The Town of Sylvan Lake is currently about to give third reading to a bylaw that would see changes affecting local pet owners.
During Monday night’s Town Council meeting Animal Control Bylaw 1685/2015 was set to be debated however a motion was introduced to table the issue to the May 9th meeting.Council made the decision to reschedule as they felt it would be prudent to gather more information on fees and fine rates in surrounding communities.
History of the bylaw rewrite stems back to March 25, 2015 in which it was presented to Council the benefits of having one consolidated Animal Control Bylaw instead of separate bylaws for dogs and cats. First reading was given to the proposed Animal Control Bylaw on August 10, 2015 with second reading being passed on March 28, 2016.
Under the proposed bylaw residents would see higher fines associated with pet misdemeanours. If an individual were found without their animal on a leash in an area where off-leash activity is not allowed, the first ticket would be $150. If found guilty of the same offence a second time, the owner would be charged $325 with a third offence being listed at $650. Early payment amounts for tickets paid ahead of the payment are also included in the bylaw.
In addition the proposed Animal Control Bylaw would change the number of pets allowed per property. The current bylaws state two cats and three dogs to each household, with the new bylaw suggest a total of four pets be allowed in each home.
Councillor Megan Chernoff questioned how the bylaw would be grandfathered in, with Town staff stating individuals with more than four pets currently will not see animals being removed however they will not be applicable for more further pet licenses.
In addition the bylaw would also see implementation of the ‘One Free Ride Home’ program. Currently the proposed bylaw states the One Free Ride Home Program would give a one time per year, per household return of an animal at large assuming the pet is currently licensed and Animal Control Services were able to reach the pet owner on the same day.
One presentation was given during the open microphone portion of Town Council in which Sylvan Lake resident Annik Baldwin expressed her concerns with the proposed Animal ControlBylaw.
Baldwin, a local pet owner and pet friendly landlord stated she is concerned the bylaw and in particular the fines occurred when ticketed could lead to issues for pet owners.
“I think the fees are too high and I think that could potentially lead to animals being abandoned, surrendered to kennels or maybe even killed,” said Baldwin during open microphone atTown Council. “I’m here to ask why and what methods were used to determined this?”
“Being a landlord I have witnessed tenants abandon their pets when they leave a property just because they can’t find a new place that will allow them to have a pet. I think the higher fines will also result in that.”
A full copy of the proposed Animal Control Bylaw is listed on the Town’s website www.SylvanLake.ca, those with concerns should direct their comments to the Town of Sylvan Lake’sCommunity Services department.