Unleashing Johnson City's pet project

Johnson City Press • Oct 21, 2019 at 11:27 AM

Johnson City’s Commissioners are a whisker away from making pets’ lives better.

Press staff writer David Floyd reported Thursday on a new city ordinance that would require dogs be registered every year instead of every three years, allow animal control staff to compel owners to spay or neuter their pets after a single instance of the animals running free and eventually ban chaining unattended dogs outside.

We’ve long been an advocate of unchaining dogs.

Leaving a social animal like a dog trapped alone at the end of a short length of rope for hours on end is abuse. Tethered dogs are unsafe, unhealthy and more easily develop behavioral problems.

City commissioners declined to enact an anti-tether ordinance when presented with the option 10 years ago, so we’re glad to see progress being made. Once the city ordinance is enacted, as we expect it will be, we urge county commissioners to consider passing a similar ban.

We also support pet population control efforts.

As the great Bob Barker reminded us for nearly 30 years in his game show sign-off, having pets spayed and neutered is an important part of owning them.

Unexpected puppies and kittens too frequently become strays who either multiply in the wild or end up at the animal shelter. Last year, despite their best efforts to adopt them out, shelter staff euthanized 500 strays.

Those deaths could have been avoided by responsible pet owners.

The new city ordinance will not give irresponsible owners a choice. The first time their pet is caught running free, shelter staff can have the animal fixed — after a waiting period — and then bill the owner.

Annual registration will help officials keep tabs on the number of animals in the city. Also, because registration requires proof of a rabies vaccine, it will ensure pets receive important shots and vet checkups.

We’re supportive of the city instituting a reasonable registration fee, as has been proposed, to encourage responsibility and to help offset some of the shelter’s costs.

Pets can greatly benefit their human owners’ lives, but their adoration should be repaid with kindness.

We think Johnson City’s new ordinance will help both owners and pets be better citizens.

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