Undertaking a trap-neuter-release program "makes a tonne of sense," says another regional councillor.

"It would minimize us having to do anything else," Coun. Steve Adams (Spryfield-Herring Cove) said in an interview.

Ms. McCluskey agrees killing the animals is not the answer.

"I’m not in favour of euthanizing cats, but sometimes they’re ill and have to be," she said.

Part of the problem is that stray cat colonies can harm the neighbourhoods they adopt.

"There’s a little playground there on Pine Street, and I’ve had (city crews) go in twice to clean it up because of the cats from Myrtle Street," she said.

"They’ve been in there using the sand and the pebbles for a litter box," she said.

Another councillor says the only way to effect change is to ensure that funds are in place.

"Cat licensing actually makes sense," Coun. Andrew Younger (East Dartmouth-The Lakes) said in an interview. "People are asking us for spay and neuter programs and adoption programs, and you have to have the revenue source to do it."

Although he acknowledges that council receives a lot of ribbing over its handling of cat-related issues, he says changes are necessary.

"I don’t think cats are the No.1 issue facing the municipality at the moment, but we are dealing with the bylaw on Tuesday night, so let’s deal with it in the appropriate way."

He also points to an oversight in the proposed bylaw, which proposes every lawbreaker pay a $222 fine.

He would like to see tiered fines.

"Obviously, the fine for a dog biting somebody has got to be different than a dog running at large in a park."


’Leave the cats the way they are. It’s not practical, it’s not enforceable and frankly, from a taxpayer’s point of view . . . it doesn’t work.’
allison chubbsPierre’s Alley Cats Society volunteer

September 12th, 2007, 06:13 PM
The following is from the Hfx Chronicle Herald (with thx to the newspaper for permission)

Cat bylaw has residentsí dander up
Waste of time, money, council told, and told at meeting
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter | 6:16 PM

Halifax city hall has more important issues to tackle than cat registration and controls, regional councillors were told over and over on Tuesday night.

Thirty-five people spoke during an almost three-hour session at regional councilís regular meeting.

More than 80 per cent of them told councillors they had issues with the cityís proposed cat bylaw.

"Itís an irresponsible and ridiculous way to spend my tax dollars," Laura Dobson of Dartmouth said after learning from Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley that the city now spends about $1 million on animal control, split between staffing and shelter.

The bylaw would hike those costs considerably, she said.

"And if there is that sort of resource available in HRM, letís have more police, more firemen, more frequent garbage pickup and better public transit," Ms. Dobson said.

Some of the speakers told councillors they might consider paying a cat registration fee if the revenues went back into programs like Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR).

Indeed, Hubley veterinarian Dr. Hugh Chisholm encouraged council to help fund such a program using the $1 million the city would have to spend on a new shelter to accommodate an influx of strays and unclaimed cats if the bylaw is adopted.

Otherwise, cat registration would only make people "very, very angry," he said.

"I think it was Trudeau who said the nation has no business in peopleís bedrooms. I think maybe the municipality has no business in cat ownersí homes if those cats are indoors."

Recently, a number of groups have lobbied city hall to implement a TNR program to trap feral cats and return them, sterilized, to their community.

Thatís because the bylaw contains a clause dealing with roaming cats on private property.

The proposed legislation says anyone could trap a cat that crosses their property and take it to a shelter. If the animal was not claimed, the shelter could house it, adopt it out or euthanize it.

"Feral cats rounded up under this bylaw will not be adopted out as happy little pets to happy little homes," Bridget Curran of Fairview warned. "They will be exterminated because they will be unadoptable.

"Roaming family pets rounded up under this bylaw and not claimed within three days will also be exterminated because there arenít enough homes for cats in shelters in adoption programs at the present time."

An Armdale man said the bylaw puts felines at risk because people canít be expected to keep cats confined to one yard.

"You canít stop them from roaming," he said. "Youíre not going to tell them what to do."

But thatís exactly what one Dartmouth woman, who lives next door to a de facto cat shelter, wants council to do.

"Weíve been living in a litter box," Corinne Gritten of Dartmouth told council of the almost two dozen cats who wander around her neighbourhood.

Every day, her property is under siege by her neighbourís cats, which leave feces, urine and glandular spray all over her garden.

"It makes it beyond disgusting."

A few people came to the council meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns over a clause dealing with dogs who give the impression of threatening passersby.

If an animal control officer or shelter keeper gave the word about a "threatening dog" ó even if there had been no attack ó then the animal could be destroyed without contacting the owner.

Many dogs might growl or appear threatening when they are frightened, Janet Chernin told the group.

She asked council to consider giving only vets the right to euthanize an animal.

A handful of owners of lizards, iguanas and pythons also came forward Tuesday night, concerned that there is no grandfather clause that would give owners of certain exotic pets the right to keep their pet.

The proposed bylaw states that anyone ó like the about 200 Burmese python owners out there in the municipality ó who owns certain pets would have to turn them over to the city within 90 days so that appropriate placements could be made.

"Prohibiting these animals would create a challenge for shelters," longtime reptile owner Neil Meister of Timberlea said.

So many people spoke at the public hearing that councillors ran out of time to debate the merits of the proposed bylaw.

Instead, the meeting was adjourned until next Tuesday when staffers are expected to return with a supplementary report on some of the key issues raised by members of the public.