Licensing rule reveals multiple pet ordinance violators

Sharna Johnson

Police Chief Steve Sanders said an unexpected result of a city pet licensing ordinance passed in July is the discovery numerous residents are violating a multiple pet ordinance.

But Sanders said animal control doesn’t have the resources to proactively enforce.

“We have found that since we started the licensing program that several citizens have come in to register their pets and stay in compliance with the licensing ordinance, and they wanted six and seven applications to register their dogs,” he said.

Under city ordinance, only four pets are allowed per household.

“We’re not going out and hammering them,” said Sanders, “on the fact that they have more than four pets … as long as their caring for them and they’re being cared for were not actively seeking them out.”

Violators can be fined up to $100 and repeat offenses can lead to a fine of up to $300 and a loss of eligibility to adopt pets from the city shelter for one year, according to municipal code.

Residents with more than four pets can apply for a variance that is essentially a kennel license, Sanders said.

Sanders said animal control simply doesn’t have the personnel to go around counting the number of pets people have, but will investigate complaints or reports of violations they receive.

Darlene Ray, president of the Clovis Animal Welfare League, said the city sent people to a spay and neuter and pet vaccination event at the end of July so they could issue pet licenses.

She said several people who attended the event later told her they received visits from animal control officers because they had been identified as violators of the ordinance.

“We feel bad that these people have been targeted,” she said.

Sanders said there were situations where animal control officers were concerned about the welfare of some of the animals brought to the event.

Some of those did have multiple pets, he said, but that was not what prompted action from animal control.

“The employees are not going to turn a blind eye to making sure that the pets are taken care of,” he said. “They were not being flagged because they had more than four pets.”

He said four homes were visited — two of which he visited himself — and no one received a citation for multiple pets and no animals were removed from their homes.