Animal Responsibility Bylaw

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drawing of dog, cat, turtle, hamster, parrot and chameleon.

Thank you for your interest in learning more about the Animal Responsibility Bylaw. Here, you will learn about the new bylaw, be able to ask questions and submit your feedback.

Background

In December 2019, the City hired a consultant, Allan Neilson of Neilson Strategies, to:

  • review the City’s animal control services,
  • identify service-related issues,
  • conduct research on best practices and experiences in other jurisdictions, and
  • provide recommendations for the City to consider.

The findings of the report recommended an amendment to the bylaw to focus on the importance of responsible pet ownership and to incorporate the following provisions:

Thank you for your interest in learning more about the Animal Responsibility Bylaw. Here, you will learn about the new bylaw, be able to ask questions and submit your feedback.

Background

In December 2019, the City hired a consultant, Allan Neilson of Neilson Strategies, to:

  • review the City’s animal control services,
  • identify service-related issues,
  • conduct research on best practices and experiences in other jurisdictions, and
  • provide recommendations for the City to consider.

The findings of the report recommended an amendment to the bylaw to focus on the importance of responsible pet ownership and to incorporate the following provisions:

  • removing reference to “Restricted Dogs” since it is no longer best practice (and not practicable) to target;
  • changing “Vicious Dog” to “Aggressive Dog”;
  • modernizing sections to reflect current best practices on standards of care;
  • requiring every owner of a cat to provide the cat with identification;
  • requiring every cat that is permitted to go outside be spayed or neutered; and
  • prohibiting cats to be at large in a public place or on another person’s property, unless it is under the immediate charge and control of the owner or other person responsible for the animal.

At their July 6, 2020 meeting, Council supported these recommendations and directed staff to develop a bylaw to incorporate the recommendations.

Staff reached out to stakeholders that would be most affected by the bylaw and asked for their input:

  • Alison Cuffley, Government Relations Officer, for the BC SPCA and Leon Davis, Shelter Manager for the BC SPCA Nanaimo location
  • Ian Fraser and Carley Cocluff, from Nanaimo Animal Control Services
  • Chrystal Kleisinger, Executive Director of the Cat Nap Society
  • Lynn Devries, who has raised backyard bees for the past 30 years provided feedback and clarification on the wording as it relates to the keeping of bees.

“The proposed Animal Responsibility Bylaw is a welcome improvement over the current bylaw. The addition of animal care standards, regulations for cats, and the replacement of breed specific legislation with stronger dangerous dog provisions will improve the welfare of animals in our community while also helping to protect public safety.”

Carley Colclough, Pound and Adoption Coordinator for Nanaimo Animal Control Services

"The BC SPCA is supportive of municipalities who take a proactive approach to public health and safety through comprehensive animal bylaws. Incidents involving cat overpopulation, dangerous dogs, and hoarding have created expectations for regulators to proactively address these issues and the City of Nanaimo has an opportunity to be a leader in this regard. Municipalities without bylaws in place to address animal issues can also become known as a “safe haven” for people who neglect and abuse animals. The BC SPCA frequently encounters scenarios where a person facing enforcement action in one municipality for animal neglect will move to another with fewer regulatory bylaws. As the City of Nanaimo has taken a practical approach to updating their animal responsibility bylaw, the BC SPCA is in support of these changes and the positive outcome for animals in your community."

Alison, Government Relations Officer, BC SPCA

"On behalf of CatNap Society (Cats Needing Aid and Protection), a CRA registered charity and BC registered non-profit society, we feel that the revised animal control bylaws pertaining to cats are significantly overdue for a community of Nanaimo’s size. We are a cat rescue group, who has been operating to help the community of Nanaimo for 22 years and our 75+ unpaid volunteers selflessly devote hours of personal time and expense to rescue 400–500 homeless and abandoned stray and feral cats annually.

The fact that there is no spay/neuter or permanent identification bylaws for free-roaming cats in our city, are the sole reasons why our animal rescue exists. We have been trying to address that problem in our city since our inception in 1998, by getting all of our rescued cats spayed/neutered to help prevent unwanted future litters and advocating for a spay/neuter bylaw.

If our community and its citizens could personally witness our front-line rescue efforts and thereby understand what happens when unspayed/unneutered cats are left to free-roam, breed and fend for themselves, they wouldn’t hesitate to support the revised animal control bylaws for cats. The significant degree of needless suffering that the cats we rescue experience with parasites, disease, exposure to toxins/the elements, starvation, and the many other medical issues we see, is heart-breaking. Responsible cat ownership is the key to prevention of all of these issues, and the new provisions in the draft bylaws directly address responsible cat ownership. The implementation of these types of cat bylaws have been proven strategies in other Vancouver Island communities, and they can and will work for Nanaimo too.

We are in full support of the current animal control bylaw revisions that have been put forward to Council and welcome any opportunity to help our community’s citizens understand the urgency and necessity of all of the proposed cat bylaws."

Chrystal Kleisinger and Cathy Brzoza, Board of Director Representatives/Volunteers, CatNap Society

Staff from various departments also provided input on the bylaw:

  • Dave LaBerge, and Cheryl Kuczerski, from Bylaw Services
  • Kevin Brydges, who is the City’s Environment Protection Officer, viewed it from a wildlife management perspective.
  • Barbara Wardill, from Finance, reviewed it from the fee and licensing perspective; and
  • Jeremy Holm, from Development Services from a zoning perspective.

On November 9, 2020, the bylaw was presented to the Governance and Priorities Committee and the Committee passed a motion to have the bylaw read at the November 16, 2020 Regular Council meeting. During that meeting, Council passed the following resolution:

"That readings of the Animal Control Bylaw be delayed until Staff have had the opportunity to post the Draft Bylaw to the City’s Bang the Table platform for 3 weeks of public input, create a report on that input for consideration of changes that might be incorporated into the draft Bylaw, and bring back to Council for three readings in early January."

Questions and feedback will be taken until December 11, 2020. We will then report back to Council with your input in January 2021.

How you can get involved:

  • Learn about the bylaw
  • Submit a question in the Questions? tab below (you will need to register for Get Involved Nanaimo first)
  • Provide feedback in the Feedback tab below (you will need to register for Get Involved Nanaimo first)

We recommend you read through the information provided in the Documents, Links and FAQs sections before submitting your questions and feedback. We understand this is an important topic for many, please be respectful in your feedback. All questions and feedback will be third party moderated. for more information, please review the site's Forum Etiquette & Moderation protocols.

Consultation has concluded
  • A message from Mayor and Council

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    09 Feb 2021

    We have received a number of messages from members of the community regarding the Animal Responsibility Bylaw. As a follow up, we would like to thank everyone for their feedback and provide an update on the Bylaw and explain its effect.

    The main focus of this Bylaw is to emphasize the importance of animal safety and responsible pet ownership. An engagement opportunity for members of the public on the Animal Responsibility Bylaw was provided for three weeks (November 19 – December 11, 2020). The results of this public feedback and options for changes to the Bylaw (based on the themes that emerged), were presented to the Governance and Priorities Committee on January 11, 2021. The Committee selected its preferred options and those directives were incorporated within the Animal Responsibility Bylaw and the Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw.

    Council considered the Bylaw and provided the first three readings on Monday, February 1, 2021. The “Animal Responsibility – Promise to Return” Council policy was also approved by Council at this same meeting. The Bylaw will now go to the Ministry for approval, prior to coming back to Council for adoption and it could take some time before approval is given.

    Some information about the “Animal Responsibility – Promise to Return” Council policy:

    • This Bylaw was created to protect cats from any harm or danger and to return them to their owners should the cat be impounded and to allow Bylaw Enforcement Officers to respond to concerns or complaints regarding a particular cat.
    • Upon impoundment, the poundkeeper will check the cat for identification (which includes checking for ear tattoos and scanning for a microchip) as soon as is practicable. Once the owner has been notified (either by phone or in person) that their cat has been impounded, the owner may claim the cat at the pound at their earliest opportunity.
    • Impound fees will be waived until January 1, 2023 for any cat that is impounded in violation of Section 41 or 47 of the “Animal Responsibility Bylaw 2021 No. 7316” subject to the cat being sterilized and having identification (as defined in the Animal Responsibility Bylaw).
    • In cases where no owner is found, the cat will be spayed or neutered, affixed with permanent identification, and put up for adoption to an indoor-only home.

    Other sections of the Bylaw that may be of interest are noted below. For more information, you can refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) located on the side of this page.

    • There is no requirement for a cat to be a on a leash. The Animal Responsibility Bylaw sets the structure that if there is a nuisance animal, stray or abandoned cat, or feral population that needs addressing, this Bylaw gives Bylaw Enforcement Officers the ability to respond to complaints and protect the health and well-being of the Animals.
    • Owners of outdoor cats are still able to allow their cats to enjoy the outdoors; however, owners should be mindful that if there is a complaint submitted to the City due to their cat(s) trespassing on any private property (without the owner’s consent), the City’s Bylaw Enforcement will investigate the matter and work with the cat owners on getting compliance and raising awareness of the Animal Responsibility Bylaw.
      • the intent of the bylaw emphasizes the importance of responsible pet ownership;
      • the reference to “Restricted Dogs” has been removed since it is no longer best practices (and not practicable) to target;
      • the term “Vicious Dog” has been changed to “Aggressive Dog”;
      • sections have been modernized to reflect current best practices on tethering and add additional standards of care (e.g. prohibitions against forcing dogs to run, while leashed to bicycles);
      • every owner of a cat is required to provide the cat with identification, such as a collar, traceable tattoo or microchip, to enable the cat to be returned to the owner by Animal Control Services staff or another person;
      • every cat that is permitted to go outside is required to be spayed or neutered;
      • An increase to the number of animals allowed under the Bylaw to accommodate owners of flock birds, small rodents, etc. Full details on animal limits can be found in Section 9 of the Bylaw.

    Read the Animal Responsibility Bylaw

    Council will monitor this closely over the next few years to ensure that goals of this Bylaw are met and that it reflects community values around animal responsibility.

    Again, thank you for expressing your views to Council.

  • Bylaw pass three readings

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    03 Feb 2021

    The Animal Responsibility Bylaw passed three readings at the February 1, 2021 Council meeting. The bylaw will now be sent to the Province for approval. If approved, it will be considered for adoption at an upcoming Council meeting.

    Watch the February 1, 2021 Council meeting

  • Bylaw recommendations pass

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    12 Jan 2021

    At their January 11, 2021 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, City staff presented the feedback received from here as well as emails sent to Mayor and Council. Six major themes emerged from the feedback received:

    • Cats at Large,
    • Mandatory Identification of Cats,
    • Mandatory Sterilization of Cats,
    • Breed Specific Legislation and Aggressive Dog Provisions,
    • Pet Limits, and
    • the Bylaw in General

    Recommendations were put forward with options for the committee’s consideration based on those themes. The committee selected Option 1 regarding the cats at large provisions, and passed all other recommendations as presented. For more information on the recommendations and to see the discussion, watch the January 11, 2021 Governance and Priorities meeting.

    Next steps

    The bylaw will be presented to Council for consideration of first three readings on February 1, 2020.

  • Thank you!

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    11 Dec 2020
    supporting image

    Thank you for learning about the new Animal Responsibility Bylaw and submitting your feedback and questions. We will now compile all feedback and present it to Council in January 2021. Please stay tuned for updates.

  • Got Questions? Feedback?

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    19 Nov 2020

    If you have questions or feedback regarding the Animal Responsibility Bylaw, please post them in the appropriate form - Questions? or Feedback. You will need to register for Get Involved Nanaimo before submitting your question or feedback. It is recommended you read the information in the FAQs, links and documents sections before you submit a question or provide feedback.