By Angela Reinhardt, staff writer
While City of Jasper officials are now saying they will not force pet owners to license their animal, they say it is in residents’ best interest to participate and they strongly encourage attendance by residents at registration day this Saturday, June 11.
“While council passed it as an ordinance that people have to have pets licensed, we are only asking that residents do it on a voluntary basis at this time,” said City of Jasper Animal Control Officer Lonnie Waters. “Due to the economy, we want to work with the people of Jasper and not have them feel forced into doing something.”
Waters says the city is not implementing the program to generate revenue but rather to help pet owners and protect their animals.
“This program is here for the safety and protection of the animals,” Waters says. “If your animal wanders off but it has been licensed with us, I can pick it up, easily identify it and return it to you.
“If it has not been licensed and I can’t find an owner, it’s going to have to go to the county animal shelter where it has the potential to be put down,” he said.
Waters also noted there are fees associated with reclaiming your animal from the local shelter if the animal is impounded.
“This program just makes it easier for everyone,” he said, “and I have actually been surprised at all of the positive response we’ve been getting from residents. We’ve even had some people just over the city limits call and want to register their animals,” he said.
In an effort to make registration as simple as possible, the city is hosting a pet registration day this Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. in the city hall parking lot.
There, residents will have photos taken of their animals and register their name, address and contact information. Waters will put the photos in a computer database that will make it easy to locate the animal when it is recovered.
Waters also said he has plans for a veterinarian to be on-site to administer rabies vaccinations and microchipping.
If an animal already has his or her rabies vaccines, owners need to bring proof of vaccination.
The cost to participate in the licensing program is:
•$15 to license a dog or cat that is spayed or neutered.
•$20 to licenses a dog or cat that is not spayed or neutered.
Rabies and microchipping fees are not included in this cost, and Waters noted that any animal, not just dogs and cats, may be registered.
Waters requests those who choose to participate in the program have their pet registered by July 1.
If a resident is unable to attend the Saturday registration day, they can call city hall to schedule an appointment with Waters.
Waters said the new city ordinance also gives city animal control the right to designate an animal as dangerous or vicious, at which time the owner will be required to license the animal and possibly take out liability insurance among other stipulations.
According to Waters, there is also a leash law included in the ordinance, but he said the city will not be out looking for people breaking the law.
“If there is an animal running around and I can’t find the owner, I’m going to pick it up,” he said. “But if it is in a reasonable place, and the owner is right there walking him with no leash, I’m not going to give him a ticket.”
The entire animal control ordinance will soon be available on the city hall website, www.jasper-ga.us.
Jasper City Hall can be reached at 706-253-9100.
The office is located at 200 Burnt Mountain Road, Jasper, GA 30143.