In October 2015, the San Angelo City Council approved a spay and neuter and microchip ordinance that requires all dog and cat owners in San Angelo to have their pet spayed or neutered. Now that the six-month grace period has ended, animal control officers are making sure pet owners are in compliance.
The City gave citizens a six-month leeway period to have pets altered. In the three months since that period has ended, code enforcement officers have been issuing warnings.
“I think the recent ordinances are to promote responsible pet ownership and we are enforcing every ordinance once we are dealing with you and your pet. And that’s new because historically we haven’t really been proactive in enforcing ordinances around here,” said James Flores, City of San Angelo Neighborhood Services Assistant Director.
Right now animal control officers are working in a matrix to monitor ordinance compliance and when officers are called out to an animal-related call they are checking to see if the animals are in compliance with city code.
“Once animal control officers are called out to say an animal bite and we verify the owner, we make sure that animal is up-to-date on its shots, if it’s not that is a cite-able offense, we verify if it’s altered, if it’s not that is a citeable offense and we verify whether or not it has a microchip,” Flores said.
Each offense could add up to $500, according to Flores.
“A city of our population should have approximately eight animal control officers. Once the department reaches that number, enforcement officers will be more proactive in code enforcement versus more reactive enforcement that we are doing now.”
Flores said the spay and neuter ordinance will work to reduce the number of animals in the shelter but we won’t see the number change right away, it could take a few years. Currently on average, the animal shelter has approximately 600-800 animals dropped off each month.
“Without a good and equitable enforcement the spay and neuter ordinance won’t work either,” according to Flores.
To help low income families abide by the ordinances the City now offers low-cost spay and neutering.
“The quality has not been compromised. Once a person adopts a pet from the animal shelter they are in good health,” City of San Angelo staff veterinarian Dr. Kuppe Nagaraj.
To qualify, call animal services at 325-657-4224.