Changes Proposed to Cobourg’s Animal Control

Currently, the management of lost and stray cats and dogs is done by the Joint Animal Control Municipal Services located on Theatre Road – generally called the “Shelter of Hope”.  This facility and service is jointly managed and financed by Cobourg, Hamilton Township, Port Hope and Alnwick/Haldimand – the cost to Cobourg is $104,000 in 2021 or an average of $9.56 per household.  But other municipalities pay an average of $4.82 to $4.63 per household and a recent KPMG report suggested Cobourg could save $40K per year. In addition, Cobourg staff felt that current performance was not satisfactory.  The current agreement mandated 2 years notice and in February 2020, the Town gave notice that it would withdraw from the agreement.  This of course meant that the Town would have to have an alternative way to provide the service.

Animal Control Services

Currently, Cobourg’s By-Law officers are enforcing Animal Control activities within the Town of Cobourg – that is, these services:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Dogs Running at large
  • Dog Bite Legislation enforcement
  • Dog Licensing
  • Rabies Control
  • Responsible Pet ownership
  • Reuniting Lost Dogs with Owners.

When animals need to be housed they are currently sent to the “Shelter of Hope”. But when the current agreement terminates, there will still be the need to house animals.  Well it turns out that the Northumberland Human Society (NHS) located at 371 Ward Street in Port Hope provides such a service and they quoted the Town of Cobourg $36,000 per year to do the following:

  • Maintain a facility suitable for the housing of domestic animals, to be available to Town of Cobourg staff every day of the year;
  • Provide housing and appropriate humane care and feeding of any domestic animal brought to NHS by Town staff;
  • Provide appropriate and prompt veterinary care as may be required for all such animals;
  • Make every effort to identify owner or guardianship of any stray animal and whenever possible return to the owner;
  • If unable to identify ownership or if return of the animal is declined, cause the animal to be re homed or adopted after a minimum in the care of NHS of 72 hours; and
  • Act as a resource for Town staff by providing advice and assistance as may be required relative to animal care

At the next Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council will be asked to approve awarding this work to NHS for 5 years (details in report in link below).  The change would be effective October 1, 2021, and billing would begin on January 1, 2022. The fee would increase by a Cost of Living adjustment (inflation) each year.

The net cost savings to Cobourg is ($104K – $36K) $68K per year.


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Tim Owens
7 September 2021 2:34 pm

This is completely a tangent but I keep seeing posts ‘no kill’ shelters and accompanying the up votes. How many of these upvotes are from people who practice ‘no kill’ eating? We’re so worried about certain animals getting gassed but don’t care about the ones on our tables, apparently.

Reply to  Tim Owens
7 September 2021 6:24 pm

Dont know about anyone else but ill put a steak on my dish before a dog or cat. What anyone else eats is frankly, none of your business.

Tim Owens
Reply to  Informed
7 September 2021 7:17 pm

Interestingly enough, if you were to put a dog or cat on your dish it would cause all kind of uproar and would indeed become everyone’s business. Imagine going to a BBQ and someone had a nice cut of golden retriever or tabby. How do you think it that would go over? Would you personally be ok with that?

Reply to  Tim Owens
7 September 2021 9:12 pm

No i wouldn’t be ok with it. Im guessing 8 out of 10 would chow down if it was a tbone steak though 😁

Tim Owens
Reply to  Informed
7 September 2021 9:45 pm

OK so you wouldn’t be ok with me eating a dog but I should be ok with you eating a cow? Seems like you would indeed make it your business.

Those 8 out of 10 people are socially conditioned into believing what is ok to eat or not. Ask someone of a different culture if they would like to eat a t-bone steak and you’ll get a different answer.

Bottomline, they’re all animals just the same. Is it so difficult to extend the compassion shown to dogs and cats (in our culture) to other animals.

Reply to  Tim Owens
8 September 2021 11:23 am

Tim, I have to assume you are against hunting and fishing as well. Its an unfortunate truth that most humans on earth eat meat and have for hundreds of centuries – it isn’t likely to change very much. Most humans don’t want to look into the eyes of their next meal or know how it landed on a styrofoam tray. I’ve been in processing facilities (beef, pork, chicken and fish) and it isn’t for the faint of heart. The best we can hope for, is support for ethical farming and harvesting…where animals receive the life – and death – they deserve; This includes compassion, proper care, good food, free-range and dignity in death but also a society that isn’t wasteful or glutenous.

Reply to  Rob
8 September 2021 12:45 pm

As virtuous as this sounds, most meat comes from factory farming, and like everything else it’s a race to the bottom for lowest prices. Some consumers like to pretend that their meal lived a good “free range” life but the bottomline is most don’t. They live terrible lives that end in slaughter. It’s something people just try not to think about.

Reply to  Ahewson
8 September 2021 1:35 pm

Very true Ahewson…I worked in the industry for a decade.

Reply to  Informed
8 September 2021 11:08 am

What about horse? You can go down the road to Quebec and have horse for dinner…

7 September 2021 11:43 am

I agree with Scottie. That’s a great idea. Over the years, when donating items, food, cages etc. I’ve never known just where to take them, as to who or what ran what. It must be a “no kill” ran facility though.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Tucker
7 September 2021 12:25 pm

N.H.S takes beer cans, wine bottles and brown beer bottles.
The bins are marked and are outside.

7 September 2021 11:29 am

Why not do away with the two separate entities (one on Theatre Road and one on Ward St.) – amalgamate the two, have them run by the Northumberland Humane Society and move everything to the premises on Theatre Road? It’s a much newer facility with room for expansion, rather than the decades old, land-locked NHS facility on Ward Street. NHS is a WONDERFUL organization, run by highly trained and dedicated professional staff and an army of volunteers. Loving care for all the animals by teams of paid staff, backed up by dozens of volunteers – for maximum use of $$’s – what could be better?

Reply to  Scottie
7 September 2021 1:21 pm

Interesting idea.
The main challenge is how to merge a municipally “owned” facility into a private one. Perhaps the MAS could be “donated” (by the municipal partnership) to the NHS.
Whatever the reasons (better management, volunteers), NHS seems to provide superior cost effective service. Hopefully NHS will be able to handle the additional case load without a decrease in the service quality.

7 September 2021 11:14 am

Getting off topic for just a bit, but “if you consider the current performance unsatisfactory” then please don’t leave the complaints up to the town Bylaw officer. I have complained, as have many others in this neighbourhood, about two large dogs, tied up, very seldom taken for walks, a garbage can left on the front lawn to pick up the “poop” (not too often either.) To my knowledge, not too much has ever been done. Also, the noisy cars of one of the owners here, we have complained to the Bylaw officer 3 times with never a reply. So if you count on the Town to monitor the stray dogs and cats, think again.

7 September 2021 11:11 am

It is nice to see positive comments for once. Saving money and better organization run by experts not councillors. Well done town staff and council for approving.

Last edited 1 year ago by Concerned
Reply to  Concerned
7 September 2021 11:48 am


I agree that it is good to see positive comments.
So I’m puzzled by your slam on Councilors. You wrote “…run by experts not councilors…”
How are Councilors involved in running this organization?

And an organizational note: staff proposed the change and Council approved it. Good moves by both.

Reply to  Bryan
12 September 2021 12:26 am

It’s not a slam, it’s a fact what do councillors know about running an animal shelter leave it to the experts.

7 September 2021 10:09 am

Primary focus of any changes to Animal Control must be animal and human welfare – if the changes do not improve the welfare of both, than the change should not be considered. “No kill” should be the minimum baseline and starting point for any animal control program in Northumberland County. NHS could use this partnership as a springboard for an entirely revamped marketing and fundraising program….

John L. Hill
7 September 2021 9:26 am

How times have changed! Years ago, I was President of the London, Ontario Humane Society. We took the initiative to terminate the LHS contract for animal control with the City because the animal control operation required the Society to euthanize pets not claimed within a specified time. Termination of the contract allowed the LHS to become one of the first “no kill” shelters in Ontario.
As long as the Northumberland Humane Society continues to operate as a no kill shelter, it is the interests of the NHS and Cobourg taxpayers to enter into this contract.

7 September 2021 8:50 am

I can see it now the need for new Equipment & training
temporary holding cell , may be a Pet paddy wagon
Some how it will be more expensive in the long run

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Sandpiper
7 September 2021 8:55 am

Donations are always welcome….as are volunteers.

Marc Cowin
7 September 2021 8:49 am

Any idea what this may mean for the Municipal Animal Services on Theatre Road and how this may impact these services for Port Hope, Hamilton Township and Alnwick/Haldimand Township?

Bill Thompson
7 September 2021 8:35 am

All the best to the Northumberland Humane Society. Well deserved and not before time !
They have done a great job for many years supported by donations only.
It is a NO KILL shelter as opposed to the S.O.H.with its gas chamber.
As a volunteer st N.H.S for a few years doing maintenance I witnessed first hand how they survived with only dedicated volunteers.
I would also highly recommend that a sign be posted on Highway Two for it as there was for the former Shelter of Hope (renamed) at Theatre Rd.
Animals need all the support they can get.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bill Thompson
7 September 2021 8:30 am

It hasn’t been called the Shelter of Hope in years and I think this is a good move.