In April, the city’s public safety committee approved amendments to their pet ownership bylaw, which would double the amount of dogs and cats Thompson residents are allowed to own per household from two and three to four and six.
But before the amendments were brought to council for first reading, the bylaw was back in front of the committee May 9 over concerns that it conflicted with provincial legislation.
Veterinarian Jennifer Nyhof, owner of the Thompson Veterinary Clinic, told the committee she was worried about the section of the bylaw saying that the city’s animal control officer must conduct a house inspection before each excess animal permit is approved.
Nyhof believes that such an action could violate the province’s Veterinary Medical Act without the involvement of a licensed veterinarian.
“That process of determining whether or not an animal is healthy or not healthy requires extensive training, education and experience and it can be extremely subjective,” she said. “And, in my opinion, it may fall into the scope of veterinary medicine through the Veterinary Medical Act, which outlines the scope of practice for veterinarians.”
Nyhof offered to provide her services to the city free of charge throughout this whole permitting process.*
During Thursday’s meeting, animal control officer Craig Delaronde mentioned that it was always the city’s intention to involve local veterinarians in the permitting process, and that they’ve already outlined that fact in some version of the bylaw.
Committee chair Jeff Fountain approved the creation of a working group to finalize the wording this process. The members of this group consist of Nyhof, Delaronde, city manager Anthony McInnis and director of fire and public safety Mike Bourgon.
The public safety committee didn’t discuss changing any other part of the pet ownership bylaw from their previous meeting.
If the bylaw amendments pass, Thompson residents who don’t live in apartments could register more than three cats and two dogs if they pay a permit fee of $74 per animal in the first year (and half that amount every year thereafter).
The excess animal permit form as it currently stands can be viewed in the minutes of the April 11 public safety committee meeting on the city’s website.
* a previous version of this story suggested that Jennifer Nyhof offered to conduct the home inspections herself throughout the permitting process as opposed to simply offering her expertise as a veterinarian. The Thompson Citizen regrets this error.