Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two city council members want pet chipping chunked

Two city council members want pet chipping chunked

By Anita Miller
News Editor
San Marcos — Some people believe they can cause cancer.

Others see mandatory microchipping of pet dogs and cats a “Big Brother”-type invasion of privacy. Still others wonder why their indoor cats who’ve never been outside would ever need one.

Since the San Marcos City Council signed off on a new Animal Control ordinance late last year that included mandatory microchipping, council members have had an earful.

That’s why, Council member Chris Jones says, he and fellow Council member John Thomaides will request that microchipping be removed from the new ordinance before it goes into effect on April 1.

The new ordinance was rolled out with much fanfare, including three “public education” meetings. In addition to the microchipping, it establishes new rules for dangerous dogs and management of feral cat colonies and brings city laws in accordance with state ones on how often pets must be vaccinated against rabies.

But from the start, controversy has swirled around requiring people to microchip every animal over the age of four months.

“We’ve gotten so much feedback from the citizens, and also feedback from other organizations, health organizations,” Jones said. “It hasn’t just been one group complaining.”

In their request that the item be placed on tonight’s agenda, Jones and Thomaides note that dropping the microchip requirement was also requested by the Animal Services Advisory Board, members of which have also received “significant input” from the community.

“John and I really wanted to bring this up and give the citizens some more options,” Jones said. “Of course, we still have to get four votes to do it.”

When the ordinance was approved, city officials said microchipping would be available at the city’s River Road animal shelter for $20, with provisions for low-income pet owners paying less. Jones said he believes that will still be true, even if microchipping is no longer mandated.

Animal Control personnel had argued that the chips would allow them to reunite missing owners with their pets quickly. If the measure survives, San Marcos will be one of a very few cities nationwide that require microchipping.