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Council approves revised animal code, fees

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Some new rules and fees regarding dogs, cats, fowls and other animals have been adopted by the Roswell City Council. A blue pit bull receives some attention from Roswell Animal Services intern Paulina Barrios during an October 2018 open house. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

City efforts receive praise from some

Roswell pet and animal owners will have some revised rules to follow, including the need to microchip their dogs and cats, after the Roswell City Council voted Thursday night to approve a change to the city code.

The group voted unanimously, 10-0, to adopt Ordinance 20-01, which amends Chapter 4 of the Roswell City Code pertaining to animals and fowls, after a public hearing.

The revision follows about seven months of work by the council’s Public Safety Committee, veterinarians, animal rescue group representatives and city employees, which include police officers, Animal Services staff, Deputy City Manager Mike Mathews and Deputy City Attorney Parker Patterson.

New fees pertaining to the city’s Animal Services unit also were adopted. They were included in Resolution 20-10, which passed without discussion as part of the consent agenda. Mathews previously had said that putting the fees in a resolution will make them easier to change when needed.

Anna Edwards, a local animal rescue volunteer, was the only member of the public to speak during the public hearing prior to the vote.

“When I did mediations,” she said, “I was told that a good outcome is when everyone walks away and no one gets everything they want, but the outcome is fair.”

She also said the public often only hears the negative when it comes to issues related to animal services in the city.

“So when something is done right — and these ordinances I believe are right — we need to thank you also,” Edwards said.

In a later interview, Sammye LeFlar, founder and head of Friends of Roswell Animals, said that she also appreciated all the work the city had put into the effort and believes the changes will improve the community.

According to Mathews, the changes are a result of eight and a half hours of committee and community meetings led by Councilor Jeanine Corn Best, chair of the Public Safety Committee. The meetings sometimes went “late into the evening” as people went through the old code “line by line” to condense, clarify and update the various sections.

“The current code has not been updated for many years and created much confusion for our officers and also our public,” he said. “This updates and reorganizes Chapter 4 and provides clarity and improvements for implementations.”

The revision shrinks the code from 70 sections to 39 and was intended to better address the needs of the community in dealing with pets, strays, the city shelter, animal adoptions and disease control efforts. Violations of the code could result in a person being charged with a petty misdemeanor.

While the code has many changes, one discussed frequently includes the requirement to microchip dogs and cats, rather than obtaining an annual license tag for them. The cost for that will be $10.

The code also requires people to obtain a free seller’s permit to sell, barter or give away a dog or cat. It also requires all dogs and cats to be neutered or spayed, unless the owner has a breeder’s permit. It also governs such things as which types of animals, and how many of them, are allowed within the city limits; what happens to animals found wandering; the warning signs that need to be displayed by owners of guard animals; and what happens if animals are impounded.

In a move favored by animal rescue groups, the adoption fee of a dog or cat from the Roswell Animal Shelter has been reduced from $40 to $1.

Other fees are new. For example, there is a new $25 fee to surrender an animal to the shelter; a $20 fee for breeding or keeping an unaltered pet, although rescue organizations are exempt; and a $50 fee for any unaltered animal caught by Animal Services.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.