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City of Amarillo Explains New Animal Control Ordinances

Two ordinances approved by City Council earlier this month: one clarifying enforcement authority of animal control and police officers and the other concerning proper treatment of animals in the City of Amarillo became effective Monday.

AMARILLO -- Two ordinances approved by City Council earlier this month: one clarifying enforcement authority of animal control and police officers and the other concerning proper treatment of animals in the City of Amarillo became effective Monday. The animal cruelty ordinance adds to state laws already in place.

Following recommendations by the Animal Control Advisory Board, City Council approved amendments that restrict the “ear cropping and tail bobbing” of animals.  Owners can still have ear cropping and tail bobbing done to their animals, but only by a veterinarian.

"The ordinance allows these procedures to be performed, but only by a licensed veterinarian in a clinical setting," says City Attorney Marcus Norris. "The ordinance makes it an offense for any other person to do ear cropping or tail docking, and also makes it an offense for an animal owner to submit their animal to an unauthorized procedure."

In addition to restricting ear cropping and tail bobbing, ordinances now also clarify definitions of animal ownership and specify the quality and quantity of food, water and shelter to which pets should have access. It also outlaws the use of chains as collars or tethers used to stake or tether animals. (A chain collar or leash is still useable for walking an animal.)  The ordinance also prohibits a tether that allows a dog to come within 3 feet of a public sidewalk.

Animal control and police officers have increased authority to issue citations for offenses, with the intention of making the enforcement program more effective.

Whenever enacting new ordinances that either outlaw practices that previously had not been restricted or when establishing new enforcement standards, normal City procedure allows a short grace period for public education. During the grace period, officials can give warnings verbally or in writing, with citations written on a case-by-case basis.  Officials will issue citations after the grace period ends. No grace period will be in regards to cases of improper ear cropping and tail docking.

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