Problem pets

Revised animal ordinance passes first reading

Responsible pet owners are taking offense to an ordinance meant to target those who aren't responsible pet owners.

Thirteen people attended Tuesday's Craig City Council meeting to give their input about proposed changes to the portion of the Craig Municipal Code that deals with animals. The ordinance was tabled two weeks ago pending changes. It passed Tuesday, 5-1.

Councilor Terry Carwile voted in the minority, saying he thought the ordinance would pass, but that someone should stand up for people who took the time to train their pets.

"This ordinance infringes on the rights of responsible pet owners," Craig resident Laura Tyler said.

Few disagreed, but didn't change their opinions.

"It's a sad state, but that's what laws do," Councilor Bill Johnston said. "We govern for the irresponsible, and the responsible people are harmed by it. It sucks."

And, responsible pet owners are in the minority, according to former animal control officer Amy Andrews. After 12 years with the police department, Andrews advocated for changes to the code.

Several changes have been made to the ordinance since the April 26 council meeting. A provision that required cats be licensed was removed because of the concerns brought forward by community members. A provision was added that set the minimum age an animal is required to be spayed or neutered before adoption at eight weeks. People adopting pets younger than that must provide a receipt from a licensed veterinarian that they have prepaid for the cost of spaying or neutering the pet and will have the procedure performed when it is old enough.

Craig Police Department Cpt. Jerry DeLong will continue to investigation other points of concern raised Tuesday, including the cost of microchiping pets. The technology exists to put a grain of rice-sized microchip into the neck of a cat or dog. Using a scanner, the owner of the pet can be determined and contacted.

Although community members opposed forcing cats to be collared so they could wear a license at all times, Andrews pointed out the need to be able to match cats with their owners.

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 were returned to their owners.

"Something's got to be done about cats," Andrews said. "I think you're doing the animals a huge disservice if you're not going to do anything about licensing cats."

Other concerns raised were the eight-foot leash limit and a portion that states people cannot sell or give away animals in parking lots, outside businesses, on sidewalks or at flea markets.

"I still don't like not being able to give away dogs in front of City Market, but I see why it's there," Councilor Tom Gilchrist said. "I think it takes away from the small town flavor."

The ordinance still must go before the council for a second reading before it is approved.

Other changes or additions include:

n No licenses will be issued for animals that are not spayed or neutered.

n Animals can not be tethered to property not owned by the animal's owner without prior written permission of the property owner.

n Dogs must be on a leash at all times.

n Dogs get two strikes in a 12-month period when it comes to barking before they are impounded.

n People cannot have or sell poisonous snakes or nonpoisonous snakes longer than six feet, nonhuman primates or wild animals.

n Unless zoning allows it (rural residential or agricultural) residents cannot have any livestock and fowl.

n Any person who gets a dog or a cat must get those animals vaccinated within 30 days or by the time that animal is 3-months-old, whichever is later.

n Dogs must wear their rabies tags on their collars.

n No person may have more than six dogs and cats in any combination that are older than four months or more than 15 small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs or hamsters.

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