Johnson City

Johnson City cutting down on pet population

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Johnson City leaders are looking to cut down on the pet population.

A Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter animal control officer told us there are more animals coming into the shelter than are being adopted.

Here's a startling statistic, more than 4,500 animals were euthanized there this year.

Shelter workers hope the proposed regulations will help save animals.

Litters of puppies and kittens are common sights in the shelter. 

Animal control officer Andrew Barnett told us it's getting out of hand.

"Approximately, if you take a pair of cats within 10 years you could have almost have 40,000 cats," Barnett said.

Johnson City commissioners told us animal control euthanized more than half the animals they took in this year.

"Anything that can help bring down the numbers I am for," said Barnett. "I would rather see animals going out to people than animals going out to their final resting spot."

Johnson City commissioners are talking about requiring all dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered.

The proposed ordinance will target animals brought to the shelter who aren't spayed and neutered and were caught running loose multiple times.

When a dog or cat comes into the shelter that isn't fixed, the owner will have 30 days to get that done, or they could pay $25 to get an "unaltered permit" so the animal wouldn't have to be fixed.

These are the people who would be exempt from the regulations, according to the ordinance:

  • People who have service dogs or working police dogs
  • Temporary residents of Johnson City, who live here less than 30 days
  • Animal shelters and veterinary hospitals
  • People who have certification, signed by a veterinarian, that states that spaying or neutering the animal would endanger it's life
  • A commercial breeder, licensed by the State of Tennessee who has 20 or more unsterilized adult female dogs or cats
  • People who hold an unaltered animal permit

Humane society member Turney Williams told us the ordinance will hit the root of the problem, which he said is overpopulation.

The ordinance has come before the commissioners before, back in 2010, and was voted down.

Williams told us the mentality has changed since then.

"I think slowly the politics and attitude of the population change and more people realize that there's too many animals," he said.

City commissioner Jenny Brock calls the euthanasia rates "abysmal."

Commissioner Jeff Banyas voted against the measure because he's concerned about parts of the ordinance, especially the option for the $25 unaltered animal permit.

The ordinance was approved in the first reading with a 4-1 vote.

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