Sylvan eyes cat bylaw

The Town of Sylvan Lake is considering putting its cats on a short leash.

The Town of Sylvan Lake is considering putting its cats on a short leash.

A proposed bylaw would require licensing cats and an end to cats being allowed to roam free. Owners who let their felines run at large could face a $50 first-time offence fine. That doubles to $100 if there is another offence within six months.

Council got its first look at a draft bylaw during an Aug. 24 council committee meeting and the new regulations are expected to come back to council at the Monday, Sept. 14, meeting.

In the meantime, staff and council hoped to get a little local feedback at a community information fair on Thursday at the Sylvan Lake Community Centre, said Councillor Lynda Sills Fiedler. “We’re just going to sound people out,” she said.

Fiedler expects a cat bylaw will be well received. In the past four years, she has had about 20 calls from residents frustrated with loose cats.

Council asked staff to record complaints to get a better feel for the scope of the problem. “When we started asking them to track them, we actually found there were quite a few.”

A licence will cost $25 for spayed or neutered cats and $50 for unaltered animals. Licences will be required for any cats three months or older. Residents will be limited to three cats per household and owners are expected to ensure each has an identity tag.

Under the bylaw, cats scooped up by an animal control officer will be kept for 72 hours and then can be destroyed or sold.

Residents with cat problems can get a trap from an animal control officer, which must be regularly checked or the homeowner setting the trap could face a $500 fine. The same fine applies to residents who don’t turn over captured cats to the pound or who try to lure cats into running at large or tease cats into a trap.

A number of communities have taken a look at treating cats the same as dogs when it comes to licensing.

Sundre brought in a licensing bylaw last year after residents tired of cats running wild, defecating on lawns and ruining plants. Blackfalds also brought in a bylaw that treats dogs and cats equally, requiring licences and restricting the number of animals allowed per household.

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