Ealier this week, Council approved recommendations brought forward by The City to amend the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw to allow a process for citizens to apply to keep livestock as Emotional Support Animals when a mental health professional determines the animal provides a therapeutic benefit to a patient.
With the emergence of Emotional Support Animals as a legitimate therapeutic treatment, some animals that may fulfill this purpose are classified as livestock under the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw. The bylaw amendments give the Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer the ability to grant a permit allowing an individual to keep livestock for this purpose. Permit holders must meet the terms and conditions of the permit including providing a letter from a mental health professional and ensuring they can meet guidelines for the care and maintenance of the animal.
“These bylaw amendments were developed to balance the rights of people in need of Emotional Support Animals with those of other Calgarians,” says Jennifer Lawlor, business strategist for Calgary Community Standards. “We consulted with Alberta Health Services, the Calgary Humane Society, Alberta Farm Animal Care and several mental health organizations to develop the bylaw amendment, policy and processes. We believe these amendments are an opportunity for Council to support mental health in Calgary.”
With the amendments passed, the new permit process will be implemented in the early part of 2019. The City also developed a policy to support implementation. While dogs and cats are the animal most commonly owned at ESAs, the most common livestock animals are chickens, miniature horses and pigs. The City did not consider wildlife and exotic animals in its recommendations as the keeping of these animals is regulated by provincial and federal legislation.
The recommendations put forward by The City originated from a Notice of Motion brought forward by Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek on Feb. 26, 2018. Council was clear that they were not looking to amend the bylaw to allow livestock to be kept within City limits. At the same time, they were also clear that a provision should be made to allow individuals with a genuine need for an ESA to be allowed this therapeutic option.
When the permit process comes into effect, Calgarians will be able to find more information at calgary.ca.