Augusta, GA -
Melissa Hargett and her dog Connie were visiting Augusta's dog park, as Melissa is a responsible pet owner. "She's my first dog I've had since she was a puppy. I didn't plan on breeding her...just go ahead and get her neutered,” she said.
To get more dogs like Connie, and less dogs coming to the shelter, the Augusta Animal Services Department is proposing new regulations.
Right now, the shelter is putting down about 500 animals per month.
One major change that has been proposed would require all pet owners, unless they are breeders, to have their pets spayed and neutered.
“It would reduce the number of animals that do come into the shelter and reduce the number that we have to put down,” says Augusta Animal Services Department director Sharon Broady.
Funding is a big issue at the animal shelter, so another change in the ordinance would require all dog and cat owners to pay to have their pets registered and to get a license tag. The costs haven't been determined, but somewhere around $10 is being proposed.
“A lot of people I know don't really have the money. Sure, we have pets, but we want to spend it on toys, food, and medicines, and everything else...not sending papers to get them registered, says Birte Billings, who was also at Augusta’s dog park.
"We're not doing this to money whip folks, or take people's money. We're doing this to improve the department and that's the basis behind it,” says B.B. Langham, who is Chairman of the Augusta Animal Services Advisory Board.
For the new regulations to occur, Augusta Commissioners will need to be willing to put them on pet owners.
"If a pet owner doesn't want to have a pet, or follow the rules, don't have a pet. The only thing I can say is, it costs to be a pet owner. We just want to be responsible and do the responsible thing,” says Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Under this proposal, pet owners would have to go to the shelter in south Augusta to get the pet registered. That could be a problem, and if Commissioners approve the proposals, there would be a more year grace period before the new rules take effect.
Commissioners did not vote this up or down Thursday, instead voting to send it back to committee.