Protesters came from the dog park to City Hall in March to protest a mandatory microchip registration law in San Marcos this past march. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By BILL PETERSON
A potential change in the animal enforcement code for San Marcos figures to have impacts in Kyle and in unincorporated areas of Hays County, as well.
More directly, dogs and cats in Kyle and unincorporated Hays County could soon wind up with mandatory microchip registration, even though neither Kyle nor Hays County provide for microchipping in their animal control ordinances.
The scenario emerges because Kyle and Hays County each contract for animal control services with the San Marcos animal shelter, the policies for which are set by the City of San Marcos. As it happens, San Marcos is once again about to consider mandatory microchip registration of pets, though under special circumstances. The measure would apply to animals that have been brought to the shelter for a second time.
The animal services advisory board in San Marcos reprised the issue of pet microchipping Wedenesday night with a public hearing on the potential revisions to the city’s animal control ordinance.
San Marcos took center stage in the national controversy about microchipping during the spring, after the city council passed mandatory microchip identification for pet dogs and cats last December. Citizens objected, turning out 300 to a March city council meeting before the council relented and asked the animal board to bring back a recommendation for voluntary microchipping.
The board brought back that recommendation, council enacted it and, four months later, the animal board is coming back with a new approach to microchipping, the ramifications of which go well beyond San Marcos.
The expunged legislation calling for mandatory microchipping across the board applied only to San Marcos, in effect, because it would be up to San Marcos animal control officers to enforce it. But the new measure would apply to any pet brought to the animal shelter, which takes pets from Kyle and unincorporated Hays County because the City of Kyle and Hays County contract with the city animal shelter for their sheltering needs.
Kyle and Hays County each has a representative on the animal services advisory board in San Marcos by virtue of those contracts. Kyle CIty Councilmember David Salazar, the Kyle representative on the San Marcos animal board, chaired Wednesday night’s meeting.
San Marcos Assistant Director of Community Services Mark Brinkley and Animal Services Director Bert Stratemann confirmed Wednesday night that the proposed policy would apply to any animal that winds up in the shelter for the second time, regardless of the animal’s residence.
Stratemann said that though Kyle and doesn’t require microchipping, its agreement with the San Marcos animal shelter provides that it abide by the animal shelter’s policies, even though that policy might be set by the San Marcos city government.
Salazar said he expects to bring the matter before the Kyle City Council for discussion, though he didn’t indicate that he would advocate for Kyle to institute a pet microchipping policy.
Only three people showed up for Wednesday night’s public hearing on pet microchipping - San Marcos City Council candidate Lisa Marie Coppoletta, her husband (Daniel Scales) and her campaign manager (Griffin Spell).
Coppoletta spoke passionately against the proposal, wondering aloud why the animal services board would bring up microchipping when the citizens and the city council have said they don’t want it.
“I believe, in March, our citizens resoundingly told our city council that we oppose mandatory microchipping for our pets,” Coppoletta said. ” … I am perplexed why you would ask for a public hearing when we’ve already told you what we think.”
Coppoletta added that the animal board is being “paternalistic” instead of listening to the people, that the animal board has not followed up on education measures promised during the microchip debate this spring and that a lack of transparency characterizes the board’s documentation.
Coppoletta told the board that if the proposal makes it to city council, the 300 protesters in March will be considerably exceeded by the next protest at City Hall. Furthermore, Coppoletta added, she will make numerous open records requests in an attempt to find out what’s really motivating the board’s persistence on the microchipping issue.
Spell also spoke against microchipping, saying that if the board forwards the question to city council, “All you’ll end up doing is embarrassing this board and getting us back on TV.”
In addition to the two citizens who commented on microchipping Wednesday night, Stratemann said the board has received two emails on the matter from citizens. Stratemann said both emails were in favor of the latest microchipping measure.