Nova Scotia

Annapolis County's new cat bylaw enrages pet lovers around the world

Annapolis County's new cat bylaw, which states any impounded cat may be sold or killed if it goes unclaimed after a 72-hour period, has stirred locals and people in other countries into a frenzy.

New bylaw has upset people as far away as New Zealand

Annapolis County's cat bylaw has upset people from as far away as New Zealand and California, who have emailed county representatives to express their concerns. (CBC )

What started as administrative housekeeping has turned into a cat fight in Annapolis County, where council is being urged by locals and people in other countries to change its new cat bylaw. 

The A4 Cat bylaw states: "Any cat which has not been redeemed by its owner at the expiry period of a period of 72 hours after being impounded may be given away, sold or destroyed and if sold, proceeds shall belong to the municipality."

It has upset people from as far away as New Zealand and California, who have emailed county representatives to express their concerns.

Local cat lover, owner and pet blogger Jennifer Niemi said she is worried about the bylaw's timeline for an owner to retrieve their pet.

"Three days is not enough," she said. "If they're sitting at the pound and the minutes are ticking away, they could be killed before someone realizes that's who they should be calling to get their cat back."

Annapolis County deputy CAO Dawn Campbell says the 72 hours has been in place since 1999 and is standard across the province.

"At the end of the 72-hour period, we do then seek out animal rescue organizations that would be willing to take the animal into care and that's always the first option we consider," she said.

Campbell maintains the county only euthanizes cats if a vet recommends it because the animal is sick, injured or dangerous.

No plans to change wording

Niemi and others are also angered the bylaw allows the county to sell cats. While some worry they will be sold for research, Campbell says they have never done, nor would they do, that.

In fact, Campbell says it's illegal.

"Our intention in continuing to maintain the ability to sell was only the ability for a person to give us money to help offset the cost that had been incurred by the cat being in care," she said.

"There had never been any consideration whatsoever to sell them for research or any devious purposes whatsoever."

Niemi isn't taking any solace from those words. 

"If they are not going to kill cats after 72 hours, if they're not going to sell cats, why are they insisting on leaving that wording in the bylaw?" she asked.

Campbell said on average, the county deals with 200-300 cats a year.

She said the county has an excellent record for dealing with companion animals, one that is a model across the province.

Campbell said while council wants to alleviate residents concerns, there is no immediate plan to change the wording.

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