The days of giving away free kittens in boxes outside the local market may soon be history in Roswell.
The little girl with dusty sneakers and that white kitty could be slapped with a fine for violating the city’s new regulation regarding selling a kitten without a permit.
If the City Council approves proposed new animal regulations, local dog and cat owners will have to be much more prudent about taking in strays and permitting their pets to reproduce.
City councilors held a workshop Tuesday night to hear from the public before making significant changes to what may become the city animal ordinance.
“I think this works pretty good for dogs,” said Councilman Jimmy Craig, after the final changes were made.
The council put off a vote on the new regulations March 14 after hearing from several residents who opposed changing existing rules and animal welfare advocates who favored more stringent regulation.
The new rules would limit the number of dogs or cats a person or household could own and has a say about how many litters each household can allow. The ordinance also would require yearly permits for animal breeding.
City councilors were originally looking at allowing each owner of a dog or cat no more than one litter a year and each household no more than four litters a year. This changed Thursday to no more than two litters a year, per household.
Pet owners will also face fines from $15 to $90 for allowing their pets to have too many litters. The first litter permit will be free, instead of costing $25, councilors decided.
Jo McInerney, Roswell Animal Welfare Alliance president, did much of the talking when it came time to decide what changes to make in the city’s new ordinance. She told councilors in March the city was “literally at a crisis point” with animal overpopulation because of irresponsible breeding.
“We’re just trying to get a toe hold,” she told councilors, when trying to convince them to change the number of animals a person who pays for a multiple-animal permit would be allowed to keep from 15 to 10.
Councilwoman Jeanie Best wanted to decrease the number to seven.
“I’m OK with seven,” Best said. “I think you need the same as the county, or less.”
The regulation was changed to 10. If someone wants more dogs or cats, he will have to get a breeder’s permit and have officially recognized breeds as pets. The regulation also stipulates the square feet of area for each dog, depending on its weight.
One rule left unchanged, was that “no person shall sell, offer for sale, barter, give away or otherwise dispose of a puppy or kitten without an appropriate permit issued by Animal Control.”
“I don’t care how you got rid of that puppy, I just need to deal with that in the legal system,” said City Attorney Barbara Patterson.
Councilors also decided not to allow any puppies or kittens to be given away as a prize, gift, give-away or award for any game or contest.
“It causes abuse,” McInerney said.
“It’s like gold fish at the fair,” said Judy Hathcoat, a member of Animal Welfare Alliance. “They all end up dead.”
Service dogs will be exempt from the city’s new regulations, and non-profit animal welfare organizations will also not have to face some of the new rules.
The City Council did not set a date for when they would vote on the newly revised animal ordinance.