Animal bylaw exists to prevent needless suffering and death

Dear editor,

In response to your Aug. 7 article, Suspected Cat Trapper Strikes Again, I’d first like to extend my condolences to Maria Martin whose one-and-a-half-year-old cat Oliver recently passed away.

When a cherished pet dies, it hurts for a long time. I know this only too well as our 11-year old Boxer, Stella, died on July 5.

In time, we’ll only remember how cute and mischievous she was as a pup, how much enjoyment we got from taking her to puppy classes, teaching her to swim and walk on a leash, how to behave in the house, how to use her designated dog toilet, and so forth. Stella was never allowed to roam unsupervised. With cougars, raccoons, road traffic, construction hazards, wildlife diseases, and all sorts of other known threats and distractions for a pet here in the Valley, that would be cruel. She was also never allowed to dig or defecate on neighbours’ property; not allowed to jump the fence into a neighbouring yard and soil their patio furniture after roaming through garden beds and Stella was certainly never allowed to kill birds and wildlife. That would have exposed her to injury, infections, disease, illness from salmonella, and a variety of digestive problems. Any veterinarian in the Valley can tell you all about these risks and outcomes because they happen all the time.

If I had allowed Stella outside to roam freely and one night she didn’t come home and was later found dead, I could not blame a ‘suspected dog trapper’ or anyone else.

If Stella had died under those circumstances, where I exposed her to ‘known risks,’ there would be only one person responsible for her suffering and death, and that would be me.

As I learned years ago from a lawyer who prosecutes animal cruelty cases, if you expose your pet to ‘known risks’ and the suffering they are ‘known to cause,’ technically, it’s an act of animal cruelty.

Finally, your article is only partially correct about Courtenay’s Animal Control Bylaw. It’s true, the City does not have an up-to-date Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, as they are now called in progressive cities and regional districts throughout the province.

However, Courtenay’s 22-year old AC Bylaw, No. 1897, specifically identifies ‘cats’ or ‘any animal of the feline species’, as an ‘animal’ that falls within the bylaw.

It also stipulates that ‘every animal shall be kept under the control of its owner or the owner’s agent at all times.’

Bottomline: If you own a dog or cat in Courtenay, you’re not supposed to let your pet roam and wander unsupervised, day or night.

Courtenay’s AC bylaw, outdated as it is, exists to protect the rights of property owners and to foster good neighbour relations. More importantly, it’s there to protect public health and safety by preventing conflicts with animals and wildlife and the spread of diseases such as toxoplasmosis.

For cats like Oliver and other pets, the bylaw exists to encourage modern animal welfare practices in order to prevent needless suffering and death.


Sherril Guthrie


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