After emotional testimony from animal loving Roswell residents, City Council voted Thursday to postpone a proposed ordinance that would regulate the selling and breeding of cats and dogs.
Ordinance No. 13-06 would amend the city’s Municipal Code to limit the number dogs or cats a person or household could own and require valid permits for breeding and litters. Without a permit, selling or giving away puppies or kittens would be prohibited.
There also would be fines for violations, such as not having a permit for multiple animals or litters or advertising animals for sale without a permit.
Mike Matthews, special services administrator for the city, said the ordinance would help Animal Control to track households with multiple litters and ensure that animal owners had enough living space to accommodate all animals owned.
Roswell Animal Welfare Alliance president Jo McInerney spoke in favor of the ordinance and said the city is “literally at a crisis point” with animal overpopulation because of irresponsible breeding. A large number of animals brought to shelters are euthanized.
“There are just not enough good homes,” she said.
Self-proclaimed animal lover O.L. Adcock opposed the ordinance, saying while he understood its intent, there are already laws in place that just aren’t being followed.
“Laying more pieces of paper on top of other pieces of paper will not create more responsible pet owners,” he said. “You can write all the paper you want, it’s not going to make responsible people out of this.”
Instead, he said the ordinance would have a negative impact, such as increasing animal drop-offs. Phil Lucero, who owns several animals, agreed with Adcock and tearfully asked the council not to adopt the ordinance because it would hurt responsible dog owners the most.
Neither for nor against the ordinance, Sharon Bailey spoke to the council accompanied by her service dog Mollie Jane, a black lab wearing a yellow vest.
After a head injury, Bailey has bouts of vertigo, which Mollie Jane is able to anticipate three minutes before an episode.
“More than a dog, she’s a lifeline,” Bailey said.
However, Bailey owns four other dogs, two of which are being trained as service dogs. If she were to get another puppy, she said she would be in violation of the ordinance, and while she would be willing to get a permit for multiple animals, there is a stipulation that if a neighbor should object to her having another one, she would have to give a dog up.
“It’s not always black and white,” she said. “We need more answers.”
Councilor Barry Foster agreed there were provisions in the ordinance that still needed improving.
“This is a law—there shouldn’t be any gray areas,” he said.
He motioned to postpone the ordinance so that the council may have a workshop for it. Councilor Juan Oropesa agreed with Foster, saying Bailey’s words had given him another perspective to consider.
The council voted for Foster’s motion unanimously. Mayor Del Jurney said the council would set a date soon for a workshop.
He encouraged the community to stay involved and provide the council the information it needs to make the best decisions.