SENECA, SC (WSPA) – Pet owners in Oconee County could be barking up more money just to own their pets.
The Oconee County Council held a public committee meeting at the end of last month. In that meeting, Council members discussed implementing the “Oconee County DOG AND CAT Population Control Ordinance.”
Councilmembers say currently the county spends nearly half a million dollars for their animal control, but they’re seeing issues.
“The typical chaining their pet to a tree and not giving them any shelter or water, feeding them when they can, not every day,” said Jaimee Paul, the Oconee County Director of Animal Control.
Paul says she also sees people owning more animals than they can afford.
The ordinance says “no person shall own, keep, or harbor any dog over 3 months of age within Oconee County unless such dog is licensed and microchipped.”
Applicants would have to pay an initial $20 fee unless their dog is already microchipped which would bring the cost down to $10.
There wouldn’t be a fee for service dogs or K9s.
The renewal fee would be $10 for an altered dog or $40 for an unaltered dog.
If people don’t register their dogs in a certain time frame, there would be a $25 fee and possibly a fine of $262.50.
If people want to have more than five dogs, there would be a $50 fee if all dogs are altered, but a $150 fee if any of the animals aren’t altered.
There would also be fees associated with permits for breeding, pet shops, and sporting kennels.
“This was proposed to solve a problem,” said Julian Davis, the Vice Chairman of the Oconee County Council.
The sheriff’s office has data showing over the last few years, the number of animals being taken into the shelter has decreased and adoption rates have increased.
According to data, in 2013, Animal Control took in 4191 animals, with 1041 adopted. Last year, Animal Control took in 3405 animals, with 1044 animals adopted.
“It’s heartbreaking when you see an animal mistreated…we definitely want to have it as low as possible here,” Paul said.
Davis says he’s not a proponent of the ordinance. He has concerns over enforcement and says the money burden would affect those not causing the problems.
“I’ve gotten several calls today,” Davis said. “Saying ‘This is all I have, this animal, and I can’t afford to pay any more.’”
Many people are against the fee. However, some say they support the ordinance.
“I’ve lived in several other cities in the Southeast,” said dog owner and Oconee County Humane Society board member, Lynn Fayard. “I have always paid a licensing fee for my pet and have always been happy to do so.”
If the fee is created, the money would go towards enforcement, and the rest would be used for improvements to the animal shelter.
Councilman Davis says the bill hasn’t made it out of committee and will most likely not be taken any further.