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City committee to hear from public on pet bylaw changes

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A city committee will hear what the public think of proposed changes to Winnipeg's pet bylaws today.

A new report recommends Winnipeg enact a new bylaw that will require cat owners to purchase an annual licence for their furry friend at a cost of $15 if the animal is spayed or neutered or $50 if it is not. The net profit from the fees -- an estimated $21,000 if 5,000 cats are licensed in 2014 -- will go to either the Winnipeg Humane Society or partner organizations to help expand their spay-and-neuter programs.

Winnipeggers who do not license their cat would be fined $250 when the proposed regulations would take effect next January.

The move is part of a massive overhaul of Winnipeg's pet bylaws that includes a proposed ban on the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores and requires anyone who sells puppies or kittens to register for a $300 annual licence. The report also recommends "urban chicken-keeping" in Winnipeg will be allowed only in areas zoned for agriculture.

The city started to review the bylaws in 2011 following growing concern Winnipeg's stray-pet population had literally run wild and animal shelters could barely keep up with demand.

Though there are no estimates on how many stray or feral cats live in the city, the Winnipeg Humane Society takes in about 6,000 lost, stray or unwanted cats a year, 2,500 of which are euthanized.

Council's protection and community services committee will hear delegations on the matter at a meeting today. The issue will be dealt with the same day the committee reviews and votes on Winnipeg's 2013 capital and operating budget for police and emergency services - two departments which account for 44 per cent of spending in Winnipeg's $920-million operating budget.

Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said the budget process is the worst she's ever seen, as the proposed changes to the pet bylaws has been lumped together with a billion-dollar budget review.

At least one local pet rescue shelter opposes the cat licensing plan, saying it will be an extra fee for pet owners who are already responsible.

The Winnipeg Urban Chicken Association also plans to appear at city hall today to recommend solutions, including a system to register urban chicken flocks and ensure all members participate in regular avian flu testing.

 

 

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