Council approves first reading of revised Animal Control Ordinance

Plainview residents may soon be allowed to keep more pets and volunteer at the animal shelter from a young age, under some changes to the city’s animal control ordinances.

City council heard the first reading of the ordinance changes at a regular meeting on Tuesday and it was unanimously approved. Mayor Charles Starnes was absent.

Beyond these proposed changes, other notable differences include changes to the pound, fees for uncastrated or unneutered animals that end up at the city shelter, and the appointment of a new Animal Services Advisory Committee. . Deputy City Manager Jeff Johnston made the presentation.

The board heard a presentation on behalf of the Animal Control Task Force in late April regarding recommendations based on its review of animal control policies and general shelter operations. Recommendations included higher impoundment fees and shorter shelter detention periods with the idea that they would encourage generally more responsible pet ownership.

At the time, it was noted that the city would consider the recommendations further before returning to council with a more formal plan moving forward.

The council dove in Tuesday with the highlights, starting with the impound fee.

Fees per animal will increase – pending council approval of the ordinance – from $25 to $50 for the first pounds over a 12-month period. It will be refundable if the pet owner provides written proof of neutering or neutering the pet within 30 days.

If the animal is impounded a second time in the year, the fee will be $75, plus an additional $200 if the animal is not neutered. The current fee for a second offense is $50.

If an animal is impounded three or more times in a year, the impoundment fee increases to $100, plus the additional $300 surcharge if it is still not neutered. The current charge for a third or more offense is $60.

It was also proposed to increase the holding period of an impounded animal from 72 hours to five days.

The idea was that people would have more time to claim their pet if it escapes while the owner is on vacation, for example, Johnston explained.

The new ordinance also increases the number of pets allowed in a residence to four adult dogs and/or four adult cats.

The city is also considering creating an animal services advisory committee.

“The last section were volunteers at the animal shelter,” Johnston said.

The proposed animal shelter volunteer policy would allow anyone 18 or older to help around the shelter. Anyone younger would simply have to fill out a form, he added, before concluding their report.

Council member Larry Williams spoke out last month against higher impound fees. He anticipated that the higher fees would encourage rather than discourage people to leave their animals at the shelter. During Tuesday’s presentation, Johnston highlighted the idea that the additional $200 additional fee would be reimbursable upon proof of sterilization/sterilization within the 30-day period.

Following the official motion, made by Evan Weiss, and the second, made by Nelda VanHoose, Williams said he was grateful to the staff for taking the time to flesh out the plan.

Now that the first reading of the item is approved, it will be presented again for approval – probably at the May 24 meeting. If council passes second reading, it would put these changes into effect.

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Jennifer R. Strohm