The city of Oshawa's "Responsible Pet Owners Bylaw" https://www.oshawa.ca/
uploads/16/ ResponsiblePetOwners14-2010. pdf does not currently provide any support or exemption for volunteer rescue organizations who use foster homes to support and rehabilitate dogs & cats in need. Currently, the bylaw allows 3 dogs &/or 6 cats at any given time in one dwelling.
In relation to animal rescue, this arbitrary limit has three significant implications. First, it is a love of animals that leads people to volunteer and foster. This dedication often develops from their love of their own animals, meaning that many volunteer foster families end up over the legal limit of 3 dogs &/or 6 cats. These volunteers only want to support animals and do not set out to defy the law. However, without an exemption to support foster families, these dedicated volunteers find themselves at odds with the city bylaws. Second, many of the animals taken in by rescues have been poorly treated prior to coming into the rescue - many have been physically abused or neglected. A shelter is a loud & scary place for any animal but it is especially traumatic for those who have already been abused and are fearful. The place to rehabilitate these animals is in the home setting with other stable animals offering friendship and support to the traumatized animal. Third, limiting the number of animals in foster care with volunteer organizations increases the number of animals in already over-crowded city funded shelters, further limiting available space for strays & other animals in need. Additionally, by comparison, shelters are very expensive (cost of the building, heat, light, staffing...). This costs tax payers' money.
After almost a decade of fostering dogs with physical handicaps and fear issues (from abuse & neglect), I now have to stop fostering because I was found to be over the 3 dog limit. Each dog is well fed & cared for, has received appropriate vet care, and the fosters are progressing towards physical and psychological health. However, only the number "3" matters - not the health of the animals, not the emotional impact of moving them before they are ready, not the level of care that they are receiving, not the references offered from the rescue and the vet clinic - only the number "3". Being forced to move dogs out before they are ready and when it is clearly not in their best interest is devastating to me.
In 2013, with the assistance of Animal Justice, http://www
animaljustice.ca/, the city of Toronto amended their bylaws http://www.toronto.ca/
legdocs/municode/1184_349.pdf to add an exemption for animals in foster care. Amendment 349-5C states that the limit of 3 dogs &/or 6 cats "shall not apply to individual members of a rescue group who are keeping dogs or cats for or on behalf of that rescue group." Note: within this document, a Rescue Group is defined as - "A not-for-profit or charitable organization, registered with Toronto Animal Services, whose mandate and practices are predominately the rescue and placement of animals, and facilitating the spaying or neutering of animals, for animal welfare purposes." This common sense approach supports the animals, the rescue organizations, and the tax payer.
We are asking Oshawa City Council to advocate for animals in need and support volunteer rescue organizations by incorporating a similar amendment into Oshawa's Responsible Pet Owners Bylaw.