A new West Nipissing pet bylaw doesn’t mean townhouse and apartment residents with two cats or dogs will need to say goodbye to one, but they will need to ensure their furry friends are registered with the municipality before the end of the year to avoid a potential fine.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, residential three (R3) and four (R4) zones will only be allowed one dog and cat each, after council passed the West Nipissing Animal Care and Control Bylaw during their Nov. 17 meeting.
The new regulation basically just combines the cat control and dog control bylaws that had been in effect for the past 20 years. But those bylaws allowed only two of each animal, regardless of where one lived. The new bylaw is increasing the pets allowed in most residential zones, while restricting the number permitted in more dense housing units.
However, townhouse and apartment residents that currently have two cats or dogs will be grandfathered in when the new bylaw comes into effect.
“Typically, when you pass a new bylaw that changes or restricts something that was, in the past, permitted, anybody who was doing it up to that point falls into what’s called ‘legal non-conforming,’” said municipal clerk Melanie Ducharme. “Assuming these animals are already registered and they have tags, they wouldn’t have to put one down if you had two, because we changed [the bylaw] to one.”
Originally, the bylaw was set to come into effect as soon as it was passed, but Coun. Chris Fisher suggested allowing a grace period, in case people hadn’t registered their pets with the town.
“Chris has a point. We should give them a break here,” said Coun. Denis Sénécal. “Nobody was aware of a bylaw coming in effect, so they should have a chance to register their pets and from now on, well, the bylaw will apply, from Jan. 1 let’s say. They need to have a chance. Who wants to get rid of a pet?”