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Pulaski County is considering a push to expand licensing requirements for pets.

The proposed rule would mandate that owners register their animals every year, every three years or once in their animals' lifetimes.

A Pulaski County Quorum Court committee passed the proposed ordinance on to the full Quorum Court on Tuesday. It was approved with nine votes for, four against and two abstentions. The justices of the peace are to vote on the proposed ordinance at a full Quorum Court meeting Jan. 22.

This is Justice of the Peace Julie Blackwood's second attempt to push a measure like this through the Quorum Court. She pursued her first bid about five years ago, she said.

The county modeled this proposed legislation after Jacksonville's city ordinance, said Justin Blagg, the county's Government Services director.

The proposed ordinance would affect people who live in unincorporated areas of Pulaski County, County Attorney Adam Fogleman said.

"This ordinance kind of fills a gap," Fogleman said.

Pulaski County already requires that residents put tags on their animals. The tags should have the owners' names and phone numbers or addresses, Fogleman said.

The proposed ordinance would require that veterinarians license animals when they vaccinate the pets for rabies. State law already requires owners to vaccinate for rabies. The measure would allow Pulaski County Animal Services to trace an animal back to the veterinarian office where it was licensed.

Fogleman said major Pulaski County cities already require this.

Blackwood said this measure is important because it can help the county reunite animals with their owners.

"They do get lost and get out, and that's so, so sad, and it's a benefit to the owner if we can return them to them," Blackwood said.

When animal services employees finds an animal with no identification, they start an investigation to determine if it has an owner. After the investigation, if the agents have not found the owner, the animal is sheltered for five days. Then it is either adopted out or euthanized, Fogleman said.

Justice of the Peace Doug Reed said he views such licensing as a tax. He thinks it will put another hardship on low-income Pulaski County residents.

"This is just going to add another burden to those people," he said. He voted against the measure Tuesday.

The measure would require that owners license their animals within 30 days of obtaining them or moving into the unincorporated county.

For sterilized animals, the licenses would cost $5 for lifetime, $10 for yearly and $10 for three years. To acquire lifetime licenses, the owners would have to microchip the animals.

Owners who have not sterilized their animals would not be eligible for the lifetime license. Licenses for unsterilized animals would cost $35 for yearly and for three years.

In this way, the measure would encourage owners to neuter or spay their pets, Blackwood said.

If the proposed ordinance passes and owners don't comply with it, they would be fined up to $500, Fogleman said.

When owners receive their licenses, they would also receive metal tags to place on their pets' collars. Pets would have to wear the tags at all times.

The measure would apply to cats, dogs and any other warm-blooded animal that is kept as a pet, can be affected by rabies and is more than 4 months old. The proposed ordinance excludes livestock.

When registering animals, owners would provide their names, addresses and telephone numbers, as well as the names, breeds, color, ages, sex, sterilization status of the animals and proof from veterinarians of rabies vaccinations.

The regulation would allow the county to keep better track of which animals have been vaccinated for rabies, complying with state law that mandates that animals be vaccinated, Blackwood said.

Owners would be able to apply for licenses with their veterinarians, according to the proposed ordinance.

Metro on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: JPs panel favors bid to require registrations of pets in county

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