Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chips dipped

Chips dipped

Council sends pet rules back to the drawing board

By Anita Miller
News Editor
The San Marcos City Council got an earful of the public's opinion of mandatory microchipping of dogs and cats this week, before and after deciding to have the ordinance reworked to make the procedure voluntary.

Inside a packed council chambers — with many more gathered outside — Mayor Susan Narvaiz and council members were also chided by residents for both how they handled the issue and spending so much time on it.

"I believe we believe in options for our citizens, not mandating," Narvaiz said in recommending the Animal Control Services Board change language in the broad Animal Control ordinance passed late last year.

The April 1 proposed effective date will also be delayed, though by how much hasn't been decided.

"I'm against mandatory tagging and for voluntary," said resident Dottie Barnes. "I don't want to put a foreign object in my living animal."

Barnes mentioned the alleged risk of cancer associated with microchipping; and Dr. Katherine Albrecht, flown in from New Hampshire to speak, said the procedure "may not be as safe as indicated by microchipping companies" and that studies show a "clear link" between cancer an microchipping.

Texas State student Dan McCarthy, who was one of two challengers for Narvaiz' seat last fall, said protest to the mandatory microchipping had "300 people outside" council chambers who were "very up in arms about it."

"Thank you for your reconsideration" of the mandatory element, McCarthy said.

"The San Marcos community is mobilized on this issue,” said Lisa Marie Coppoletta, who challenged Jones in the 2008 elections. "We are asking for one small change, extract that mandatory element."

Council members John Thomaides and Chris Jones had called for the re-examination of making the procedure mandatory.

Thomaides said besides allowing options to microchipping, he thought the issue of enforcement was important. "I think it's pretty clear enforcement would be only if a non-chipped animal came in contact with the animal services department. So there really wasn't a way to enforce the ordinance."

"The fact this thing (chip) can be tracked — how 'Big Brother' of you," Barnes said. I urge you to reconsider what you're forcing on the citizens of San Marcos."

Another resident opposed to mandatory chipping quoted President John Adams' belief in the "sanctity" of property.

Still another called on council members to "please stop wasting time on problems you think you can solve like chipping of pets and dogs in the back of pickup trucks and the possession of spray paint" and instead focus on bringing in new jobs and bettering education and health care.