Gone to the dogs

Story by Jim Zang

Spring 2023

Make no mistake about it, Airdrie is a dog town.

In fact, with the City of Airdrie reporting approximately 10,076 active dog licenses at time of writing, there’s one dog for every 2.6 households in town (based on the 2021 Census number of 27,037 total households). In other words, better than one in every three homes own a dog.

In comparison, the City currently has 2,116 cats licensed. Clearly, dogs rule.

Whether your fur babies bark or meow, there are a number of responsibilities to be aware of as part of being a good pet owner. For starters, all cats and dogs over three months of age require a license. Licenses are good for one calendar year from date of purchase and include a tag that must be worn by your pet, which will help if your pet is ever lost.


The cost to license a dog is $74 for an unspayed or unneutered animal and $44 if spayed or neutred, with accompanying vet’s documents. For animals declared by the courts to be ‘vicious dogs’ due to past history, the fee is $250 annually. There is no charge for service or foster canines.

For felines, the fees are $54 annually for a unspayed or neutered cat and $28 for a spayed or neutered kitty, with supporting paperwork from the vet.

The City of Airdrie’s Animal Control Bylaw outlines the responsibilities of dog and cat ownership. For example, dog owners:

  • Are limited to three dogs per household
  • Must pick up all feces produced by their dogs both on and off their property
  • Do not allow their dogs to run at large
  • Keep their dogs leashed at all times unless in a fenced private yard or are under control in a designated off-leash dog park

The City has six off-leash dog parks, including in King’s Heights, East Lake (small dogs), Big Springs, Summerhill, South Point and at Nose Creek Park. You can access a map at
According to the Bylaw, Dogs must not:

  • Bite anyone
  • Injure anyone
  • Chase, threaten or attack a person or animals
  • Bark, howl or disturb anyone
  • Cause damage to property or other animals
  • Scatter garbage
  • Wander into any swimming, bathing or splash pool/park that is provided for public use

While dogs will be dogs, incessant barking is considered the owner’s responsibility also and there is an official avenue to pursue barking dog issues with Municipal Enforcement by requesting a Dog Barking Package.
Similarly, the days of cats, bless their independent little hearts, roaming the neighbourhood freely are a thing of the past. Sorry, Felix. Cats must be licensed after three months of age, are limited to three cats per household and cannot run at large.
Municipal Enforcement works with Alberta Pound and Rescue Centres (APARC) on providing community services with regard to animal welfare. If you’re having issues with strays or ‘roamers’, APARC can provide cat traps.
Dogs and cats found with Airdrie city limits, or trapped, with or without ID tags should be taken to APARC or, if after hours the nearest open vet clinic.

If an animal is picked up/trapped it is transported to Alberta Pound and Rescue Centre (APARC). If the animal is properly licensed and is wearing its collar effort will be made to contact the owner to pick up the animal. APARC also utilizes social media to attempt to find the owners of found animals when there is no identification tags.

You will need to present photo identification to reclaim your animal, as well as proof the animal is yours.   Ownership can be established with a bill from a local veterinarian, licensing information, or bill of sale with description of the animal. Proof of Spay/Neuter may be required.

APARC does charge a fee to claim lost animals, which are $60 for animal impound as well as $15 per day that the animal stays at the shelter. Any licensing fees required to claim the cat or dog would also be applicable at this time.

What about other types of pets?

At this time no, there is no requirement for caged pets like birds, rabbits, and rodents to be licensed in the City of Airdrie. Pot belly pigs and other animals of a barnyard nature are currently defined as livestock and may not be kept as pets in the City of Airdrie at this time.

Fresh eggs

In 2017, the Backyard Hens Pilot Project launched and, since April 6, 2021, when the amendment to the land use bylaw was approved by City Council, residents of single-family homes can apply for a special development permit to have a maximum or four hens in their backyard.