Dear mayor and council:
Re: Bylaw 3139, 2015 “A Bylaw to Regulate, Prohibit and Impose Requirements in Relation to Animals In the City of Duncan”
It has come to our attention that the City of Duncan has passed the above captioned bylaw. While the aims of the bylaw are laudable and the vast majority of the provisions appear to be well thought out, we must take strong issue with Section 71, “Feeding Wildlife.”
Many, if not most, of the homeless cats being fed in the City of Duncan have already been fixed and vaccinated by CCR and therefore do have identification in the form of a tattoo. They should therefore not fall within the prohibition against feeding homeless cats.
The inclusion of “ownerless cats or cats without identification” in the list of wildlife and a prohibition against feeding them fails to recognize the causes of feline homelessness and the consequences of withdrawing a secure food source.
Formerly domestic cats and their offspring, whether feral, wild or stray, are not able to provide for themselves without becoming a problem in many ways, including health issues, raiding garbage containers, fighting owned cats for their food, reproducing freely, and moving into areas looking for a food supply. That this is not a serious problem in the City is due to previous efforts by Cowichan Cat Rescue and by the service provided by those people who are feeding homeless cats. Cats that are regularly fed in a fixed location will remain in that location and will remain healthy. The only other necessity for those cats to not become a nuisance is for them to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated against disease.
To require people who are presently feeding feral cats, many of whom have done so for many years, to cease that activity creates an impossible situation. To feed the cats is a breach of the bylaw. To cease feeding them is an act of abandonment and would constitute an act of cruelty. We would expect the SPCA to take action against anyone who fed cats for a number of years and then stopped.
In order to provide a humane solution to this dilemma and to avoid criminalizing a humane act, we would ask the City to consider revising Bylaw 3139 by removing cats from Section 71 and creating a separate provision for homeless cats. That section, rather than making feeding an offence, could create a requirement that any feeder or colony manager working with homeless cats must be able to produce evidence of a plan for the care, spaying/neutering, vaccination and feeding of those cats, such plan to be made with the SPCA or Cowichan Cat Rescue and in writing. A reasonable time limit for the creation of such a plan could be imposed on anyone feeding cats which have no identification. The result would be to avoid any cruelty to those cats and would put an end to the growth of feral colonies within the City.
Cowichan Cat Rescue would be very pleased to contribute in any way to the further discussion of this matter to provide an achievable and humane solution to the perceived proliferation of homeless cats within the City.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Trustee, Cowichan Cat Rescue