Johnson City’s most recent animal ordinance is now in full effect, and animal control officials have already issued two permits for animals running loose that are unaltered.
“If we get that animal again, the permit is null and void,” said Debbie Dobbs, executive director of Washington County/Johnson City Animal Control.
Pet owners have the opportunity to purchase a spay/neuter exemption permit for their unaltered animals, Dobbs said. If that is done before there are any “running at large” offense, the permit is valid for the life of the animal.
The ordinance would require residents with a dog or cat 6 months old or older to spay or neuter the animal.
Service dogs, working police dogs, non-residents and those who have a certificate from a licensed veterinarian stating that altering an animal would endanger its life would be exempt. Animal shelters, veterinary hospitals and commercial breeders licensed by the state would also be exempt from the ordinance.
“If you purchase the permit before any offense, it is for the lifetime of the animal. If you purchase it at the time of an offense, it is only good one time,” Dobbs said.
“If we get the animal again, that permit is null and void and the animal gets neutered and spayed before it goes home,” Dobbs said.
That doesn’t mean a pre-offense permit will keep the owner out of court, she said. If that person’s animal is running loose and gets picked up, the owner can — and will — be cited into court for a “running at large” offense, Dobbs said.
She said if pet owners have a pet that is unaltered and the owner doesn’t want to have it spayed or neutered, all they have to do is purchase the $25 permit — especially if the animal is prone to getting loose.
Dobbs has long supported such an ordinance, but had hoped it would have more teeth. Still, she said the ordinance will help in curbing the high number of unwanted animals that result from animals running at large. And that will ease the high number of animals at the shelter as well as the number of animals euthanized at the shelter.
Spay/neuter exemption permits are available at the Animal Shelter, 525 Sells Ave, Johnson City, or call 926-8769 for more information. The shelter is open noon until 5 p.m. daily.