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.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
Do you have questions about the new Animal Responsibility Bylaw? Please review the bylaw and related documents and submit your question here. 
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    Is the term "restricted dog" is being removed, does that mean that those restricted dog breeds no longer needs to be muzzled in public or be registered with the CKC and have the "canine good citizen" certification?

    aw asked 4 months ago

    Under the new bylaw, any dogs currently designated as a vicious or dangerous dog would need to follow the aggressive/dangerous dog provisions outlined in the bylaw. Going forward, any dog (regardless of breed) that has been deemed aggressive, dangerous would have to be muzzled.  Details on the rationale  for removing the definition of “restricted dog” are outlined in the November 9, 2020 report that went to Council as follows:

    Removing Reference to “Restricted Dogs”

    The SPCA and the City’s Animal Control provider both oppose breed specific restrictions, as evidence demonstrates that it does not adequately address the problem of dog aggression in a community. Some of the reasons cited by the SPCA include:

    • breed specific restrictions ignores the fact that aggressive behaviour can occur in any breed and therefore does not protect the public;
    • breed specific restrictions do nothing to discourage irresponsible behaviour by people who breed, train, sell or possess dangerous dogs that are not named under the breed ban;
    • there are no efficient methods to determine a dog’s breed in a way that can withstand a legal challenge.  Any breed ban bylaw inevitably results in the creation of subjective and arbitrary factors to determine breed;
    • in order to avoid breed specific restrictions, people who want aggressive dogs simply switch to other breeds or select cross-breeds that are difficult to classify.  Some jurisdictions have now banned upwards of 30 breeds in order to follow these trends, placing great burdens on enforcement; and
    • breed specific restrictions treads upon the rights of responsible dog guardians who cherish a non-aggressive pet whose breed may fall under the legislation.


    Changing “Vicious Dog” to “Aggressive Dog

    The “Vicious Dog” definition was removed as it included reference to “Restricted” dogs, which has been removed under the new draft (see rationale above).  The new definition for Aggressive Dogs reflects the aggressive behaviour of any dog, regardless of breed.  Additional provisions for licencing of aggressive dogs, as well as duties for aggressive dog owners, has been added as recommended in the SPCA’s model bylaw.    

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    If a cat by law comes into effect, where, cats have to be confined would this also pertain to cats in Trailer Parks ?

    bushfreak asked 4 months ago

    The rules of the bylaw as it relates to cats being on another person’s property (other than the owner) or in a public place would apply throughout the City. Additional rules for stratas and trailer parks may also apply.

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    It's important for everyone who has a pet as a companion to be responsible and keep them safe and secure as well as being responsible to the neighborhood. I believe the majority of people do. Any changes to the bylaw should be to ensure the health, safety and security of our pets, taking into consideration that each species is different and will require a different set of requirements and/or restrictions, not for the appeasement of a minority. As these changes to the Animal Responsibility Bylaw is a "complaint based" initiative, just how many written complaints have there been with respect to roaming cats, noisy cats, cat feces, or other cat issues?

    CJRO asked 4 months ago

    As the City does not have a bylaw in place where Animal Control can act on complaints related to nuisance cats, they are not being formally recorded. However, Nanaimo Animal Control does gets calls frequently and so, for the purposes of conducting research for the bylaw, a trial log was created between September 24 – November 7. During that six week time period, there were 20 calls documented related to cats for an average of 3-4 per week. Roughly 50% of those were related to nuisance cat complaints and the other 50% were related to welfare cats.

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    Chickens don’t count as pets, right? Their limit is separate?

    Curtis asked 4 months ago

    Correct. Poultry is covered under Sections 65-68 of the bylaw.

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    Does this only involve Cats and Dogs ? I heard that you want to limit Pets to 4 per Household However what then would happen to Clubs like ours that rescue Parrot and take them into there Households , a club that has more then 400 Members and is located in Nanaimo, I hardly believe that most of our Members have less then 4 Parrots?????

    Uwe asked 4 months ago

    Some exemptions apply to the pet limits including those who are fostering on behalf of animal rescue organizations. Please review the FAQs and the bylaw (pdf) for more information. 

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    How will the situation be rectified if cats continue to wander off their property? What is the process for the cat owner and what is the process for the neighbours? What happens if the cat owner refuses to comply with the bylaws?

    Vic123 asked 4 months ago

    The bylaw is complaint driven. If it was a nuisance complaint, Animal Control would reach out to the owner to advise of the bylaw infraction and to seek compliance with the owner. If compliance cannot be reached and the cat continues to be a nuisance, the owner could be fined. 

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    How will mandatory neuter/spay be enforced?

    Curtis asked 4 months ago

    Mandatory neuter/spaying pertains to cats (exemptions are provided for breeders).  No one can force an owner to spay or neuter their cat; however, the fine for a cat that is impounded if it is unsterilized would be much higher than for a sterilized cat.    

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    Have you looked into how this might affect pet owners searching for rentals? A lot of people end up forced to surrender pets, because their new landlord does not accept pets. Now, even if a landlord would accept pets... if there is already the maximum number of a certain animal or animals in general they may have to be rejected in order to stay within the limit allowed by these new bylaws or give up their pets.

    Curtis asked 4 months ago

    Currently the laws regarding landlords and tenancy are governed by the Landlord Tenant Act of BC.

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    Are the limits based on households or the actual owner? I have animals and so does my roommate. If two people move in together and the combined numbers pushes the limit, then what happens? What if there is a rental suite would landlord and tenant animals be calculated together?

    Curtis asked 4 months ago

    The limit is based on per property not per person. 

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    What would the process be for getting a breeder business licence from the city? Just a valid BN and address?

    Curtis asked 4 months ago

    There is a home-based business license application process. Find more information on business licenses on our website.