The city’s freshly formed animal advisory committee has made a series of recommendations for city council to consider.
The trio of directives received approval from the corporate services committee on March 2 and are now headed to council for final approval.
The first change would see the city’s responsible pet owners by-law amended so dogs cannot be tethered for more than a period exceeding two hours within a 24-hour period.
The by-law currently allows for a four-hour period.
Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson said while he believes most pet owners are responsible, this is an issue.
Nicholson says there are cases of people tying their dog up outside at 6 a.m. when they leave for work, leaving the animal there until they return home several hours later.
However, Ward 4 city and regional councillor Rick Kerr wondered what the rationale of changing the by-law to two hours was.
Nicholson noted some advisory committee members wanted to do away with tethering altogether, but he felt this was a “compromise.”
“You just can’t abandon your animal in the backyard. You can’t just chain it to a pole, and run away,” he says.
Kerr said the four-hour time limit was implemented during the previous term of council to stop people from leaving their dogs out all day.
However, he explained it also gives people enough of a buffer to allow an animal outside if they need to go to a personal appointment or some other business.
He felt the switch to the two-hour limit was not only “unnecessary” but also unenforceable.
The advisory committee also recommended the city require residents to suspend any bird feeders off the ground and ensure the areas underneath bird feeders are free of bird droppings and food.
Nicholson says this will stop the attraction of pests such as raccoons, skunks, and squirrels.
“That’s both dangerous for the domestic pets in the area, but it’s also dangerous for the [wild] animals as they become dependent on the birdseed,” he says.
Kerr also questioned this recommendation, noting squirrels are very clever and find various ways to get to bird feeders.
In terms of residents making sure areas around feeders are clean, Kerr said this might make sense if it was over a concrete pad or the like, but not when it’s over grass.
“What if you have a lawn. Are you going to go out and sweep your lawn?” he asks.
The final recommendation addresses feral cat colonies in the city. The committee wants council to amend the by-law to exempt feral cats which are spayed/neutered, micro-chipped,
vaccinated, and part of a registered cat colony, from licensing requirements.
If approved, anyone who harbours or provides regular care to feral cats would be considered a “colony caretaker.”
These individuals would be required to register their colonies and complete any training and educational programs required by the city.
Nicholson says people who care for feral cats do a great service to the city, and also help keep costs down.