No joy for leashed cats

WHILE the new animal rules are a win for the birds and the bees, the new law is bad news for cat-lovers who walk leashed cats in local parks.

Under these changes cats will be banned altogether from Britannia Road Reserve, Smiths Lake, Robertson Park, Banks Reserve, and Hyde Park.

Cat-ally Sam Fitzpatrick wrote to Vincent: “I am concerned about the overreach of local government wanting to fine people who want to walk their cat on a lead in Hyde Park.

“I find this change in local laws an egregious change in policy and this demonstrates that the city does not understand the city’s planning implications of increased housing density attributable for such needs to safely walk a cat in public open space given the shift toward smaller dwellings and no backyards for cat exercise. 

“Not only does this affect the health and well-being of the city’s cats but their owner’s mental health.”

But a peculiarity of state law makes it tricky to ban free-roaming cats but allow them on a leash in those areas. 

The WA Cat Act, which empowers the council to enforce its cat rules, doesn’t distinguish between a free-roaming cat and one on a leash the same way the WA Dog Act does. 

Any council policy allowing leashed cats but banning freewheeling felines would risk getting rejected by parliament for being incompatible with state law.

by DAVID BELL

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