Calgary city council has approved changes to the city’s pet ownership bylaws, which will now allow people to keep backyard hens.

This is the first time the bylaw regarding pet ownership has been updated in 12 years. 

The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw Review was heard by the city of Calgary’s Community and Protective Services on May 12,and then the city council revised and accepted it on June 1. 

Paul Hughes, organizer of CLUCK, a group dedicated to the public’s right to food and food justice, said they have been pushing for this for a long time. 

“We finally cracked the egg. I guess we should be grateful,” he says. “After 12 years the city finally did something.”

For now the city will only be giving out 100 hen licenses. 

However, Hughes feels as though the city has not done enough, and that there should be more licenses allowed. 

The Urban Hen Program requires chicken owners to get formal training and to understand the proposed hen-keeping practices, such as following proper care and safety guidelines. These practices are being implemented to reduce concern for the community. 

“An animal can be declared a nuisance when it is engaged in repeated threatening or aggressive behaviour,” the Bylaw Review document reads. 

“We know that most Calgarians are OK with it,” said Coun. Evan Woolley, adding the pilot project worked, so if there are issues, officials have the tools available to make changes. 

Other changes in the bylaws

The bylaw also made changes to rules around ownership of cats and dogs, limiting households to six cats and six dogs total and outlining individuals can only bring a maximum of six dogs to an off-leash park.

The changes also affect how the city deals with lost and found animals. Before the changes, the impound would keep pets for four days before they are deemed unclaimed. Now, if animals are not picked up after three days by their owners, they are considered abandoned and will be subject to adoption. The same rules apply that if an owner does not pick up their pet after seven days of a notice from Animal Services, they will be put up for adoption. 
The bylaw changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. 

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