City of Amarillo proposes updated animal cruelty ordinances

Published: May. 28, 2014 at 3:03 AM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - The City of Amarillo is trying to beef up Animal Control's ability to protect pets from abuse in our area.

The City Council proposed two amended ordinances to the Amarillo Municipal Code at Tuesday's City Council meeting. The amended ordinances clarify what's considered animal cruelty and would give animal control officers and police authority to issue citations on those types of offenses.

The city's current animal cruelty ordinance follows state law, and city officials say it needs to be more comprehensive to protect animal welfare in our area

The updated ordinance prohibits amateur ear cropping and tail docking. "The ordinance allows it to occur, but only by a licensed veterinarian in a clinical setting," said City Attorney Marcus Norris. "It makes it an offense for any other person to do ear cropping or tail docking, and it makes it an offense for an animal owner who submits their animal to an unauthorized procedure."

The ordinance clarifies what is considered an adequate amount of food, water and shelter provided to a pet. It also outlaws the use of chains as a collar or leash to tether an animal outside.

Resident Shea White has been advocating for this ordinance for months and said chain tethering is a public safety concern, especially for children walking by. "What normally would have been an otherwise friendly dog, turned aggressive because she was out there on a chain with no food, no water, and couldn't get to her shelter," said White. "Every time I opened my front door, every time I went to my car, every time I would look out my window, she would charge that chain and choke herself."

The second ordinance proposed would give animal control officers and police authority to issue citations for the new offenses. "We hope that will make for a more robust enforcement program," said Norris.

White said she thinks the changes could help with animal cruelty enforcement. "I know a lot of officers personally who felt they had their hands tied because they weren't allowed to enforce the laws up until now, but now with the new management and new considerations, I think they're going to be able to do a much better job."

There will be a second reading at the next City Council meeting to vote on adopting the amended ordinances.