By ANDY SEVILLA
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.Email | Print