Don’t litter. That’s the basic concept behind a proposed ordinance that requires permits for breeders of dogs and cats.
The ordinance, proposed by Animal Control Supervisor Earle Wagner, is designed to curb reckless breeding of cats and dogs.
“If you’re concerned about unwanted pets, you can only see this as a positive move, Wagner told Council on April 12.
The ordinance met dogged resistance from some council members. Councilwoman Judy Howell said the ordinance would cause the city to interfere in citizens’ private lives. If a pet has one litter per year, she said that does not mean the owner is a breeder.
“I think it’s another freedom people are giving up,” she said. “Whether or not someone decides to breed their dog should be their decision as long as it’s not affecting anyone else.”
The ordinance distinguishes between major breeders (having more than one female animal for breeding purposes) and minor breeders (having just one female for breeding purposes). However, it limits breeding animals to just one litter per animal per year whether intentional or unintentional. The normal gestation period for dogs and cats generally lasts nine weeks.
The fee for a minor breeding license would be $60 per year and for a major breeders’ license, the cost is $100 annually. There would be no charge if the litter is given to the Winslow Animal Shelter.
Wagner said there are probably two major breeders in the city. He told Council the ordinance would not generate much money and that that isn’t the intent of the ordinance.
City Administrator John Roche said unwanted pets roaming the streets puts an added burden on the city and that it’s up to the owners to be responsible for their pets.
“Responsible people should neuter their animals but people aren’t doing it,” he said.
The Humane Society of the United States reports a fertile cat could have three litters per year with an average of five kittens per litter. A dog could have two litters per year with an average of eight pups. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats. A dog and her offspring could produce 67,000 dogs.
The Humane Society estimates there are six to eight million pets entering shelters each year. Half is adopted and the other half is euthanized.
One major breeder told Council the ordinance does not offend her or intrude in her business.
“It may not be perfect but it’s worth at least an effort,” said Annette Shipley, who breeds Siberian Huskies in Winslow.
Councilman Robin Boyd said the ordinance would breed a new type of criminal.
“It’s almost like being fined for having a dog or cat for being pregnant,” he said. “Irresponsible people would still go around this rule.”
Councilman Peter Cake added that there was no way to enforce the law against breeders who live just outside the city limits.
Howell said the ordinance would not stop people from breeding and that it may create more problems in trying to enforce it.
“People that are irresponsible pet owners are usually the ones that don’t have their pets licensed anyway,” she said. “They’re not about to take that litter out to the shelter because then they’re going to know they have a dog. They’re not going to voluntarily turn it in; they’re not going to voluntarily tell you that their animal is pregnant.”
Wagner said he based the ordinance on one passed in San Jose, Calif. Howell said she would like to read that ordinance and further study the problem before a law is enacted.
Everyone that spoke at the meeting agreed on one thing — the best way to control overpopulation is to have pets spayed or neutered. Wagner said the shelter has a fund to assist pet owners who cannot afford to pay for the operation.
Three of the five members present at the April 12 meeting voted to approve the first reading of the ordinance. Boyd and Howell voted against it. The law could be enacted if five members approve the second reading, which is expected to take place at the April 26 Council meeting.
Animal Control Supervisor Earle Wagner said he knows changes will be made to the proposed ordinance, which is designed to regulate breeding of cats and dogs within the city. Here’s what the law would require:
Minor Breeders (no more than one female used for breeding)
— limits the animal to one litter per year
— charges a fee of $60 for a breeding license
— requires records of births as well as names, addresses and telephone numbers of buyers
— breeders must provide buyer with permit number as proof of legal breeding
— requires pups and kittens be at least eight weeks old before offered
— recommends any animal sold, transferred or given away to visit a license veterinarian
— requires minor breeding permit number listed on all public notices, whether for sales of giveaways
Major Breeders (more than one female used for breeding)
— requires same as for minor breeders except for fee of $100 per year (the first reading states the fee is per litter, but Wagner told the Winslow Mail that it will be revised)
For more information on spaying or neutering, call the Animal Shelter at 289-3232.