When 600 pet rats were discovered in an apartment in North Bay this month, Councillor Mark King said he would like to see a bylaw introduced to control those types of situations.
A model may come from our neighbours to the west.
Greater Sudbury Council has passed a new animal care and control bylaw based on the principles of responsible pet ownership.
The new by-law introduces options to purchase one year, three year or lifetime dog and cat licences, allows pet owners to keep as many spayed or neutered dogs and cats as they wish, and includes regulations for the basic care of pets.
A bylaw to regulate the keeping of animals, responsible pet ownership and the registration of dogs and cats will take effect March 1.
Until that date, enforcement of regulations related to local dogs and cats and requirements for annual pet licensing will remain under the current municipal By-law.
“We are pleased to introduce a by-law that reflects the philosophy and the wishes of Council, local pet owners and the animal welfare and rescue community,” said Melissa Laalo, Greater Sudbury Animal Care and Control Bylaw Coordinator.
“Responsible pet ownership was a recurring theme during our public consultations and in a survey of best practices within other large municipalities.”
Highlights of the new bylaw include:
- No limit on the number of spayed or neutered dogs and cats permitted per household. Households with unaltered pets are limited to two dogs and two cats. A four pet limit remains until Feb. 28
- Moving a requirement for purchase of an annual pet licence from the animal control by-law to the municipal user fee by-law so that pet owners will have a choice of one year, three year or lifetime dog and cat licences. The current one year pet licence remains a requirement until February 28, 2017.
- Permission to allow pet cats to roam outdoors, provided the cat is vaccinated, microchipped, licensed, spayed or neutered. The by-law obliges owners to ensure their cats are not causing a nuisance, damaging property or creating excessive noise while outdoors.
- A new section in the by-law for rescue groups to clearly define the rights and obligations of both the municipality and volunteers. The section includes provisions for the humane management of feral cat colonies.
- Regulations for adequate and appropriate care for the health and well-being of dog and cats, including sufficient food and water, proper enclosures and tethers, sanitary environments and protection from teasing or tormenting.
The new by-law contains regulations for the investigation, classification and restraint of vicious dogs. In the case of a reported dog attack or bite, the role of the municipality is to assess the level of threat to public safety.
If a dog is found “vicious” under the bylaw, owners are ordered to muzzle, tether, confine and leash the dog at all times, except when the dog is home and indoors, and to microchip the dog for identification purposes.
Depending on the severity of the bite or attack, the City of Greater Sudbury may exercise its rights under the provincial Dog Owner’s Liability Act to go before a Justice of the Peace to request a warrant to remove a vicious dog from its home. The dog is held in care of the municipality until a hearing before the Ontario Court of Justice determines its fate and penalties for the dog owner.
Under the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, owners are liable for the actions of their dog if it can be proven before the court that the dog has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal, has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals or the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent a dog from biting, attacking or posing menace.
The landlord of a woman facing animal abuse charges — after hundreds of rats were found in her apartment — says the charges should be dropped.
John Wilson looks after the North Bay building where more than 600 rats were removed from an apartment.
The fire department removed the rodents last month, after a neighbour complained.
Wilson says the 51-year-old female tenant is not mentally well.
“The woman does not need to be going to jail,” he told CBC Radio-Canada.
“This was an illness, not a criminal act. She isn’t capable of committing a criminal act. She has a form of what they call hoarding. And frankly, it is a mental issue. It is not a criminal issue.”
Wilson says the damage caused by the rats is estimated at $ 25,000, and says he has started proceedings to evict the tenant.
He also says she suffers from mental illness.
“She does not need to be charged. She needs treatment. She is on ODSP. This is an illness, not a criminal act … things just got out of control.”
‘There’s probably more in there’
The neighbour who called the fire department agrees.
Lina Timm lives in the apartment next door to the woman — who she says had bite marks on her lips and arms from the rats.
It was Timm who alerted the municipal fire department because she was worried — and feared the rodents would cause a fire.
“I went down to the station and I talked to them, because I was concerned for her health,” she said.
“And when they went in there, they pulled out 610 rats. And there’s probably still more in there. I was concerned for her. She’s an animal hoarder. She thought these were her babies … like, she raised them.”
The woman voluntarily surrendered all of the rats into the care of the humane society.
Many partner organizations assisted in relocating the rats, including Ontario SPCA animal centres in Midland, Muskoka, Barrie, Orillia, Orangeville, Cornwall, Renfrew, Napanee, Brockville, Sudbury and the Provincial Education Animal Centre, located just outside Newmarket.
The woman is scheduled to appear in a North Bay court in February to answer to the following OSPCA charges:
- Permitting distress
- Failing to provide sanitary living conditions
- Failing to provide care necessary for general welfare
- Failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention
Daryl Vaillancourt of the North Bay and District Humane Society says “animal cruelty laws will be enforced to ensure accountability for those who fail to provide appropriate care of an animal.”
Vaillancourt argues that, in the circumstances, his team had no choice but to act — and it’s for the court to determine if the accused is responsible for the situation
Humane society officials say a woman is facing charges after hundreds of rats were removed from a one-bedroom apartment in North Bay.
North Bay and District Humane Society spokesman Daryl Vaillancourt says “most” of the rats were running free in the apartment when inspectors went there on Dec. 16, 2016, to investigate a report of a large number of domestic rats being kept in an apartment.
Vaillancourt says the woman voluntarily surrendered nearly 600 rats, which were removed from the apartment over several days.
The rats were transferred to other humane societies and Ontario SPCA animal centres across the province where they will be sent to new homes.
A 51-year-old woman is to appear in North Bay court on Feb. 3 to face four Ontario SPCA Act charges.
She is accused of permitting distress, failing to provide sanitary living conditions, failing to provide care necessary for general welfare, and failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention.
Rats and mice typically inspire more shrieks than cutesy sighs.
But on the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society’s Facebook page, visitors have been asked to keep any lowly opinions to themselves. The Menands-based haven for unwanted animals has created a hate-free zone for rats and mice after it took in some of the 400 rodents the Niagara ASPCA region recently rescued from a hoarding situation.
“We want to remind everyone that our page is not a forum for insensitive, negative comments about these animals and such comments will not be allowed here,” reads the Facebook post from Saturday. “These animals are as deserving of our compassion as any other species we care for.”
Marguerite Pearson, marketing and communications manager for the Humane Society, said some of the comments on the Facebook page were awful.
“Someone mentioned rat poisoning and it really ticked me off,” said Pearson. “I posted ‘no negativity’ because we felt that we wanted to take back the page.”
According to Mohawk’s social media feed, 70 volunteers gathered up the rodents, which were being bred to feed snakes. The mice and rats are being distributed to area PetSmart locations including stores in Albany, Glenmont, Latham and Hudson, where they are being adopted out like any other pet. Rats and mice can also be adopted at the society’s Menands center.
But hurry. They are going fast. At the Albany PetSmart, store employee Ruth Place said all 10 of their rats were adopted already.
“We will be getting more,” said Place. “But, we have to wait. Many of the rescued rats were babies and have to grow up a little more. People love them because they are very affectionate creatures.”
The society obviously agrees.
“Rats make awesome pets. Smart, social and very clean,” the society said.