Potential new Lacombe animal bylaw introduces lifetime licenses

Bylaw promises to reduce City’s animal impounding costs

The City of Lacombe Council gave first and second reading to bylaw that will tie in all of their animal bylaw into an omnibus legislation.

Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw which incorporates dogs, cats, urban hens, and livestock, if it passes third reading on Feb. 25th, will in theory help make registering your animals in the City of Lacombe an easier process.

“It all started with the nuisance bylaw,” Diane Piché, City director of corporate services, said. “Council wanted to have a look and see what changes could be made in that bylaw an one of the biggest items had to do with cats.”

Currently, only dogs require yearly registration in the City — meaning that 80 per cent of missing dogs are returned to their owners. Since cats are unlicensed in the City, only four per cent of cats impounded by the City are able to be returned.

The City has decided to take this opportunity not only to license cats in the City, but also create an easier one-time process for both dog and cat owners.

“What we are proposing is a lifetime license,” Piché said.

Typically, over 90 per cent of dog owners re-registering in the City do not have their address information change — which is the primary reason the City was registering them on a yearly basis. The one-time lifetime license will allow animal owners to save significantly from year-to-year.

Since animal licensing only brings in around $20,000 and the cost to shelter and impound animals is very high – Piché expects there will not be any significant budget hit by this bylaw

“We should be gaining about $45,000 in revenue for the first year, Piché said. “With a lifetime license, the next year we won’t have that revenue. We foresee averaging around 100 dogs and 100 cats that come into the City every year, which would be about $6,000 in yearly revenue.”

The savings, Piché said, will come from a decrease in impounded and bylaw enforcement fees.

“For cats alone, we impounded 52 cats in 2018 and only two of them were returned to their owner,” she said. “If an animal is returned to their owner — the owner pays those fees.

“We are hoping to see a drop in those fees, because if people are registering their cats, they should be returned to their owners a lot more.”

Councillor Reuben Konnik did point out a concern with the “vicious animal” portion of the bylaw, which is intended to outline the municipalities powers when it comes to animals that have been legally deemed dangerous

“If a dog is deemed vicious, a municipality has the ability to seek certain conditions on that animal. I am still clarifying that for the Feb. 25th meeting,” Piché said. “In all honesty — that will be few and far between. Very few animals are deemed vicious but it can happen and we have to be prepared for it.”

Third reading will likely come at the Feb. 25th Regular Council Meeting.


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