The city now will now will require resident pet owners to get microchips for their dogs and cats, and will ban so-called ‘puppy mill’ breeders from providing animals to pet stores.
City Council voted unanimously [last] Wednesday to revise its animal code for the first time since 2014, including those changes and others to try to rein in overpopulation of animals on the city’s streets and in its shelter.
“For the most part, all of these changes were really supported by the animal welfare community, which is great,” said At-Large Councilmember Sallie Alcorn, who helped craft the revisions.
Pet owners, already required to license pets with the city and prove they have been vaccinated against rabies, now will have to microchip them.
The chip will replace the city’s license and rabies tags and will make it easier to return lost animals to their owners, officials said. Animal control officers will be able to scan an animal’s microchip and return it to its owner without bringing it back to the shelter, easing the burden on that facility.
The city plans to focus on helping residents comply with the new rule initially, rather than concentrating on enforcement, officials said. Shelter employees will spend at least a year educating residents about the changes and providing opportunities to get the device installed before enforcing it. The city offers to install them for $15 and will announce details on future opportunities to do so, likely including chances to get the device for free.
Even when enforcement does begin, it likely will be limited. Many residents do not license their animals with the city and face little consequence, although they can face a fine if their animal runs away and winds up in the city shelter.
The benefit of this for you, the pet owner, is that if your dog or cat gets lost and is subsequently taken to a city of Houston shelter, they’ll be able to ID your pet and contact you to get it. Our dog is an indoor dog who always has his collar and tags on, but he’s been an escape artist in the past and we got him from a shelter after he got away from whoever had him before us. I expect to have a talk with our vet about getting him chipped at his next appointment. The benefit for the city is fewer animals at the shelters, which is a longstanding need. It’s a good idea all around.