West Nipissing reduces pet limit for townhouses, apartments

·3 min read

West Nipissing council fixed its new pet bylaw Tuesday evening, reducing the limit for pets in townhouses and apartments after adopting a flawed vote result at the last meeting.

Pet owners who already have two dogs and two cats, as the old bylaw allowed, are exempt from the reduction to one of each if they are licenced before the Jan. 1, 2021 implementation date.

Councillor Lise Senecal said the show of hands at the Nov. 3 virtual meeting was miscounted on the motion to limit the number of dogs and cats allowed for the denser residential areas.

Related Story: More dogs and cats allowed in West Nipissing

Related Story: Pet limits pondered in West Nipissing

The former bylaws limited everyone in West Nipissing to two dogs and two cats. Staff looked at new options after a resident last year asked to increase the number of cats and a public housing agency warned council it would worsen an existing issue. The mess and damage left by departing tenants who owned pets already costs time and money, the West Nipissing Non-profit Housing Corporation stated in correspondence to council.

At the Nov. 3 meeting, Senecal chaired the vote on options and she called for a show of hands on the motion to lower the limit by half for pet owners living in Residential 3 and 4 zones. It passed 5-3 but Senecal moved on to the ‘status quo’ option vote and it also passed. Discussion with staff after the meeting indicated the proper procedure is to revert to the first vote result, lowering it to one cat and one dog.

Councillor Chris Fisher suggested it would be difficult to ask pet owners to start choosing which of their dogs or cats to give up.

“We should ‘grandfather’ people in somehow,” Fisher said, noting it would be “problematic” to change the rules on pet owners.

Staff said there could be a “non-conforming” reference in the bylaw to allow pre-existing pets or the bylaw can come into effect at a future date to give owners a chance to get licences.

“Anyone in the future would have to comply,” council was told.

Several councillors expressed that those owners should already be registered but Fisher persisted with the idea a “grace period” was appropriate. Councillor Denis Senecal, who supported allowing rural residents up to five dogs and five cats, agreed with Fisher.

“Chris has a point, they should have a chance to register their pets,” Senecal said, swaying the majority to move the implementation date of the bylaw to Jan. 1.

At the Nov. 3 meeting, councillors agreed to let people in single, detached homes (R1 zones) have three cats and three dogs while keeping the limit for duplex residents (R2) status quo at two-and-two. Shoreline and mobile home zones were given the three-and-three limit. Bylaws from a variety of municipalities, cities, and towns that take multiple approaches were included in the report to council Nov. 3. Sudbury, for example, doesn’t limit how many neutered animals someone can have but permits only two unaltered dogs and two unaltered cats. Temiskaming Shores allows up to five dogs and five cats while Elliot Lake limits it to three of each. The report states North Bay and Espanola don’t specify limits. In Sault Ste. Marie, residents can own three dogs and five cats. Mattawa doesn’t even have a cat bylaw, just a ‘Keeping of Dogs Bylaw’ with no specified limit. Council was told that the North Bay and District Humane Society sells West Nipissing pet licences when people come to claim dogs and cats. Licences are also sold at the municipal office. The $20 cost per dog remained the same in the new bylaw but the $4 discounted cost for neutered and microchipped cats and dogs went to $10. Cat licences still cost $30 with a $10 discount for those vaccinated for rabies. The exemption on limits was kept for livestock guard dogs.

Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca