Future of Rimbey’s homeless cats discussed

The number of stray cats within the Town of Rimbey could be reduced if council decides to follow up

Jim deBoon

The number of stray cats within the Town of Rimbey could be reduced if council decides to follow up on any of the suggestions offered by Jim deBoon from Animal Control Services.

At its regular meeting Jan. 13, council listened to a detailed presentation by deBoon regarding stray cats.

“Stray cats are and will continue to be both a community nuisance and corporate responsibility of each community. Every year more councils are deciding it is time to address this issue. Some have more success than others.”

In his presentation, deBoon talked about a cat bylaw.

“With a proper cat bylaw you essentially make the rules the same for dogs and cats. This needs to be done in a delicate manner with proper trust and connection with the citizens of a municipality.”

deBoon also suggested council amend the dog bylaw to cover domestic pets at large, and thereby assign proper authority to pick up and deal with stray cats.

“This is more of a short term finger in the dyke approach taken by some jurisdictions. It gives the public some options when they are faced with cat related challenges, but never really addresses the problem in a manner that makes the situation improve over time.”

Council could also choose to arrange for pick up and housing of cats.

“This option does not give us, the contractor, any authority.”

deBoon said he did not recommend this course of action as the owners could seek legal recourse against both the contractor and the town for the return of their pet.

Council could choose to continue to maintain the status quo, he added.

In his presentation deBoon said a cat bylaw passed by the Town of Sylvan Lake in 2010 yielded positive results.

“Out of approximately 120 cats picked up, only four had to be euthanized. All the rest were picked up by their owner, or re homed to a new family and the feral ones were placed in barn homes. All cats that were not returned to their owners were vaccinated, altered and then re homed,” he said.

deBoon said the city of Red Deer has been euthanizing cats for more than 20 and are still euthanizing an estimated 30 per cent of the cats they pick up.

“While I don’t have an exact number, a reasonable estimate would put the number of cats in that one city at or around 14,000 for the 20 year-time frame.

While Sylvan Lake is only in its fourth year of a cat bylaw, we can see our complaint numbers have improved even in this short time period. The root problem in cat over population is public perception. And that is not going to change overnight.”

“I believe a long term multi-pronged approach is the best way to make a positive impact on this issue and we would be happy to work with council to achieve the necessary steps to that end.”

Council accepted deBoon’s presentation as information and will discuss the cat problem during budget deliberations.