Any pit bill or pit bull mix that would go to Columbia’s animal shelter would have to be neutered or spayed under a proposal Tuesday from a citizen’s committee appointed by City Council.
That would mean more than 900 dogs yearly that fit that description would be surgically kept from breeding, according to figures from shelter director Marli Drum.
Stray cats also would be trapped, neutered and released under the proposed changes, which council did not immediately adopt.
Other proposed changes for the city’s animal control laws include:
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▪ Dog owners would be allowed to have as many as five dogs rather than the current two. More than five dogs would require the owner to build a kennel.
▪ The annual licensing fee for dogs would double to $50 for pets that are not spayed or neutered. The fee increase is intended to be an incentive for pet owners to have them neutered, which is available free through the Animal Mission, a nonprofit group that partners with the city shelter.
▪ Owners would be banned from putting their dogs on tethers in their yards.
▪ Owners who take their pets to the shelter for reasons other than emergencies would pay a fee that has yet to be set. The goal is to cut non-emergency admissions in half.
City manager Teresa Wilson is to review the committee’s recommendations and suggest to council which changes to adopt and whether to support the additional staffing that will be required.
Committee chair Anne Sinclair told council the group tussled with what to do about the number of pit bulls and mixes that are being euthanized at the shelter. That number is 84 percent of all pit bulls and mixes that arrive at the shelter, Sinclair said.
“After our long conversations, we don’t see another solution to this problem,” the former councilwoman said of focusing on a single breed.
Sinclair said if the recommendations are adopted, the city would arrive at its goal of euthanizing as few animals as possible, or becoming a so-called “no kill” facility.
Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.
A new council majority?
A vote Tuesday on selecting a mayor pro tem split Columbia City Council on a 4-3 vote. But the winning side that elected Leona Plaugh to the largely ceremonial post might signal a power shift.
Voting to make Plaugh the acting mayor when Steve Benjamin is absent were Plaugh, Moe Baddourah and newly elected Councilmen Howard Duvall and Ed McDowell.
Voting to make Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine mayor pro tem were Devine, Benjamin and Councilman Sam Davis.
The minority argued Devine was next in line of seniority after Davis, council’s most senior member, served in that capacity until Tuesday.
Asked if the vote is a harbinger of a different direction for the body, Baddourah said, “It think it’s a new future on the council.” Plaugh said she agreed.
Duvall said he hoped the decision would have been unanimous because state law says council must vote on a new mayor pro tem after an election. Then Duvall added, “I don’t think the 4-3 will be a consistent vote.”