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Pet bylaw draft calls for responsible ownership

On Monday, November 28, members of Town Council and Administration were presented with a draft of the Responsible Pet Owners bylaw.
    The draft was created in a joint effort between members of Town Administration and the Drumheller Humane Society and would replace the existing Animal Control Bylaw passed in 2000.
    The bylaw aims to promote responsible pet ownership, especially among cat owners by requiring cat owners to register their cats.
    The main objective of the bylaw is to reduce the feral cat population in Drumheller.
    “It’ll control the feral cats running around town,” said Bob Benner, manager of the Humane Society. “We want to make sure people who own cats are responsible.”
    “Saying that all cats have to be registered doesn’t really solve the problem,” said Councillor Lisa Hansen-Zacharuk. As responsible pet owners, we know that it’s not our cats ending up at the Humane Society.”
    Issues involving cats account for roughly 70 per cent of the animal control costs incurred by the Town.
    Feral cats, aside from their cost to the Town, have other problems as well. “When bylaw brings them to us, they’re usually sick because they’re so interbred,” explained Benner.
    Dog owners already have to register their dogs and pay an annual registration fee of $35.00, more if the animal is not neutered or spayed.
    The current incarnation of the bylaw would make cat and dog owners equal. Cat owners would be required to also pay annual registration fees per cat.
    The registration fees would go towards helping to fund the Humane Society.
    There has been some debate already regarding whether a registration fee is justified and, if so, if it should be annual or a one time payment.
    “This organization is going to provide a much needed service,” said Councillor Jay Garbutt. “It only makes sense that people should pay who have a direct connection to the issue at hand.”
    Councillor Hansen-Zacharuck disagrees, saying, “It’s basically a way to fund the Humane Society and I believe there are other ways to do that without having to add what amounts to a tax.”
    “You are punishing the people who are responsible pet owners,” continued Councillor Hansen-Zacharuk.
    “A one time fee is more feasible for cats,” commented Councillor Doug Stanford. “The people who are responsible should not have to pay a fee every year.”
    Other concerns regarding registration were that being able to enforce registration would be nearly impossible for cats who stay indoors and that many cat owners would not be inclined to register if there were an annual fee.
    A benefit for cat registration is that it would allow Animal Control to find the owners of lost cats quickly. It would be a  simple matter of looking at the information on the tag.
    Another contentious issue was that cats would be required to wear tags. As with registration, dogs already must wear tags.
    Opposition to having cats wear tags centered around the difficulty in keeping a collar on a cat and the added cost for replacing tags.
    “I can see putting a tag on a collar on a dog, but for cats?” commented Councillor Hansen-Zacharuk. “I replace cat collars two to three times a year because of break away collars.”
    Other options would be to either tattoo or microchip cats instead.
    Debate about the draft also focused on having outdoor cats.
    In the Animal Control Bylaw currently in effect, it is stated in section 7.1 that it is not permitted to allow any cat to run at large.
    “Any individual has the right to not have animals on their property that do not belong to them,” stated Councillor Garbutt.
    Cats can cause property damage and defecate on another persons' property, which is not permitted in the current bylaw.
    Outdoor cats also have a large negative environmental impact. Numerous studies point to domestic cats as a contributing factor to declining songbird populations.
    There is concern over the safety of animals left to their own devices outside.
    “We have a couple who had a cat that they used to let out and now they don’t know if it’s lost or coyote bait,” said Benner. "Owners are responsible for their cats.”
    The new bylaw would also add laws regarding pets left in vehicles. Any pet left in the box of a truck must be restrained enough that it cannot reach passersbys. If a pet is left within a vehicle, adequate ventilation must be provided.
    “We’re trying to suggest that part of being a responsible owner is to make sure that your animals are being cared for or restrained when they are out in the public,” said Paul Salvatore, Community Services Director.
    Vicious dogs would be subject to far greater fines. For example, whereas currently the fine for a dog biting a person or another animal is $250, the fine would increase to at least $2000 in the new bylaw.
    Another change the bylaw would bring is an increase to the number of animals that could be in a household. A maximum of three dogs and four cats would be permitted.
    Pet owners who currently exceed those numbers would not be required to rid themselves of any, but neither would they be permitted to replace any pets.
    Until the fate of the proposed bylaw is finalized, the Humane Society continues to promote responsible pet ownership.
    “Pet owners need to have their pets spayed or neutered, don’t let them be outside, unless they are on a leash,” said Benner. That’s the best way I know to be responsible.”


PCs select candidate for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills

    Darcy Davis of the Acme area will be representing the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta (PC) in the next election in the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding.
     The final results of the vote were counted on November 26 after the last poll closed in Didsbury. There was a strong turnout with 1,155 members of the PC Party in the area casting their votes. Davis won about 45 per cent of the vote on the first ballot. The second ballot was counted, and he came out with about 56 per cent.
    He said he is thankful for all the support he received during the campaign.
    The vote was made necessary after PC MLA Richard Marz announced on May 26 of this year he would not run in the next election. Marz served provincially for 14 years after first being elected in 1997. He served on various committees and was elected Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees from 2004-2008.
    Davis said if he were elected he would have big shoes to fill.
    He said ideologically not much separated the three candidates running for nomination as they all come from the same party. He feels what set him apart was his varied experience in the local, provincial, national and international stage through his work with various organizations.
 Davis expects an election to be called in the coming spring. In the new year, he said he will get to work crisscrossing the constituency to meet and hear from voters about their concerns.
    One issue he foresees, especially in rural areas is senior care. He has also heard loud and clear that property rights and lands use are important issues. Since Allison Redford was elected party leader and became Premier, the government has announced it would consult Albertans about its land use legislation. Davis says this is the right direction to take.

Sharp skates make safe skaters

    Keeping your sports equipment maintained is important for performance and safety. This year at the Sports Room it also helped to raise funds for concussion awareness.
    The Drumheller Sports Room Source for Sports, along with participating Source for Sports stores across the country, participated in Skate Sharpening Day on November 5. This year, the company linked up with www.stopconcussions.com and nationwide sharpened more than 1,000 pairs of skates and raised more than $19,500 for concussion awareness. The Drumheller store contributed about $220.
    Dave Powell of the Drumheller Sports Room Source for Sports said they have been holding the skate sharpening day for a number of years; what is new is teaming up with www.stopconcussions.com. The danger of concussions in hockey has come to the forefront in light of NHL star Sidney Crosby missing nearly a year of hockey with concussion symptoms.
    “It opened a lot of eyes,” said Powell.
    He says good maintenance of equipment is important for safety. The Sport Room this year has also been helping skaters properly fit helmets to help prevent injuries.
    Led by Keith Primeau, former Philadelphia Flyers Captain, the goal of stopconcussions.com is to educate players, coaches, trainers and parents involved in any sport, about concussion prevention, identification and proper treatment, says a release. Primeau suffers from post concussion syndrome, and has been a vocal proponent of making the public aware of the seriousness of concussions.
    Learn more about concussion awareness and prevention at www.stopconcussions.com or visit your local Source For Sports.


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