Sunday, June 03, 2012

Pet registration proposed

Pet registration, spaying of tethered female dogs part of proposed changes to York County animal control ordinance

Proposed changes to York County’s animal ordinance would require pet owners to spay tethered female dogs and register with animal control if they have five or more cats or dogs.

The York County Council will consider the proposed changes for the first time at its Monday meeting in York.

County animal control and public works staff members have been working with several council members to revise the animal law following talks last year about whether to require pet owners to license their animals for a fee. The theory was the change would have promoted spaying and neutering of pets.

Licensing for a fee was opposed by many and the council members decided against, saying it would create an unnecessary tax on responsible pet owners while irresponsible pet owners – the target of any animal law changes – would likely ignore the new law.

The council agreed that the existing law could be tightened up.

The proposed changes would:

• Require owners of five or more cats or dogs to register their pets with animal control at no charge.

• Require that female dogs tethered outside be spayed.

• Clarify what constitutes a public nuisance, dangerous animal, and adequate shelter.

• Allow officers to return loose dogs to owners instead of impounding them at the shelter, if the dogs aren’t dangerous and the owners don’t have a history of similar issues.

• Exempt working does from the county’s leash law.

• Allow York County to enforce state laws pertaining to animals.

While animal control officers would have the option of writing citations for violations, Dave Harmon, the county’s public works director, said the department has always, and will continue, to take an “educational approach” with the community.

A grace period would ensure that a pet owner who violate the ordinance would have time to correct the error, Harmon said.

Councilman Bump Roddey, who chairs the committee working on the revisions, said he is open to some of the changes.

“I'm supportive of it, but it has to be a good fit,” he said.

Roddey said he approves of the registration requirement because it would alert county officials where large animal populations are being kept, he said.

He also said he agrees with the spaying requirement for tethered female dogs which, he says, will “curtail” strays coming into the pound.

“What we're putting in is not limiting anyone from having any amount of animals. We just want to know where they are and put in measures to prevent unwanted litters,” he said.

The committee’s two other members did not support the changes at a committee meeting earlier in May.

The question was whether changing the ordinance would diminish unwanted animals or locate potentially harmful groups of animals.

Councilman Curwood Chappell approved sending the proposal to the full council, but said he wasn’t endorsing it and had problems with creating any new requirements or restrictions on taxpayers.

Councilman David Bowman also agreed to forward the changes to the council without showing support for it.

County budget final reading postponed

The York County Council will consider final reading of the county’s $86 million budget at its June 18 meeting, not Monday as previously scheduled.


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