Has the public been able to provide input?
Extensive public consultation was conducted during 2009 and 2010 with members of the public, animal rescue groups, pet store owners, animal-related organizations, vet clinics and environmental groups who all provided input and feedback to proposed changes to the current By-laws. The City received feedback from approximately 400 groups and individuals through:
Written submissions (letters, email), and
Why did we need to make changes to the previous By-laws?
The City of Hamilton had ten (10) by-laws that regulated the keeping and control of animals. Changing/revising the By-law allowed us to:
create one “harmonized” Animal Control By-law that replaced the ten existing by-laws regulating the keeping and control of animals across the entire amalgamated City;
increase the health and safety of residents and animals;
update and change some old or out-dated regulations;
improve and enhance our relationships with rescue organizations; and
balance the needs and differing situations between regulations for the rural and urban areas.
Have we looked at what other cities are doing with their Animal By-laws?
Yes, we have looked at a number of best practices across Canada. For example, we have reviewed Calgary’s model as they are a recognized as a leader and have seen a number of positive results. Recommendations for Hamilton’s By-law also take into account opportunities for customization in our distinct community.
Does the new By-law recommend that cats must be licensed?
No, there is no recommendation to licence cats at this time. We will continue to encourage cat owners to microchip and register their cat(s) to increase the likelihood that they return home if they get lost.
Will the By-law suggest that the City proactively pick up cats that are roaming around?
No, Animal Services will continue to respond to calls regarding injured or deceased cats. Animal Services staff will respond to complaints about cats ‘at large’. What will change is that cats will be treated in a similar way to dogs and they will not be allowed to leave your property and wander around your neighbourhood unless your neighbours are ok with this. This new By-law emphasizes the importance of responsible pet/animal ownership.
Under the new By-law if a complaint is received about my cat wandering around would I immediately receive a ticket?
No, enforcement of this would follow similar process like other By-law complaints where the owner would first receive a warning informing them that there are concerns about their cat(s) ‘at large’ and would ask them to ensure that their cat(s) remains on their property. If the concern is not addressed then staff could follow up with more progressive measures such as issuing a ticket etc.
Is there a difference between what’s allowed in rural areas (farms) versus urban (residential)?
Yes, animals produced or raised as part/all of an agricultural use (including horse farms) are exempt from the regulations contained in the new By-law. In addition, a broader range of animals are permitted on farms, wherever they are located (as long as allowed by zoning), as well as outside of the urban boundary and the rural settlement areas. This would permit, for example, hobby farms for keeping ducks, chickens, peacocks, etc.
On rural or agricultural premises, dogs can be kept without fencing or other restraint if sufficiently trained to stay on the property (also permitted on properties one hectare or larger). Chickens, pigs, donkeys and other farm animals (in addition to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, etc.) can be kept even if there are no livestock or horses on a horse farm. Falcons can be kept with the provincial licence and wild animals can only be kept if they are sick or injured and being nursed with the provincial authorization.
Are all types of snakes and lizards allowed and what other changes apply to owning reptiles?
The new By-law suggests that the only type of snakes and lizards that would be allowed will include:
non-venomous snakes that do not exceed three metres in length from nose to tip of tail at maturity; and
non-venomous lizards (not including iguanas) that do not exceed two metres in length from nose to tip of tail at maturity.
The current By-law prohibits the sale and ownership of banned snakes and lizards. The revisions to the By-law for reptiles is also in keeping with what neighbouring cities allow.
Why aren’t urban chickens permitted?
Staff have been directed to investigate the possibility of keeping urban chickens. Due to health and safety concerns, more research needs to be conducted. The keeping of domestic poultry can put humans in close contact with poultry viruses such that the potential health risks associated with the keeping of poultry outweighs the potential benefit realized from the food security perspective at this time. Poultry carry Salmonella sp. bacteria and have the ability to carry Influenza viruses. Salmonellosis infections can be quite serious, particularly in children under the age of five years and poultry are a natural reservoir for influenza viruses.
Does the new By-law make any recommendations about banning the sale of cats and dogs in stores?
Based on our observations and anecdotal reports for the Hamilton area, there is a continued trend where stores get their cats or dogs from rescue groups and organizations, which aides in finding homes for these animals.
Can I review the entire new By-law?
Yes, you can review the complete, new By-law found in the right hand column of this webpage. For comments or questions regarding the revised By-law, contact Animal Services at:
in person: 247 Dartnall Road, Hamilton