By ANDY SEVILLA
The San Marcos animal control ordinance remains unchanged after a city council discussion Thursday night.
Though Mayor Susan Narvaiz put the matter on the agenda to address concerns that have arisen in recent days, supporters occupied more airtime than detractors. Ultimately, the city council took no action.
The ordinance, which takes effect on April 1, includes mandatory microchip registration for dogs and cats, which raised the dander of many citizens. However, Thursday night’s discussion about microchipping was not highly contentions, because councilmembers were appeased by statistics and expert testimony.
“I would like to see an animal treated as a human,” said Councilmember Chris Jones in support of the ordinance.
Under state law pets are seen as property. However, councilmembers noted that many citizens see pets as more than property.
“My reason for voting for this (animal ordinance) is to change how we look at animals … treat them more like family,” Jones said.
Jones said he was asked for the possibility of an alternative to microchipping for cases in which religious thinking goes against the implantation. City staff was at a loss for words, and a definitive answer was not produced. The emotional question provided for an intense environment.
“What church does (the pet) go to?” yelled Dr. Jeff Jorgensen, a local veterinarian who participated in formulating the legislation and answered questions from the council.
Jorgensen said cancer caused from microchips is highly unlikely, and, even in its rarity, a genetically predisposed condition is sometimes present.
In a flyer presented by advocates of the microchip, veterinarian Julie Levy said, “Four possible cases of tumors forming in US pets in the region of a microchip represent a risk of less than one in a million. Even in these cases, it is not known if the pets were also vaccinated in the same site, a risk which known to induce tumors in at least one in ten thousand cats.”
Mayor Susan Narvaiz said putting the ordinance for discussion on the agenda should not be seen as a threat to repeal the legislation. She said the discussion was simply a matter of addressing citizens concerns.
“We’re responding to the people that had questions,” Narvaiz said. “No questions should go unanswered, if there are answers.”
Public education meetings on the ordinance are scheduled for Monday, Jan. 26, from 7-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1-2:30 p.m. at City Hall in the city council chambers.
A copy of the ordinance is posted on the city’s website under the Animal Services Department.
In another development, the council began looking into the possibility of taking compensation. An amendment to the city charter passed in November provides for payments to the city’s elected officials.
“It may open up opportunities for other citizens to step-up and serve,” Councilmember Pam Couch said.
Narvaiz said councilmembers not only attend bi-monthly meetings, but also take part in uncountable city functions. She said resources are seldom provided for the expense and time they personally spend. However, she added, that comes with the job.
“How do we compensate a job that we all ran to do voluntarily?” Narvaiz said. “It’s a touchy issue.”
Jones said he would use the money on “creative things,” specifically, the opening of an office or hiring a part-time employee. He said his full-time job is demanding, and that an added hand would provide citizens with an avenue to voice their concerns around the clock.
“We need to really consider what would be fair and reasonable compensation in these times,” Narvaiz said.
The city council directed staff to compile information on other cities of similar size. Once staff provides a compensation study, the council will take further action and address issues that arise.
“If we get compensated, we have to be prepared to deliver more,” Narvaiz said.
In November’s general election, 8,903 San Marcos citizens voted in favor of city council compensation, while only 2,187 voted in opposition.
Photo by Andy SevillaEmail | Print