JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Some pet owners are now required to spay and neuter their pets after the Johnson City Commission passed new regulations Thursday night.
We waded through the ordinance and have the facts on how this could affect you.
The rules apply to owners of dogs and cats running loose and those not leashed when in public. For the first violation, pet owners must either pay $25 for an "unaltered permit," or fix the animal. If a pet owner violates the code twice, they'll be required to spay or neuter the animals with no option for a permit.
After more than a month of debating, Johnson City Commissioners gave the okay for the stricter spay and neuter regulations, but it got mixed reviews from the public.
"I'm disappointed the ordinance was passed," said pet owner Karen Riddle.
Riddle told us she's a responsible pet owner but the law could cause unintended consequences.
"People will avoid getting help for their animals," she said. "They will be afraid they'll be in violation of it."
Commissioner Jeff Banyas agreed. He said it could cause fewer animals to get vaccinated.
"The truth of the matter is people don't stay current on their rabies vaccination and this ordinance is not going to change that," said Brenda Fielden, a volunteer at the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter.
Fielden supports the ordinance.
"People need to understand that animals that roam cause problems," she said.
We found out there were 436 animals taken into the shelter in November and 206 of those were euthanized. There were 179 cats and 27 dogs put down. We're told more cats are euthanized because they breed more frequently, two to three times a year. Dogs only breed once a year.
"Some of them were put to sleep for space," said Debbie Dobbs, the shelter's director. She told us they "could've been adopted out."
This is the first step in helping reduce the number of animals they have to put down, said Dobbs.
Commissioners told us they'll also ask the Humane Society and animal control for help educating the public.
The ordinance could go info effect as early as Sunday.