COMMON ANIMAL ISSUES

Community Animal Services is tasked with providing animal control and related bylaw enforcement to manage and resolve concerns related to domestic animals. The City of Lethbridge currently regulates animals through two bylaws, The Dog Control Bylaw 5235 and The Wild or Domestic Animals Bylaw 3383.

There is currently no bylaw for the control or keeping of cats within the City of Lethbridge.

Learn more about common animal issues, and how they can be solved.

Stray or Nuisance Cats (managed intake)

Currently, there is no bylaw regulating the control or keeping of cats in the City of Lethbridge. The animal shelter must manage the intake of strays to ensure the proper care, safety, and health of the animals in our facility. Our goal is to return lost pets to their owners and adopt out those that go unclaimed.


If you have found a stray cat within the City of Lethbridge, please consider the following:


  • Does the cat appear feral (unsocialized, fearful, does not accept handling)? Feral cats are born and raised without human contact and are typically self-sufficient when finding food sources and shelter. These cats are not owned pets and are not typically fit for adoption. Feral cats should not be turned into the animal shelter. The City of Lethbridge Animal Welfare Advisory Committee provides funding to manage and care for feral cat colonies. Learn more.

  • If the cat is found wandering, is social, and friendly, it could be someone's missing pet. It is best to monitor the cat’s situation, talk to neighbors and post on social media. If the cat begins to look distressed, no owner can be found, and there is no other alternative to sheltering, the cat may be turned into the animal shelter. Keeping this cat in your home or feeding it is unnecessary, and significantly reduces the chance of it ever returning home on its own.

  • Found a cat wearing a tag or collar? Make all attempts to locate the owner, and if it is a Lethbridge License tag you can call 403-320-4099 to have the owner contacted. If you cannot locate an owner on your own, and there is no alternative to sheltering, the animal shelter may be able to hold the cat until the true owner comes forward.


If you have found a stray cat that appears to be distressed, and cannot locate the owners, please call Community Animal Services ahead of time at 403-320-4099 to ensure there is available space at the animal shelter.


If you have found an injured or deceased cat in a public space, or orphaned kittens where a mother has not returned in over 8 hours, please call 403-320-4099 so an Enforcement Officer can be dispatched.


If a stray cat has become a nuisance on your property, you are encouraged to use humane methods of deterring the cats.

Some humane deterrent options include:

  • Motion-activated sonic and ultrasonic devices or motion-activated water sprinklers.

  • Cat scat mats or chicken wire to prevent digging.

  • Scent deterrents such as "Critter Ritter" products, citronella, lavender, or cinnamon.


If all reasonable efforts have been made to deter the cat from your yard, you can request the use of a humane trap by using the Complaint Form. The animal shelter does not accept the intake of cats caught in private traps.


*Enforcement Officers do not respond to general cat complaints.

Barking Dogs

Complaints of barking dogs are one of the most common reports we receive. Dog owners need to monitor the pet's outside time to mitigate any incidents of excessive barking.

What would constitute a barking complaint?

  • Dogs outside barking frequently for long periods of time without any correction, in such a way that disturbs the peace and enjoyment of the neighborhood.

  • Frequent incidents of barking overnight and early in the morning that cause a disturbance.

If you are experiencing an issue of barking that has created a disturbance; take the following steps.

  • Have a friendly conversation with the pet owner, often they may not be aware that there is an issue and it can be resolved without any enforcement intervention.

  • If the issue continues, or you are not able to speak with the pet owner, you can file a complaint with Community Animal Services to initiate an investigation. You can make a report by using the online Complaint Form. Once a complaint has been filed you may need to complete a statement form and log, and you could be required to testify in court if charges are filed against the dog owner.

Dog Attack/Bites

Dog owners are responsible for ensuring the control of their animals at all times, this includes preventing the dog from being a threat to any person or other animal. The Dog Control Bylaw 5235 for the City of Lethbridge and the Dangerous Dogs Act of Alberta sets out several fines and other enforcement actions in response to incidents where a dog has created a threat or caused an injury to a person or other animal.

Dog bites should be reported immediately.

If you have been bit by a dog, seek medical attention and then report the incident to Community Animal Services as soon as possible by calling 403-320-4099. If you are reporting a dog attack/ bite, be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your name and contact details.

  • Date, time, and location of the incident.

  • Description of the subject animals, and any information known about their ownership.

  • The responding officer will collect a statement from you as well as photos/ descriptions of the injuries.

If you have witnessed an incident where a dog is acting aggressive and creating a threat to people or other animals, report it as soon as possible.

Livestock

The Wild or Domestic Animals Bylaw for the City of Lethbridge regulates the keeping of certain wildlife and livestock type animals. No person shall keep the following within the City of Lethbridge:

  • Livestock (horses, cattle, pigs, goats etc.)

  • Poultry (chickens, ducks, etc.)

  • Wildlife (big game, birds of prey, fur-bearing carnivores species etc.)

  • Bees

This does not apply to land classified "farm" in the Land Use Bylaw, and the keeping of a signal rabbit on a residential property. If you have concerns that someone is keeping livestock or wildlife on a property within the city, you can report it using the online Complaint Form.

Urban Wildlife

Many animals, such as coyotes, foxes and magpies, have readily adapted to life in the city. Permanently removing these species from urban areas is not possible. Removing these animals only leaves vacancies which other animals can fill. Learning to coexist with wildlife is key.

The following simple precautions reduce the risks associated with wildlife in urban settings:

  • Never feed wildlife. Wildlife feeding on food from people and human-use areas not only prevents wildlife from getting nutrition from natural food sources, it teaches wildlife to associate people with food. This can lead to problematic, even dangerous, situations that may result in human injury and/or wildlife being destroyed.

  • Never approach wildlife. It may be stressful for wildlife when someone enters their territory. Over time, wildlife can become accustomed to people, increasing the risk of negative human-wildlife encounters. Always respect the "personal space" of wildlife to help them stay wild. Also keep in mind that bats, skunks and foxes are carriers of rabies and, if seen acting oddly, must be avoided, even if your intention is to help.

  • Keep your dog on a leash. Even well-trained dogs cannot fight their instinct to bark and chase. This can stress wildlife and cause them to dart into traffic or lead to other unsafe situations such as a defensive attack.

  • Keep your cats indoors. Cats allowed to roam make easy prey for coyotes and foxes. Coyotes and foxes that learn easy prey can be found in a neighbourhood will return to that same area for future meals, creating potential new problems for the community. Keeping cats indoors also helps protect the native songbirds that frequent the city.

  • Keep your garbage in a secure container with a lid. Make sure your garbage containers are in good condition. Household waste appeals to wildlife as a source of easy meals.

  • Remove food and shelter that attracts wildlife to your property. Clean your yard of all garbage, pet foods, bird seed, fallen fruit and berries that can serve as a food source for wildlife. Potential shelter, such as the spaces under decks, patios and outbuildings, should be closed off with durable wire mesh.

  • Drive carefully. Slowing down when driving near parks, river valleys, golf courses and other green spaces lessens the likelihood of collisions with wildlife.

  • Teach your children about wildlife in the city. Children should be taught to make safe decisions and respect wildlife by never feeding or approaching wildlife, putting garbage into garbage cans, not running away when they see coyotes or foxes and keeping their pets leashed and supervised.


> For issues with nuisance wildlife on your property, please contact a local pest control business.

> For concerns related to large injured, or dangerous wildlife, contact Alberta Sheriffs Fish and Wildlife Enforcement 1-800-642-3800.

> For safety concerns about rattlesnakes in public spaces or private yards, call 403-332-6806 in the City of Lethbridge.

> For wildlife concerns in parks and public spaces, call the City of Lethbridge at 3-1-1.