Cat owners may soon be required to license their pets in Lacombe.
City council was to take its first look at a proposed Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw on Monday evening. It suggests treating cats the same way as dogs, which have required licences for years.
The goal of licensing cats is to improve the record of them being returned to their owners and to promote spaying or neutering by charging less for those pet licences, and less still if the pet is tagged with an identifying microchip or tattooed.
Few stray cats ever get returned to their owners, Lacombe statistics show. In 2018, only two of 52 impounded cats were picked up by their owners. The other 50 were adopted.
Dogs are a different story. Of the 29 dogs impounded, 23 — just under 80 per cent — were returned to their owners. The other six were adopted.
“Most cats do not wear a collar, and without any form of identification, there is no way of finding the family of where the cat belongs if they are impounded,” says a report to council.
It is proposed that licence fees be charged on a graduating scale, depending on steps owners take.
Registering an unaltered dog or cat would involve a one-time fee of $150. That fee is only $75 if the animal is spayed or neutered, or if it has an identifying microchip or tattoo.
For animals that have been spayed or neutered and have an identifying tattoo or microchip, the one-time licence fee is only $15.
Those who don’t get a licence or don’t attach it for their dog or cat, face a $100 fine on first offence, $250 on second and $500 on third.
The lifetime licence is another change. Dogs must be licensed each year, but the city has decided to go to a one-time only fee, except when an animal is declared a nuisance or vicious. A licence for those animals cost $100 a year.
To streamline regulations, Lacombe also plans to bring its livestock and urban hens bylaws into the Responsible Pet bylaw.
Council was expected to give the bylaw first and second reading on Monday and final reading on Feb. 25.
Unlike a Land Use Bylaw, there is no public hearing before final reading.
However, the city welcomes feedback from residents before council makes its final decision, said Diane Piche, city director of corporate services.