Thursday, April 5, 2012
Goleta approves spay/neuter ordinance
The Goleta City Council approved an ordinance to require pet owners to get their animals spayed or neutered unless they get a veterinarian's approval to own an "unaltered" pet.
To control the population of stray animals, Santa Barbara County adopted an ordinance in 2009 to require animals older than six months to be spayed or neutered unless the owner receives certification from a veterinarian.
Since the county handles Goleta's animal control services, the city's ordinance is designed to align with the county's. Assistant city attorney Mohammed Hill stressed that the ordinance is geared towards making more responsible pet owners, not sterilizing animals within the city limits.
"This isn't a requirement to spay or neuter your animal," Hill said. "This is a requirement to have discussions with a veterinarian."
Under the ordinance, owners that do not want to spay or neuter their animals can obtain an Unaltered Animal License if they meet certain requirements and get a veterinarian to sign off on their knowledge of what having an unaltered pet entails.
Apart from a veterinarian's blessing, the owner cannot have had the animal impounded more than two times within the last year. Dog owners may also get denied if their dog attacked or injured someone.
There are a few minor differences between city and county ordinances, most having to do with the scope of authority. The city has no exemptions for certain agriculture parcels given that there are no such eligible parcels in the city.
Goleta also changed language to ensure veterinarians have the right amount of latitude in signing off on an owner's Unaltered Animal License.
Both forbid anyone convicted in California of crimes against animals or domestic violence from holding a permit for an unaltered animal, but due to resource constraints, the city doesn't have a background check.
This caused Council member Roger Aceves to cast the lone dissenting vote. While Aceves approved of the spirit of the ordinance, he felt confining the convictions to California only didn't make sense.
"I agree with the ordinance but to limit this to California and not specify what the crimes are is not good," Aceves said.
The other council members opted to keep the county's language.
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