NEWS AND VIEWS (COMMENT): Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada (adjacent to the capital city, Edmonton) do not have bylaws or rules concerning stray cats. This bothers the citizens of the county and as a consequence they complain. One of the council members, Bill Tonita, said that he gets lots of complaints about roaming cats peeing in flower beds and killing birds. This is the biggest problem with stray cats he says judging by the number of emails he gets from residents about it. He says that the residents are tired of it and that the council cannot kick the can down the road. Something needs to be done but (there’s always a but) it’s too expensive!
They looked at three options. One was a deluxe option brought in-house in which they’d run it themselves and which included a comprehensive bylaw where there would be licensing and fines for violations as well as a county-operated shelter et cetera. This was an ambitious option and it would expect to cost between C$1.56 million to C$2.06 million with ongoing annual operational costs of more than C$756,000. \comment: Very few places worldwide license domestic cats. It is hard to operate and enforce and cat owners tend to resist on my research of this option.
The second option is a pared down version of the first in which they would create a bylaw concerning stray cats and create some new jobs including two community police officers authorised to seize stray cats. They would not launch a licensing program but there would be three full-time positions. The start-up costs for this option would be up to C$927,000 together with annual operating costs of C$377,000.
The third option involves contracting out the service, the cost of which would be a per cat basis at $400 per cat. If the contractor deals with 300 cats annually it would cost the county C$120,000 and for 700 cats the cost would be C$280,000. The cost would include assistance in capture of the stray cats and delivery of them to a facility where they’d be handled properly and adopted out or on occasions, as is usual, euthanised.
Clearly the third option is by far the cheapest. However, I not seen a full breakdown of the costs. I would wonder whether the costing is accurate but who am I to know?
As mentioned, Strathcona County does not have any policies or rules concerning cat control and neither does it have a formal complaints procedure. This is in contrast to cat bylaws in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort Saskatchewan, Red Deer, Wood Buffalo, Grand Prairie and Leduc. Although 10 municipalities in the province did not involve bylaw officers (I presume they mean in relation to the capture and handling of stray cats). Fourteen municipalities have a humane trap programme.
The report highlights the head scratching that goes on among local authority administrations at both city and county level with respect to how to deal with feral and stray cats. The best way to deal with them is to educate people to care for them more responsibly but that is an ideal which is very hard to achieve. However, proactive action is better than reacting to the problem once it is established. Obvious I know.