SAN ANTONIO – New tethering laws and a one-strike policy if your pet is found roaming are just some of the proposed changes to San Antonio’s animal ordinance.
Animal Care Services is asking the community for tougher laws with tougher penalties to decrease the stray pet and animal population. It held the first of eight public meetings Tuesday evening, seeking community input on their plans using a question-and-answer session and a survey.
"We want to be able to help responsible pet owners," said Heber Lefgran, Animal Care Services director. "We want to be able to provide them the tools. However, if there is a situation that places the public at risk, we want to be able to help mitigate that."
Animal Care Services officials said the roaming animal population isn't going down despite changes made just six years ago. They want to require owners to neuter or spay their pet the first time it’s found roaming the streets, and also want higher fines for breeding without a license.
As for animal welfare, using a chain and overnight tethering in the yard could be banned.
Lefgran points to much success since the last public consultations in 2011. The number of impoundments has gone up, but the number of animals adopted or going back to their owners increased by 175 percent. Enforcement also went up with a 95 percent increase in citations issued.
The construction of two low-cost spay and neuter centers helped with a 307 percent increase in pets getting fixed. As for the new suggestions, all tough but fair, said some of the dozen or so attendees.
Terry Montes said she lives right in the thick of it on the West Side.
"You see them in parks. You see them running down the street. You see them on the side of highway, unfortunately dead," Montes said.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Would you let your kid get out the same way?' Probably not," said Rudy Lopez, a dog owner.
Animal Care Services officials said they won't have a proposal to City Council until the summer.
The next Animal Care Services meeting will be from 6:30-8:00 p.m March 9 at Claude Black Community Center on East Commerce Street.