The Fort Smith Board of Directors revised its newly adopted animal ordinance at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday (Aug. 20). The main changes to the ordinance include licensing fees and fines.
The board passed an animal ordinance as well as a contract with Kitties and Kanines Shelter as the city’s animal shelter at the Aug. 6 board meeting, although board members said they wanted a chance to look into possible amendments to both. At the board’s study session Aug. 13, board members agreed rather than add numerous amendments to the ordinance, it would be best to repeal and replace the ordinance with a new one. That ordinance was passed Tuesday.
The ordinance makes it unlawful for any dog or cat to be allowed to run free throughout the city by its owner. The animal control ordinance requires all dogs and cats over the age of 4 months in the city of Fort Smith to be licensed. To receive a license, pets must have proof of current rabies vaccine and be microchipped. The new version sets fees at $10 for the life of the pet if the pet is altered and microchipped. There is a waiver for microchipping a pet if the owner’s veterinarian deems it unsafe for that pet. If the pet is unaltered and microchipped, the license fee is $60 annually. Provisions are made for pet owners 65 and older, with licensing fee for altered microchipped pets being free and a $20 annual fee for unaltered microchipped pets.
There are provisions for breeder licenses, the revocation of licenses and civil penalties for animals running at large that are based on whether a pet is properly licensed, altered and microchipped. According to the ordinance, a breeder license may be issued by the city for an intact dog or cat at a cost of $500. The breeder license must be accompanied by a business license issued by the city and must be renewed annually. In the event that a dog or cat is running free, animal control officers are to make reasonable effort to return the pet to its owner without assessing a fee before taking it to impound, according to the ordinance.
City Administrator Carl Geffken said the new ordinance stresses the need for two forms of identification on dogs and cats — microchipping and tags, which will help animal control officers find the animal’s owner more easily.
As for penalties, if a dog or cat is picked up by animal control and taken to the shelter, there will be a $50 fee for an animal that is licensed and altered but not microchipped; $75 for an animal that is licensed and microchipped but not altered; $100 for an animal that is licensed but not microchipped nor altered; and $150 for an animal that not licensed and microchipped regardless of whether the dog or cat is altered. There is no fee for licensed, altered and microchipped animal, but the owner may have to pay a fee to the shelter for impoundment. The ordinance states that “no dog or cat impounded at the city’s designated impoundment facility may be released from impoundment without a valid license.”
The ordinance makes provisions for owners of a dog or cat who resides in the city for 60 days or less, stating they are not required to purchase a license and license tag. When licensed, pet owners will receive a license tag to display on the pets collar showing they are licensed. The owners name and address will be tied in records to that tag.
“This is part of a two-part deal,” said Ward 2 Director André Good. “The second part is spay and neuter. We will be picking that up (for discussion) as plan B comes about.”
Geffken said he has already talked to the Animal Services Advisory Board to pick up the matter of additional revisions or additions to the ordinance.
The contract with KKS, adopted at the Aug. 6 meeting, was revised to address “no vacancy” credits to the city. In the event the shelter stops accepting animals from animal control because of overcrowding for six consecutive days, the city will receive a refund from KKS in the amount of 1/30th of the monthly rate per day.
The contract allows for the city paying KKS a monthly fee of $45,566 as reimbursement of anticipated fixed costs associated with the operation of the KKS facility as well as fees per animals brought to the shelter. Those fees would include $45 per animal on the first day an animal is brought to the shelter for tests and vaccinations and $10 per animal for days two through five. If an animal stays the entire five contracted days without being returned to the owner, the total cost to the city for that animal with be $85. The city also agreed to pay a one-time $50,000 fee to KKS to help offset the start-up cost for the facility.
“Even though we are making this advancement, it is still going to be the responsibility of our pet owners to make this region work, to control the population,” Good said.