Denison tightened its animal control ordinance Monday night by approving a new provision that will require pet owners to spay or neuter their animals after they’ve been impounded twice. The council denied a similar, stricter provision in January when it approved several amendments to the ordinance amid citizen concerns.
“I just want to thank staff for looking again at this,” council member Michael Baecht said. “I think this is going to be great.”
Under the new provision, the city will require pet owners to prove their animals have been spayed after having been impounded twice. The new amendment also includes language on an appeals process for animals that are older or have health concerns that would make the process dangerous. The amendment also includes an exemption for pedigree and full breed animals with paperwork that was included in a previous version of the provision.
The move to update the city’s animal control ordinance was spurred by an animal control study in mid-2018 that found the city’s animal services are successful due to cooperation between the various animal control entities within the city. Despite these findings, the study found Denison should update its ordinance to meet current best practices.
In late January, the council received a list of proposed changes to the ordinance that included a provision that would require the owners of cats and dogs that have been impounded to present proof of sterilization within 30 days of release.
Denison Code Enforcement Manager Robert Lay said this would have put Denison in line with what is required by many cities. Others are even stricter and require all pets in the city to be spayed or neutered, he said Monday.
This portion of the amendment was aimed at providing some level of population control within the city during a time in which Denison has seen increases in its animal population.
In October, the Denison Animal Welfare Group transported 150 animals to other shelters across the country that had a higher adoption rate than Denison. Last year proved to be a record breaker for the organization with more than 1,500 animals entering its shelter.
This trend appears to be continuing into 2019 as DAWG has already transported at least 120 animals this year, President Stephanie Phillips said in January. Phillips, as a member of the city’s animal advisory committee, approved of the ordinance including the spay and neuter provision.
The original provision met some opposition from the public when it went before the council, with some expressing concern that this overstepped the city’s authority.
“You have to look at the problem you are trying to solve versus the problem you are going to cause,” pet owner David Davis said in January.
The council ultimately voted to approve the amendments with exception of the spay and neuter rule.
With the latest provision, Lay said he felt it was fair while also allowing Denison to enforce it against owners who are not being responsible.
For her part, Phillips said she is in favor of the change while still supporting the first provision as the answer.
“I think that (amendment) is probably the best we can hope for,” she said. “Our intention is not to punish anyone for having a pet get loose — it’s to stem the crushing tide of unwanted puppies and kittens.”
In addition to the new spay and neuter provision, Monday’s ordinance erased a section on animal shows and other displays that was included in the previous amendment. The changes also cleaned up zoning language that was accidentally included in the penalties section.