It’s important that municipalities promote positive change for cats and birds for the sake of peaceful neighbour relations, environmental stewardship, and public health reasons. Indeed, municipalities have a leadership role to play in changing the way Canadians take care of our pet cats, as well as the burgeoning population of stray and feral cats.
No-Free Roam bylaws place the responsibility for pet cats precisely where it belongs, with cat owners. They send the message that cats are valued pets and we need to take better care of them.
Many municipalities have already adopted No-Free Roam Bylaws, but haven’t included the necessary elements to make for real change. Calgary has an extremely effective model that includes licensing, no free roam, a subsidized spay-neuter program, the promise to return escaped cats, and perhaps most importantly, a public awareness campaign. Shelters are financed from licensing revenue, and feral cats are cared for by the Meow Foundation, a consortium of not-for-profit organizations.
Calgary’s model is ideal because it has all of the components to motivate cat lovers to comply with the bylaw and it’s self-financing. The public awareness campaign educates people about the dangers faced by outdoor cats, and why it’s important to keep cats from roaming freely. The promise to return serves as motivation to license cats, and licensing revenue supports sheltering, enforcement and the return of escapees. These components, not the bylaw itself, are what gives Calgary the highest rates of compliance in the country.
There are also successful models in other communities, including small towns and rural areas. Many smaller communities find it helpful to provide their citizens with information about the issue, and we can help you craft those communications.
Adopting a bylaw incorporating no free roam for cats in your community is a great first step, but without a public education campaign, bylaws do little to change cat owners’ behaviour.
KEEP CATS SAFE. SAVE BIRD LIVES. BUILD HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES
It’s better for cats. It’s better for birds. It’s better for people.
The Stewardship Centre of BC has created some resources for municipalities about this issue, including a Briefing Note and a Recommended Policies and Bylaws. To download copies of these excellent BC resources, go to the Stewardship Centre’s site.
Nature Canada has adapted the BC resources for a national audience. Download them below.
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