File photo

Ponoka town council passes first reading of proposed animal control bylaw

New, updated bylaw would replace old one, includes cats

Town council approved first reading of a proposed animal control bylaw during its regular meeting Oct. 8.

After council reviewed other municpalities’ animal control bylaws, a draft of an updated bylaw was prepared.

The Police Advisory Committee was tasked with reviewing the draft and providing their input.

The updated proposed bylaw has been expanded to include the regulation and enforcement relating to cats as the current bylaw deals mainly with dogs.

The new proposed bylaw outlines provisions for Animal Control of animals and aggressive dogs and allows the town’s CAO to make a dangerous dog designation as well as a process of appeal of this designation to council.

The bylaw includes specific penalties applying to aggressive dogs and greater clarity on impounds and release and lays out the difference between violation tickets and municipal tickets, says CAO Albert Flootman.

“There’s a variety of things that have been updated and streamlined but I think we’ve hit the essential ones,” said Flootman.

There’s also a proposed outline for a public consultation plan, that will include a public survey on the town website, as well as paper copies, presentations to community groups upon request and an open house, likely in late November.

Administration hopes to have a final report for council’s review early in the new year.

Coun. Teri Underhill asked about the limit of allowed dogs and if it would apply to a dog who has puppies.

Flootman answered that the rule applies to dogs over six months old and puppies over that age would have to be re-homed if the number exceeds the allowed five dogs in a home.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said he was glad the bylaw included cats and says it’s worthy of some public consultation.

“This has been asked for, for four or five years and it’s been delayed, and delayed and delayed so at least we’re making a move forward on it,” said Bonnett, adding the committee has done a lot of work on it.

Underhill also questioned how it would be determined if a dog was aggressive or just dumb, and how cats that wander will be tracked.

“We did address all those questions and we did have a lot of bylaws (from other municipalities) brought before us,” said Coun. Ted Dillon, who sits on the Police Advisory Committee.

“We’re not going to hit it perfect for everyone … We can’t ‘what-if?’ this to death.’”

Dillon made the motion to approve first reading of the bylaw and it passed unanimously by the present councillors. Coun. Carla Prediger was absent from the meeting.

According to town communications manager Sandra Smith it is “quite appropriate” for a representative of council who sits on a Council Advisory Committee to move acceptance of a bylaw reviewed by that committee as the person making a motion simply puts the motion on the floor for a vote by council.

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