Friday, February 20, 2009

TX- New Plano animal ordinance passes, mandatory spay/neuter provisions tabled

Plano's new 56-page animal ordinance passed with a unanimous city council vote Tuesday, with the exception of the animal sales portion. It was the first major revision to the ordinance in ten years.

Several Plano residents who are dog show exhibitors spoke at the city council meeting, and about 30 supporters sat in the audience. They were particularly concerned about section 4-809: Private Animal Sales. This section would have required all animals over the age of four months to be spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated for rabies before being sold or given away.
The speakers, some of whom are hobby breeders of pedigreed dogs, testified that while spaying and neutering very young puppies and kittens is necessary for an animal shelter, it is not healthy for dogs who compete in sporting competitions and are still growing. Many serious genetic defects cannot be identified until an animal is two years old; therefore breeders may wait until such evaluations are completed before making a final decision to spay or neuter. Under the proposed ordinance, for example, it would be illegal to have a dog neutered at two years old and sell or give him away as a pet, which might be necessary if a potential stud dog did not pan out genetically as an adult.
City Council members posed several questions to Animal Services Director Jamey Cantrell and to the citizen speakers. Many of the councilmembers' questions hinged on letters and comments they had received regarding whether or not hobby breeders would continue to be allowed under residential zoning. Hobby breeders raise a small number of puppies and kittens primarily to compete in dog and cat shows, rather than for profit or for resale. The dialog also addressed concerns that the proposed law would place hobby breeders under the same restrictions as commercial breeders and kennels.
Finally, Mayor Pat Evans suggested that the Private Animal Sales portion of the ordinance be pulled for further review, and that the rest of the ordinance be put to a vote. The ordinance, less section 4-809 passed 7-0. City council members Pat Miner and Mabrie Jackson, who are liaisons to the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, the Chair of the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, the Director of Animal Services and representatives from the hobby breeding community will meet to address the concerns voiced at the meeting.
Dr. Karen Dubrow, representing the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, said at the beginning of the meeting that the ordinance had been in work for four years, and that " every single meeting we asked for the public to show up." Dr. Dubrow added, "To date there has been absolutely no public comment."
This contrasted with Plano resident Verjean Lunenschloss' statement to the council that her group had been auditing the commission meetings and asking to see a draft copy of the ordinance since August, but had not been given a copy to review until it was published six days prior to the vote.
Several of the citizen speakers praised the majority of the ordinance, which also covers dangerous dogs, another hot topic in state and city government. The new ordinance specifically precludes declaring a dog dangerous "...based solely on the animal's breed, size, or physical appearance. " Dr. Dubrow stressed that avoiding breed-specific legislation was intentional.
To read the ordinance in full please go to:
Section 4-809 is the section that was put on hold.

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