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Animal Control: Borough adopts bylaw with one-year tryout

Animal Control: Borough adopts bylaw with one-year tryout

The CDN-NDG borough adopted its own animal control bylaw at the May 6 borough council meeting to address problems like the overpopulation of companion animals, but some feel that it doesn’t go far enough.

Members of the group Action pour un service animalier public (ASAP), the only animal welfare organization in the borough, feels that the bylaw can be improved substantially by some simple amendments.

Karen Urtnewski says that the purpose of the bylaw is to address the problem at the source by creating disincentives to breeding and incentives for the sterilization of pets. “The bylaw reflects this priority to some extent […] but allowing residents to have up to four unsterilized animals is only going to contribute to the animal overpopulation problem,” she said. Urtnewski suggested that keeping more than a single unsterilized animal be prohibited, like the 2011 bylaw adopted in Verdun. “Even a single unsterilized animal can give rise to dozens of offspring in the space of just one year,” she said.

Mayor Lionel Perez noted that the bylaw reduces the number of unsterilized animals from five to four. “I think it’s a strong first step,” he said. The idea is to adopt a bylaw as uniform as possible, with not too many variations from one borough to the next. It must also balance the needs of different stakeholders and private individuals.

According to Daniel Lafond, director of urban planning, 173 cats were treated over the last year and a half, since the borough signed a contract with the SPCA for a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program. “I think that our bylaw is pretty close to the Verdun bylaw so I think we answer your concerns,” he said
Urtnewski raised other problems. She pointed out that the proposed wording for the TNR “criminalizes”  abandoned and stray animals. The bylaw should aim at facilitating procedures for finding homes for stray dogs and should treat all feral cats as candidates for TNR. Also, the definition of stray animal makes no distinction between cats without homes and home cats that are indoor/outdoor. “If I let her out, my cat can be picked up and euthanized within three days. She has a home, she’s vaccinated and she’s sterilized. It’s pretty tough on owned cats as well,” she said.

Perez said that the bylaw offers cat owners the possibility of obtaining a permit and a tag for their animals. Urtnewski was not convinced. “Cats lose their collars all the time,” she said.

Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand agreed with most of Urtnowski’s remarks. He noted that she’s basically asking for compulsory spay and neutering, making it obligatory for all pet owners. “That’s something that we could possibly consider,”  he said. But rather than to drop the bylaw, he suggested that council adopt it and amend it in the future.

Dr. Ingrid Hings hopes that the bylaw won’t “create situations where people find themselves obliged to get rid of their animals.”  She asked for a grandfathering clause, since the new bylaw limits the number of animals to four, down from six. “If you currently have two dogs and four cats, I think it’s inhumane to the animals if owners have to euthanize them or give them up.”

Lafond said that no grandfathering clauses can be recognized in this bylaw. “I do not feel we have the authority to do so, but, even if we did, it would become very complex in its application.”

The third citizen to speak on the subject, Ruth Pike, was somewhat reassured that no loopholes can be exploited by private individuals. Only veterinarians, shelters and legally operating pet stores can sell animals. “I realize that you don’t want to see any pet stores at all. I’m not sure we have the power to ban them,” said Rotrand.

As to selling unsterilized animals, Perez replied it’s not illegal. “Until that kind of law is passed, it’s not something we can prohibit,” he said.

“The bylaw is a great improvement to the present situation,” concluded Rotrand. It is similar to that adopted in other boroughs.

He proposed to review the bylaw as is, and to modify it later so that the borough can adopt “one that is more similar to the Verdun’s bylaw, which goes a lot further.” The bylaw was adopted and Mayor Perez proposed to try it out for a year.

Marie Cicchini |
Photo : Marie Cicchini

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