Backyard hens soon allowed as Calgary makes changes to pet bylaw

Click to play video: 'Backyard hens soon to be allowed as Calgary makes changes to pet bylaw'
Backyard hens soon to be allowed as Calgary makes changes to pet bylaw
WATCH: The City of Calgary has updated its responsible pet ownership bylaw for the first time in 12 years. As Adam MacVicar reports, the changes allow for backyard hens and limit the amount of pets one household can have. – Jun 2, 2021

Calgary city council approved a number of changes to the city’s responsible pet ownership bylaw on Tuesday, including updates that allow citizens to keep hens in their backyard.

The proposal that Calgarians be allowed to keep urban hens passed narrowly in an 8-6 vote.

If you’d like to keep backyard hens you’ll have to undergo training and get a licence.

“We’ll be developing an urban hen program that will ensure proper housing and care conditions,” Jennifer Lawlor with the City of Calgary said Wednesday. “The program will be aligned with national care standards.”

The program will start next year, but council voted to cap the number of licences issued at 100 for 2022/23. They will, however, be revisiting permit numbers in 2023.

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Chickens are already allowed as pets, if approved, through the city’s emotional support livestock program.

Other notable changes to Calgary’s responsible pet ownership bylaw

“We will also be introducing a licensing program for beekeeping,” Lawlor said. “Beekeeping is currently allowed in Calgary but because it’s a growing hobby we want to ensure that it continues to be successful.”

Other changes made to the responsible pet ownership bylaw include limiting the number of cats and dogs to six each per household. People who own more than six dogs or cats when the bylaw changes go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022 will be able to keep their pets.

Exceptions to the bylaw will be made for breeders and those who foster, who can apply for so-called excess animal permits.

The number of dogs a single person can take to an off-leash dog park will now be capped at six. However, council is going to consult with those in the dog walking industry and report back on any concerns this may cause.

Also changed were the fines for aggressive pet behaviours, which have been increased.

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The updated bylaw also expands the authority for the chief bylaw officer to declare an animal vicious in cases where there has been severe injuries to a person, severe injury or death to another animal or are other significant safety risks.

“This change allows the chief bylaw officer to make a call quickly and send the animal home with safety measures in place rather than (having them wait) in our animal services centre while awaiting a court date,” Lawlor said.

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“We were also approved for an expanded nuisance designation. This is in cases where there’s been repeated nuisance issues, whether it be noise or aggressive behaviour.”

Pets that receive a nuisance designation have increased licence fees and higher fines applied against them.

Lastly, the bylaw has been changed to remove references to specific temperatures in cases where pets are left unattended in vehicles during hot weather.

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“The changes that were approved will allow officers to be able to go and intervene to be sure the animals are safe,” Lawlor said.

Tuesday marked the first time in 12 years the bylaw had been updated.

The update was guided by input from 120,000 Calgarians through public engagement, including with industry stakeholders.

All of the changes to Calgary’s responsible pet ownership bylaw come into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

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