The Town of Ponoka is asking for public input on its proposed animal control bylaw, including an upcoming public open house.
Town council approved first reading of a proposed animal control bylaw during its regular meeting Oct. 8 and the town is now conducting public consultation before bringing a revised draft before council.
The proposed bylaw would regulate cats as well as dogs, include a definition of “aggressive dog,” new license fees for cats, dogs and aggressive dogs (lower for neutered or spayed animals), new requirements for control of animals and new penalties for bylaw offences.
It also includes a process for the town’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to issue an aggressive dog designation, requirements of proof for licensing of cats and dogs and new standards of care for cats and dogs.
For example, under the new bylaw, it would be an offence to own more than five cats or dogs in total if those animals are over six months old and if the property owner is not a licensed veterinary service provider or kennel.
The owner of a female animal would also be guilty on an offence if the animal gets loose while in heat.
“We want to hear from our citizens on this new bylaw. We want to give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and share any concerns in order to ensure that we move forward with a bylaw that best serves our community,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett in a news release.
The bylaw has been raising some angst online amongst pet owners and residents at some of the proposed changes, particularly regarding exotic pets.
The proposed bylaw prohibits the keeping of “any Exotic Animal, venomous snake, reptile, insect or spider.”
A post on the town’s Facebook page on Nov. 15 states, in part: “It is important to understand that this proposed Bylaw is not a final document. It requires extensive public review and input … We have received numerous comments and questions about Exotic Animals and the need to more clearly define Exotic Animals in the proposed Bylaw to better clarify which animals fall under that definition.
“Your questions about Exotic Animals can only be answered once the public consultation process ends and we have had the opportunity to carefully review this section of the proposed Bylaw and consider what changes should be made to address the questions and concerns raised.”
A public open house will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the main floor lobby of the civic building.
A survey has also been posted on the town’s website. The deadline to provide feedback to the town is Dec. 31.