2 Animal Control ordinances now in effect

New animal control ordinances went into effect on Monday in regard to ear cropping, tail docking, tethering, and clarification of animal ownership.

Two ordinances approved by City Council earlier this month â?? one clarifying enforcement authority of animal control and police officers and the other concerning proper treatment of animals in the City of Amarillo â?? became effective Monday, June 23. The animal cruelty ordinance adds to state laws already in place.

Following recommendations by the Animal Control Advisory Board, City Council approved amendments which restrict the â??ear cropping and tail bobbingâ?? of animals. Owners can still have ear cropping and tail bobbing done to their animals, but only by a veterinarian.

"The ordinance allows these procedures to be performed, but only by a licensed veterinarian in a clinical setting," says City Attorney Marcus Norris. "The ordinance makes it an offense for any other person to do ear cropping or tail docking, and also makes it an offense for an animal owner to submit their animal to an unauthorized procedure."

In addition to restricting ear cropping and tail bobbing, ordinances now also clarify definitions of animal ownership and specify the quality and quantity of food, water and shelter to which pets should have access. It also outlaws the use of chains as collars or tethers used to stake or tether animals. (A chain collar or leash may still be used for walking an animal.) The ordinance also prohibits a tether that allows a dog to come within 3 feet of a public sidewalk.

It is important for pet owners to recognize that the use of chains as a tether or collar is now illegal. Pet owners need to take the necessary actions to obtain the legal means to properly tether pets not confined within fences or other enclosures.

Through the new ordinances, animal control and police officers have increased authority to issue citations for offenses, with the intention of making the enforcement program more effective.

Whenever enacting new ordinances that either outlaw practices that previously had not been restricted or when establishing new enforcement standards, normal City procedure allows a short grace period for public education. During the grace period, warnings may be issued verbally or in writing by officers, with citations written on a case-by-case basis. After the grace period ends, citations will be issued. No grace period will be allowed regarding cases of improper ear cropping and tail docking.