The Town of Biggar has drawn ire in recent months when it was discovered that the municipality has been disregarding their bylaw and Sask. government regulations by relocating stray pets outside town limits.
BIGGAR — Kimberly Paulsen, a woman in her late 20s and a resident of the town of Biggar since April 2022, discovered in July that the town, a municipality with a population of just over 2000 people nearly 100 kilometres west of Saskatoon, has been disregarding their Stray Animal bylaw, and seemingly, provincial legislation.
Frankie, Paulsen’s cat, went missing on July 14, and since then, she told SASKTODAY.ca, her mental health has suffered.
“My neighbour out in Biggar has like a … three-year-old daughter, and they’re friends, and I go outside sometimes, and I hear the daughter just like crying out for Frankie trying to see if she’s coming home yet,” Paulsen said, pausing over the phone, audibly in tears.
After Frankie’s disappearance, Paulsen spent the weekend wandering town, shaking treats, calling for her missing cat, and asking people if she could look in their garages. Four days later, on July 18, she got an anonymous phone call saying that Frankie had been safely captured and taken to the Town of Biggar.
“I knew, I knew she didn’t do this on her own. I knew in my heart that somebody had taken her.”
It was then, upon speaking with the town during a recorded in-person meeting at the Town of Biggar hall, municipal staff admitted to her that stray animals had been dumped outside town limits without scanning for microchips, holding the animal for 72 hours, contacting a pound, or trying to find the animal’s owner before disposal.
In the audio recording, Amanda Flasch, the town’s assistant administrator, noted, “If a cat is trapped in one of our town traps, our staff go and collect the trap and the cat, they check for a collar and a tag,” Flasch began before Paulsen asked if the town scans for microchips. The town does not, though the Biggar Veterinary Clinic, which serves as a pound for the municipality, does.
When asked by Paulsen what the town’s process is regarding relocating animals, Flasch said,
“Our [inaudible] staff remove the animals.”
“What does that mean?” Paulsen asked.
“They’re relocated outside of our town boundaries.”
“So they’re just left outside of our town boundaries?” Paulsen asked.
“Yup … anything that is caught in a trap is considered an animal at large as well, which by our bylaw is also a ticketable offence,” Flasch added.
When asked what paperwork is done or what proper channels are followed to ensure someone’s pet, possibly missing its collar, is not discarded, Flasch said,
“Exactly what I just told you … it’s relocated.”
When Paulsen pressed Flasch as to why the town doesn’t care if animals are dropped outside of town limits, knowing the animal would be left to face the elements, other dangers, predators, and possibly death, she said, “That is your opinion … at this point, there is no way to trace that that cat, that was relocated, was yours.”
Paulsen has since started a vocal social media campaign in hopes of bringing awareness to the actions of the town, including a CHANGE.org petition that has garnered over 500 signatures in a town with a population of just over 2,000.
As of Aug. 1, the town has updated its bylaw, but Paulsen fears that it leaves enforcement open to more interpretation.
“Frankie was my everything, she was just the best, she was hilarious, and regardless,” Paulsen paused, apologizing for becoming audibly emotional again.
“Regardless [of] whatever happened to her, I know that this will at least save the lives of many other animals,” she said as she continues her fight to hold the Town of Biggar accountable for what she says was the reason for Frankie’s disappearance.
When asked by SASKTODAY.ca if the Town of Biggar can commit to stopping this practice of abandoning cats outside town limits and if they can commit to following their updated bylaw this time, an email from town CAO, Marty Baroni, said, “Council reviewed Ms. Paulsen’s letter dated July 24, 2023, at their meeting held August 1, 2023, and they have concluded that the protocols set out in the Town’s Animal Control Bylaw were not properly followed by the parties responsible for its enforcement.”
The email went on to say, “This matter was taken seriously, and corrective measures have been undertaken to inform the responsible parties on the proper procedures … please note that Animal Protection Services has already been in contact with the Town and their input and recommendations were implemented in the new bylaw.”
When again asked to clarify if the town will commit on the record to not continuing their practice of removing cats, committing to following this updated bylaw, or committing to scanning for microchips, the town told SASKTODAY.ca, “This case is not before the courts, and you have our statement in quotations in my previous email below if you choose to complete your article.”
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This story has been updated to remove information regarding the Stray Animals Act, as it was found not to be relevant to the situation regarding stray cats in the Town of Biggar.