Bridgewater digs claws into cat bylaw debate

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN PHOTO</p><p>Bridgewater resident Del Trobak, speaking October 10 to civic politicians, suggests a live trapping program would be a solution to the issue of roaming cats in town.</p>

Bridgewater will work at a snail's pace as it considers the potential of legislation governing nuisance cats, choosing to discuss it at a future informal meeting when it has more details about how other municipalities in the province deal with similar circumstances.

Civic politicians concluded the staff report they received in response to an August request to review the feasibility of the issue and provide a response isn't enough.

"The report we got was very basic," David Mitchell, the town's mayor, told LighthouseNOW after the October 10 council meeting during which time the cat bylaw issue was discussed. "We don't want to make a rash decision ... [we want to make] the right choice, so we'll take our time and gather as much information as possible."

Town council heard from a local resident who suggested a live trapping program would deal with roaming cats, which he categorized as "pests" like raccoons.

Del Trobak, who lives on the town's west side, told council October 10 that a trap - or traps - placed by a pest control firm could be set once or several times per year on public property and, if requested, private land.

"The very randomness of this program; the fact that a cat may be caught, would amplify its effectiveness even if there is no trap in the area at that time," Trobak told council. His idea would be to advertise the program before it goes into force.

Fees attached to returning felines to their rightful owners would depend on whether the cat has an identification tag, similar to ones issued for dogs, Trobak suggested. While Bridgewater has legislation dealing with dogs, it does not have a cat bylaw.

Cats without proper tags would yield a higher return fee than one with a tag, Trobak explained.

He said cats held and unclaimed for a period of time would be euthanized. "This is not a catch and release program."

Bridgewater officials receive ongoing complaints from residents about nuisance cats roaming onto other people's private property; defecating and destroying gardens; killing birds, squirrels, and other small animals.

Recently, the town heard from Eisenhauer Place residents - on Bridgewater's east side - Adrien and Betty Martel, who called for local decision-makers to consider enacting a bylaw specifically designed to legislate cats in the town.

Civic politicians intend to look into factors such as cat registration, bylaw enforcement and any financial implications before reaching a decision about what the next move should be.

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