City DopeNews

Registration Could Help Return Pets to Owners, ACC Officials Say

Animal Services Director Kristall Barber

Athens-Clarke County commissioners are considering a law requiring local residents to register their pets, making it easier to return them if they get lost or run away.

Often when someone turns in a lost pet that’s missing a collar or tag, there is no way for animal control officers to contact the owner, according to Kristall Barber, director of the Athens-Clarke County Animal Services Department. Even if the pet has a microchip, the information on it is often outdated.

The proposed ordinance would require pet owners to register their pet with an outside vendor when they get a rabies vaccine from their veterinarian. The registration information would be linked to the rabies tag, and cost an additional $4 for a one-year shot or $8 for three years.

“With the county tag, there will be a database that anybody—even if a citizen picks up your dog in the middle of the night, they’ll be able to go on a website and put in the ID number, and have your contact information to call you,” Barber told a group of commissioners last week.

At a meeting of the commission’s Legislative Review Committee on May 17, Commissioner Allison Wright questioned how many people would comply with such an ordinance. Some won’t, Barber said, but many will, especially if their vet’s office sells the registration tag. The ordinance would not be enforced in a heavy-handed way, Barber said.

“You just never know when it will come in handy. Hopefully that peace of mind will make some residents want to do it,” she said. “Obviously there will be some people who will never comply.”

The ability to return pets to their owners more quickly would also free up space at the animal shelter, which is frequently full. When the shelter is full, rescue groups jump in to help, but at times the shelter has to resort to euthanizing the animals that have been there the longest.

The ordinance is based on similar laws in Fulton and DeKalb counties. The LRC is not likely to vote on it until August because ACC Assistant Manager Niki Jones said a survey is not yet ready to go out to local residents. Barber is also contacting veterinarians about the proposal.

Once the five-member LRC makes a recommendation, it will go to the full commission for a final decision.