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What's NEW in the Animal Responsibility Bylaw?

Below is a brief summary of key points and is not a complete outline of all sections. For the most complete and up to date information, please see the Bylaw in its entirety here. If there is any discrepancy between the official Bylaw and this website, the Bylaw should be considered correct and complete.

Maximum Number of Pets

There is a limit on the number of pets that can be owned on one property in the City. For this requirement, pets are split into two categories: dogs and cats, and other small animals. In total, no person shall keep more than 12 animals.

Dogs & Cats
A person may keep, on any property:

  • Up to 4 dogs over the age of 16 weeks; or

  • Up to 5 cats over the age of 12 weeks; or

  • a combination of dogs and cats up to a total number of 6.

Small Animals

A person may keep, on any property:

  • Up to 12 small flock birds, domestic mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, or a combination thereof.

  • Up to 4 hook bill birds, chinchillas, domestic ferrets, hedgehogs, rabbits, sugar gliders, or a combination thereof.

  • Up to 6 guinea pigs or reptiles, or a combination thereof.

If a person has more than the maximum number of pets in the City of Nanaimo prior to September 21, 2021, they will be grandfathered in. The owner must have proof of ownership and residency dated prior to September 21, 2021.

Pet Store Regulations

Retail stores may not sell cats, dogs, or rabbits, unless the animal has been spayed or neutered and is being offered for adoption through Nanaimo Animal Control, the BCSCPA, or a registered rescue organization.

Aggressive Dog Regulations

The owner of a dog that has been designated as an Aggressive Dog in the City must comply with several new regulations, including an increased licensing fee, proof of liability insurance, the posting of signage at the entrance to the property where the dog is kept, and prohibition from City parks. These regulations replace breed specific legislation.

Breed Specific Legislation

There is no longer breed specific legislation in the City of Nanaimo. Dogs of all breeds are subject to the same requirements. Dogs that have been designated as Aggressive Dogs due to aggressive behaviour are subject to additional requirements, such as muzzling, to ensure public safety.

Animal Cruelty
No person shall:

  • abandon any animal;

  • in any way use poison, air pellet guns, bows and arrows, firearms, sling shots, or similar on any animal, except as exempted under the City's Firearms Regulation Bylaw or the Wildlife Act;

  • tease, torment, beat, kick, punch, choke, or provoke an animal;

  • cause, permit or allow an animal to suffer; or

  • train or allow any animal to fight.

Animal Welfare
The owner of an animal must ensure the animal is provided with:

  • sufficient clean, potable drinking water at all times;

  • suitable food of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal growth and the maintenance of normal body weight;

  • clean and disinfected food and water receptacles that are locatde so as to avoid contamination by excreta;

  • the opportunity for regular exercise sufficient to maintain good health;

  • necessary veterinary care to maintain the health and comfort of the animal or when the animal exhibits signs of pain, injury, illness or suffering;

  • protection from the elements at all times and must not allow the animal to suffer from hyperthermia, hypothermia, dehydration, discomfort, or exertion causing pain, suffering, or injury; and

  • shelter, if the animal is kept outside, that provides protection from heat, cold, direct rays of the sun, and is of adequate size to allow the animal to move, stand, sit, and lie comfortably.

Animals on Private Property

The owner of an animal must not allow the animal to trespass on private property without the consent of the occupier or owner of the property.

Animals in Public Places

The owner of an animal must not allow the animal to be in a public place unless it is under direct control of a competent person. Dogs must be leashed everywhere other than the owner's private property and in designated off leash areas.

Keeping of Cats

Regulations pertaining to cats are described on the Cat Regulations page.

Keeping of Poultry

Regulations pertaining to poultry are described on the Poultry Regulations page.

Keeping of Rabbits

A person may keep up to 4 rabbits on any property. Rabbits must be spayed or neutered. Rabbits must not be kept in outdoor cages or enclosures unless the enclosure is secure enough to prevent escape and to ensure the safety of the rabbits from predators, and is situated at least 3 metres away from each property line.

Dog Waste

Any person in care and control of a dog must immediately remove and lawfully dispose of excrement left by the dog anywhere other than on private property owned or occupied by the dog owner.

Feeding Wildlife

A person must not intentionally feed or leave food out for the purpose of feeding deer, raccoons, squirrels, feral rabbits, bears, coyotes, cougars, wolves, or other animals designated as dangerous under the Wildlife Act.

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