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 do not support this bylaw as it stands for a number of reasons that include:

-- It should be much clearer, and easy to use with better sections and subsections, e.g. exceptions – like guide dogs, RCMP service dogs and medically-required support animals (is in the current one, not in the proposed one). Another example is that breeders should have a section on its own so anyone can quickly and easily see what applies specifically. It all needs better organization and clarity.

-- Language, tone and intent is much harsher and authoritarian than the current bylaw e.g. currently the contracted poundkeeper has to make “every effort” to find the owners … that’s what mammas and pappas of fur babies expect by the way … but now they just need to make “reasonable effort” and that is not even defined, but if an owner doesn’t respond to selective methods of approach … very tight time limits are imposed. Don’t ask citizens to give blind trust especially when many have had less than impressive experiences to date.

-- Overall, there is too much arbitrary power given to contracted out animal control who can seize animals for petty infractions as listed in the bylaw. Also, by not expressly including that warrants are required to enter private homes, it seems like the city has intentionally written it to fool people into thinking that an animal control person can just enter! This does not reflect professional, transparent and accountable law making and in the hands of the wrong individual it does not support respectful communities and honest, transparent, unambiguous enforcement.

-- The current bylaw makes it very clear the only killing will be done by a vet. This bylaw gives that power to the poundkeeper who is not required to have any suitable qualifications or experience. Most frightening is that there is no review and appeal process at all where an independent trained and qualified animal behaviourist will review the facts, interview the parties and examine the dog first! The bylaw treats treasured fur baby members of families like chattels that can be seized immediately for not being on a leash even when the owner is present! This is not responsible law making. It is unreasonable and heavy handed against responsible, reasonable, licensed dog owners, and taxpayers.

-- The definitions are a bit off and don’t fit reality. e.g. animal kingdom with Nanaimo’s two exceptions actually includes fish and other animals so it is unreasonable to imply tropical fish owners can only have four fish, snails or clams; or snake or other owners can only have 4 live crickets or roaches to feed them. Sloppy and incomplete definitions and bylaws make for confusion and angry/frustrated taxpayers and make if far more likely to have the whole bylaw thrown out under judicial review. Either make additional exceptions as to what animal species are not included or make appropriate provision for those covered. Again, clarity, practicality, and unambiguous law-making is needed.

-- It is harsh, cruel and unreasonable to take away cats’ current ability to be cats and roam. Cats were domesticated in part to hunt vermin and for my cat and four other immediate vicinity neighbourhood cats, I am very thankful for their service. My cat has killed 10 rats this year and two mice in the neighbourhood. Roaming cats are far better, safer and more effective options at rodent control than poisoning rats and mice that then get eaten by bald eagles and other wild birds, in turn being poisoned and often dying horrible deaths. My and my neighbours' vege patches need the roaming cats to prevent the wholesale theft of the harvest by rats. If we are truly in the search of being a sustainable city on an island, we need more people growing food and more cats keeping the rats away. There are many cheap, safe, harmless and effective ways of preventing cats being interested in exploring garden patches, e.g. Cayenne pepper borders for example; a spray of water from the hose. In 12 years I have not had any issues (and no complaints from neighbours where my cat roams) and five cats regularly roam through my yard. I use roe cover over our vege beds to keep slugs, snails, white flies, racoons, etc. out but mostly to catch the increasing amount of bird poop from the wild song birds that are drawn to the neighbourhood by people erecting bird feeders in their yards. In 12 years I am happy to say that I have seen the bird population more than double on our street given the number of people feeding the wild birds. There are many responsible bird feeder owners who erect feeders responsibly in such a way as to prevent any seeds or spillage hitting the ground so that the birds are never on the ground to be pray for cats or other hunters.

-- Research on cats hunting birds clearly demonstrates that it is feral cats in rural settings that kill the most birds – 100s each year -- because that is their only food source. Those cats might even kill ducks and chickens as big as them because they are trying to survive. By comparison city neighbourhood cats catch far, far fewer birds and where they do catch them is at bird feeders! People who have bird feeders need to know how to make them 100% safe for birds. Easy to do when you choose to be a responsible backyard bird feeder. So again, this proposed bylaw is highly unreasonable, prejudicial and unfair to cats.

-- The European Union and the UK are just two examples of many jurisdictions that respect cats' rights to roam. Why can’t we? Why suddenly do we allow ignorance and fiction to dictate acts that create unnecessary cruelty? Cats born indoors and that have never experienced being free and roaming are still captive but the harm is arguably less. But, for all our senior cats in Nanaimo and all the kittens that are born outdoors and adopted through societies (like my cats), you are asking responsible owners to take those freedoms away and force cats into tiny back yards and onto leashes when they have known years and years of neighbourhood freedom! That will never be ok.

-- My eldest cat adopted from the Nanaimo SPCA has roamed for almost 12 years, since he was a kitten rescued as a feral cat. He has a daily walk routine to visit two retired seniors at their home down the road. He stops at another home for a tummy rub if that senior is out in his driveway and another stop to check in on another cat before a four-property fence walk home. He even walks (no leash) with our dog (on leash) around the block. In summer he sleeps outdoors in his cat house. In winter he sleeps indoors. He has inddor towers and toys galore, but he was born and raised an outdoor roaming cat true to his species, and needs his time outdoors roaming and doing what cats do. I could not in ethical good conscience rescue any other cats in this city that will not allow cats to be true to their nature. The same way I do not support whales or lions in captivity or circuses, I will not cause harm to any wild animal by taking away their freedom. And it is unfair to me that the city turns a blind eye to the irresponsible wild bird feeders in our city who feed wild life without following best practices and then blame cats for the results of their own irresponsible poor feeder maintenance practices!

-- Dogs should never be defined as at large when they are in the control of their owner/handler. This is unreasonable. Rather, “control” on or off leash is what is key. This works well in many jurisdictions as it rewards responsible dog owners and obedient dogs while still protecting others from dogs that should be on leashes at ALL times because they have zero recall, because of their humans’ failure to be responsible dog owners and provide them with the time, care and appropriate training and reinforcement.

-- The six-foot leash length is also arbitrary and unreasonable. For example, some seniors and others like/need much longer retractable leashes as it is safer for them in many situations especially for poop pick up. Much longer leads are needed when training dogs in public places to achieve successful recall practice. Again, what is reasonable is about owners being present, focused, engaged and in control of their dog. For some that’s a two-foot leash, for others no leash at all but a constant hand lock on a harness handle with a muzzle, leash-less for the well-trained dogs; and everything in-between in the right places and settings based on the owner having control of the dog AT ALL TIMES, depending on the activity happening at that time. I enjoy seeing several dogs walking downtown without leashes at the immediate side of their owners looking up at the owners every second stride and focused only on the owners. Other dogs that owners let loose on fields while they check their phones and talk without even engaging with their dog or having it under any type of effective control; letting the dog run up to other people and other dogs, is what needs managing. A one size rule needs to be appropriate where responsible owners and well behaved dogs are rewarded to encourage more responsible dog ownership, happier, calmer dogs and safer neighbourhoods.

-- Some jurisdictions have good rules, many do not. Why are we choosing to copy some really poor examples? Why are we choosing cruel and barbaric practices and processes that will cost taxpayers an additional $100,000 a year? How about focusing on providing dog owners with more opportunities for their pets? So that 100% of dog owners will want to pay the annual fee to better balance the books? And bring the 52% licensed dogs to maybe 90% or more? More off leash dog parks are not solutions, ask any qualified animal behaviourist.

-- There needs to be other exceptions included in the bylaw to accommodate the medical reasons some cats and dogs cannot be sterilized. For example, a kitten that was part of litter of kittens that was rescued with their mom from an empty plot just out of city limits earlier this year was scheduled to be sterilized a couple of weeks ago in Nanaimo. The vet advised he is unwilling to proceed with the surgery as the kitten has a heart murmur and would likely not survive the operation. Nowhere in this muddled bylaw is there any recognition for this or similar medical and other realities. Which vets even reviewed the bylaw? Which renowned animal behaviourists reviewed it? Which award-winning dog trainers? Which responsible active current city pet owners?

-- The bylaw as it stands is also incomplete because none of the attachments or items referenced were attached so no-one can actually view the fines, the amounts, the full implications of the application of the bylaw. Why does everything have to be so complicated and hard? Why expect citizens to go and find other sections of other pieces of legislation and then try to interpret what it is exactly that you are trying to say? Not good practice.

-- There are several “new” thoughts introduced when compared to the current bylaw so it is really not transparent or helpful to taxpayers to not have all the detail shared in its entirety. For example, a new concept floated in the bylaw is a different range of annual license fees on neutered or not neutered … in the past the only discount was early payment, and while the current bylaw has all the fees and consequences listed as part of the bylaw package, the proposed one does not.

-- This is a pandemic year with more rats and other vermin out and about due to shuttered businesses and restaurants, etc.; more people out in public with their dogs; overall increasing numbers of pet owners world-wide; and, exorbitant tax increases in Nanaimo with no cost-cutting or job furloughs at the city while more residents are unemployed and struggling in our community. Add the recent homeless responses and opioid crisis and one must ask whether this should have even been tackled at all? Either way, the city needs to get it right. Thank you,
Pam Agnew

pamela.agnew 6 months ago

I refer council to the study that advocates of no-roam provisions rely on to support their position. This study differentiates between feral, rural and urban domestic cats. It actually finds that urban domestic cats are not the primary predators of birds. "Urban pet cats are estimated to contribute only about one-sixth of the kill of birds in Canada (Table 4), despite comprising about half of all house cats." The study also finds that people feeding wild birds in their yards is a major contributor to bird kills by urban cats. https://abcbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Blancher-2013-Estimated-number-of-birds-killed-by-domestic-cats-in-Canada.pdf

Another factor not being mentioned is that roof rats, which are a problem in Nanaimo, are major predators of songbird eggs and fledglings. While cats often aren't effective against adult roof rats, they do kill young rats.

Dominic Jones 6 months ago

I am in full support of the bylaws. Specifically the cat portions. Including spay/neuter & roaming :)

Catlover5 6 months ago

Stewardship Centre for BC (SCBC) supports the implementation of the proposed Animal Responsibility Bylaw for the City of Nanaimo. SCBC's Cats and Birds team recognizes that the proposed changes about responsible cat ownership, spaying and neutering, permanent identification and no roaming cat policy are in accordance with current science-based best management practices for addressing cat welfare issues and the impact of cats on native wildlife. https://stewardshipcentrebc.ca/cats-and-birds/cats-and-birds-resources/
Science-based, peer-review studies have shown that cats are the #1 human-caused source of wild bird mortality in our country. It is estimated that cats kill 100 – 350 million birds every year in Canada alone. Most cat owners have little idea of the extent of the problem because cats bring home less than 25% of prey. Although cats do catch house mice, they also kill hundreds of millions of native wildlife, including shrews, voles, rabbits and bats.
Outdoor free-roaming cats face life-treating risks such as being poisoned by rodenticides, ingested industrial and household wastes, poisonous plants like garden lilies and daffodils, diseases, and parasites passed on from other cats or urban wildlife. Cat scratch disease, rabies, toxoplasmosis, and intestinal parasites are examples of serious conditions that can be transferred from cats to humans. Cars, predators, unwanted pregnancies, injuries from catfights and other encounters are only a few examples of dangers that unsupervised cats face outdoors.
All the risks mentioned above can be addressed with the proposed changes to the Animal Responsibility Bylaw in Nanaimo, making the City a safe place for cats, birds and other animals. It's important that municipalities promote positive action for cat owners for the sake of good neighbour relations, environmental stewardship, and public health.

Stewardship Centre for BC 6 months ago

I am not in support of the proposed section of the bylaw that restricts cats from being free to roam outside of its own property. To restrict a cat who has been allowed years of outdoor freedom will not only be distressing to the cat but to the owner as well. Cats are creatures of habit and any changes in their daily routine can cause chronic stress and lead to other negative issues and behaviors.
I fully support mandatory spaying/neutering of cats who are allowed outdoors, and I support cats having a tattoo, microchip, or other means of identification. If a cat has a tattoo or microchip, then the wearing of collars and tags should not be made mandatory unless the owner so choses. Pet owners should also consider having their pets annually vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease.
Unlike some other animals, domestic cats are not a hazard to the public. In my opinion, the existing wildlife (deer, rats, raccoons) that roam freely in Nanaimo neighbourhoods cause far more damage to gardens, plants and property than cats do.
I believe the City of Nanaimo has far more pressing issues to solve and spend money on than worrying about cats who are free to explore outside.

MT 6 months ago

I fully endorse the proposed bylaw that includes prohibiting cats from roaming free outdoors. It is high time we had this in our city. I am frequently disgusted by the way several cats in our neighbourhood appear to spend up to 24 hours a day outside, with most of this time spent on properties other than their own. They leave parts of dead birds on our driveways and yards, and spend the nights in our patios and backyards sleeping on our outdoor furniture (often near the birdfeeders). Worst of all they leave their own properties and make their way to a neighbouring yard to poop in the garden. Several of our neighbours have small children who play in their yards. We recently asked a friend, who has been a cat owner for decades, why people would leave their cats outside almost 24/7 and were informed "Oh that's easy, they don't want to deal with a dirty litter box," Well, non-owners of cats should not have to put up with the unsanitary problem of the feces of other people's cats. Furthermore, some of these cats have got into our homes when a door was left open momentarily. Enough already - It is time for this bylaw.

Lorca Nanaimo 6 months ago

I am in full support of these proposed implementations; it is very clearly a step in the right direction. Cat owners should be held to the same degree of care and responsibility as those who own dogs (or any other animal for that matter). There is clear evidence in support of laws being put into effect to spay/neuter cats, have mandatory licensing, and indoor policy only-- this benefits the community (animals and humans) as well as the animal itself. Small fauna; which includes amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals including our natives species & endemic species are vulnerable against the constant strain of household cats. Nanaimo used to be more farmland properties as well as a small urban community growing slowly but this has radically changed, in the last 10 years we have seen an increase in the population of Nanaimo, this includes new residents as well as their household pets. Cats can wear break-away collars with bells to help eliminate these factors but there is strong suggestive evidence from several communities here in BC and on Vancouver Island that indoor cats are the best possible thing for the community and wildlife. There is no reason a cat cannot be satiated within the confines of a warm, safe, and modifiable home (just as any other animal that is kept in the home). Cats being left to their own devices outside, unneutered/unspayed, as well as unregistered creates big opportunity to spread disease, overpopulate and create feral cat populations which would cause further damage. It is not secret that cats have had a huge impact on a variety of wild animals the world over, but it is hard to ignore the 100-350 million birds being decimated by our cats annually. There is a responsible way to keep every animal, cats are no different. I would like to see microchips as mandatory as well as spaying/neutering as there is no downside to longevity and health. If it was mandatory for cats to stay inside, we would see less felines hit by cars and more wildlife in our community without the strain of predation by our pets. The idea that it would stress out cats already living/roaming outside is not unheard of, but it is a moot point. Animals and humans can adjust, given some time anything is possible, and this simply is not a difficult one. Eventually attitudes shift and with stronger legislation the community will grow to evolve with the changes. I agree strongly that there is a lot to revisit with the 'vicious' dog bylaw as this has been a clear issue for years now and I do agree with changing its status to 'aggressive' dog. My own experiences with off leash dogs have been varied, many times it hasn’t been a concern but I do think back to when my elderly Rottweiler rescue dog was attached by three 5lb miniature dogs in my front doorway-- I was shocked to have to kick them away to prevent them from biting his back legs, tail, and butt as the owner ran in disbelief across the road from the school parking lot to our door where they now were in frenzy. I think there's a lot of frustrated people out there and I can sympathize, it think there should be very clear legislation for cat and dog owners. For those who do not wish to see more harm done to their gardens or local ecosystem this is great platform to start with, lots of potential to change for the better! There is no evidence to correlate rodent control with outdoor cat populations, these efforts of rodent control could be better met with natural predation if we eliminated the strain that cats take on the rodents natural predators (ie; raccoons, owls, falcons, hawks, etc). I look forward to these changes for a more balanced and understanding community! Thank you for your time.

Simplyblissful 6 months ago

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your proposed bylaw amendment. The proposed bylaw is progressive, respectful and treats all pet owners consistently. We strongly encourage Council to pass this bylaw. We are particularly pleased to see that responsible pet ownership includes a no-roam policy for cats. The evidence is overwhelming that its is better for cats and better for wildlife to keep them separate, and a responsible pet ownership bylaw that includes addressing roaming cats is a very important step in that direction. Cats are natural hunters are most cats are extremely adept at catching birds. It is estimated in Canada that outdoor cats kill between 100 million and 350 million birds annually. http://www.ace-eco.org/vol8/iss2/art11/ Cats are also the key vector in the spread of toxoplasmosis gondii to humans. Over 150 municipalities in Canada have such policies and that number is growing as people accept responsibility for their pets. We encourage council to include with the policy and educational campaign so that those cats owners who currently permit their cats to wander at large have time to adapt. There are many organizations that have great resources on transitioning cats from outdoors to indoors, leash training, and other suggestions to help with that transition including the BC Stewardship Centre. https://stewardshipcentrebc.ca/cats-and-birds/. Passing this bylaw is definitely the right and progressive thing to do.

Ted Cheskey 6 months ago

The proposed new bylaw is unreasonable, regressive, arbitrary, ultra vires and vastly overreaches the true purpose of animal control bylaws, which is to protect people, property and animals from injury, disease or damage.

Some examples: 1) Anyone whose dog is not on a leash 6-feet or less, including the many who use extendable “flexi” leashes readily available in all Nanaimo stores, is contravening the prohibition of having a dog at large and risks having their dog summarily seized and impounded by an animal control officer. This is an unreasonable provision that ignores obvious realities of dog ownership in Nanaimo. 2) The definition of public place seeks to extend council’s authority to higher levels of government. It also conflicts with policies recently approved by the SD68 board, acting pursuant to its authority under the School Act. This definition is vulnerable to review for correctness and is indicative of regulatory overreach and a heavy-handedness that pervades many other provisions. 3) The City’s definition of At Large is unreasonable as it seeks to rewrite established legal definitions, which define at large to mean an animal roaming and making its own decisions independent of a handler. A dog not on a leash but under the command and control of a competent handler should not be considered at large. It is merely off-leash, which may or may not be appropriate in the circumstances. The bylaw should differentiate and there should be no power to impound merely because a dog is not on a leash. 4) Dog owners are required to have control of their dogs in off-leash areas, which must be demonstrated by their dog responding to verbal commands or hand signals. The hand signals provision is nonsensical as it would require a dog to be looking at the handler at all times, which isn’t likely in an off-leash park. This provision, which demonstrates the lack of understanding of realities evident throughout the bylaw, is unreasonable and ignores the fact that many well-trained dogs are trained to respond to whistles or electronic signals, yet the bylaw does not accept these methods of recall and control. 5) The definition of an aggressive dog is so broad that almost every dog could be captured by it. In the absence of a clear definition of “aggressively pursues” or stipulated burdens of proof, a dog that merely chases another dog in an off-leash park to the annoyance of another owner is at risk of having their dog designated aggressive by someone who is not required by their job description to have any specialized knowledge of animal behaviour. A mature dog that corrects an exuberant puppy by air snapping is similarly vulnerable. Without an exemption, a herding dog that pursues livestock for work purposes can be designated aggressive in Nanaimo and their owners subjected to arbitrary penalties and provisions that lack any of the procedural fairness expected in a democratic society. The bylaw strips residents of their normal rights and literally gives animal control officers -- defined by a Nanaimo Animal Control Services recruitment ad as a “low-level policing” job -- the powers of cop, judge and executioner. 6) The requirement that cats be leashed or otherwise restrained, which is an American concept, runs contrary to their basic instincts to roam, which is enshrined in the laws of progressive countries in Europe. In the UK, for example, cats are protected in parliamentary law (Animal Act 1971) as “free spirits” and have freedom to roam. No public good is served by the at large provisions against cats. If it was a problem, our courts would be full of cases seeking damages done by trespassing cats, yet there are none. At best, council would be acquiescing to a group of intolerant people who otherwise couldn’t be bothered to seek redress in small claims court.

Ultimately, I believe this bylaw needs to be given much more careful consideration and rewriting before council can confidently adopt it. Since council approved a 20 per cent increase in its animal control budget prior to the closing of public comments on this draconian new bylaw, I sincerely doubt my or anyone else’s input will be taken seriously.

Dominic Jones 6 months ago

Thank you for the opportunity. I feel that requiring a cat to wear a collar is dangerous. Cats are not as trainable as dogs and unless you leash and collar train as kittens they just lay on the ground or fight their leash to the point of hysteria. We have indoor outdoor, treated for fleas and vaccinated cats. We also have a large covered sandbox in our yard, which they use. I believe licensing and ticketing for cats is going to be a huge expense that should not be put in place...at all. Cats are not dogs and do not attack, maim or kill people or other cats. Focus on ownership but use the microchip make it mandatory. We’ve seen cats almost strangled by collars, getting their foot stuck trying to get it off, please don’t do this or at least grandfather it in so that existing cats don’t apply.

Auntiegm 6 months ago

Free-roaming cats suffer, spread disease to humans (and animals) and kill wildlife unnecessarily. Owners need to take responsibility for their pets and allowing them to roam off your property is not responsible. People are absolutely free to decide to expose themselves to disease but anyone must understand that the city has an obligation to protect others that are exposed without their knowledge or consent. There are very important reasons for sections of these bylaws - feeding leads to increased disease, earlier ages of sexual maturity, larger litters, attracts wildlife and MORE cats. It would be much more beneficial to cats to provide feral cat enclosures and to build a culture in Nanaimo where cats matter. We need to help the cat rescue groups by not burdening them any further - read the feedback from NAPS. As a community we need to elevate the welfare standards of cats by investing effort into their welfare, we can do more than just swinging open a door - that is not enrichment, that is a disengagement and is outdated. Cats are not dogs but they deserve the same dedication and effort. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's position is to discourage free-roaming and encourages exactly what Nanaimo is doing here. If this bylaw worries anyone, ask your veterinarian for help on how to make this transition, cats don't need to be indoors - they need to be supervised - there are many resources available on harness training and catios. Legislation changes behaviour, it takes time, but look at dogs - these rules help us grow as a community and that is why not too many dog owners are complaining here. ;) Amy Wilson DVM

jaebae 6 months ago

I am in support of requiring cat owners to spay/neuter their pets and the use of tattoos to ID strays. I provided food,water and outdoor shelter for a small colony of feral cats (which I was able to trap and have neutered with the aid of other cat protectors) for many years. They each chose to spend some time in the warmth of my house in their later years during bad weather, while always having the freedom to go in and out the cat door. Other feral cats have since adopted me on their own terms (I have the scars to show how difficult it can be to catch such a creature for what I consider as obligatory neutering) and are now partly domesticated i.e. they are less likely to gift me with rats. I can not support a bylaw which bans feeding feral cats or restricts cats to an indoor life. Issues with feral cats can be humanely dealt with by organizations such as Cat Nap through their Trap Neuter Release program. City grant funding for TNR and the SPCA SNIP initiative together with education initiatives would be a much better use of City dollars than funding more Animal Control Officers . I don't see how a ban on cats being "at large" could be enforced no matter how many ACOs were hired.

Pandora 6 months ago

l am pleased to see that a control of free roaming cats is included. I am an avid gardener, It is totally irritating to have to deal with neighbourhood cats that use my garden beds as a litter box. When I have brought this subject up to neighbours with free roaming cats, I am told cats need to be free. Interesting that the needs of the cats override my need for garden beds devoid of cat faces. Since civil conversation with cat owners appears useless, a bylaw would certainly help. To say nothing of the effect free roaming cats have on the song bird population. I live in the RDN and would certainly support such a by law. Pleased to see this by law being considered.

Myra 6 months ago

I am in full support of this bylaw.
Free-roaming cats have a well-documented negative effect on our ecosystem, through predation of birds and insects (see e.g., this or countless other studies: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pan3.10073). In addition, the nuisance and health concerns over cats defecating in yards and vegetable gardens is significant. I grow much of my own food, and protecting my vegetable beds from the 8 neighbourhood cats that use my yard as their litter box is an unnecessary expense and a major irritant. None of my cat-owning neighbours would allow me to bring a dog into their yard and allow it to defecate there on a regular basis, nor to contaminate their food with its feces, but this is considered perfectly acceptable when it comes to their cats.
If you claim to care about the environment, then please keep your cats inside. If Nanaimo truly cares about sustainability, then please create a bylaw that prohibit free-roaming cats.

AJ 6 months ago

Not all animals are the same... so, they shouldn’t have the same bylaws. Cats are not equal to dogs.

Curtis 6 months ago

Please consider the following before making a decision on the proposed bylaw:

The costs to implement such bylaw: can the city please provide a cost analysis to carry out the proposed cat bylaw & licensing – including staff resources, equipment, administration and technical requirements, shelter requirements and how to address current feral cat health concerns
The capture of at large cats:
allowing citizens to capture a cat (both domestic and feral) will cause angst between citizens, and can be dangerous
cats are elusive in their behavior, making trapping one of the only ways to capture them
how is ownership of the cat proven if they are unmarked/unchipped?
Sections 444 to 447 of Canada’s Criminal Code prohibits “unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal”
Most shelters report low re-claim rates (approx. 1-11%) due to owners looking to avoid fines, boarding fees, vaccinations & deworming– where are all of these cats going? If euthanized, that’s an additional cost to the city (taxpayers)
Declines in cat populations have been attributed to spay & neuter bylaws, as well as public education, not the forcing of cats indoors
Cats are not dogs: any nod to this reference is not an apples to apples comparison, and should not be considered
If we continue with this train of thought, then will the city be building multiple off-leash cat parks?
The great “poop” debate:
Toxoplasmosis can be found in multiple places (raw or uncooked meats & shellfish) and left behind by multiple types of animals
Cats contract the parasite from ingesting uncooked meat and hunting, which is primarily the routine of a feral cat
There are many humane ways of keeping a cat out of your garden, without having to force the cat to remain indoors
Orange peels, coffee grounds, cayenne & egg shells
Motion lights & sprinklers
Many other cities & municipalities have considered a “cats at large” bylaw and found that it costs more to run & enforce, than what they actually would get out of it
Out of BC’s 25 largest municipalities, plus an additional 18 with BCSPCA branches, only eight (18%) do not allow cats to roam at large
Additional research into the findings from these cities should be considered
https://spca.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/bc-municipal-animal-bylaw.pdf
Review studies that separate feral and domestic cats (see images) – lumping the domestic cats together with the feral cats does not represent accurate data
http://www.ace-eco.org/vol8/iss2/art3/ACE-ECO-2012-557.pdf
https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/27854/NZP_Marra_2015-Direct_Mortality_of_Birds_from_Anthropogenic_Causes.pdf

Finally, I encourage you all to make a fully informed and educated decision. If we’ve learned anything from Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), it’s that we should not judge a book by its cover – just because citizens are complaining about poop and birds, doesn’t mean that it’s the domestic cats sole doing. Feral cats are the real problem here.

LiveLoveLaugh 6 months ago

This proposed Animal Responsibility Bylaw document needs further revision in a number of specific areas with respect to having an enhanced protective focus on animal well-being. Some examples include: Sudden enforcement of the bylaw preventing currently fixed, vaccinated pet cats to roam is going to cause undue stress on pet cats--if owners attempt to comply, and if they don’t. Disgruntled neighbours will be able to trap and take roaming pets to the pound, whether they are caught on or off the private property of those neighbours, without personal consequence for that action; The sections on tethering and confinement need to be reconsidered. Some of the wording regarding numbers of pets allowed also needs to be more specific to the breed and situation. Choke, prong and shock collars cause stress and anxiety to animals and should absolutely be prohibited in any progressive change in animal legislation.

This proposal is a good start but, despite the input of chosen consultants, should not be passed as is. This is our chance to make Nanaimo a safer and kinder place for domestic animals. Thank you to Council for offering this opportunity for community input.

CJRO 6 months ago

With regard to claims posted in the Feedback and Questions Sections of the City's Get Involved website, which states there is no correlation between cats and rodent control: Evidence within the ANIMAL CONTROL SERVICE REVIEW REPORT document indicates the City of Nanaimo acknowledges there is a relationship between cats and rodent control as follows; Page 32… “cats are delivered to Cat Nap Society where they are microchipped and spayed or neutered, treated, fostered (if in need of care), and either returned to the community or placed with a local farmer to assist with rodent control”. Page 36… “feral cats are put to work as "mousers" to help manage rodent populations in local barns”.

CJRO 6 months ago

Watch the video. Has the best points yet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyVstRkxc6A

catspajamas 6 months ago

We have lived in many cities across the country and this is the first city we have lived that does not have a comprehensive animal bylaw.
Although I appreciate comments from cat owners who are responsible and considerate of their neighbours, there are some who do not respect others properties and do not take care of their pets.
We lived on a dead-end street with 20 homes and there are 5 cats who roam day and night.
We have several concerns about these cats as they are outside most of the time.
We have to vacuum our outdoor furniture regularly to remove cat hair as one of these cats likes to sleep in our backyard. We have family members who have extreme reactions to cat hair, to the point that they cannot visit a home that have cats. We have no control over our neighbour's cats and I don’t think you should not have to have an EpiPen ready and waiting in your own home in case a neighbourhood cat comes into our property.
We have to monitor our doors and garage as the cats feel free to visit any home anytime, our back door has been damaged by scratching.
Recently I had to remove cat hair from our bird feeders. We designed our garden to attract birds but are concerned that they will not return if the cat issues continue.
Several of my plants have been ruined by these cats defecating on them.
As these cats are out day and night, we are often woken up to very loud cat fights.
I find it challenging that people believe that their animals have a right to be on our property with no supervision on their part and would appreciate their understanding of others issues regarding their pets.

lovemycity 6 months ago