Bylaws in the Victoria mandate that cats need to be in control of owners at all times when out in public, so don’t forget to bring your leash. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Leash your cat or face a $150 fine in Victoria

Current city bylaws mandate that cats must be under their owner’s control in public spaces

Litter, catnip, treats and toys are all important things for cat owners – but don’t forget a leash.

Despite the common sight of a rogue cat in the neighborhood, City of Victoria bylaws actually mandate that cats remain in the owner’s direct control when they’re in a public setting, which means in a kennel or on a lead.

Cats are also banned from trespassing on private property without an occupier’s permission, but since cats don’t care for people’s opinions most of the time that means an outdoor cat also requires a leash.

The bylaws are put forward in part to reduce harm that cats can cause local rodents, birds and pets, and also to prevent unwanted impregnation of other cats.

While the bylaws exist, many people fail to follow them. This prompted local activists to ask Greater Victoria municipalities to add more enforcement measures, such as licensing of outdoor cats.

The Victoria Natural History Society sent letters to 13 municipalities in Greater Victoria asking for tighter regulations.

READ MORE: Victoria Natural History Society asks district to keep cats under control

“Cats that roam free, whether owned, stray or feral, often lead short, traumatic and painful lives,” the letter reads. “They also kills birds and other wildlife, and spread disease to other cats, wildlife and humans.”

The group recommended that domestic cats be licensed, vaccinated against rabies, confined to their owner’s property and physically restrained when off premises. The letter also recommended spaying a neutering of cats over six months of age, unless there are outstanding medical or breeding circumstances. In other words, they asked for the current Victoria bylaws to be spread throughout the Capital Region.

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

According to the Victoria Animal Control Services (VACS), both Oak Bay and Esquimalt also already hold onto these bylaws; the only exception between the three municipalities is that Victoria limits owners to six cats, while Oak Bay and Esquimalt limit five.

In the case of a bylaw infraction, VACS will first issue a letter of warning, and if the offence continues a $150 fine can be given if the owner is known. If it is an unknown cat, VACS will impound the cat and try to identify the rightful owner, supplying any medical attention if necessary.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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