The BC SPCA is applauding Duncan city council for updating its animal care and control bylaw.
The SPCA said the changes are a positive step towards improving animal welfare in the area.
Under the new rules, owned cats who are allowed to go outdoors must be spayed or neutered in addition to having sufficient identification.
The Municipality of North Cowichan adopted similar rules around cats earlier this year.
“These kinds of community rules ensure that cats live their best lives, not having to suffer from back-to-back pregnancies or spending many days in a shelter hoping their guardians will find them,” said Amy Morris, the BC SPCA’s policy and companion animals manager.
Residents that feed cats with no owners must now register with the city and ensure the cats are part of a trap-neuter-return program, according to the new rules that were recently adopted by council.
Feeding stations can be left outside on private property for up to 45 minutes per day and stray/feral, or community cats must be provided with outdoor shelter.
Those feeding community cats must maintain a plan to care, feed, spay or neuter, tattoo and vaccinate each community cat.
The city has also expanded rules around tethering animals.
Animals can’t be tethered to a vehicle and cannot be left unattended on public property.
The city’s 2015 animal care and control bylaw did not allow animals to be tied up while wearing choke collars, and now animals are not allowed to be tethered while wearing choke, prong or shock collars.
“Choke, prong and shock collars are punishment-based training tools that can cause fear, leading to increased aggression and stress in dogs,” Morris said.
“We are pleased to see the city prohibit dogs from being tethered while wearing these types of inhumane collars.”
The updated bylaw also includes requirements for keeping dogs that animal control officers have assessed to be dangerous, in addition to existing rules for aggressive dogs.
Dangerous dogs must wear a humane, basket-style muzzle in public places.
The city has also expanded its definition of distress to include all animals, not just dogs who show signs of suffering from heat illness in hot cars.
Distress now refers to any animal who has been injured, abused, neglected, subject to excessive temperatures, kept in unsanitary conditions and/or deprived of food, water, exercise, light, ventilation, space and veterinary treatment.
“We applaud the City of Duncan for these progressive changes, ensuring that cats are well-cared for and that their enforcement agents can take action when animals are suffering,” says Morris.
“It demonstrates an understanding by the municipality that nuisance behaviours and animal stress are related.”