By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A controversial pet ordinance could be barking at your door step. Tuesday the Animal Advisory Board voted to present City Council with the idea of mandatory spaying and neutering for pets in Lubbock.
The problem prompting the idea is too many strays in the streets of Lubbock, overcrowding in the animal shelter, and too many animals put to sleep. The possible city ordinance hasn't even been written and exceptions could be made if council did decide to pursue it, but the debate has already heated up with several pet owners speaking out during Tuesday's meeting.
"I'm after the ones who are irresponsible, the ones that are putting the dogs on the street. The ones that are coming out here and being euthanized because of careless, irresponsible, heartless, callous individuals," Morris Safe House Foundation director William Morris said. Even though Morris is for the mandatory spaying and neutering, he still feels there should be special circumstances. "We know there should be exceptions to it. We're not out to get the legitimate breeders, show dog breeders, and such," he said.
Opponents of the idea look to other cities currently using mandatory spaying and neutering. "People were not getting their animals vaccinated because they didn't want to be subjected to scrutiny of someone checking up on them," long time poodle breeder Joanne Neal said.
Critics also say making it mandatory will have the reverse effect to solving the cities overpopulation problem. With the surgeries ranging anywhere from $80 to almost $300, some people just can't afford the procedure, even thought the city hands out $90 vouchers for low income households to help.
"The problem with mandatory is that every place it's been tried it's ended up increasing the number of dogs impounded and increased the number of animals put to sleep," certified professional dog trainer Anne Humpherys said.
Advocates say they're just focused on owners whose pets repeatedly end up in the shelter, and that enforcement would be focused on impoundment and complaints, and say those who don't want their pet fixed but are responsible wouldn't have anything to worry about. "The problem with that, your encouraging responsible people to be law violators because if you don't spay or neuter your technically your actually in violation of the law," Humpherys said.
Some of the cities using the ordinance allow for Intact Licenses, allowing the owner to not fix their pet if they don't want to, but it could come with a fee.
"The key to most of this legislation is that it affects the responsible people but it really generally doesn't have any impact on the irresponsible people and can actually make the situation worse," Humphreys said.
Currently in Lubbock, if a dog or cat is picked up by animal services for a second time they'll automatically be spayed or neutered, however this ordinance could change that, to where the animal would be fixed on the first pick up.
On August 26th city council will hear this idea, along with mandatory micro-chipping, and restrictions on selling animals. The board will present the pros and cons of these issues as well as the public's concerns. City council will then decide if these ideas will then be drafted into ordinances.
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