Rural Rimbey overrun with abandoned cats

Who captures stray cats in Ponoka County?

Rural Rimbey-area residents are fed up with unwanted cats and kittens being dumped near their properties.

“I’m a lady so I will just say I don’t like it,” said Gail Stewart, a resident of Hoadley for 11 years.

“It is getting worse every year.”

Although she’s lost count over the years of just how many abandoned felines she’s found on her ‘front doorstep,’ she says she has gotten 52 cats neutered or spayed, either paying for it out of pocket, or sending some to rescues.

Of that number, all are in new homes except four.

She has some fixed cats that live in her barn and keeps three in her house.

Others she was never able to catch because they’d become so feral.

“What scares me is that we are selling (our house). I’m not sure what will happen (after we’re gone).”

Stewart isn’t alone in her frustrations, either.

A recent post on a Rimbey community Facebook page had comments from several others with similar experiences.

One user suggested Rimbey residents often trap cats within town and drop them off in the country.

Currently, the Town of Rimbey has no bylaw for cats, which means there is no bylaw enforcement for dealing with cats running at large, or animal control services for cats.

“There are no provisions in our current animal control bylaw for the control of cats in the Town of Rimbey,” said Rimbey Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Lori Hillis via email.

“The surrounding area would be under the jurisdiction of Ponoka County.”

Klassic Kennels provides animal control services for the Town of Rimbey, but only for dogs, not cats. Old MacDonald Kennels (OMK), located 17 km east of Ponoka, is the animal control provider for Ponoka County, but when contacted they said they don’t deal with cats in the rural-Rimbey area.

Ponoka County renewed its contract with OMK on Feb. 2, 2020.

The agreement states that the contractor “shall use his best endeavors to apprehend animals running at large within the municipality.”

The term “animal” is defined in the agreement as any domesticated animal that the municipality agrees to have the contractor impound or deal with under their current municipal bylaws.

However, the County’s animal control bylaw, which dates back to 1998, defines “animal” as a dog.

The agreement with OMK includes a specific remuneration fee for boarded dogs of $25 per night, but doesn’t define other animals the kennel will be remunerated for, only saying:

“Any animals that the municipality agrees the contractor may impound” will be paid $25 per night.

The Town was working on revising its animal control bylaw to include cats, but the process was halted with the onset of COVID-19.

A first reading of the new proposed bylaw was held in February, 2020, and a public meeting was to be held in March, but it was cancelled.

The proposed responsible pet ownership bylaw, which includes both cats and dogs, would have implemented a license fee structure of $30 for an altered animal and $60 for an unaltered animal, and a $100 deposit for a cat trap.

READ MORE: Rimbey town council has given first reading to a responsible pet ownership bylaw

If or when the bylaw passes, the fees would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

According to Hillis, to-date, the Town has not scheduled another date for the public meeting, and there have been no further readings of the bylaw since February.

For those dealing with dumped cats, Hillis says the Town recommends contacting the Red Deer SPCA.

READ MORE: Sylvan Lake woman distressed after cat shot at with pellet gun, loses its eye

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