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Making life easier for animal rescues

Under new rules, animal rescue groups will need to register with the City of Oshawa, but would be exempt from the fees associated with the process. (Photo by Joel Wittnebel)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa is looking to make the process of rescuing and adopting local animals a lot more seamless after approving a new licensing system for cat and dog rescue groups.

The new system requires volunteer organizations who rescue local animals that have been injured or abandoned to register with the city, but exempts them from certain licensing fees under the city’s pet bylaw regime and certain animal limits prescribed by the city.

According to the city report, these rescue groups are in high demand across Durham Region, and most of them have large networks of foster parents that help to temporarily home animals until they can be adopted or placed in a more permanent home. For that reason, it was noted that a “one-size-fits-all” approach would not work when it came to trying to prescribe any particular limits on the number of animals these rescues and fosters were allowed to handle.

However, after researching the work being done in the cities of Toronto and London, it was found that because these rescue groups operate such a large network of fosters, it wasn’t hard for them to remain within current limits set by the city (currently set at six cats, three dogs and two ferrets).

The city notes that rescue groups were “generally” in favour of a registration system, but preferred one without fees or cost and with limited administrative processes. As it stands, the city estimates there are approximately 10-15 rescue groups operating in the city. However, Jerry Conlin, the city’s director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services notes that the city has had a difficult time trying to get a firm number.

For Janet Smith, the executive director with Oshawa’s Oasis Animal Rescue and Education Centre, she says anything to make life easier for these groups is a welcome change.

“If the city is changing any regulations that are going to help us that would be wonderful and I’m delighted,” she says, noting that she was not contacted by the city to take part in the consultation.

Oasis currently averages between 30 and 40 pet adoptions per month, a process that is supported by a network of foster parents. Smith says removing the limits on the amount of pets these fosters are allowed to house is critical.

“I’m definitely in favour of that because the bylaw limitations on the number of pets allowed by foster parents was constricting in some cases,” she says.

The city is also exempting rescue groups and their affiliated fosters from pet licensing requirements, as long as the rescue animals are not being kept for longer than one year.

Staff note that the cost impact of allowing such an exemption is “nominal.”

“Staff are unable to accurately assess the financial implications related to creation a one year complimentary pet license. This is because there is a high level of fluctuation of the number of adoptable pets at OAS and local registered rescue groups,” the report reads.

On the flip side, it’s possible the system may actually result in increased revenue for the city’s pet licensing system as it could result in higher levels of compliance following the one year complimentary exemption, the report adds.

For Councillor Rick Kerr, the basic system being put in place is simply to ensure the wellbeing of the city’s animals.

“We just want to know where they are and how the animals are being looked after, I think that says a lot,” he says.

Under the new system, rescue groups will be able to register through Oshawa Animal Services.