VICTORIA -- The City of Nanaimo is looking to issue a new “animal responsibility bylaw” that would potentially ban people from letting their cats freely roam outside unattended.

Among the changes the bylaw would introduce is a requirement for cat owners to acquire identification for their pet, and to make sure that their cat is spayed or neutered if they spend time outdoors.

Additionally, cats would be prohibited from roaming in a public place or on someone else’s private property if they are not accompanied by their owner or someone who is responsible for them.

Research into the new policies began in December 2019 after Nanaimo hired an external consultant to review the city’s animal control services.

The consultant submitted a report that included recommendations to council this summer, at which point city staff began drafting a bylaw.

At a recent council meeting, the city decided to table the draft bylaw for three weeks to provide an opportunity for the community to offer feedback. Nanaimo residents can now provide feedback on the bylaw online here until Dec. 11. The city says it will revisit the bylaw in January.

A full list of what is being proposed under the new animal responsibility bylaw can be found below:

• Removing reference to “restricted dogs” since it is no longer best practice (and not practicable) to target;

• Changing “vicious dog” to “aggressive dog”;

• Modernizing sections to reflect current best practices on standards of care;

• Requiring every owner of a cat to provide the cat with identification;

• requiring every cat that is permitted to go outside be spayed or neutered; and

• Prohibiting cats to be at large in a public place or on another person’s property, unless it is under the immediate charge and control of the owner or other person responsible for the animal.

“The proposed Animal Responsibility Bylaw is a welcome improvement over the current bylaw,” said Carley Colclough, pound and adoption coordinator for Nanaimo Animal Control Services, in a statement.

“The addition of animal care standards, regulations for cats, and the replacement of breed specific legislation with stronger dangerous dog provisions will improve the welfare of animals in our community while also helping to protect public safety,” she said.

Further information on the proposed bylaw can be found here.