A proposed breeding ordinance had some residents and Council members concerned about its possible effect. But at Tuesday's (July 26) Council meeting, those concerns were not talked about. In fact, nothing at all was said about the ordinance because a motion made by Mayor Jim Boles to approve the second reading failed to receive support from another Council member.
Council moved on to the next item on the agenda and the breeding ordinance became extinct.
"I merely brought it up and moved it to get it on the floor and apparently there is some consternation on Council about the ordinance," Boles said. "The fact that nobody seconded it would indicate there was some concern on Council."
Animal Control Supervisor Earle Wagner proposed the ordinance to Council in April. It was designed to curb reckless breeding of cats and dogs, Wagner said. As for the Council's decision to not vote on the ordinance Tuesday, Wagner said he was "disappointed."
"I don't feel like Council fully understood what I was trying to pass on," he said. "This was another tool to help us."
The ordinance underwent some changes over the past months but it basically required permits and set guidelines for breeding litters (more than one litter per calendar year) and breeders (breeding as a business).
However, it limited breeding animals to just one litter per animal per year whether intentional or unintentional. The fee for a litter license was set at $60 per year and $100 for a breeder's license. There would have been no charge if the litter had been given to the Winslow Animal Shelter.
Council member Judy Howell opposed the ordinance from the start saying it was government interference in personal matters. But she said she was surprised her fellow Council members did not second the motion.
"I almost seconded it, but I thought, no, because if it passed I'd feel really bad when it could just die here this way," she said. "As much as I wanted to give my arguments, I didn't."
Council member Dee Rodriguez also opposed the ordinance because she believes it can not be enforced.
"When you put all these regulations on people even giving puppies awayŠ they're just going to turn them loose in the alleys. They're not going to give them away. That's just going to create a bigger problem," she said.
The bigger problem, according to Council members Howell, Rodriguez and Maribelle Ogilvie is the amount of strays roaming the city streets.
"Before we tackle that kind of ordinance, I think we need to get the stray dogs and cats off the streets and focus our time on the ordinances that are already in existence," she said. "I think people should be responsible breeders, but lets get the strays off the streets first."
Wagner argues that the breeding ordinance would have attacked the stray at its source.
"The purpose was to limit birthing," he said. "If that's done then strays are not a problem."
Wagner added that now that there are two full-time Animal Control Officers, they would be able to enforce the ordinance better.
Having pets spayed or neutered is generally considered the best way to control the pet population. However, many pet owners don't spay or neuter because they may want to keep the bloodline going or just don't want to put their loved ones through surgery.
Wagner said he never receives litters from responsible breeders, who are regulated through organized breeding associations. Instead, he sees a lot of carelessness by typical owners. One example of carelessness, according to Wagner, is owners who chain up a female dog in heat outdoors allowing her to become pregnant and have no intention of caring for the puppies.
Rodriguez said she felt Wagner didn't provide enough information about the effects of the ordinance.
"I can understand why he wants the ordinance," she said. "He wants it because the city is getting a lot of dogs and city has to pay for them. I'm not blind to the problem but we just need a different solution."
Boles said he thinks the issue may be revisited someday, but Wagner said he has no plans to pursue it. Although frustrated by the failure of the breeding ordinance, for now, he said he would address other animal control issues.
"In this line of work, people just can't relate to it. They don't realize what's going on unless they see it (first hand)," he said. "We're dealing with living things that can not speak for themselves."