VICTORIA -- Animal welfare advocates are applauding a Vancouver Island city council for updating the municipality's animal care and control bylaws.

Under the new rules, cats that are allowed outside in the city of Duncan must be spayed or neutered and have sufficient identification. The change is an effort to keep cats out of shelters and keep them from having kittens.

In addition, Duncan residents who feed stray cats must register with the city and ensure the cats are part of a trap-and-neuter program. Any feeding station that's left outside on private property must include an outdoor shelter.

Duncan has also toughened its rules around tethering animals. Animals can no longer be tied to vehicles and cannot be left unattended on public property. Animals can no longer be tied up while wearing choke, prong or shock collars, either.

“Choke, prong and shock collars are punishment-based training tools that can cause fear, leading to increased aggression and stress in dogs," said Amy Morris of the B.C. SPCA in a news release Wednesday.

"We are pleased to see the city prohibit dogs from being tethered while wearing these types of inhumane collars."

The city's bylaw updates also require that dangerous dogs must wear a humane, basket-style muzzle in public.

In the spring, Duncan was the site of a high-profile animal abuse trial when a dog named Teddy was seized after he was found chained up and starving on a Duncan property in 2018.

At the time, SPCA investigators called it one of the most horrific cases of dog abuse they had ever seen.

“We applaud the City of Duncan for these progressive changes, ensuring that cats are well cared for and that enforcement agents can take action when animals are suffering,” said Morris.

“It demonstrates an understanding by the municipality that nuisance behaviours and animal stress are related.”