Anyone who owns a cat or a dog in Norman Wells is being asked to register their animals after an increase in complaints.
Town officials issued a notice to pet owners on October 21. As of Monday, Mayor Frank Pope said, registration with the Town of both cats and dogs had been "pretty impressive."
Senior administrative officer Cathy Clarke said the Town had 29 people register their pets in one week. Previously, there were a total of five pets registered in a community of 778 people.
For years, Norman Wells has had a bylaw in place requiring owners to register their pets – but it hasn't been enforced until now.
That changed following what the Town called a "significant increase in animal control complaints," after which residents were informed pets must be registered – in compliance with the bylaw – by Thursday, October 31.
Many complaints relate to animals running loose. The Town acknowledge there had been a slight uptick in complaints while a part-time animal control position remains vacant, and Pope, the mayor, said "some animals are breakout artists."
"They're loose a lot because they're either not being looked after properly or they just get away," he said.
Having animals licensed allows the town to return any cat or dog found running loose to their owner.
"If we apprehend an animal, we can look at the tag and know who it belongs to," said Pope. "Take it home rather than take it to 'jail.'" (Norman Wells has a building in which loose animals can be kept, fed, and looked after.)
Licences are available at the town office during business hours. The bylaw states residents should provide documentation including proof of rabies vaccination and a spay or neuter certificate or declaration.
'No issue' with dangerous dogs
According to the bylaw, the annual fee ranges from $10 for a cat or a neutered dog to $20 for a dog that is not neutered, to $100 for a "dangerous dog."
People who want to keep more than four dogs on their property must apply for a hobby licence and pay fees for both that licence, and a companion animal licence, for each animal kept. The fee for a hobby licence is $50 and each dog is $5.
People who are visually impaired or require the assistance of a guide dog do not need to pay fees when licensing their animal.
According to the bylaw, dog owners have to ensure their dogs don't break several "prohibitions." Those include barking or disturbing people, chasing or biting people, bicycles, or vehicles, or having their rabies vaccine expire.
Owners also have a range of duties by which to abide, including "immediately" picking up dog poo on public or private property – except that belonging to the owner. Owners must not abuse or neglect a dog, nor obstruct traffic while running their dogs.
The bylaw lays out strict procedures owners must follow if their dog is deemed dangerous by a Justice of the Peace. The town had a "really bad dog" about 10 years ago, Pope said, and the dog's owners were uncooperative.
"We do not have any issues right now with dangerous dogs and I don't think we have for quite a while," said the mayor, "but it was just there to protect the community from liability if something did happen."
Residents who don't follow the bylaw could have their pets impounded or face a fine of up to $2,000. Corporations can be fined up to $10,000.