All pet cats would have to be licensed in Red Deer, and could no longer roam freely outdoors under a proposed Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.
So far, only 77 Red Deer residents have provided feedback on the first suggested changes to the city’s cat bylaws since 1996, so Amy Fengstad, the city’s parking and licensing supervisor, is hoping for more public input before the online survey closes on Oct. 21
So far, the most contentious topic seems to be cat licensing, said Fengstad — “that and on removing the cap on chickens…”
The new Responsible Pet bylaw proposes that all cats must be licensed and must stay on the owners’ properties and not wander the streets, alleyways or other people’s yards.
The five top issues for surveyed residents are: Cats roaming and causing property damage and songbird deaths, and leaving their odour and feces; dogs illegally roaming off-leash; dog poop left uncollected in parks, incessant dog barking; a public desire for more urban chicken licenses.
Fengstad said much has changed in public attitudes since the last cat bylaw was passed 26 years ago — including a realization of the damage domesticated cats are wreaking on wildlife. “They are hard on bird populations.”
Cats also face a growing array of outdoor hazards, including more traffic.
Additionally, many Red Deerians do not want them in their yards, leaving feces and sometimes causing property damage, said Fengstad. “Some people think roaming cats are a nuisance…”
Red Deerian George Croome recently tackled this topic in a letter to the Advocate, complaining about all the cat droppings he recently dug out of his garden, musing “Why people think I need to maintain a toilet for their precious pets seems to evade me.” Croome complained about how long its taking the city to prepare a new pet bylaw.
The draft on the city’s website doesn’t only cover cats, but also dogs, exotic animals and urban chickens.
Fengstad said the proposed bylaw would also remove the cap on urban chicken licenses, potentially allowing more families to keep chickens in their yards.
As well, the proposed bylaw contains a new section on nuisance pets. Fengstad said some enforcement measures will be suggested for dealing with nuisance domestic animals, such as dogs that bark incessantly, or cats or dogs who escape from their houses or yards and roam onto neighbourhood properties.
“We want them to be safe in their own yards,” added Fengstad.
(Skunks, urban rabbits and other wildlife are not included in the nuisance animal policy.)
A What We Heard Report and online public input form can be found at reddeer.ca/animalbylaw. The public input closes on Oct. 21 and Fengstad hopes to bring the new bylaw to city council for approval early in 2023.