The City of Meadow Lake will not introduce a proposed bylaw for cats at large, and will instead focus on education around responsible pet ownership and spaying/neutering programs.
After a request from the public to consider a new bylaw was made in April, council requested city administration look into the matter further. During her research, City Manager Diana Burton examined the bylaws other municipalities around the province use to keep animals off the streets. Meadow Lake currently is the only city in the province which does not have a bylaw for cats at large.
In meetings with the local volunteer-run humane society earlier this month, a major concern was raised: the potential for many of the cats impounded under the proposed bylaw to be surrendered to the shelter because the owners are reluctant to pay their fines. In a letter to council, Humane Society President Jillian Doucet said a cat bylaw would not be manageable for the local shelter as it is limited in both capacity and resources.
“In 2017 we took in 132 cats,” Doucet wrote. “Only seven of those were reclaimed by owners. Our suggestion is to encourage owners to be responsible, spay and neuter their cats, and keep their cats indoors.”
“We are going to look at ways we can do it effectively,” Burton said. “It might be some investment in advertising these different programs, but that monetary stuff will come to the budget in future years.”
Given the shelter's 95 per cent abandonment rate, Burton said education initiatives would be the most effective and pragmatic solution.
“Reports from other communities indicated that even where cats are regulated under bylaws, they are still difficult to catch, penalties difficult to enforce, and they still receive a high number of complaints about cats at large,” she said.
Mayor Gary Vidal and the rest of council agreed.
“We’re not ignoring it, we’re just saying there’s better ways that formally regulate it," Vidal said.
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