City Council to vote on proposed pet ordinance, Thursday

March 9, 2013 • Local News

Roswell City Council will be voting on a proposed city ordinance, Thursday, which will require permits [auth] for breeders, for owners of more than five animals and a litter permit for any pet owner who wishes to “sell, give away or dispose of” any animals in a litter. The proposed ordinance pertains to both cats and dogs and will include a series of fees for each permit, along with graduated fines for violations.

Citizens have expressed concern over the terminology, particularly the use of “dispose of,” fearing that they may be required to pay a fee or a fine if they have an animal put to sleep.

Special Services Administrator Mike Mathews says that this ordinance does not cover legal euthanasia of a pet. Similarly, it would not influence any owner who chooses to sell or give away an adult animal. The only requirement would be that the owner be able to provide documentation that the dog or cat has received all age-related shots and tags.

Some of the public’s concerns related to feral cats: Would the individual who traps a mother cat and attempts to find homes for any kittens be expected to pay a fee or a fine? According to Mathews, no. “This is not the people who the ordinance is aimed at.”

People who advertise an puppy or a kitten for sale in the paper will have to produce the litter/breeder permit, and the permit number will have to appear in the ad. People could no longer go to Walmart to sell puppies or kittens, even if they can produce a permit. “The only place people can sell an animal is from their home,” he said.

Litter, Breeder and Multiple Animals permits would be obtained from Animal Services. He said the city has attempted to make it user-friendly. “If someone gets surprised and a dog (or cat) has an unplanned litter, they would have a week after the birth of the puppies (or kittens) to get a permit.

Anyone who attempts to turn in an unplanned litter to Animal Services may have to pay a fine. He said if the litter is rescued from feral or stray, then no fines or fees would be incurred as long as the person can produce documentation that he or she belongs to a legitimate rescue organization.

The litter permit would be good for 6 months, but only one permit would be allowed per animal per year. If a person requests more than one permit, then he may be required to get a breeders’ permit. However to qualify for a breeders’ permit, the permittee would have to produce AKC or Cat Fancier registration for the animal.

Mathews said the goal is prevent puppy mills from operating in the area. Breeders would also be required to get a business license, which costs $35 per year.

The multiple animal permit would only apply to owners who have more than five animals in a household. Each place would be checked by Animal Services to ensure that the residence has adequate room and shelters, vaccinations and tags for each animal as required by existing city ordinance. Owners could have up to 15 animals, as long as their houses pass inspection. “The county restricts the number of animals to nine,” said Mathews.

If the owner has 15 animals, then 10 of the 15, or any animal above the five, will have to be altered. “We desire to get our pets into a good home and have them not thrown into a backyard and neglected,” said Mathews.

“We will follow through.”

Mathews expressed surprise over the concerns. “I keep hearing that this is long overdue.”

He admitted the ordinance has been in the works for seven years, having been started by former Special Services Supervisor Larry Loy.

Mathews noted that a number of cities have similar ordinances, including Hobbs, Ruidoso, Clovis and Alamogordo. “Las Cruces also has restrictions on the number of animals a person can keep in a private residence. That number is two.”

He acknowledged that the ordinance will hit some people in the pocketbook, but hopes it will encourage responsible pet ownership.

For more information about space requirements, fees and fines, go the city of Roswell website. The proposed ordinance is listed on the agenda for the next City Council meeting scheduled for March 14. A public hearing will be held. Those who are interested in speaking at the meeting need to sign in before 7 p.m.

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