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Bylaw would allow pound keeper to regulate animals at large

UPDATE: Council approved contracting a pound keeper to be available at the municipality’s request.

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Council will examine a proposed bylaw that allows the municipality to contract a pound keeper, as necessary, if a local farmer or person responsible for animals is unable, or unwilling, to manage animals running at large or trespassing. The person responsible would also be required to cover all related costs.

The move comes as council asked staff for solutions after being approached late last month about a group of “wild and skittish” cattle running loose since late last summer in the Sophiasburgh area of Highway 49, Bethesda and Fish Lake roads.

Several County farmers in the audience spoke to being exasperated by the herd of more than a dozen bulls and cattle causing damage to property, fields, crops, eating into giant hay bales and endangering motorists.

This was the third call to council for a Pound Keeper – the past two last fall were regarding incidents with a few large animals in Ameliasburgh.

“During the most recent incident and others in the past, the County made numerous attempts to seek assistance from various agencies such as the OPP, OSPCA, and the Ministry of Natural Resources. However, an effective solution never resulted. Most agencies see this as a municipal responsibility,” stated Arryn McNichol, Director of Corporate and Legislative Services, in a report to council for Tuesday night’s meeting.

“Staff also explored working directly with an animal control professional for livestock running at large but concluded it is not financially viable. The primary concern is the risk of potentially not being able to collect the money. Pursuing legal action to recover the costs of hiring an animal control professional would be time consuming and expensive,” stated McNichol.

Under the new bylaw, the owner of the livestock is to be liable for all damages caused by such livestock, for expenses incurred by the Pound Keeper to be cost neutral to the municipality. The County will recover costs by action, or by adding the costs to the tax roll and collecting them in the same manner as property taxes. The bylaw works in conjunction with the Ontario Pounds Act.

The Pounds Act makes it illegal for unmanaged animals running at large and provides the option for municipalities to manage this issue through a bylaw, which will allow the mechanism to recoup costs from a negligent owner, and reduce the amount of time these animals need to be kept by a Pound Keeper until they can be sold or addressed some other away.

The proposed bylaw defines livestock as any domestic fowl, horse, donkey, mule, bull, ox, cow, goat, swine, sheep, llama, mink, fox, emu, or ostrich, and establishes that owners of livestock are responsible for preventing their animals from running at large.

Livestock found running at large are subject to seizure and confinement by the Pound Keeper, who will make reasonable efforts to determine the identity of the owner of the livestock and inform them that their animal has been impounded.

It establishes measures for seizure and confinement of livestock by the Pound Keeper in rare circumstances where the owner is unable or unwilling to manage their animals and specifies that the owner of any livestock found running at large is liable for all damages caused by the livestock, including damage on private property, and for the expenses incurred by the Pound Keeper.

The bylaw indicates that the use of this tool is intended to be limited, stating “the municipality can contract a Pound Keeper as necessary where the local farmer or person responsible for the animal is unable or unwilling to manage their livestock running at large or trespassing.



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