Davis ordinance would allow more pets, require cats to be licensed

Dec 24 2011 - 12:23am

FRUIT HEIGHTS -- Davis County Animal Care and Control officials hope cities will adopt ordinances requiring the licensing of cats and allowing an additional pet per household.

The ordinances are aimed at helping animal control staff return more wandering and loose animals to their owners, thus curbing the number of dogs and cats that have to be euthanized.

The proposed changes will go before the Davis County Commission at its Jan. 3 meeting, said Clint Thacker, director of animal care and control.

The ordinances, if adopted by the commission, could become effective as early as Jan. 23, on the condition they are adopted by each municipality's respective city council, Thacker said.

Members of the public will need to contact their respective city offices to see if their city offers an exception to the county animal control ordinances, Thacker said.

All 15 cities in Davis County contract with the county for animal control services.

The proposed ordinance would require cat owners to pay a yearly licensing fee of $5 to $15, depending on whether the cat is sterile and has been microchipped, Thacker said.

"We are not going to be hunting people down. That is not what the program is for," he said.

But when a cat is picked up by animal control and brought to the shelter in Fruit Heights, the owner retrieving the animal will be required to license it, Thacker said.

For several months, animal control officials have talked with city leaders across the county about licensing cats to ensure community safety, because a cat is more likely to come in contact with a rabid animal, Thacker said.

The county does not anticipate the change being a moneymaker for the shelter, he said.

The goal is to educate pet owners about the change by placing information in the respective newsletters of the cities that adopt the ordinances.

"Ultimately, we'll still have people say they didn't know (of the change)," Thacker said.

A late fee of $25 to $125 will be assessed if an owner does not license a cat after being notified to do so, he said. The amount of the fine will depend on the number of cats the individual owns and the owner's history.

Licensing cats will also increase the number of cats being returned to their owner, Thacker said.

"That is our job," he said.

In 2010, 44 percent of the total animal intake at the Davis shelter were cats, and only 4 percent were returned to their owner, he said. Of the 3,667 cats impounded at the shelter, 3,082 of them had to be euthanized.

In comparison, that same year, 40 percent of the shelter's intakes were dogs, with 45 percent returned to their owner, Thacker said. Of the 3,286 dogs impounded, 1,471 of them were returned to their owner, he said.

"Dogs are more likely to have ID. People, for the most part, do not let their dog out wandering loose," Thacker said. "Some pet owners will allow cats to be missing for three or four days."

Dog owners become concerned if their canine has been missing for three or four hours, Thacker said.

"It is all about responsible pet ownership."

Another change with the proposed ordinance is allowing households to have up to three dogs, as long as one of the dogs comes from a legitimate animal rescue organization or animal shelter, Thacker said.

Currently, a kennel license is required to have more than two dogs per household, he said.

However, the allowance of three dogs per household may not be adopted in cities where leaders want to maintain a two-dog limit, Thacker said.

"The cities have the right to do that."

The county animal shelter at 1422 E. 600 North, Fruit Heights, is open for pet adoption from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

From Around the Web