Cat owners should be required to licence their pets

The City of Red Deer has a double standard when it comes to dogs and cats. Dogs must be licensed. Cats do not require licences.

The City of Red Deer has a double standard when it comes to dogs and cats.

Dogs must be licensed. Cats do not require licences.

As well, if Bowser runs loose, the fine is higher than if kitty decides to go wandering.

And now, there appears to be evidence that cat owners are not as responsible as dog owners.

At one point, my household included three dogs. The city was always kind enough to send out a reminder in December that licence renewal time was around the corner.

Over the past couple of years, all three of our dogs made their way to that place all good souls go. Even after they died, we still received notice from the city that the next year’s licence needed to be purchased. Of course, the notices stopped once I informed the city we no longer had any dogs.

Cat owners don’t get this special attention from the city, but they should.

The city only recommends that people purchase cat identification tags as a means of returning lost kitties to their owners.

The city doesn’t actually offer the cat identification tags.

They can be bought at places like Alberta Animals Services for about $10.

While wandering dogs or cats are a no-no, if you own a dog, and you don’t get a licence, the first fine is $65. If you own a cat, the fine for a first offence is only $30.

Yet it probably requires more time and effort to catch a cat than dog.

And cats can be as troublesome as loose dogs. If there’s any doubt, you’ll be reminded as you start digging up those flower beds in the not too distant future.

In Red Deer, if you have a dog, it’ll cost you $23 per licence if it’s been altered, or $53 if it hasn’t been spayed or neutered. A tomcat, on the other hand, is free to prowl the neighbourhood looking for action at no extra cost to its owner for being unaltered.

That simply doesn’t make sense, nor is it fair.

Unfortunately, apparently about half of Red Deer’s dog owners are not licensing their pets.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, according to an Ipsos Reid survey, about 40 per cent of city dog owners don’t think they should have to license their dogs when the animal lives mostly indoors (small cat-sized breeds most likely), and a full 30 per cent think licensing shouldn’t be required at all.

They will especially think this when they realize that cat owners are not required to buy a pet licence.

The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted last fall, also appeared to show that dog owners are more responsible than cat owners.

Heaven forbid we should have a cat owner/dog owner war, but 91 per cent of dog owners have vaccinated their pet for rabies, while only 77 per cent of cat owners have done so.

And the local animal control staff say up to 90 per cent of cats they pick up have no identification, while 80 per cent of the dogs they find do have identification.

What’s with cat owners?

Maybe because the city doesn’t have a cat licensing bylaw, some of them figure they can slack off in other ways.

I’m not anti-cat. If I weren’t so allergic to them, I would have had one. I admire their independent and playful nature.

But cat owners should be required to licence their pets and, whether it’s a dog or a cat running loose, the fines should be equal.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at barr@bprda.wpengine.com or by phone at 403-314-4332.

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