Sunday 10 July 2022

Toronto council wants to introduce cat leash laws but there are better things to do

NEWS AND COMMENT: Toronto city council (the economic and community development committee) has voted by a show of hands to support a motion for a bylaw change to make it obligatory for outdoor cats to be on a lead. 

It's not yet received final approval. The council is scheduled to debate the issue in two weeks. The reason? The usual ones. To protect cats and protect wildlife. It is just another story among many of methods to confine cats when they are outside. There is a world trend in the West i.e. developed countries, for this alteration in the human-to-cat relationship.

Beautiful Toronto. Photo: Image by Miguel Barrera from Pixabay.

However, the best article on the topic comes from Mike Strobel writing for the TORONTO SUN. He lives with a Norwegian Forest cat and he does not like this proposed bylaw. His reason is that there are better things to be doing. 

He complains that in Toronto there's a lot of pressing problems that need to be fixed including gridlock on the roads, street drugs, carjackings, garbage, gunfire, construction chaos, random thuggery et cetera. He's trying to make that point that the city council should be prioritised improvements in the amenity of the city, in reducing crime et cetera rather than trying to introduce a law which I would argue is going to be hard to enforce.

In fact, it may be impossible to enforce effectively. Firstly, you've got to know where all the domestic cats are in Toronto. Are they all micro-chipped? Can all the domestic cats in Toronto be identified? Because if not I don't think you can enforce this law. 

RELATED: Cats: Leash Laws, Licenses, Regulated Feeding Outside, Government Funded TNR.

Let's say the law is successfully introduced. A domestic cat goes outside. The cat is not microchip. An official spots the cat and takes him to a pound. The owner does not look for his cat. That might happen and it is not doing anything to protect wildlife or to protect cats. And most cats are outside at night. Who's going to spot them? An army of council officials wandering the streets at night?

It would seem that the only surefire way of enforcing a bylaw which makes it obligatory to take your cat out on a lead if they want to go out is by having every cat registered with the local authority with up-to-date details and to employ Toronto residents as spies to spy on their neighbour.

RELATED: Leash laws against free-roaming cats means death for Murfreesboro shelter cats.

Mr Strobel think that it might be a diversion from City Hall's failures. This, by the way, is a form of "dead cat strategy" which I have written about in another article. The strategy describes diversionary tactics to take attention away from failures.

Strobel drove through Toronto the other day and he saw tents under the Gardiner and in neighbourhood parks. He saw junkies, needles and crack pipes "around the 'safe injection' site at Dundas Square". He was stuck in traffic; "paralysed by orange cones". He is shocked by "a rash of daylight carjackings".

But he "noted exactly zero felonious felines"! He saw "no cat poop on the sidewalk or puddles in the elevator". In short, he did not see a cat problem in Toronto but he did see other problems which should be prioritised by the City Council.

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