Tuesday, Fort Worth City Council will decide whether to move forward with more than a dozen changes to animal laws.
For months, Animal Control and Code Compliance have been drafting and tailoring the ordinance and listening to the public’s input.
Code Compliance originally planned a citywide mandate to have microchips for pets, but that was met with some concern from residents.
Community concerns included fears the microchips caused cancer in the animals. Officials said there were no medical data that there was a correlation, but they acknowledged the concern. Some residents also stated concerns over religious beliefs.
Fort Worth was willing to compromise with the ordinance. Residents with pets will have an option to get a microchip for approximately $12 or a license tag for the pet’s collar.
The tag and licensing would cost:
- Three Year City License $100
- Five Year City License $150
- Life-of-the-Animal City License $200
Fort Worth Animal Control officials recommend microchips.
“In cases where we had the flooding down in Houston, there were a lot of animals that got picked up and they ended up in Oklahoma and Arkansas," Brandon Bennett, Code Compliance Director, explained. "The ones that were microchipped, they were able to reunite those with their owners. Those that were not that went thousands of miles away from where the flooding was at; folks wouldn’t know to go to Oklahoma City or Little Rock to look for their missing pet.”
Another big change up for vote is what is affectionately called the “poop scoop” law.
Fort Worth has become the most dog-friendly it has been in modern history with more dog parks and bars and restaurants allowing pets as part of the dining experience. With the increase in dog friendliness laws needed some tweaking.
“The more pets that you have in a public environment, the more irresponsibility you are going to see and, unfortunately, we’ve seen more pet waste in areas where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic,” Bennett said. “It’s never a fun time to step in the do.”
When a dog makes a “mess” residents must have a plastic bag to clean it up and dispose of it. While that may seem like a given, it seems some Fort Worth pet owners are not doing their part.
If the ordinance is approved, repeat violators could face a fine of $500.
If passed by City Council, there will be a 90 day grace period for community education.
The following is a summary of the changes to the City Code:
• Microchip rather than City License: Require registered microchip with ownership data maintained through third parties as an alternative to a city license and add an exception for citizens willing to pay a fee for a collar license in three year, five year or life-of-pet increments.
• Benefit: Frees up staff time to concentrate on animal welfare efforts while third parties maintain animal ownership information at no cost to the city.
• Multifamily Pet Requirement: Landlords of a multifamily dwelling complex that allows tenants or guests to own, keep or harbor dogs or cats to shall require microchip, rabies vaccination and intact pet status or permit.
• Benefit: Consistent with proposed animal ordinance.
• Dangerous Dog Ordinance: Limited to dogs attacking humans and excludes dogs attacking domestic animals.
• Benefit: Consistent with State law and provides more restrictions for dangerous dogs attacking humans.
• Aggressive Dog Ordinance: Addresses dogs attacking domestic animals.
• Benefit: Provides new criminal violation for known aggressive dog attack.
• Quarantine of Animals: Allows home quarantine.
• Benefit: Consistent with State law and provides a more simplified process.
• Pet Waste Pickup: Imposes duty on pet owners to clean up pet waste in all public areas and private property.
• Benefit: Less pet waste in public areas and provides an avenue for the City and private property owners to address irresponsible pet owners who fail to clean up waste from pets.
• Pet Reclaim Fees: In accordance with the attached memo and policy, allow Director of Code Compliance to reduce or waive reclaim fees for pet owners in return for verified future compliance with ordinances, attending Responsible Pet Ownership Class, registering with City as volunteer, or agreeing to spay or neuter, vaccinate and microchip their pet.
• Benefit: Increased opportunity for pet-family reunion and increased live release rate.
• Intact Pet Fees: Allow pet owners to obtain an intact pet permit for an impounded pet with a fee of $500 to cover additional administrative, verification and enforcement costs.
• Benefits: Sterilization of all reclaimed animals unless the pet owners agrees to an increased intact pet permit fee and future compliance with city ordinances.
• Under Immediate Control - Require dogs to be secured by leash or under the owner's immediate control.
• Benefits: Requires dogs to be maintained under control so as not to be a nuisance to others while allowing obedient dogs to safely accompany responsible owners without a leash in certain outdoor areas.
• Multi-Pet Permit: Administrative approval of non-contested applications after notification of neighbors.
• Benefits: More efficient process for uncontested multi-pet permits.
• Retail Sale of Dog and Cats: Prohibit retail sale of dogs and cats other than at the place where the animals were born. Exempts non-profit and rescue groups, dog shows, etc.
• Benefits: Encourage adoption of dogs and cats rather than purchasing through pet stores and puppy mills.
• Feral Cat Trap Neuter Release Program: Apply Trap Neuter Release program to all impounded stray cats.
• Benefits: Removes requirements that staff differentiate between feral and stray cats and will increase the release of healthy cats after sterilization.