Animal ordinance gets nod

It took nine weeks, but an ordinance modifying the portion of the municipal code dealing with animals passed.

The decision was unanimous and, for the first time since its April 13 introduction, uncontested at Tuesday's Craig City Council meeting.

"On some issues, we just agreed to disagree," Craig police Capt. Jerry DeLong said. "We're not going to get this many people to agree on everything."

In April , the Craig Police Department introduced changes to the animal code that have been several years in the making. The changes where spearheaded by former animal control officer Amy Andrews, who was seeking a solution to a growing animal population. She also needed a law that had teeth she could use when responding to repeat offenders.

Although much of the ordinance remains as it was in 1978, some changes raised the hackles of area animal lovers who argued they were being punished for the irresponsibility of other pet owners.

"I'm not 100 percent for the ordinance, but the work you've done sure deserves our support," Councilor Terry Carwile said.

After the passage of the ordinance was stymied at several meetings, council members directed police officials to sit down with opponents and work out the points of contention.

That meeting elicited much discussion, but not many changes.

One big sore point was a requirement that animals adopted from a shelter be spayed or neutered within 30 days if they're at least 8 weeks old or heavier than two pounds.

Despite protests that 8 weeks was two young, DeLong went with testimony from veterinarians that spaying and neutering at that age is a safe procedure.

"I don't have a problem with the way this is written, and I want to keep it this way," DeLong said.

One addition presented for the first time Tuesday is that police dogs are the only animals exempt from a leash law that requires all dogs to be tethered or controlled by a leash no longer than eight feet.

With the exception of the number of cats a person can own -- no more than six -- most of the language that would have helped the community get a handle on an out-of-control cat population was removed.

"Looking back at my notes, I'm seeing that our cat numbers are huge, and we've really taken the teeth out of this with regard to cats," Councilor Byron Willems said.

DeLong said the department is looking at ways to track cats.

"We're not going to let it die because we figure the numbers pretty much speak for themselves," he said. "We will do something."

The ordinance originally required cats to be licensed and that they wear those licenses.

Between 1994 and 2004, 5,545 dogs were impounded, and 3,096 of those returned to their owners. In that same period, 3,096 cats were impounded and 208 returned to their owners.

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