San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 2nd, 2009
Group prefers tattoos to microchips

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor 

A new animal ordinance in San Marcos continues to spark controversy, causing many  to voice concern on the Internet and elsewhere.

A week-long protest against a newly adopted ordinance mandating the microchipping of dogs and cats is taking place on the online social networking website, Facebook. The “Citizens for Ear Tattooing Identification” (CETI) are hosting the demonstration in efforts to encourage and advocate for alternatives to microchipping.

“This organization was formed due to an immense concern from citizens to have an organized voice addressing the San Marcos City Council’s mandate to microchip their pets,” according to the group’s description on its Facebook site. “Instead, (CETI is) opting for identification tattooing of their pet’s ears. We are here to offer alternatives, tattooing being only one alternative, just like going with the status quo aka ‘dog tags.’”

The electronic invitation encourages people to “make your voice heard online.”

Protesters and supporters of the group will attend the Feb. 7 animal ordinance educational meeting at City Hall, where they will pursue a call to rescind the mandate.

“Microchipping is overkill,” said Daniel Scales, creator of CETI. “We’re using a very powerful tool for something that is very simple.”

But city officials maintain that microchipping is the most dependable tool for identification.

“By no means is microchipping 100 percent reliable, but it’s the best alternative to the other methods out there,” said Bert Stratemann, the city’s animal services manager. “We looked at all the different methods of identification and as far as most reliable goes, we feel microchipping is the most reliable.”

The San Marcos Animal Shelter euthanized approximately 70 percent of all the animals it took in last year. Stratemann said the microchip mandate will reduce the unnecessary killings by reuniting stray pets with their owners.

But pet owners and those concerned with an over-reaching government say microchipping goes too far.

“The responsible caretaker of pets, we’ve been fine the way it is, we take care of our pets,” said Lisa Marie Coppoletta, who already has announced her candidacy for the San Marcos City Council in the November 2009 election. “They should have discussed this with the people of San Marcos before passing the (ordinance).”

Coppoletta maintains that most animals that make their way to the animal shelter are not lost pets, but instead, are “dumped” there. She said for the few that are lost, tags or a tattoo are sufficient.

“We’re trying to call attention that there is a viable alternative,” Coppoletta said.

The previous version of the city’s animal ordinance included a licensing measure requiring tags and a yearly registration. The new ordinance requires a one-time microchip registration for the duration of the animal’s life.

Animal operations in San Marcos don’t have a standard implementation or database for tattoos. Stratemann said pet tattoos usually are symbols, numbers, or a name, and that alone will not pin-point its owner.

“Tattoos are not always easily read or easily found,” Stratemann said. “Tattoos can be changed, they can fade over time. They can be difficult to read. An injury over the tattoo will make it unreadable. There are a whole lot of different reasons they are unreliable.”

Coppoletta said she is in support of the “spirit” of the ordinance in protecting animals and reducing cruelty, but added that the microchip program causes her concern. She said the mandate is unenforceable, adding that she’s troubled by how pervasive city government can become.

“Personally I will not tattoo or microchip my dog,” Coppoletta said. “I will go to court if I have to.”

The online protest began on Jan. 31 and will run through Feb. 7. It is scheduled to conclude in City Hall at the animal ordinance educational meeting.

“I encourage our community members to have their voices heard and to inform themselves on the issues,” Coppoletta said. “I look forward to open and honest dialogue, which obviously didn’t occur when the ordinance passed.”

At last report, CETI had 105 members, including Councilmember Kim Porterfield, former mayoral candidate Daniel McCarthy, and Newstreamz Partner Chris Doelle.

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51 thoughts on “Group prefers tattoos to microchips

  1. I feel that this ordinance is good for San Marcos. All the people that are comlaining about it will change their mind when , no matter how good a owner they are, their pet gets out or wanders off and get picked up. If they dont have a chip then they can’t be returned or at least not as easily, and how would you feel if your pet gets euthanized and you complained about something that could have prevented it. If anybody had something to say about this ordinance, why didn’t they go to the city council meeting dealing with this issue and speak their mind then instead of now? It is open to the public! This is an ordinance to help everybody with pets, not anything else.

  2. Wait, what? Animal shelters have found and returned pets long before poeple even knew what a microchip was. Microchips, in theory, make it easier to identify the pet, not return it to its owners.

    To counter Mr. Stratemann:
    “Tattoos are not always easily read or easily found,” Stratemann said. “Tattoos can be changed, they can fade over time. They can be difficult to read. An injury over the tattoo will make it unreadable. There are a whole lot of different reasons they are unreliable.”

    Microchips have multiple standards, so a chip might not be readable in another city. They can move and be “lost” inside the pet. Injuries, too, can damage the microchip, and make it unreadable. In addition, microchips are suspectable to microwaves and magnets; they could not only hurt the chip but the pet as well.

    And I’ll have to echo what Lisa said; most pets that end up at the shelter are dumped there, the few are recovered are those with owners who care about finding their pets, chip or no chip. Unenforcable microchipping will not fix the shelter problem.

  3. It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the educational meeting. For now, I think continued conversation on the issue will ultimately lead to the desired outcome from the community. I can only hope city council members will keep an open ear and mind to residents’ concerns, and address them as they surface. It seems Lisa Coppoletta is infiltrating herself in local politics, and somewhat projecting herself as the champion of the people, it could definitely be a good push to her candidacy. I just wonder if she would invest effort in the “fight” if she weren’t planning on running for office. On another note, all of this uproar the community has all of a sudden decided to bring up, what outcome is expected? to rescind the ordinance? Is that even plausible, didnt the council already decide, and then discussed the issue again and made no changes.

  4. I have to also mention, GOOD JOB Newstreamz for being transparent!! The publication publicized the fact that one of the partners, Chris Doelle, is indeed a supporter of the movement. I feel this article is not slanted one way or another, or advocating for tattoos or microchipping, even though the publication’s partner is apparently in support of doing away with the microchipping. Aside from this article I would not have been aware of such group, or aware of a few of the notable supporters.
    Where’s the Daily Record been hiding? they need a little more investigative reporting.

  5. Microchipping pets is not necessary for owners to find lost pets. If your pet is picked up by the city, you can find it if you look for it by calling the animal shelter. What other reason is there for ‘chipping a pet?

  6. Vote for Lisa Marie Coppoletta for city council next time around. Why is it that whenever someone takes a stand on something, someone else accuses them of “politicizing for personal gain.” Maybe she just feels like everyone else in the city on this issue. Is that wrong?

  7. And what about what Sonya didnt say? Lisa Coppoletta has decided to take a stand now that she’s running for office. Why didnt she take a stand when that one dog died because of SMPD? Why didnt she take a stand at the first public meeting (educational meeting, the public wasnt really asked for input when it came time to draft and pass this)? Im not against Lisa, Im just asking questions and vetting a possible future candidate so that I dont blindly throw my support behind someone! Why is it acceptable to attack and question someone for questioning a candidate? Shouldnt we all be questioning the candidates? Afterall, that is smart democracy.
    I think this group is a great idea, it keeps the microchip debate going. council cannot fully understand the concerns of the public unless they are voiced, and this group provides an avenue for that, and even a protest.

  8. Here are some facts,

    There are about 5 microchip companies in the United States that compete for a majority of business. There really isn’t a universal microchip. The chips are on different frequencies, and chip readers are not universal either. The codes of the chips feed into a national registry. There is no universal national registry. The chips and scanners do fail occasionally as well. The shelters are supposed to scan every dog they pick up, but there are many documented cases of this not happening and animals not being returned to their owners because of this fact.

    The city of El Paso has instituted a microchip program and it has been fairly successful. This might be a good model for San Marcos.

    Also consider those who already have their pet chipped by a different company than the city might choose. Are they to be burdened financially with a new chip?

    I really think this would be a difficult sell to the citizens of San Marcos, especially with the huge transient student population.

    Quite a few local veterinarians are in favor of this idea. They stand to profit greatly by being the go-to people to insert the chip. Their motives might not be genuine.

    Is it really worth burdening the entire population of San Marcos with a $50(approx) financial burden for every pet they have, just to streamline our shelters?

    Maybe, but it doesn’t seem feasible.

  9. This ordinance is just crap. Perhaps, like Lisa Coppoletta said, I agree in the spirit of it, but mandating microchipping is just nonsense! Get out of our lives, the government has enough things to worry about. Perhaps all these efforts by the city employees and council should be put forth on something conducive to the city, not on microchipping our animals. You guys are dumb!

  10. To basically sum up the entire argument;

    We, the citizens of San Marcos, members of CETI, and others, don’t like being FORCED to do something that can be costly, that does have flaws, that many times has no positive effect, that risks injury to our loved ones (yes, my dog is loved as a member of my family) with no say in the matter. These are OUR pets, not the city’s. Some people will care about their pets, and some won’t. And no amount of unenforceable, overregulating, and controversial laws will change that.

    If you are concerned for your pet and want to microchip him/her, that’s fine. That’s your right. I’m asking you to respect mine not to.

  11. Another point about tattooing vs. chips-

    There is no national registry for tattoos. The only instance it would be helpful would be if you lost your dog, you could “prove” it was yours by know what the tattoo was and it’s location.

    One flawed idea of CETI is the argument (made by Griffin Spell) is that a microchip causes more pain than a tattoo.

    Anesthesia would be required for the administration of the tattoos. Basically with a tattoo, you get a shot, and a tattoo (which could arguably “cause pain”). With a chip, you only get the shot (although a higher gauge needle would be used).

    Also, as far as people profiting from the microchip program (after more research and some calling around): Chipping really isn’t a money maker for anyone involved. Unless veterinarians are charging ridiculous prices, they wouldn’t benefit too much. Including all the paperwork involved and all the griping from clients who are required to purchase the chips, it really doesn’t seem worth it to them either.

    Basically, tattooing is not a good alternative to chipping your animals. There is no uniformity, national registry, and anyone can tattoo in any location, with any picture or number. Plus, tattooing doesn’t “hurt” your animal less than a microchip. But, it’s also hard to justify a mandatory microchip program in my mind.

    The real question for me is: Is there a worthwhile benefit to our community by streamlining animal shelters identification programs and putting a financial burden on citizens with pets?

  12. The existing financial burden on citizens with pets is $5 per pet per year for the license and city tag. The city currently sells microchips w/registration to the general public for $20. During the city-sponsored rabies clinic last fall, they offered microchips w/registration for $15. So if you plan to own your pet for more than 4 years, the microchip is actually a reduction in the financial burden not an increase.

    As for the claim that vets cannot be trusted because they stand to profit from this, I will say this. If you think that your vet is so blinded by greed that you cannot trust his or her opinion, you should get another vet.

    Tattoos and their registration are not free. Someone stands to profit from that too.

  13. Graham,

    I wasn’t saying that microchips cause pain to pets when first implanted, but are suspecatble to damage.

    These are the FDA’s comments on VERICHIP, a divise based on the same tecnology, the same size, but used for IDing humans instead of pets:

    “The potential risks to health associated with the device are: adverse tissue reaction; migration of implanetd transponder; compromised information security; failure of implanted transponder; failure of inserter; failure of electronic scanner; electromagnetic interference; electrical hazards; magnetic resonance imaging incompatibility; and needle stick.”

    In addition, “electrical currents may be induced in conductive metal implants” that can cause “potentially severe patient burns.”

  14. It’s all just a big experiment!! First they’ll see how the dogs do and how many of them die from it, and then they’ll be implanting them in us!!!!! Just like the CIA did in the 60’s when they made the military guys take LSD. Our dogs are just guinea pigs …. so to speak….That’s why they made it a law!!

  15. Suzanne – you said yourself that hardly anyone gets the $5 tags anymore, so there really isn’t very much money coming in at all with the tag system. And Graham, I don’t know who you called, but it’s not surprising that no one will admit that it’s potentially big money for the few involved. I did the math in a previous post. IF everyone with a pet were to rush out to get them chipped, it would mean thousands upon thousands of dollars in profit. The “costly paperwork” excuse went out the door with the advent of the computer age, and it doesn’t cost money to hear people gripe. If you go to the vet for the radio transmitter chip, once that vet gets you in the door, he can sell you heartworm medicine and unneeded tests, more shots, flea meds, etc.

    People that run small businesses rarely do something for nothing, especially in todays’ hard times. If so, in this case, the cost of micro-chipping would be $5 not $20+.

    That said, I really don’t mind if our Humane society and veterinarians make money. They deserve it. But as time goes on, I am increasingly turned off by the number of people who are lying about the money issue. And I think we all agree that we don’t like being forced by “law without vote”, to give away our money and subject our beloved animals to possible health complications, even if it’s a slight risk. It’s just not right.

  16. Everyone’s comments are quite interesting if not commical. I find it intriguing that every person against microchipping has no clue why the city or shelter even thought to pass this ordinance. Why would any shelter want this? Does everyone truly believe that this is a plot to chip humans? Does everyone REALLY believe that city officials like to tell citizens what to do with their lives and property? Or is it that no one really has a sound argument to NOT MICROCHIP???!!! The people respnosible for this are animal lovers – they spend everyday caring for the animals they receive, whether they are “dumped” or found or whatever. It is obvious that every organization and citizen that has a problem with microchipping requirements either have something to hide or are completely oblivious to what goes on in a shelter. Has anyone actually tried asking these questions at a public session or calling the shelter for information? Probably not because you would get reasonable answers and then what? I think everyone knows this is a ligitimate and practical solution for returning pets to owners. And what exactly is 100% guaranteed to work 100% of the time????? Get real people!!! I say everyone who is against microchipping should have to go work at an animal shelter and see what they do everyday. Maybe everyone needs the experience of walking up to a kennel with a happy puppy-eyed dog, wagging its tail at you as you walk it into a room and hold it so that it can be put to sleep. Imagine having to destroy the very thing that you love and care for! Why? Because people are careless. For all of you that think there is a simple solution…GET REAL!!! This is not about government, profits, conspiracy, etc. This is about animals lives!!!!!! Think about it, if people were responsible and able to keep track of their pets, why would there be a need for animal shelters!!?? One last thing, where was CETI during the creation and readings of this ordinance??? If you are part of a legitimate animal organization wouldn’t you be involved with animals in your community?

  17. Jena: “It is obvious that every organization and citizen that has a problem with microchipping requirements either have something to hide or are completely oblivious to what goes on in a shelter.”

    Excuse me? Go back to high school and retake civics, specifically the part about warrants, innocent until proven guilty, probable cause, etc….

    To repeat I said above, this isn’t about secret conspiracies or some plot to microchip people. But I, and many others, don’t see microchipping as solving the euthanazia problem. The city hardly enforces the animal laws it already has, and noone is giving them any extra money to try and enforce the new laws.

    Can you explain to me how forced microchipping will cut euthanasia? Those who chip/tattoo their pets will be the ones who care about them and will want to find their dogs/cats when they are lost. But some people, the “careless”, to use your term, won’t chip/tattoo their pets. No ammount of unenforcable laws will change that. The’ll end up at the shelter and things will be the same as before.

    To sum it up, those pets who where forcibly chipped will have caring owners would have found them anyways. And those without chips will be in the same situation we’re in now. Animal Euthanasia will NOT decrease because of this ordinance.

    The people at CETI are animal lovers too. We hate animal euthanasia as much as everyone else, but we know mandatory microchipping is NOT the answer.

  18. John, even though I’m tired of locals with a semi-personal agenda to maintain and advance the status quo, I agree that candidates should be vetted. CARRY ON!

  19. Sonya, you keep bringing up the money issue and yet you have failed to address the point that ear tattoos cost money too and someone stands to profit from that too. I don’t know of anyone locally who does ear tattooing. Looking online I found a place that does the tattoo and registration for $35 and another place that does just the registration for $20.

    The city animal shelter is not a small business and is not driven by a profit motive. They make a very small profit on the $20 microchips they sell and that profit goes back into the shelter’s budget used to provide services to the city. There are 6 vet clinics in the city of San Marcos so there is plenty of competition in the marketplace. If $5 microchips were feasible, someone would be selling them.

  20. It amazes me how some people can get on Newstreamz and B*tch and moan about things council is doing or B*tch and moan about things going on in San Marcos and you never see or hear any of these complaints during a City Council meeting! Where are all you B*tchers and moaners during the council meetings…. show up and voice your concerns or shut up about it already !
    Its even more amazing how its the same people on here b*tching about the same things over and over and over…
    Good Lord!

  21. If the City Council only does the right thing when you’re right there breathing down their necks….we might need some new people on the council.

    With that being said, it’s unfortunate that this issue hasn’t gotten much attention until now. But I will definately be there on Saturday at 1pm for the next meeting on the issue.

  22. Ed, chill bro. People will always try and stiffle others’ 1st Amendment right, but its not going to work. How about you just shut up. If you dont like reading the interesting and maybe even productive dialogue that ensues on here, then dont read it. Just read the article and move on the next.

  23. I’m really not advocating for tattoos, I was just looking into it. I like the un-invasive, physically harmless dog tags that I have now. I understand that you believe that there is not money being made here, but I would have to see the numbers before I do. There has to be 10,000 pets here (low estimate) and litters of cats and dogs are being born every day. 10,000 x $20 is $200,000 right off of the bat. That’s alot of money being gathered and more to come, and it’s not all going to the micro-chip company.

    I have mostly advocated for the right to vote, only pointing out the money issue as a reason why they passed this law without taking it to the citizens first. I do believe we need a city council that does not abuse their power.

  24. Ed – please stop with the foul language. There are good people out here that would rather not read your cuss words.

    I thought the editors didn’t allow profanity on this list?

  25. Okay you guys are right…. Its just annoying that people complain but when it comes time for council meetings there is nobody there to voice their opinion!
    Make yourself be heard ! My apologies to everyone.

  26. you mean only people that go to city council meetings get to express opinions on this webstite? That sucks!

  27. What I think he meant (and I happen to agree to a point) is that if you are going to cry and complain on here and elsewhere, why not voice your concerns at city council meetings. How do we expect council to be producing the expectations we’d like if we dont let them know what they are. But, I am for griping on here if you wont do it at city council, any dialogue is good dialogue, but it would be more conducive to do it during citizen comment period at council meetings 😉

  28. I think that the city doesn’t really understand the view point of pet owners. Concerned pet owners will have already taken the precautions they feel are necessary to protect their pets. This ordinance will only further the city’s objective not really the citizens of San Marcos. Too often government sees a problem, and acts in a way that best suits them, and not the public as a whole.

  29. okay but did you know that a citizen only has 3 minutes to state their opinion at a city council meeting, and can only approach the subject once as an individual?…. that’s not enough timefor hardly anything, much less presenting facts and charts that prove points. Plus I can’t take off of work and lose $150 for a 3 minute speech to dead ears.

    Also, did you know that this issue was never made public until after the vote was passed?(unless you have time to read the city council’s agenda every week, which I don’t,) It’s only because of Newstreamz and the nightly news, who reported it after the ordinance was passed, that alot of us even knew about it. So, “go to a meeting” really has no meaning at all.

    I think this thread, and the passing of the law, is all over now. The citizens have lost the legal battle, but it’s clear that only people who believe in the chips will get them. As a matter of fact, there are alot of people that say they wont get the chips, because of the new law. So that’s what you get when you pass bad, unenforceable laws…..

    On to bigger and better things now.

  30. CETI has quite a few members that chose to voluntarily microchip, their main concern is the city council’s autocratic mandates and that’s why I will be out on Feb.7th at city hall to let these civil servants know my position.

  31. Tom, where in the known universe is any “THING” laser cut into a solid block of titanium? What has been done can be undone, it’s not like pancreatic cancer or is it?

  32. As I understand, citizens will be present protesting the ordinance and presenting their concerns. If city officials do not act on that, then the citizens could take the matter into their own hands a petition signitures to call for a special election. There’s no need to ever give, things do and can change, it just takes effort from the citizens.

  33. Pardon me for my cynicism. Really. I’ve lived here for 30 years and have never seen the city retract a law that they have just passed. If it happens, it usually takes years.

    If you read the articles on the City of San Marcos web page, as well as this web page, you will see that ALL of the meetings are set to Give us their answers, not to hear our complaints. Did I mention that they only give you 3 minutes to say your piece in a city council meeting?? Has anyone here every made a point in only 3 minutes?

    Sorry, but some people get it and some people don’t. That’s always the way it will be. I am moving on to other issues where maybe what I say will have some meaning.

  34. Tom, due to our current and exponentially expanding economic woes, everything is back on the table from here on out.

  35. I think that everyone who is opinionated on this issue should voice their concern at the last public meeting. I understand CETI will be there and protesting, how about those in favor of microchipping should show their support and protest to keep the mandate in place. All in all, it will keep the debate alive, which in turn is what makes democracy thrive.

  36. Chris, were you aware that you can ask to be put on an e-mail list that will send you the council agenda when it is posted? Pretty darn easy if you ask me.

  37. The presentation tomorrow will take place in council chambers but it is conducted by animal services staff not by the council. The mayor and council were not present at the last 2 educational meetings and are unlikely to be present at this one.

    The purpose of the educational meetings is to educate the public about the ordinances. It is not to continue to debate them. The proper venue for that would be council meetings or simply contacting the mayor and city council. All their email addresses are available on the city’s web page.

    If you actually want to change the law, your efforts should be directed at the city council and the mayor. If you want to grandstand and call attention to yourself, protesting at the educational meeting will probably be pretty effective.

    And even though I support the new ordinances, I will not be there to voice my support. Saturday is the day that I volunteer at the shelter. If the mayor or any council members want my opinion, they can stop by the shelter and talk to me while I work.

  38. Chris is correct. The agendas were not updated since July 2008. I posted a blog with a screen shot and twittered it this week. It was fixed this week. This issues was raised during all of my debates during 2008 and never corrected. The muni agenda interface is horrid and i seriously wonder if it interfaces with mac b/c i cannot get it to work. The point is that when the city spent $78,000 on website design they should be sure at least the rss feed to the items on the agenda are available – better yet the digital paperless packets the council is using to formulate public policy. A pdf with hyperlink would suffice for me at this point.

    PROTEST 1:00 City Hall Saturday – MANDATORY micro chipping of Your critter – NO DISCUSSION by Council. We are anti anything MANDATORY, because we are responsible caretakers of pets. Again, this was NEVER discussed by council. Tattoos are only a rhetorical device.
    Facebook group here:
    http://tinyurl.com/cdre4u

  39. The members of CETI are also in the final stage awaiting city approval to video tape all of the animals at the shelter and have that broadcast on tv, web and via itunes. This will be done EACH WEEK.

    We are donating our time, our software, computers, video cameras to find homes for pets. The research is astounding regarding how the economy is affecting animals. People are loosing jobs and housing and have no where to turn.
    http://delicious.com/lisamarie4sanmarcos/economy_pets

    600,000 people lost their jobs last month {conservative estimates}

  40. okay. I’ve been known to rebel against authority now and then… (the school board just told me my kid can’t go to our neighborhood school. i am fighting it.)
    But isn’t the reason for the proposed chipping the fact that there are hundreds of irresponsible pet owners who don’t give a damn about their animals? People who don’t spay/neuter or vaccinate, dump unwanted litters on the side of the road, and generally treat their pets like trash. I see both sides, and I have no strong opinion here. But I believe the intentions of the good folks at the City Shelter are noble- to destroy less animals. Lisa and others are working on constructive ways to help, and I appreciate that.

  41. So are you saying that they want to microchip the pets so that they can hold irresponsible pet owners responsible for their actions?
    Or is the shelter just wanting to computerize their system?
    Could we just put bar codes on the tags? Or how about microchip the collar?
    If the microchip could help me locate my pet with a tracking device, now that would seem helpful, but otherwise I’m not sure I see the point of performing invasive surgery on every pet in town.

  42. Well, i went to the meeting and heard the presentation by Staff and listened to the questions/comments. I wanted to hear for myself what all the fuss is about. Now I know.
    The chips are to help lost animals get back to their people. It’s not invasive surgery, it’s a shot. The chip doesn’t cause cancer. (a shelter employee has a chip in her arm and demonstated the scanner. she’s had it for three years)
    The shelter has returned over 20 chipped pets to their owners in the last month.
    Some folks asked thoughtful relevant questions.
    But many were just ridiculous. Staff was respectful in any case. There is no conspiracy, ya’ll.
    If you don’t want to chip your pet, don’t. The city is not going to go door-to-door and check. If Animal Control has to pick up your animal and bring it to the shelter, you’ll have to get it chipped.
    It’s not a solution for creating a no-kill scenario, but it’s a good tool.
    Suzanne, I’m with you. Now that I’m informed, I support the new Ordinance, chips and all.

  43. Tattoos are ONLY a rhetorical device to call attention to the issue. Nothing more.

    The ordnance was slipped in under the wire surprising both staff and council members when it came up for adoption last year last year. Those of us that work for animal welfare in volunteer organizations were also completely unaware of it coming up for adoption, so we all sprung into action trusting city staff and board members construction of the ordinance.

    I was proactive regarding the passage by contacting directly council members and followed up. Created Face book events to encourage citizens would attend the council meeting supporting the ordnance. We offered support to city staff after those hearings on the educational components regarding video and multimedia.
    At the first meeting both city staff and those involved in helping with pet adoption and prevention of cruelty from various organizations were disappointed that the measure was not passed on the first reading.

    The ordinance language had to be cleaned up. Why? Because the issue of tethering and fencing and housing and complaining of noise were debated and Council wanted more clear language to respond to citizen complains on enforcement of the measure. The Mayor wisely wanted all the facts because “when citizens start to call me” and therefore the city council heatedly debated the ordnance offering personal narratives of their experiences with pets to test the various aspects of the ordinance.

    The point is that Council watered down the neglect aspect mandated in other cities and yet mandates something so radical without discussing it as micro chipping.
    Again, the council never debated micro chipping. We are all in favor of the ordinance except for this section and it is important to note that staff and legal do not have answers to our concerns. Why? Because, it was never discussed. This is why so many people are upset. And many of our community members are still unaware of the issue.

    I have no children of my own. My “kids” are my dogs. If my child was mandatorily micro chipped such as the city staff member who showed us her microchip, then you can be sure I would be up at a school board meeting. It is everyone’s right to make his or her own choice. In the state of Texas my pets are my property. And, it is also my right to treat my pet as a sentient being. And, for me microchip is something I am opposed to inserting a foreign object into my critter.

    Further, the animal shelter is killing so many pets because they are picking up the animals all throughout the county. There is no education or network set up to find your pet. The city could create lost and found templates and citizens could come in and make a poster, have a list of where to send an e-mail update to sent to veterinarians and other shelters. There could be an entire network of putting up posters around town. Or, education measures to update tags because they get scratched. Or, as Vicki Hartin wrote: put a microchip in the collar. The pets are dumped that is why they end up at the shelter.

    The fact is that pets are euthanized at the shelter even when there are available bays because we are picking up animals from the county. This instance has been reported to me from a citizen who stood by and watched animals being put down when there were 5 open bays. I supported the ordnance because I thought since so much time was going to be spent on educating our community that the number of animals being put down would decrease and we could work towards a no kill shelter here in San Marcos. I did not support penalizing responsible stewards of critters because some people dump their dogs. And, this number will rise as the economy worsens and there is still no action plan in place.

    Those of us that worked to get the ordinance passed, feel that full disclosure was not presented both by city staff and discussion during the policy implementation by council. Council member Jones asked a direct question at a recent city council meeting and I followed up on that yesterday and there still is no answer.

  44. If the true motivation behind this ordinance is to help lost animals get home, mandatory chipping misses the mark. Caring pet owners will search for their lost animals, tag them or exercise their free choice to chip ’em. Passing another city ordinance will not affect the population of pet owners who do not care enough to comply. After all, they’re not forced to comply with any other standards of animal care set by our city. Instead of passing more ordinances that can locate our pets, we should enforce those already in place, that are intended to keep animals safe from abuse and neglect. San Marcos is ridden with animal control issues such as dog fighting and pitbull thefts or unacceptable feral cat populations. Yet when the opportunity to prosecute individuals presents itself, the city turns a blind eye. Seems the council should better utilize its resources to address critical issues before worrying about forcing people to microchip.

  45. I didn’t know dog fighting was a big issue in San Marcos. None of the local media outlets have really ever reported on any. Im curious as to whether there have been arrests or reports on such unfortunate abuse.

  46. John- No arrests in the cases I’ve heard and seen!!! Since moving to San Marcos eight years ago, I’ve met many people who have had their dogs stolen, especially “aggressive breeds.” On one occasion, a dog owner contacted SMPD to report the theft of her dog only to be told that she could file the report, but it would most likely not produce any results. He added, if she really wanted to find her pitbull, she should go “house to house and knock on doors” in a specific neighborhood (which I guess I shouldn’t name here). The officers explained that this neighborhood has been known to have organized dog fighting and stolen pit bulls often end up there. Officers also said the criminals move the dogs/change locations so quickly there is little they can do. It does not seem like a bright idea to randomly knock on doors or look around people’s property, especially in an area known to be ‘shady’. I realize police officers may have more critical situations to deal with than those that involve animals, but I was stunned by their lack of action or concern. The fact that smpd knew enough of the goings-on to make this preposterous suggestion to a desperate dog owner, shows that they were aware of illegal behavior but were not actively investigating it. Another occasion that sticks out as an extreme example was a report made involving an individual making threats of bodily harm to a neighbor if his dog was not returned. Once the police arrived, all parties agreed that the threats were made, however, the officers focused on the dog situation as a case of stolen property. The dog in question was a soon-to-give-birth brown pit who was at least 20 lbs under weight (weight info provided in a vet checkup the temporary caretaker paid for) The dog’s ears had been clipped so far down it bordered on complete amputation of any ear tissue and the dog had multiple scars all over its face and neck. I add these details to point out how obvious it was that an investigation into the abuse or neglect of this animal was necessary. The officers said that because the animal was property, their only concern was whether or not the original owner could produce any records. The man produced a faded vet bill for a brown female dog from three years prior, with no name, breed, etc. Based on the matching color and sex of the animal, the officer released the dog to him despite obvious questions such as, if your dog goes missing and only runs across the street, the smallest bit of effort to find her would have worked, and two weeks time provided ample opportunities for the dog to be found in the immediate surrounding area. The animal remained on the front porch of the neighbor’s house contently for the two weeks she fed and cared for it, and was reportedly very “sweet and calm.” However, as soon as she opened the door to her angry neighbor, the “owner,” the dog ran through her open door into her home (obviously scared of her owner). The police ignored all information concerning these allegations of abuse. The neighbor raised important questions and expressed concerns the dog had been maltreated (what about the scarring, lack of tags, malnutrition, fear of owner….)but without hard evidence, the police would not act on it. When SPCA was contacted the next day, they said appropriate protocol is to contact them immediately and investigate the abuse before returning the animal. After following up on the case with smpd, the temporary caretakers were informed that an investigation and warrant should have followed and could, however, a the follow-up police visit revealed the animal had been moved to another house less than 24 hours after the initial incident. The police said this is common in cases like these. The owner moves the dog somewhere so she can give birth, the puppies can be sold and there was nothing they could do to help her now. Im sure this is way more detail than you were looking for, but I think that it highlights how ridiculous it is to pass mandatory microchipping when the city, in these instances, has failed to investigate fundamental violations of animal rights.

  47. Wow sounds serious. If the police department know of this neighborhood known for housing stolen pets, then they should most certainly look into it. I had no clue (if your allegations are indeed correct) SMPD was so passive when it comes to animal rights, but then again it was obvious when the little dog died in the traffic hold up. Our city government really needs to do some considerations of several issues. I know some dont think animals or microchipping are important enough to continuously be discussed, but I disagree. Any issue our citizens are concerned over, warrants dialogue and assertive action.

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