Animal transfer prohibition ordinance approved by Fort Smith Board of Directors

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 3,278 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors unanimously passed an ordinance during its regular meeting Tuesday (Feb. 7) that makes it illegal to transfer an animal in the city limits unless properly licensed, and would levy a $600 fine on anyone in violation of the ordinance.

In a November study session, Directors Lavon Morton and Kevin Settle requested an ordinance be brought before the board for consideration requiring a permit to sell animals (such as puppies or kittens) with the city limits, establishing a $300 permit fee and establishing a $600 fine for those selling without a permit.

“Article IV, Section 4-96 of the Fort Smith Municipal Code already requires that any sale of animals within the corporate limits of the City of Fort Smith has to be done from a permanent, physical location that is properly zoned for such activity. By requiring a properly licensed permanent location, this provision prohibits the sale of animals (especially puppies & kittens) from random locations such as parking lots or roadsides,” Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman said in a memo on the ordinance.

Because there is already a provision that someone selling an animal has to be properly licensed, there is no need to add the $300 permit fee, Dingman said.

The ordinance states the transfer of ownership of animals, including selling, trading, giving away or giving as gifts, is prohibited in the city limits without a proper license with some exceptions. The prohibition does not apply to retail animal sales businesses operated from a permanent physical location owned or leased by the business, properly zoned and having a properly issued business license. It also does not prohibit a home occupation location that sells animals if it has a proper home occupation license and proper business license.

Other exceptions include any governmental, for profit, or non-profit entity operating an animal shelter pursuant to agreement with the city that provides animal ownership transfer activities solely from a properly zoned permanent location; a kennel licensed and operated pursuant to the city’s municipal code; a person or entity holding and in compliance with a breeder license pursuant to the municipal code; and a resident of the city who owns an animal and who transfers ownership of the animal, not in the course of business, because of inability or absence of desire to care for the animal.

The ordinance does say that anyone transferring ownership of an animal two or more times during a six-month period will be considered operating a business and can be fined and stipulates that there can be no keeping or raising of small domestic animals for commercial purposes in residential zones. Anyone in violation of the ordinance will be charged with a misdemeanor offense that is subject to a $600 fine.

“The governing body of the City of Fort Smith has determined the prohibitions of this ordinance are a necessary exercise of the City’s police power related to public health, safety, and welfare to assist in the control of an excessive stray animal population in the City of Fort Smith,” the ordinance states.

Director Jarred Rego had been asked prior to the meeting if the ordinance applied to someone who had rescued a stray animal that was pregnant and then was attempting to give away those offspring. While Dingman said it would seem it could be a way for someone to get around the ordinance, the board and administration agreed that documentation could prove the animal was rescued while pregnant and exceptions might be made.

Anyone witnessing someone attempting to illegally sell or give away an animal in the city limits is asked to call the non-emergency number for the Fort Smith Police Department, (479) 709-5000. The ordinance will be enforced by FSPD.

The city staff is working to overhaul the city’s municipal code regarding animals, including a spay and neuter clause. That will be brought to the board in an upcoming study session, City Administrator Carl Geffken said.