To the editor,
I rescue cats and have long been concerned with HRM's lack of by-laws and resources to deal with the growing problem of stray and feral cat colonies. When recently faced with a discovery of 4 litters of kittens and 6 wild adults under one trailer, I attempted to start a non-profit society to foster cats and kittens, provide veterinary care and get the animals spayed or neutered prior to finding loving homes. I obtained the support of hundreds of kind citizens over the summer, but it only took one complaint from a nasty neighbour for the city to start breathing down my neck. Although HRM will not help rescue these felines living in misery on the streets, they won't allow me to do their job, due to a zoning restriction. Apparently by-laws prevent me from running a home business that involves the keeping of animals. When I heard that the non-civic minded neighbour had complained to the city, I invited my city councillor and two Land Use By-lay officers to meet at my home, to discuss the issue. I cannot believe that they would even interpret what I am doing as a business. In the by-law it states that a home business is for gainful employment ( I hold a full-time job to help pay for my cat rescues!) Another point is that a nearby person runs a grooming business from her home ( in the same zoned neighbourhood) and that is considered acceptable because it is not "the keeping of animals". So does it make sense that I should not be allowed to keep rescued cats quietly inside my home, but the groomer can have dogs coming and going all day? Now I understand that the by-laws are in place for a reason, such as preventing back-yard breeders, but if the city were to investigate every cat/dog rescue group, they might find that none are zoned appropriately, and what would they do? Force us ALL to shut down and have more indigent animals living in the streets? It is time our human citizens take a stand for our furry friends who cannot speak for themselves.
By Sonya Higgins