Proposed revisions to animal ordinance spark controversy at city council

Concerned citizens are speaking out against an ordinance that could change the future of pet adoption in San Marcos.

Twenty-four people registered to speak on San Marcos City Council Ordinance 2022-96 in City Council Chambers Tuesday, which the law says would amend Chapter 6 of the City of San Marcos code. Marcos to change definitions, delegate authority for ministry to remove or reduce fees, limit reasons for confiscating cats, remove errant hold requirement in some cases, include stricter requirements for sterilization and microchipping, creating an offense for failure to retrieve or release a pet on notice, adding requirements for pet/pet stores; including regulating the source of pets; and provide for authorizations and inspections.

Controversy surrounded Sec. 60.65, a revision to the ordinance which reads in part: “A pet store shall not sell, lease, offer for sale, barter, give away, or otherwise transfer a cat or dog, unless the cat or dog has been obtained from a city or county animal shelter, animal control agency, or department-approved animal welfare organization.”

An update to the city’s animal services ordinance has been in the works for about a year, according to the Nov. 1 meeting agenda. At its last meeting on September 29, the Animal Services Board committee gave staff instructions to bring revisions to the ordinance to council.

Several speakers worried about what the language of the prescription might mean for Pick A Pet, a newly opened retail pet store serving San Marcos customers.

“This proposed order won’t stop bad breeders,” said Ashley Brinkman, director of government affairs for the Pet Advocacy Network. “What this pet retail ban will do is there won’t be any reputable businesses out of town.”

Council member Mark Gleason agreed and said requiring pet stores to source animals from shelters is “not a business model that will actually work”.

“This idea that this is some kind of a way to get pet stores to help with this, it’s not going to be,” he said. “That’s not reality.”

Gleason suggested the council instead pass an ordinance similar to that outlined by the amended Texas House Bill 1818, which allows pet stores to source dogs and cats from licensed commercial breeders, provided they meet to certain requirements, according to a press release from the American Kennel Club.

Despite Gleason’s reservations, the board ultimately voted 6-0 on an amendment to approve Order 2022-69 at second reading, except Sec. 60.65, which will come into force on December 1, 2023.

The exception will give pet stores one year to adapt their business model to comply with the order.


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Jennifer R. Strohm