Owners of nuisance cats in this Shuswap town could be fined thanks to new pet bylaw | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Owners of nuisance cats in this Shuswap town could be fined thanks to new pet bylaw

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A new pet bylaw in Sicamous is ensuring owners whose pets are bothering others can be fined. 

The new pet bylaw came into effect in the town last month. Fines can be given to pet owners whose pets are creating a “nuisance,” including cats.

Jennifer Bruns, corporate officer with the District of Sicamous, said the district included all pets to encourage responsible animal ownership in the community.

“It’s about civic responsibility and ultimately being a good neighbour,” she said.

While cats are still able to roam free, they must have a tag with the owner’s name and contact information, and owners must ensure they don’t poop on public or private property without it being removed immediately.

The owner must ensure the animal doesn't "create a nuisance” to others. The owner of a pet with no identification can face a $100 fine and a $250 fine if their pet is creating a nuisance.

“If you have a pet, regardless of what species it is, are you being a good neighbour?” Bruns asked.

The district didn’t want to limit the bylaw to only dogs and cats but to ensure owners are providing proper care and not interfering with others.

Since the bylaw was implemented in April, she said, complaints have been made to the district about nuisance cats and the district is working with the animal owners.

“We always seek to educate and voluntary compliance with bylaws, we never seek to just lead in with a bunch of fines, that’s not our intention with this.”

The new bylaw also prevents pet owners from leaving their animals unattended in a vehicle between April 30 and Oct. 1, or owners can face a $250 fine.

Other municipalities in the region don't currently have bylaws for all pets, only dogs and farm animals. Salmon Arm defines animals as poultry, sheep, goats, guinea pigs or other farm animals.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan, Vernon, Kamloops and Penticton all have animal control bylaws in relation to dogs but none including pets in general.

Bruce Smith, communications officer for the regional district, said years ago the board discussed implementing a cat control bylaw but the decision was made to leave bylaws with dogs.

Gail Wallin, executive director with the Invasive Species Council in B.C., said via email that they appreciate good pet management practices that help "us all live better together."

"Pet ownership comes with the responsibility of providing good care," Wallin said. "Should a pet owner find they can no longer care for their animal, we urge them to try to re-home their pet, or return it to the store they bought it from. 

"We plead with people never to let pets loose in the wild. Rabbits and goldfish are two animals too often purchased as pets, and later released into the wild where they have severely affected local ecosystems."

The B.C. SPCA did not immediately return a request for comment.

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