FLORENCE — City officials appear to be moving closer to adopting a pet license fee.
The City Council’s Public Safety Committee this week heard some of the pros and cons of a license fee from Police Chief Ron Tyler, who supervises the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter.
Tyler said the fee would not be designed to create a new revenue stream for the shelter, but rather it would be used to encourage spaying and neutering pets to reduce the population of unwanted animals and to ensure that pets are vaccinated against rabies.
“I think everyone agrees we are trying to accomplish spay and neuter, and this is simply one idea,” Tyler said.
The shelter is working toward becoming a low-kill shelter, and much of the progress made toward reaching that goal has been accomplished with a cadre of dedicated volunteers who operate a rescue and adoption program that reaches into the New York area.
“A low-kill shelter costs more to operate because of the additional food, space and employees needed,” Tyler said.
The 30-year-old Florence shelter is overcrowded on a regular basis.
Recently, shelter volunteers had to contact Huntsville’s shelter to ease an overflow of more than 100 dogs. When the summer breeding season arrives, the facility’s resources are stressed on a daily basis, officials said.
The fee schedule would be based on whether a pet has been spayed or neutered, and exceptions would be made for animal breeders. The fee would be $10 a year for a “fixed” pet, and $35 a year for a pet that has not been spayed or neutered. A lifetime license fee of $35 would be available for fixed pets, as well.
“There will be a lot of opposition to fees, and it will come from pet owners who will say they have been doing the right thing,” Councilman Hermon Graham said. “We are going to have to have some public hearings on this before we come to a decision.”
Tyler said he has heard complaints that most of the animals coming into the shelter aren’t from Florence but from areas in Lauderdale County, where there are no leash laws.
Most of those at the meeting, including Mayor Mickey Haddock and Councilmen Dave Smith and Blake Edwards, indicated enforcement of a pet license would be passive.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.