Gardeners look for enforcement fix for feline fecal follies

Fecal feces is a common problem in Prince Albert after th snow melts but there are grey areas in the enforcement./Morgan Calliope/Flickr

Gardeners are hoping for a better enforcement solution to address a stinky situation.

Residents are concerned about an enforcement issue with cats on the loose. Some say that as the weather warms, feline fecal matter becomes a major problem.

Meanwhile, loose animal enforcement can have some grey areas when it comes to the (by)law.

Mother’s Day weekend marks the unofficial start of gardening season, generally, if the weather cooperates.

According to some residents when the snow melt begins they make discoveries of cat feces when they are preparing to garden. This makes for some nasty finds when they prepare to rototill the garden or begin to work up flowerbeds.

The feces presents a problem on occasion where potatoes or other plants don’t grow.

If the gardeners can figure out who the cat owner is they call the SPCA. The SPCA then makes the animal’s owner aware of the law but has no power to ticket as that falls under the jurisdiction of bylaw enforcement. Bylaw enforcement provides traps to catch the animal which puts the onus on the complainant as well.

Ashley Bober, Manager of Animal Control Service for the City of Prince Albert explained that the duties for enforcement are essentially split between bylaw and Animal Control.

“People can still be ticketed for their animals at large — it definitely has been done. I have definitely been dealing with those situations. At Animal Control we do not have the authority to ticket. That is through bylaw. I mean people who do have animals on the loose on their property, the best thing they can do is catch those cats and then animal control will come pick them up and afterwards the owner will have to get them through the SPCA and if an animal is at large it is a ticketable offense. So if it does happen they can be ticketed if that is found off the property,” Bober explained.

“We can only enforce if we know where the cat is coming from,” Suzanne Stubbs of Prince Albert Bylaw Enforcement said.

Stubbs explained that if a cat is a frequent visitor and you don’t know who the owner is the resident can pick up a cat trap, trap the animal and take it to the SPCA.

“And even if they know where the cat belongs and the owner continues to not abide by the rule, the person can trap the cat and take them to the SPCA and the owners will have to go pick it up from the SPCA and then pay the fee to get the cat out and all of that stuff,” Stubbs said.

One possible solution is to send out a notice with water bills about bylaws, which has been done in the past. Another suggestion made by residents was having the SPCA remind people about bylaws during adoption drives.

Another solution is to have cats tethered in the yard with a harness and have them trained to use the backyard. Cats can be outside on a leash, but Stubbs noted that some animals are very intelligent and can escape the leash or yard.

“I guess cats can be pretty smart they can get off of leashes to but if you can put it on a leash and put it in your yard and it doesn’t get away,” Stubbs said.

Gardeners are frustarted with what happens when the cats are on the loose.

“If you are going to put it outside it would really be best to put it on a leash,” Stubbs said.

“We don’t do the ticketing but we definitely have animals that are out we do take them through the SPCA and when it is a reoccurring thing, then absolutely bylaw gets involved with the ticket stuff,” Bober explained.

Fines for loose animals in Prince Albert can be as low as $75 and as high as $275 if the complainant pushes the issue.

According to some residents, they have been forced to stop planting because of the cat issue. Cats also have destroyed decoration because the cats are in pursuit of birds who are using birdhouses on properties or stop using children’s sandboxes because of the felines.

The animals also disturb the freshly planted gardens and delay the start of growing season.

“The biggest thing is that if people do have cats on their properties that are having an issue. As the animal is at large the animal control can definitely get them and bring them to the SPCA and deal with them that way,” Bober said.

Cats cannot be at large in the city and both indoor and outdoor cats need to be licensed. However, stray cats are also part of the problem.

“If there is a stray cat hanging around you can get a trap or set a trap up if you like and if you catch a cat take it to the SPCA,” Stubbs said.