Curious incident leaves a council slightly confused
Business was as usual at the city hall's general council meeting on Nov. 19.
However, during the question period at the beginning of the council, ward 10 Alderman Andre Chabot brought forward a question from the community that unsettled nearly everyone in the room.
"A resident in my ward informed me of something I found quite troubling, it seems that without knowing she has violated a bylaw regarding 'cat trapping,'" Chabot explained.
A confused silence fell over the room, no one sure what to make of the issue.
Cat trapping is when a resident can catch a cat in a trap certified by the City of Calgary on their own property.
First however, a contract must be signed from the City of Calgary, to ensureonly people who are authorized can trap cats.
People cat trap for a variety of reasons. A cat may be feral or it could be a neighbour's cat that is terrorizing their property.
However, above all it's ensured that the cat is taken care of and not abused in any way, shape or form.
Once the cat is caught it must be taken care so no harm befalls the cat, like malnourishment or cold weather.
It is then the trapper's responsibility to take the cat to animal services, where they might charge the cat's owners if it was caught off its residence.
The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous as she fears backlash from her neighbours for cat trapping, says that she wasn't told of a bylaw stating that after Oct. 15 it was no longer allowed to cat trap.
"There is no mention of dates on the contract, and I had brought in a cat on Oct.19 and not heard a mention of this," the woman said.
The issue with catching cats after a certain date is that it's considered cruel to the cat to keep them in a cage out in the cold.
All though the woman says the weather was fine the night she caught the cat, the officer at Animal and Bylaw Services wouldn't budge on the matter.
After being told she was being cruel to the cat she trapped, her contract for cat trapping was suspended indefinitely.
It was then that she called Alderman Chabot, and he brought the issue forward to the council.
So Chabot brought the question to council.
"Are there parameters specifically around the date, and are our contracts specific on this issue? Is an apology to the resident in order?" Chabot asked anyone who would know in the council.
The stunned silence lasted only a few moments, until Erika Hargesheimer, the general manager of Community Services and General Services stood up.
"I'll look into the particulars of this contract and respond back to Alderman Chabot.
If the terms under which this contract was issued were not clear with respect to a date limitation, then an apology would be warranted," Hargesheimer said.
Unfortunately for the cat trapper, this doesn't necessarily mean she'll get her license renewed next year. Despite some nagging thoughts, she's decided to take the high road.
"I had thought to continue to trap — I have a right to protect my property — and take the cats out of the city, leaving them in some field somewhere, but came to the conclusion that doing that would endanger the cat and I'm not that kind of person," the anonymous woman said.
Once the matter was resolved in city council, Mayor Naheed Nenshi simply shrugged his shoulders.
"Cat trapping, (you) learn something new every day."
- By Jeff Medhurst