Cat bylaw on shaky legal ground

The menagerie of wildlife that Kelowna city council has dealt with is growing.

The menagerie of wildlife that Kelowna city council has dealt with is growing.

After tackling issues about  dogs, feral rabbits, and backyard chickens, council has now turned its attention to cats—more particularly the parts that cats use for reproduction.

Council has approved a proposed bylaw preventing stores from selling kittens and cats that are not spayed or neutered. A public hearing will have to be held before the bylaw can be adopted.

The city is supporting the move because its says there is a growing problem with feral cats in the city.

But while the proposed bylaw would regulate the sale of cats through stores that need a business licence to operate in Kelowna, council recognizes it cannot regulate all sales with the bylaw.

Cats sold through classified advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet would not be subject to the bylaw. So councillors want the city to work with the media to inform the public of the severity of the problem and consider it when accepting advertisements for the sale of cats.

Both the SPCA and the Okanagan Humane Society have been overrun with cats in recent months, say councilors. And the Glenmore Resident’s Association is also speaking out in favour of the proposed bylaw.

But while it received support from the politicians, the man who crafted the bylaw, city clerk Stephen Fleming, said he was concerned that if it was challenged in court, the city would need to show evidence that there is a need for such a bylaw. A date for a public hearing has yet to be set.


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