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January 23rd, 2009
Pet ordinance survives council meeting

Associate Editor

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 Sevilla

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0 thoughts on “Pet ordinance survives council meeting

  1. I can’t believe Chris Jones said that animals should be treated as humans. I supported him but this is just absolutely idiotic. I believe in treating animals properly but certianly not as humans.

  2. That is a very valid opinion, Evil-for-profit. However, a lot of us in San Marcos, and perhaps around the country, feel that our pets are part of our family, and deserve the same level of care and respect. Thus, supporting legislation that will “treat” our pets as humans (although I dont think this ordinance does) is definitely something that should be provided with tons of encouragement and support. Im glad our council made an effort to address the concerns of citizens.

  3. I certainly treat my dog, Lou as family (except for the part about pickup up his poo… never ran into that with my parents or siblings.) That said, I would never agree with something that forces me to microchip my mother or brother, so we are not talking about an ordinance that treats pets as humans.

    I appreciate the thought Councilman Jones, just may have been bad timing to relate that thought to this ordinance.

  4. What I think Chris was trying to say, and that I totally agree, is that we don’t require humans to be chipped, so why should we require animals?

    Interetingly, nowhere does anyone explain WHY chipping is so vital, only trying to defend it by saying it doesn’t cause cancer….or rather than it only rarely causes cancer.

  5. I agree with Chris and Griffin here. This is just another example of government trying force itself into our daily lives. The decision to chip should be left to the owners. This will just lead to enforcement costs, followed by fines that turn into a revenue stream the City can’t live without.

  6. Is it a coincidence that a discussion about a money grab micro-chipping ordinance is brought up in the same meeting that the council began looking into the possibility of taking compensation for themselves? And yes, Mr. Jones, please bring in your wife to be micro-chipped. She is family after all…..

    It’s just another stupid ordinance that no one will follow. I certainly won’t be injecting my dog with any radio transmitter. Guess that makes me a criminal now!

  7. Sonya
    You obviously DID NOT attend the council meeting the other night! Chris Jones said NOTHING about microchipping his wife… in fact he isnt even married. Try again. There you go… ranting again without having any facts

  8. The animal services staff have explained why microchipping is important. Pets get lost and sometimes tags fall off or are stolen. Lost pets cannot speak for themselves but a microchip can speak for that pet. There has been no public outcry claiming they are not effective so there has been no need to address that issue. The public outcry has been 3-fold – that the chips cause cancer and that the ordinance is not enforceable and that microchipping is an unneccessary intrustion into people’s private life.

    The cancer connection is not supported in scientific literature. If you don’t have a strong enough scientific background to read and understand that literature, then you should listen to the opinion of those who do. In this case that would be your veterinarian.

    The other issues (enforcement and intrusion into private lives) carry a little more weight and that is what the mayor and city council spent most of their time addressing at the last meeting. The best analogy I can give is child safety seats and seatbelt laws. These devices save lives but they are an additional expense and inconvenience. These are laws that were enforced initially with a public education campaign to explain to people how they can save your life or your child’s life. The next enforcement phase was written warnings issued in conjunction with other traffic violations. The final and permanent phase has been tickets issued in conjunction with other traffic stops. If you never violated any traffic laws or gave police any reason to pull you over, you could get away with not wearing a seatbelt or putting your kid in a child safety seat. But most people do it anyway. Voluntary compliance does work.

    Similarly, if you keep your pet on a leash or in your fenced yard or in your house and you never do anything to cause your neighbors to call in a complaint about your animals, you can get away with having them unchipped. But anyone who has ever driven a car knows that it is hard to always be on your best behavior and you are eventually going to get pulled over. And anyone who has had a dog or cat knows that sometimes they get out the door when your don’t want them to, sometimes they slip their collars, and sometimes other people leave the gate or door open. And despite what you read here, most people will comply voluntarily. I’ve talked to several people who say they have been meaning to get their pet microchipped and this will just be the catalyst for them to finally do it.

    I’m really not sure how this can be viewed as a “money grab”. You can purchase a microchip from the shelter for $20 or you can purchase one from your veterinaran which profits the city nothing. The current law already requires pet owners to purchase an annual license at a cost of $5 per year. This ordinance will transform that annual fee into a one-time fee which will save pet owners time and money over the course of the animal’s lifetime.

    I hardly ever meet anyone who knows about the annual license. At the last city council meeting Mayor Navaiz and council members Pam Couch and Kim Porterfield all admitted that they were not aware of the license and have unlicensed pets. So I suspect that many of you are already criminals.

  9. When the “experts” that are giving us the information are the ones that will benfit greatly on the financial end, hence, money grab, and in this case, the city, and Dr. Jorgenson, then doesn’t it make the arguement just a little bit tainted? Reminds me of some drug companie studies that have been in the news lately.

    There is SO much wrong with this that it is too much to address. Most of all, it is not going to cut down on the amount of animals that are euthanized at all and I hope the media gets a hold of those numbers in a year. There are cases of some pets being put to death because the animal shelter worker could not find that already imbedded chip, so assumed it was a stray when it wasn’t.
    Those chips don’t stay in the same place folks. They move around, get lost, and cause infecections at times. Makes you wonder why they aren’t talking about tatooing our dogs instead?

    Anyone out there that is interested in reading more on the lies that we are being fed regarding the benefits of micro-chipping. (link deleted)
    for starts.

    For anyone who is concerned about our right as citizens to vote on such matters, there are many, many websites out there for you. And you should be very concerned.

  10. Why not tatoos? They are cheaper, less invasive, and have already been tested on humans to be safe. Give the dog a number and keep a central database on the internet so that anyone that finds a dog, can look up that number to see if it belongs to someone. Anyone on the city council consider this as an alternative?

  11. I really enjoy how everybody is very concerned about the welfare of our pets, and how government is ill-behaved. But, how many of you spoke on this at the city council meeting? 1 of you? 2? or ZERO?… yeah I thought so. How about you all just shut up! You dont have any room to complain, if you’re not doing anything about it!! hipocrites!
    I know none of you were there, I watched the citizen comment and the animal ordinance discussion.

  12. No sonya “the joke” didnt go over my head at all…. “the joke” is still on here ranting and raving without having any facts. Hey but at least you know how to use google…lol

  13. The law HAS ALREADY BEEN PASSED, my friend. The meetings are meant to spread propaganda, not to take another vote. A city council member was quoted as saying “Since when do we repeal a law that has already been passed?”… and not everyone can afford to take a night off of work to face a firing squad of people that have no intention of changing their mind. AGAIN – these are not meetings intended to weigh both sides of the issue, they are meetings to “inform” the public of their side of the issue. If the city council wanted a fair meeting, this would have taken place BEFORE they passed the ordinance, not after. And if they really wanted to be fair, it would have been on the ballot for the citizens of San Marcos to vote on.

  14. I have found that the dissenting opinions as expressed by myself and my friends are being censored and erased but Newstreamz. Newstreamz should be totally ashamed of themselves.

    I’m sure this will get erased too. But I will find other ways to spread the word.

  15. There is no censorship or elimination of dissent here Sonya. We edit and delete comments that don’t meet our guidelines (personal attacks & off site links).

  16. Or maybe it was a computer glitch….would the Newstreamz moderator please let me know if I am wasting my time on this, or if they are indeed an unbiased opinion forum? Feel free to email me at the above email address…..

  17. Why isn’t anyone talking about the compensation City Council is trying to make for themselves into law. According to this article, they directed staff to do a compensation study. I know that staff is highly influenced by some of the Council, Im wont say a name but we all know who I speak of. We need to check our city government, right now is not the time to spend our tax dollars on compensating a voluntary job.

  18. I’m glad to see that my friend Todd’s post is there now. I haven’t personally attacked anyone and don’t plan to sink to that level. However, I have been attacked several times on this subject, the latest being from someone named ED. You sure let him blast me, didn’t you…..and there’s not even any substance to his postings…nothing but hatred and put downs. There is a better way sir and I do hope this forum gets better quality people reading and posting on it.

  19. My son has corrected me. I did say something about a joke being over a “posters” head, but was only apologizing for that fact that I made a joke that was over his head, and not bashing him for the fact.

  20. Sonya
    Bashing? go back and read your posts…. I think you were the one that was “bashing ” city council and the mayor on this and other issues. I never bashed you , all I said was you should have your facts in order before posting such absurd posts.

  21. If you don’t have any money and your pet gets sick you have a choice. Take him to the vet and have the chip put in and have the animal treated – or go ahead and dump him somewhere. If you have the chip put in you’re giving up the option of ever dumping the pet. Many pets are dumped so I believe it’s an option that some pet owners would like to keep open. I think we should expect a rash of pet dumping over the next few years as the chip gets phased in. For me, my vet is now also the city code enforcement officer.

  22. There is no requirement for the vets to chip a pet before treatment and I doubt that any vet in this city would refuse to treat an unchipped pet. If dumping is the only option you can come up with when your pet gets sick and you don’t have money then you shouldn’t have a pet. Many vets will work with you to develop a payment plan. They are not required to do that but many of them do it anyway. There are also rescues and non-profits organizations that will take the pet or help pay for the required treatment. And finally if nothing else works out, you could take the pet to the shelter and surrender it. Even if the pet is not adoptable, euthanasia is more humane than starving to death or being killed by larger predators.

    Dr. Jorgensen is not the code enforcement officer. As the city vet, his role is oversee the treatment of animals at the shelter and to advise the city on matters of animal care that require medical knowledge. Code enforcement is done by the animal control officers and, to a lesser extent, the police department.

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