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Updates proposed for Animal Control Bylaw

Changes could be in store for pet owners in Rocky View County (RVC). Lorraine Wesley-Riley, manager of RVC Enforcement Services, appeared before the County’s Policy and Priorities Committee (PPC) Nov.
Bylaw Changes
Proposed changes to Rocky View County’s Animal Control Bylaw include licensing cats in residential districts and a limit on pet numbers per property.

Changes could be in store for pet owners in Rocky View County (RVC). Lorraine Wesley-Riley, manager of RVC Enforcement Services, appeared before the County’s Policy and Priorities Committee (PPC) Nov. 6 to request policy direction on the Animal Control Bylaw. “[The current bylaw]…was adopted in 2003,” she said. “A review was undertaken with the goal of developing a new bylaw to address ongoing, emerging issues regarding domestic animals and wildlife in RVC.” A number of changes and enhancements were proposed for the bylaw, Wesley-Riley said, which would address those issues. Notably, the bylaw’s licensing section was expanded to require the licensing of cats in residential districts – for example, Langdon, Cochrane Lake, Harmony, Watermark and the South Conrich Conceptual Scheme. The change would address the need to regulate cats in more populated areas of the County to respond to resident concerns. “The inclusion of cats…was not meant to in any way interfere with agricultural pursuits or those that have large acreages, needing to use them for mousing,” Wesley-Riley said. A new section of the bylaw, Animal Numbers, was also proposed. The section would place a limit of three dogs on property in RVC, as well as a limit of four cats on any property in a residential district. Wesley-Riley added special permissions for more animals could be granted under the Land Use Bylaw. Couns. Samanntha Wright, Crystal Kissel and Jerry Gautreau pushed back on the necessity of limiting the number of animals on a property. “I found it really interesting – the City of Calgary does not have a number on their animals,” Kissel said. “When I asked them that question…they said good animal owners are good animal owners and bad animal owners are bad animal owners, and numbers don’t reflect that. Animal hoarding is a whole problem on its own, and has to be dealt with in a very specific way.” Wright said she would be in favour of assessing situations on a case-by-case basis and penalizing bad pet owners incrementally, rather than blanketing the County with a limit on pets. Coun. Kevin Hanson suggested an escalating licensing fee for higher numbers of animals as another possible solution. Another new section, Wesley-Riley said, would allow the County’s enforcement officers to intervene if wildlife posed a threat as the result of an attractant on a property. Attractants would be determined on a case-by-case basis by Enforcement Services. Additionally, she said, a person could be charged if they fail to follow an officer’s direction to remove those attractants. “This section has been included to enhance public safety, and as an acknowledgement that development in the County is encroaching on wildlife habitat, which is starting to result in increased instances of human/wildlife conflict,” Wesley-Riley stated in her report. “I’m a little confused on the wildlife thing,” Kissel said. “I live in a rural area because I want to see the wildlife and enjoy them. If they come up and they eat my hay or drink out of my watering bowl, I, personally, am not offended by that. I enjoy them, and I think that’s going to be a really hard thing to control.” The proposed bylaw also includes the implementation of a County-wide leash requirement for dogs outside of private property, the opportunity to designate off-leash areas, requirements for an owner of a vicious dog and basic standards of animal care. “Ultimately, I think what we’re hearing today is we probably just need a little more information, which is exactly what you’re trying to gather here,” Chair Kim McKylor said. The committee voted unanimously on a motion by Reeve Greg Boehlke to send the proposed bylaw revisions, along with the committee’s suggestions, back to the Policy Review Subcommittee. According to RVC’s Manager of Communications Grant Kaiser, the County hopes to have the bylaw in front of council in December.

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