Animal Responsibility Bylaw

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Consultation has concluded

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.

Feedback

Review the documents in the Document Library, links and FAQs and provide any feedback you have about the changes to the bylaw. Please keep comments respectful, on topic and unique (do not post multiple comments regarding the same topic) as per our moderation guidelines.

I disagree with forced sterilization. Doing this too young on puppies looks to be a cause of major joint malformation resulting in serious injury in dogs and a $6000 vet bill.
For cats, focusing residents on keeping new kittens indoors and sterilizing roaming outdoor adult cats may be one way to amend the bylaw that works for both animals and pet guardians.

kayhun over 1 year ago

- rather than banning cats, educate residents about keeping new kittens inside. Many adult cats who are outdoor cannot make a transition to indoors without suffering. I recently tried with my cat.
- cat bylaw will not be easily enforceable.
- encourage residents with outdoor adult cats to wear a bib style collar that eliminates their ability to catch birds.
- I support animal control having more powers in hoarding situations.

kayhun over 1 year ago

All pets should be registered and not allowed to roam free. Being a responsible pet owner also means respecting those who choose not to be pet owners. Cats in particular trespass on property to deposit their waste and often kill birds.

pricelowe over 1 year ago

It would be great to make cat owners responsible for their pets. It is very frustrating to have to deal with cats constantly using our yard as their bathroom, getting into sheds and even our homes. It has been an ongoing problem and I hope this will make pet owners more aware of where their pets whereabouts. Even for the pet itself to be able to stay in safe environment.

Nanaimo citizen over 1 year ago

I have had several outdoor cats in my life, all of who have lived to be in their late teens. It’s not a good idea to try to confine cats that are already accustomed to the outdoors to a small space. Forcing cats that have been raised to hunt outdoors to stay indoors can also cause stress. Suppressing natural instincts in any pet is likely to lead to depression and a decrease in overall well-being. That aside, why is Nanaimo choosing a time when resources should be spent enforcing many overlooked HUMAN by-laws just to quash a few disgruntled neighbours of cat owners? Waste of tax paying dollars.

Catherine Buchanan over 1 year ago

We live in a harbour city. Rats have always been a problem an carry significant disease. Domestic cats are a terrific and easy solution. Attention to the natural critter such as deer, racoons and rats may be a better expenditure of time, rather than domestic cats.

Interested20 over 1 year ago

I understand your concerns, but do you and your "specialists" understand cats? I have 6, 3 are from strays that adopted me. Cats love to go out at night, although my older ones are happy to sleep inside all night, they do like to go out during the day. You are suggesting to lock them up now?
Covid couldnt even lock down humans! Now you are expecting us to bring our cats in and keep them locked up? Or on leash outside?
How about the City worry about whats REALLY IMPORTANT, like all the humans roaming freely, stealing, spreading Covid, dumping garbage everywhere, walking into traffic, causing massive $$$$$$ problems wherever they go, etc, WORSE then cats!!!! I really feel your "specialist" doesn't know cats at all and I wonder if the rest of City Hall does??? Probably none of them own a cat, so I can see how ridiculous they think. "Um cats look and act like dogs, so lets treat them like it"
Yeah, I know how our politicians think, was on the sidelines too long to not know how they think like cows. One moos, they all moo.

CATastrophe over 1 year ago

The part about public and private property and a cat requiring supervision to be there is ridiculous. Everything else is pretty reasonable but that. I see the occasional cat wander through my yard, it's ok, who cares. Forget the cats and do something about the deer destroying our yards. They're a nuisance, 100 times more so than the cats but people think they're cute so it never comes up. What about the racoons digging up people's lawns causing thousands of dollars in damage. I don't hear any mention of how that should be addressed. Forget about managing cats and deal with animals that are actually an issue in our community. I feel like going after cats is a cash grab, you can write tickets for cat owners but no one owns the deer and racoons.

Jeff Layfield over 1 year ago

Calgary has had this bylaw for years. Vets recommend keeping cats indoors. They are healthier and live longer. The birds need all the help they can get to survive. Dogs must be registered. Why not cats? Unfortunately it appears the only people bothering to provide feedback are those against the bylaw.If there is a bylaw, home owners bothered by cats digging and defecating in their yards do have some control

Chelsea10 over 1 year ago

Sounds like City is trying to pass an anti-nature bylaw hiring a third party for taxpayers money to support an idea of pure animal abuse. Maybe it would've been better to focus on real issues like raccoons, rats and deer population that everyone in Nanaimo is getting annoyed with and who actually damage our resident's properties. It seems like merely another joke from City beurocrats disconnected from the community. Leave those cats alone!

Cat-a-Comb over 1 year ago

Sounds like City is trying to pass an anti-nature bylaw hiring a third party for taxpayers money to support an idea of pure animal abuse. Maybe it would've been better to focus on real issues like raccoons, rats and deer population that everyone in Nanaimo is getting annoyed with and who actually damage our resident's properties. It seems like merely another joke from City beurocrats disconnected from the community. Leave those cats alone!

Cat-a-Comb over 1 year ago

Please do not waste my tax dollars on an almost un-inforceable bylaw. You can't, and don't, enforce most bylaws now unless there are numerous complaints, so why will this be any different. All this will do is bring more conflict into this City, pitting neighbors against neighbors. What are you planning on doing with the feral cat population? Spending thousands on euthanizing them? How are you going to control the rodent population explosion that will happen when they lose their prime predators? We already have rat problems in Nanaimo and I am only speaking of the rodent type. In this time of stress and hardship for many in this pandemic, I can think of multiple better uses for out tax dollars to be used on.

dwbachor over 1 year ago

The public needs much more data about this consultant's study and what motivated the bylaw proposal. What about beginning with a multi-phased program that begins with not permitting unspayed cats to be outside of the owner's property/residence and trial these bylaws in a specific radius surrounding key ecosystems such as Westwood Lake and the Butter Tub Marsh? Set up the program as a comprehensive study over a 3 to 5-year period and evaluate animal control/SPCA data specific to those areas, compliance, and impacts on wildlife and cat populations. Are there additional wildlife and songbird conservation motivations and impact assessments that have been done? No mention of this. Most people still think cats are capable of controlling rat populations... not all actually are good hunters, but many are convinced they are and use that to justify letting them outside... there will need to be a huge public education plan. There's been no worse time in the last decade than now to roll this out - working from home with cats that are literally trying to claw their way back outside is assuming they're capable of complete behavioral changes.

ktutty over 1 year ago

I think that everything is fine, other than tagging or collaring the cats. Especially older ones. I've seen a cat snared by its own collar. They need to be able to escape predators by climbing and hiding. It's just cruel to impede that. Or, in my opinion, to lock them inside. I think we should tag and remove the racoons and rats from public/private property where they're not wanted first. They both cause more trouble in my yard (and vehicle) than cats or dogs ever have. If anything, maybe we need more cats patrolling the streets to keep the rats in check.

warren over 1 year ago

I agree with everything but the putting the cats on a leash thing, this will stress out older cats that have never had a leash on before...I believe putting cats on leashes is honestly pretty much animal abuse... have you ever tried to put a leash on a cat? They become absolutely traumatized just imagine the only way a cat that’s used to being outside now has to be “tied” up

Amanda!2020 over 1 year ago

Why do cat owners receive preferential treatment. Dog owners must license their dogs and keep them on a leash when outside their own yard. Cats run free with no concern for other property owners property. I'm tired of being annoyed by cats in my yard. If rules are good for dog owners they should also be good for cat owners.

Barry Morton over 1 year ago

I welcome this! It is inhumane to acquire a cat and then just let it roam free outside to be injured or run over. Leaving your cat outside at large to use other peoples yards as a bathroom is irresponsible and rude. I also don't think it's right for your outdoor cats to be teasing the ones that are being cared for responsibly inside. Having an indoor cat in not inhumane at all, you just need to be a decent person and actually spend time with your cat, play with it. It doesn't need to be outside killing things to satisfy it's natural prey drive. Toys! Imagine that. If you can't actually look after a cat, why would you get one? If this comment upsets anyone that reads it, it definitely applies to you. I would love this to pass!!

Island over 1 year ago

Part 6, sections 41, 42, and 47 of the Animal Responsibility Bylaw 7316 make families’ lives more difficult with no reasonable basis for doing so, especially as they pertain to owned cats.
Cats are habitual animals who do not adapt well to change. Indoor-outdoor cats who are currently accustomed to going outside on their own may develop chronic stress, which can have serious physical health effects. In turn, their human owners would be negatively impacted financially (and otherwise) due to increased veterinary bills, bills which most individuals and families will struggle to pay, especially during the depressed economic situation we are experiencing due to the pandemic, a situation that is forecasted to go on for a number of years.
These proposed new restrictions for cats will also upend individuals and families’ routines, and as the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, many families juggle tight schedules and even tighter budgets. A major change to their lives such as the proposal to prohibit cats from going outdoors on their own is unmanageable. This could force families to surrender their beloved pets and increase the burden on animal shelters and the pound, not ease it. It may also deter families from adopting a cat if they are not equipped schedule-wise to take a cat on a walk, or build an enclosed space as is suggested – another financial, and spatial, unreality for many.
There is no conclusive evidence for owned cats being the primary cause of declining bird populations and there is no local data to demonstrate that our local bird populations are negatively affected by predation by owned cats. The scientific research that has been conducted is based on estimations from locales with very different ecological systems than Vancouver Island. Much of the research that has been done includes feral cats along with owned cats, which makes the estimates speculative regarding owned cats. Speculative estimates don’t support upending the lives of people who own cats, who take care of them by getting them spayed and neutered and keep their pets’ vaccinations up-to-date. Cats also kill rodents, like rats, which also happen to kill birds. Preventing cats from going outside on their own could see an explosion in the rat population in Nanaimo neighbourhoods, endangering the health of residents as well as wildlife populations, especially if people choose to address a rat problem with poison.
I’d like to see the City address the most serious threats to birds: human-caused habitat loss and fragmentation and climate change. A warming climate is shrinking habitat and food sources for birds. The National Audubon Society reported in 2019 that two-thirds of North American bird species are threatened with extinction from climate change, including some of the beautiful songbirds that are in the Nanaimo area. As a start, the City could review their development permit approval process and tree management bylaw so that fewer trees were cut down. Critical habitat for birds has been lost across the city and what remains continues to be fragmented or rendered inhospitable. Let’s see the City build on the climate emergency declaration it made and take some real action that will benefit residents and our wildlife neighbours.
I support the section of the bylaw that requires spaying and neutering of cats. I would also support vaccination requirements and the City engaging in educational activities that would teach responsible pet ownership and resources to access veterinary services, particularly increased resources for helping with the cost of spaying/neutering so that individuals do not attempt at-home surgeries that have resulted in cats dying, of which several tragic instances occurred in Vancouver recently.

communitymatters over 1 year ago

Removed by moderator.

BCDAVIS over 1 year ago

I severely disagree with the proposal to not only have to wear physical Identification (chip or tattoo yes) or to prohibit cats to be at large. Given the nature of cats having them wear physical identification is almost impossible unless you are cruel enough to put them in a fixed collar instead of a breakaway, they are constantly getting into situations that will lose any tags and people will give up on replacing them. As far as trying to keep a cat from roaming at large good luck with that, cats for the most part are untrainable and are natural born roamers and hunters so let them roam and stop wasting tax payers money paying an outside source to come up with such useless ideas then waste more tax payers money trying to enforce something that will never be effective in the long run, If you really want to help Nanaimoites with their cats why don't to take the $400,000.00 you were going to spend on a useless Front Street bike lane to nowhere and pay to have hundreds of cats spayed for those that can't afford it, as a Nanaimo tax payer I'd actually be ok with a re-allocation such as that.

BCDAVIS over 1 year ago