Pet registration in Athens? ACC gov wants to hear your opinion

The ACC government is considering a pet registration program and wants to hear your thoughts and opinions about it. If you’re a pet owner in Athens, take the survey here. It will be open through July 31 only.

The program would require pet owners to register their pets for a small fee when they get their rabies vaccinations. The fee would pay for a searchable database including rabies vaccine information and any other information pet owners decide to include. It would also support the work of the ACC Animal Services Department.

Kristall Barber, director of the ACC Animal Services Department, told the ACC Commission’s Legislative Review Committee in April that the primary reason for the program is to help return lost dogs and cats to their owners as quickly as possible.

“We spend countless hours trying to reunite animals with people [using] outdated information,” Barber said. “The biggest point of the registration program is to get that information up to date.”

The registration program could greatly increase the speed at which animal shelter workers are able to return lost pets to their owners. That would save space in the animal shelter, which could help prevent euthanizations and would also save taxpayers money. 

The program could even prevent many lost animals from ever going to the shelter in the first place. Registered animals would wear an unique ID tag, which someone who finds a lost animal could use to get the owner’s contact information by searching an online database or by calling the shelter. Then the finder could take the pet directly home.

Currently, only about one-third of the dogs and 5 percent of the cats who wind up in the animal shelter are ever reunited with their owners. Barber hopes a registration program would improve these numbers.

If you’re a pet owner in Athens, take the survey here to let commissioners know where you stand on this issue.

The program could also help bite victims by letting them, or a doctor, quickly determine an animal’s rabies vaccination status. Knowing whether a particular dog or cat has been vaccinated recently would also help owners keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date as well as help the shelter determine if new vaccinations are needed for animals in their care, or if they could be skipped.

Finally, the program could help prove ownership of a particular pet in the case of a dispute.

The program would be mandatory for all pets living in Athens for more than 60 days. However, enforcement could be challenging and the program is not intended to be punitive. Rather than issuing citations, Barber says she would try to work with residents to get them into compliance voluntarily.

“We’re not going out door to door to issue citations to people. That’s not something we would ever do,” Barber said.

Pet registration programs like this are fairly common across the nation. Fulton and DeKalb Counties currently have similar ordinances. If you’re a pet owner in Athens, take the survey here to let commissioners know where you stand on this issue.

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