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Should we have mandatory spay and neuter laws?

Johnson City Press • Jan 13, 2019 at 8:15 PM

The joint Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board is always searching for ways to reduce the local stray animal populations.

As staff writer Zach Vance reported last week, the board plans to take a hard look at spay/neuter laws at its next meeting Jan. 18.

Animal advocates have long called for tough local laws requiring residents to have their dogs and cats sterilized. With the shelter full of captured animals, those advocates say spay/neuter ordinances have helped manage stray pet populations in other municipalities by threatening irresponsible owners with fines and other punishments.

The Johnson City Commission enacted an ordinance more than four years ago requiring pet owners to have their animals fixed, but even at that time, some said it didn’t have enough teeth.

Currently, owners wishing to keep unaltered pets may purchase a permit from the city for $25. 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 are exempt.

If an unpermitted animal is found running at large, an offense in the city, the owner may also purchase a permit, but it’s only valid once. If that animal is again caught by animal control, it is spayed or neutered before returning home.

Washington County does not have a law requiring owners to sterilize their cats or dogs.

That’s what the Animal Control Board will study. A task force has been working for months to compile information from outside communities that have implemented mandatory spay/neuter laws. This month, its members will recommend draft ordinances for the city and county that a board representative will then take to the city and county commissions, hoping to garner approval.

We want to hear what you think. Should the city toughen its spay and neuter ordinance? Should the county enact one?

Send your correspondence to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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