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The City of Edmonton says it has pleaded guilty to a regulatory charge under the Animal Protection Act in the deaths of three feral cats.

All charges against four city employees at the Animal Care and Control Centre have been dropped.

The charges were laid by the Alberta SPCA last May after the cats died within a day of being moved as part of a pilot project to provide homes for feral felines.

The city says it has been fined $1,000 for causing an animal to be in distress.

It also says it plans to restart the rehoming program by the end of the year after measures from an internal review have been put in place.

It’s estimated Edmonton has about 65,000 feral cats.

“We accept full responsibility for this incident and we are seeking ways to strengthen and improve procedures and guidelines related to the feral cat rehoming program that was suspended in 2018,” David Aitken, branch manager of community standards and neighbourhoods, said in a release Monday.

“The staff at our Animal Care and Control Centre care deeply for animals. Situations like this deepen our resolve to find a new way to help unadoptable feral cats find new homes.”

The program involved spaying or neutering feral cats brought to the centre before taking them to city warehouses or storage yards to help keep rodent populations down. The cats were given food, water and shelter.

The SPCA became involved last spring after receiving a public complaint that three cats in the program suffered distress and died.

Details of what happened have not been released.

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