Animal owners in Corner Brook will soon have some new regulations to abide by.
City council approved new animal regulations, which will come into effect Jan. 1, 2018, at its public meeting Monday.
The new changes include limiting the number of animals kept in a single residence to five, with no more than three of them being dogs.
Todd Flynn, the city’s director of protective services, said the city will permit a household to exceed that number, if the home can accommodate more animals in a manner that considers the safety and well-being of the animals and the people living there.
“We had situations in the past where we had around 200 animals in one house and recently (at) a house with about a dozen dogs, six of them died in a fire,” Flynn said of the need to regulate the number of pets living in a home within Corner Brook.
Flynn said residents who currently exceed the numbers set out in the new regulations will be exempted from them.
“We’re not going to be telling people who have five dogs now that they have to get rid of two of them,” he said.
There is another new aspect of the new regulations that will not be grandfathered in.
A few years ago, the city changed its annual dog licensing regulation so that people would only have to licence their dog once during its lifetime, at a cost of $10. The new regulations will require dog owners to license their dog for three years at a time.
The new fee will be $25, but will be reduced by $10 for a dog that has been spayed or neutered and another $5 for a dog that has a microchip inserted.
Those who have already bought a licence they believed was good for their pet’s life will still have to pay the new fee. But, Flynn said, licences already purchased will be honoured for a three-year period from when they were bought.
Flynn said the former annual fee was eliminated because keeping track of them was an administrative nightmar. The new system requiring licensing every third year is designed to encourage people to register their animals, as well as have them spayed or neutered and have a microchip installed.
He said getting a better handle on how many dogs are in Corner Brook will help the city make decisions regarding the adequacy of its services for dogs and their owners.
“We look at putting dog parks and resources in our city for animals, but we don’t really know how many animals we have,” said Flynn. “We don’t really know if we have too much space or not enough and this helps us gauge that.”
The new regulations also address some uncommon animal companions. Flynn said the city has had requests for permits for unusual pets such as a pygmy goat and a miniature pig.
The city has no permit structure for such animals, so the new regulations do give the city a bit more control over requests from people wanting to keep animals that might have issues related to public safety, sanitation, odours or noise.
The regulations also deal with dangerous and nuisance animals, giving the city’s animal control officer authority to declare an animal as such and to take further action to deal with an animal deemed to be a danger or a nuisance.
Those actions could range from ordering the pet owner to take action to ensure public safety to seizing the animal to be impounded or, in the most extreme circumstances, destroyed.