City amends its Animal Regulation & Control Bylaw
On February 15, 2016, Council adopted an amendment to the Animal Regulation and Impounding Bylaw that now authorizes the feeding of ownerless cats, under certain conditions.
The Animal Regulation & Impounding Bylaw which was adopted on November 15, 2015 prohibited the feeding of ownerless cats or cats without identification. The intention of this clause was to 1) assist in preventing the set‐up of large colonies of unwanted cats which can result in rodents and other unwanted animals being attracted to the feeding stations; 2) to assist in addressing the “collecting” of a large number of cats on a single property which violates the section of the bylaw related to the number of companion animals one can have; and 3) to reduce the opportunity for family pets to go missing when a feeding station is set up on a property.
Shortly after the bylaw was implemented, letters were received from the Cowichan Cat Rescue Society and members of the public citing concerns with the new provisions as it prevents organizations such as the Cowichan Cat Rescue Society from engaging in their Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) program. This Society’s mandate is to trap ownerless (feral) cats through outdoor feeding colonies, have them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and tattooed, then released back to where they were trapped so that they do not continue to produce off‐spring.
In consultation with representatives from the Cowichan Cat Rescue Society and Coastal Animal Control, solutions were found that met both the intent of the bylaw but accommodates registered organizations such as the Cowichan Cat Rescue Society to continue with their TNR program. The bylaw now authorizes Duncan residents to feed up to 5 ownerless cats, subject to the following:
- The person feeding the ownerless cats must be registered with a City recognized organization with a Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) program (such as Cowichan Cat Rescue or some other Registered Society);
- The person must provide evidence of a plan for the care, feeding and mandatory spaying/neutering, tattooing, and vaccination of each ownerless cat;
- The plan must be in writing and registered with a City approved organization with a Trap Neuter Release program, the City’s Poundkeeper, and the local office of the SPCA;
- Outdoor feeding stations can only be placed on private property for up to 45 minutes maximum, once per day, to avoid attracting unwanted animals and rodents to the feeding stations;
- Outdoor shelter must be provided for any ownerless cat;
- The total number of cats, whether kept as a Companion Animal, or ownerless without identification, must not exceed 5 cats per lot;
- Every owner of an outdoor cat must have the cat spayed or neutered.
“I am pleased that the City was able to find a solution for organizations such as the Cowichan Cat Rescue Society who do great work with their Trap, Neuter and Return program while retaining the original intent of the bylaw,” said Mayor Kent. “With the additional provision of making it mandatory for every owner of a cat who goes outdoors to be spayed or neutered, coupled with the TNR program, it will assist in preventing uncontrolled breeding in order to effectively reduce the population of cats in the wild.”