An ordinance that aims to address the overpopulation of unwanted animals in the community and what Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs referred to as the “unnecessary” euthanasia of kittens and puppies is once again up for the Johnson City Commission’s consideration.
At its meeting tonight, the commission will consider the first reading of an ordinance to adopt spay and neuter regulations for pets located within the city limits.
Per the proposed ordinance, animals more than 6 months of age would be required to be spayed or neutered, unless its owner obtained a permit to keep the pet unaltered. This permit, which would $25, would be for the lifetime of the pet.
Dobbs said the ordinance would not target responsible pet owners, but irresponsible owners. She said enforcement of the ordinance would occur while animal control officers respond to violations of animal control laws. While responding to a complaint, officers would inquire as to whether the animal is altered and, if it is not, an unaltered pet citation would be issued. The owner would have 30 days to comply with the spay neuter ordinance and, if this is done, any resulting fine would be waived.
“We are not going door to door,” Dobbs said. “We have to have a complaint to be on your property. If you’re a responsible pet owner, we will not be at your door.”
According to information Dobbs provided to city officials, the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter took in more than 7,200 animals last year, of which around 4,500 were euthanized.
“There is no logical reason for all of these animals to be born to people who want the right to have pets, but do not want to take the responsibility of these animals,” Dobbs and members of the Animal Control Board wrote in an Oct. 4 letter addressed to city commissioners. “Spaying or neutering pets has been proven to stop unwanted litters and aggressive behavior.”
A similar ordinance was proposed in 2009 but failed in 2010. Dobbs said breeders have been among the most outspoken against the proposed ordinance, but she said breeders are licensed through the state and would not be targets of the ordinance should it pass.
“We’re not targeting responsible pet owners with this ordinance,” she said.
Dobbs also said the ordinance would address “indiscriminate breeding” caused by animals running at large, which she said puts a tax burden on responsible pet owners and other citizens. She said spaying and neutering has health benefits for the pets, as spayed females often live longer, healthier lives, and the neutering of male pets lessens aggression and reduces the possibility of cancer development and the urge to roam.
According to Johnson City Development Services Director Angie Carrier, the commission’s consideration of matters related to a proposed development off North State of Franklin Road will not be considered tonight, but instead at the commission’s next meeting.
Developer GBT Realty of Nashville has proposed the construction of a new $20 million retail area, which is being referred to as the Johnson City Retail Center and would be located on a 29-acer parcel. Earlier this month, the commission approved the proposed center’s concept plan and the second reading of an ordinance to rezone the parcel from MS-1 (Medical Services) to B-4 (Planned Arterial Business).
The proposed center would have a little more than 700 parking spaces, around 82,000 square feet of retail space, 59,500 square feet of grocery store space, 7,000 square feet of bank space, 18,000 square feet of restaurant space and a gas station associated with the grocery store.