Public Health District works on animal ordinance revisions, sparks conversation among pet owners

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Pet owners in Wichita Falls may see some major changes to the city rules that come with owning a pet in a few months.

Staff members at the Public Health District are working to revise numerous animal ordinances, most of which have not been updated in more than 10 years.

The first step begins Friday with the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee meeting.

“We really hadn’t taken a look at the overall ordinance, and we’d had some issues that come up the last couple of years that just made us realize that it’s time to do a comprehensive overall,” Director of Health Lou Kreidler said.

That could include no dogs will be allowed in the beds of pickups whether in motion or parked unless they are in a pet crate or carrier and sheltered from weather. Besides the possible injury risk, Kreidler said it’s also a concern with the hot metal on a dog’s paws. Some residents said this is going too far, especially in Texas.

“I don’t think the city should be telling me where my dog needs to ride if he loves it,” dog owner Carol Schlumpf said.

Although, others believe it’s a good idea based on things they’ve seen. Another change is that owners must carry a bag or tongs when out with their pets. If they don’t, they could be ticketed.

“We get a lot of complaints from individuals because there’s you know feces on their property or it’s on the sidewalk and people aren’t cleaning up after their animals,” Kreidler said.

Dogs and cats must be microchipped.

“Everybody will need to have a microchip so it’ll be one of them, it’s not like we’re gonna go knock on doors and check, it’s like our city tags, our city licenses,” Kreidler said.

“It’s just more expensive for the owner,” Schlumpf said.

Foster homes must be registered with rescue groups.

“We’ll go out and individuals will have more than the four allowed animals and they’ll say well I’m a rescue for XYZ rescue group and in reality, they’re not,” Kreidler said.

The process for revising the ordinances is lengthy, but once it’s over, pet owners may need to take a close look at how they handle their furry family members, or they may be paying a fine.

There will be opportunities for public comment on the proposals, in the coming weeks.

Friday’s Animal Shelter Advisory Committee meeting will just be a discussion. From there, a series of stockholder meetings will help gather input, then the advisory committee will discuss changes and present a final proposal to the Board of Health.

Finally, the revisions head to city council for a final decision, expected to happen as early as October.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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