After over a year since first reading was approved, the Town of Ponoka approved its new Animal Control Bylaw without fanfare during their regular meeting on Feb. 23.
First and second reading of the bylaw were passed after a brief discussion.
The public consultation was completed in early 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to town communications manager Sandra Smith.
“COVID did delay the process that followed the public consultation as there were other priorities that had to be addressed during that time,” said Smith.
“After carefully reviewing all of the input the Town received during the public consultation process, administration required time to conduct additional research into various aspects of the new bylaw, followed by drafting numerous changes to the bylaw before bringing it back to the Police Advisory Committee for review last fall.
“With the appointment of a new CAO in September 2020, an additional review of the proposed bylaw was conducted which resulted in additional research and changes to the proposed bylaw before it was brought back to council for review and consideration in February, 2021.”
The new bylaw includes provisions for cats as the previous bylaw only dealt with dogs.
Under the new bylaw, all cats and dogs in Ponoka that are six months of age and older are required to be licensed annually.
The bylaw also limited the maximum allowed combined number of cats or dogs to five per residence.
Coun. Carla Prediger asked if the town would be able to enforce the bylaw regarding how many cats or dogs are allowed per household.
“How would we ever know?” said Prediger.
“We are relying on our good residents of Ponoka, that they will come in and license their pets because their licence is their ticket home,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Lund.
First reading of the bylaw was approved on Oct. 8, 2019.
The draft bylaw was then presented to the Police Advisory Committee a few times for review.
“The regulation and licensing of cats were added to the new Bylaw in response to concerns expressed by many citizens over the years asking the town to help alleviate cat issues in Ponoka,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett in a press release.
“Those concerns were echoed widely during an extensive public consultation process held by the town just over a year ago that invited public review and feedback on the new bylaw.”
The enforcement of provisions for cats will come into effect as of July 1, 2021.
Cat tags will be available for purchase by mid-March.
According to the town, the majority of citizens who provided input during the public consultation were in favour of licensing and regulating cats.
Other provisions in the new Bylaw include a grandfather clause for pet owners currently exceeding the five animal limit, a new aggressive dog definition and a new fee and fine schedule.
Applications for a grandfathering licence must be received between April 1 and June 30, 2021. Grandfathering licences need to be renewed annually and are not transferable to another dog or cat.
Other changes include a new definition for exotic pets and cat trapping requirements.
There is also an early bird licensing rate of $15 for pet owners who licences their spayed or neutered cats or dogs between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 prior to renewal each year. Otherwise, a license for a cat or dog is $60 for an unaltered animal and $45 for an altered animal.
An online public open house is currently being held on the town’s website, ponoka.ca, where more information is available about the new bylaw.
If you have any questions about the new Animal Control Bylaw, please phone the town office during regular office hours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at 403-783-4431.