FAQs about Dogs and Other Animals within the City
What are the rules and fines in the Dog Bylaw?
If you own a dog in Meadow Lake, you need to license your dog by February 28 each year (or as soon as reasonably possible after you become the dog's owner).
Every household is limited to a maximum of four (4) dogs.
Dogs must be under the control of their owner, either by being kept on the property by a fence or lead, or by being on a leash or harness. Dogs at the off leash dog park still need to be able to be accompanied by their owner, and capable of being leashed if they become a nuisance.
Dog owners must not allow their dog to defecate on public property, or another person's private property, or else must clean up after their dogs immediately. Dog owners must also not allow pet feces to accumulate on their own property to the point where they are deemed a health hazard.
Dogs should not be permitted to bark or howl excessively, so that they create a nuisance for neighbors. As a guideline, this is defined as barking that persists for 15 minutes consecutively, or intermittently for over an hour.
Dog owners are responsible for ensuring their dog does not bite, attack, or injure other people or pets.
Most fines are $50 for a first offence, $100 for a second offence and $500 for third and subsequent offences. Fines are higher for dog bites/attacks, or for allowing dogs to be at large when they have been declared dangerous.
What are the rules for animals besides dogs?
There is a maximum limit of four (4) cats allowed per household.
Livestock animals are not permitted to be kept within city limits (there are some exceptions for horses on acreages that were annexed into the city).
Exotic pets, such as venomous snakes and other animals that may create a health hazard, are not permitted to be kept within city limits.
The Animal Protection Act, 2018 also applies to all residents of Saskatchewan, and protects animals from abuse and neglect. You can learn more about the Act here.
What is the purpose of the Dog Bylaw?
One of the central purposes of local government is to set out rules and regulations that set limits or minimum standards for various activities. The objective is to protect residents, or the community as a whole, from the actions of others without imposing unnecessary restrictions or onerous obligations on anyone. In other words, bylaws exist to balance individual rights against collective responsibilities.
In the case of the Dog Bylaw, any resident may own a dog for their own enjoyment. However, no dog owner may decrease their neighbors' enjoyment by letting the dog bark incessantly, act aggressively towards others, or otherwise harm someone else's quality of life. Dog owners also have a responsibility to not endanger the public (or the dog) by letting it run at large. In addition, people will not always agree on how best to balance personal freedoms against their impacts on neighbors and other community members. The Dog Bylaw sets out the expectations for the responsibilities dog owners have within City limits.
Most people will follow these rules out of respect for their neighbors. However, sometimes people will only follow the rules in order to avoid a fine. This is why Council sets policies and bylaws, which are reviewed on a regular basis based on input from staff and community members.
Why are the fines so high?
The impound fines help cover the costs for running the animal shelter, including feeding and looking after the animals that have been impounded.
The impound fines also increase when the same dog is found running at large repeatedly. This is to encourage dog owners to keep their dogs secured so that everyone (including the dog) is kept safe. While you may know your dog to be friendly, other people have no way of knowing whether or not your dog is safe to be around. Dogs at large may also attack other animals, run out into traffic, and frequently end up at schools and playgrounds.
How much is a dog license?
A license is $20.00 per year for a dog that has been spayed or neutered, or is a puppy and is too young to be fixed.
Licenses are $40.00 per year for a dog that hasn't been fixed.
Licenses are $50.00 per year for a dog that has been deemed high risk due to a documented history of aggressive behavior.
Licenses are free for service dogs.
Licenses last for the calendar year (January 1 - December 31) and the annual deadline for license renewals is February 28.
Why should I get a dog license?
Having a license with up to date contact information helps our bylaw officers and the volunteers at the animal shelter return your dog to you as soon as possible if it gets out of your yard. If you have a current license, the first time your dog is impounded it will be returned to you free of charge.
The revenue from the dog license program helps cover some of the costs for running the animal shelter like heat, power and building maintenance. It also helps cover some of the costs for bylaw officers to respond to animal calls.
Knowing how many dogs and dog owners are in the community can also help Council make decisions about policies and bylaws related to pets.
What happens if a dog gets out?
If a dog is found running at large in the community, it will be brought to the animal shelter and impounded. If it has a dog license, we will attempt to contact the owner through the contact information provided. If there is no license, or the contact information is out of date, we will send out an alert with a picture of the dog through our Voyent Alerting system. The Humane Society may also post a picture of the dog on their Facebook page to try to alert the owner.
If you believe your dog may have been impounded, please call or email City Hall during business hours (M-F, 8:30-4:30). The animal shelter is run by the volunteers at the ML & District Humane Society, and so their hours depend on volunteer availability.
The impound fees, including a daily boarding fee, must be paid before the dog will be released. If a dog is left for three business days without being claimed, it becomes the property of the shelter and may be adopted out. Under the 'Get out of Pound Free' program, if a dog with a current license is impounded, the City will waive the impound fees the first time it happens.
If the same dog keeps getting out, the fines will be increased for consecutive impounds.
Do I need to license my cat(s)?
No. Meadow Lake does not have a bylaw regulating cats at this time.
What can I do about cats wandering at large?
The following strategies and tools can help discourage cats from entering your yard or digging around flower beds:
- incorporate cat repelling plants into your landscaping
- use rough material such as stone mulch or egg shells in plant beds to discourage cats from digging in the dirt
- install a digging barrier, such as chicken wire, prior to planting
- install a motion activated sprinkler that sprays water at intruding animals
- install an ultrasonic device designed to emit a high-frequency sound that deters cats
- Stray and feral cats may also wander into yards looking for food and shelter. You can reduce the likelihood of their visits by ensuring you do not feed your own pets outside and keeping outdoor grills clean to reduce food smells. Boarding up holes under sheds or decks where cats may seek shelter should also help keep them out of your yard.
- Talk to your neighbours if you have concerns with their pets. Let them know that you don't want cats in your yard.
- Cats kill birds, including endangered and threatened songbirds. Collars with bells and bright colours can help warn birds; however the best prevention is to keep the cats indoors!
- Support the Humane Society. Our animal shelter is run by volunteers and is frequently at full capacity for stray cats. Any extra support they receive helps them care for more animals and reduce the number of strays in our community.
If you are a cat owner, be considerate of your neighbours and keep your cat at home, on a leash, or in a fenced enclosure. In addition to keeping your neighbors happy, there are the following benefits:
- Cats are a significant reason for declines in wildlife, especially migratory songbirds, many of which are already threatened.
- Cats defecate in any soft, easy-to-dig, soil (such as your garden or flower bed, in front of basement windows, and in kids' sandboxes) which is unpleasant and can be unhealthy.
- Indoor cats live longer than cats that are allowed outside.
Does the City have cat traps available?
The City does not have cat traps available and does not endorse the trapping of animals by private residents. In addition, the provincial Animal Protection Act prohibits cruelty towards animals, including cats. This means that if you try to trap a cat on your property, you are responsible for checking the trap every hour and ensuring that any cat that is trapped receives appropriate food, water and shelter and is brought to an animal shelter.
What can I do if I'm worried an animal is being abused?
The provincial Animal Protection Services will investigate and enforce the Animal Protection Act, 2018. Under the Act, no person shall cause an animal to be in distress, which includes if it is:
- deprived of food or water sufficient to maintain the animal in a state of good health;
- deprived of care or shelter;
- deprived of veterinary care or medical attention;
- in need of reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold;
- wounded, ill, in pain, suffering, abused or neglected;
- kept in conditions that: are unsanitary; will significantly impair the animal’s health or well being over time; cause the animal anxiety or suffering; or contravene the prescribed standards, codes of practice or guidelines;
- abandoned by its owner or by a person responsible for the animal in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause, distress resulting from any or all the factors listed
If you aren't sure who to call regarding a specific concern, this document provides a useful guideline.
I think the Bylaw could be improved, who can I talk to?
We welcome your input into how bylaws affect you, and how they could be improved to serve the community more effectively!
When City Council reviews a bylaw, they will consider many factors, including:
- what standard rules in other similar communities are,
- what provincial or federal limitations might be in place,
- how bylaws are working in practice,
- whether there are any unique community needs or challenges that need to be addressed,
- what feedback has been received from residents, affected stakeholders, and employees, and
- whether that feedback represents the opinions or experiences of the community as a whole
Sometimes the City will directly solicit feedback from residents through surveys or open houses, but you can also submit your comments at any time, either on your own or with a group of like-minded residents. Information about presenting to Council is available in this document.
Where do I go if I have more questions?
If you want to speak to the bylaw department about the enforcement of the Dog Bylaw or Animal Bylaw, you can send an email to the Bylaw Department.
If you want to pass on comments to Council about ways the Dog Bylaw and other animal enforcement could be improved, you can send an email to the City Clerk and it will be presented at a future Council meeting. More information about presenting to Council is available here.
If you prefer not to email, you can also call City Hall at 306-236-3622 or send us a letter.