A poisonous Caspian cobra.

A poisonous Caspian cobra.

All animals are in the mix

Cranbrook City Council set a course for a new Animal Control Bylaw on Monday

Arne Petryshen

Poisonous snakes and pet pigeons aren’t usual fodder for Cranbrook city council, but with a new Animal Control Bylaw up for debate, no animal was off limits.

At the meeting council approved the first three readings of the bylaw which replaces the current Animal Control Bylaw, which dates from 2006.

The bylaw sets an updated fee schedule and also includes regulations on the use of the new off-leash dog park at the former Muriel Baxter Elementary property.

At the city council meeting on Monday, Coun. Ron Popoff had a number of questions about the bylaw that dealt with certain inclusions in the document.

“For clarification, things like snakes and bats, those are considered wild animals and wouldn’t be part of this bylaw?” Popoff asked.

City Bylaw Enforcement Officer Deb Girvin said that was correct.

“That is regulated provincially and would supersede anything we have at this level,” she said.

Popoff spoke of when he first came to Cranbrook as the public health inspector.

“When I first came to town as the public health inspector, I got a complaint to go and prohibit exotic, poisonous snakes that were being kept in an apartment building,” he said. He asked how the province would deal with the snake complaints.

Girvin said it would be the province that enforces, though she admitted she wasn’t sure of the actual enforcement guidelines.

“The onus would not be on the municipality to enforce regulations that are set provincially,” she said.

Girvin also noted that any keeping of exotic and poisonous snakes would require a permit. She said she was not aware of any permits.

City staff will look into whether the province is required to divulge to a municipality if an exotic and poisonous snake is in the city.

The bylaw also states that a person in a single dwelling or parcel of residential property cannot have more than six pets — three cats and three dogs— as well as only one vicious dog. Popoff said it was likely a good idea.

The new bylaw also does away with the higher fee to licence Pitbull and Pitbull mixes. Currently the licence for a Pitbull or Pitbull mix is $500, while for any other breed, an  intact dog is $60, while a neutered or spayed dog is $37.

City staff said that the high fee discourages owners of Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes from obtaining the required licence. They noted the licensing scheme serves as a valuable database.

City staff explained: “If an owner of the Pitbull or Pitbull mix does not voluntarily purchase a licence, and the dog is subject of a complaint received by Bylaw Services, the requirement for the dog to be licenced is enforced. It is not uncommon for the dog to then ‘disappear’ to avoid purchasing the licence and the problem dog is often displaced somewhere else in the community. If the licence fee is the same, regardless of the breed, it is likely Pitbull owners would comply.”

Coun. Popoff also asked whether the bylaw addresses the feral cat population problem identified in Cranbrook.

Girvin said while the bylaw doesn’t specifically address it, it does enhance what the SPCA already has in place.

“They have an extensive scheme going on to rectify that problem,” she said. “City staff is working in cooperation with the SPCA to that end.”

The bylaw also keeps a stipulation that no pigeons shall be fed within city limits unless the pigeon is owned.

Girvin said the language goes back to the inception of the original bylaw.

“We have enforced that part of the bylaw many times,” she said. “We’ve never been in a position where we’ve had to prove ownership, nor have we ever enforced it where somebody has claimed ownership.”

To view the proposed bylaw, click here.