JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

We're a long way from the dog days of summer, but pet owners in Johnson City need to be aware of their pet's location or they could be hit with a rough fine.

The city's new spay/neuter ordinance is not a groundbreaking piece of legislation, but it can save lives by making sure there are fewer homeless animals running around Johnson City according to animal control director Debbie Dobbs. "We're trying to curtail the overpopulation. Unaltered animals have the potential to be a little more aggressive or territorial than unaltered animals as well," she said.

Dobbs is pleased there is a rule on the books now that should help. "The only time this is enforced is on restraining calls. If your animal is running at large, either it ends up in the animal control center or animal shelter, or an officer picks it up, if it's an intact animal, that's when this spay and neuter ordinance is enforced," she explained.

For $25, you can get a permit that will allow you to keep an animal that's not fixed.

Dog owner Laura Gillmore thinks this will encourage responsibility with other owners. "I think it's important for everyone to at least be aware of spay and neutering problems in the area," she told us. "If they want to chose not to alter their animal, they should be held responsible for the liability of having an unfixed animal."

Dobbs says she wishes the ordinance had 'sharper teeth', but she thinks it will help keep pet owners accountable. "I wish it could have been a little stronger, but it will help in the toolbox to help with the overpopulation and people keeping animals at home, not [letting them run] at large."

Permits are available through the animal shelter in Johnson City.

Dobbs says the ordinance also applies to cats.