Lacombe cat owners will have to license their pets under a proposed bylaw going to city council next month.
The municipality is developing a new animal bylaw, which could include a requirement that cat owners license their pets as a way to promote responsible pet ownership, said Diane Piche, director of corporate services.
“We find that whenever we have a lost cat, all we can do is take it to the kennel. We can’t return them to the owner because we just don’t have any means of tracking down the owner.”
Registering cats is seen as a way to encourage owners to identify their pets with tatoos or microchips. An idea being considered is to reduce the cost of a licence to those who have identified their cats.
The same financial incentive could be used to promote the spaying or neutering of cats to help control the population.
Central Alberta Humane Society board chairwoman Amber Mack applauds Lacombe’s effort to encourage cat identification and help prevent over-population.
“We think it’s great,” said Mack.
“It will result in fewer pound costs and fewer cats roaming loose,” she said.
“From our perspective, the cat overpopulation problem is huge and we do feel that cat licensing would create some wins in that area, for sure.”
Being able to identify your pet, ensuring it’s spayed or neutered and licensed are all part of being a responsible pet owner, she said.
Lacombe city council has not made any decision on cat licensing yet. The plan is to pull together all-animal related regulations into a single bylaw. Dog and livestock control bylaws and the urban hen licence bylaw would all be included.
A proposed bylaw is expected to go to council for first reading on Feb. 11.
“It’s anticipated there will be second and third reading on Feb. 25, but if there is a lot of feedback, or a lot of blowback from the citizens on this, council might want to defer third reading and have another look at it,” said Piche.
“So we’ll see how that all plays out.”
While the potential cost of a licence has not been determined, it will be reasonably inexpensive.
“We don’t want to make it where it’s costly or it’s going to be a burden on residents.”
Staff have been looking to other communities to see how they have crafted their bylaws and what regulations have proven most effective.
Licensing cats is not uncommon. Of the 11 similar-sized communities that Lacombe used for comparison, nine have cat bylaws in place.