FARMINGTON — Revisions to the city's animal code, which could take effect in mid-August, will improve the welfare of the city's animals, according to one city official.
"I think it goes hand-in-hand with some of the other changes that we've made in the past to improve animal welfare," said Cory Styron, the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs director.
Styron also referenced the city's new $4.6 million animal shelter and its dedicated spay-and-neuter staff.
The recently completed revisions would require greater fines and incorporate more animal protections.
The city council is scheduled to discuss the revisions on July 8. The 13-page document could be published in local newspapers and on the city's website. The document could then be discussed in two more council meetings and, if it meets no opposition, adopted in an Aug. 12 meeting, becoming effective about a week later.
Under the revisions, penalties for abandoning, neglecting or maliciously treating animals are $200 greater. Two new fines were added, charging residents $75 on their third offense for not registering their animal and $250 for not buying a litter permit.
Litter permits and feral cat colony permits are new requirements under the revisions.
The revisions state residents who deliberately or accidentally breed dogs or cats without a kennel license will be fined. If that fine is not paid, the owner cannot advertise, sell, barter, exchange or give away those animals within city limits, the proposed revisions state.
A resident who feeds, waters, cares for or encourages the "congregation of feral or free-roaming cats" is considered a "colony caretaker," according to the proposed revisions. Caretakers would be required to register their colonies with the city and buy a permit every year. The $5 permit would help animal control officers track, count and possibly neuter or spay the animals, the proposed revisions state.
Residents would also have to groom their animals, which the proposed revisions define as "the process of maintaining the hygienic care and clean physical appearance of the animal."
Styron said this revision is to ensure animals are healthy and cared for, not to prevent them from playing in the mud.
The proposed revisions also prohibit residents from leaving animals in vehicles or trailers under conditions that could harm the animals because of temperature, lack of food or water or other circumstances that could cause injury or death.
Styron said the revisions are not an attempt to prevent dogs from riding in the back of pickup trucks.
In total, 12 sections of the animal code were amended. One section addressing adoption of impounded animals was removed, and 11 were added in the proposed revisions.
"This just gives us another tool to encourage people to be responsible pet owners, create a more pet-friendly community and ultimately have better health and behavior of our animals," Styron said. "We're not going to have doggy checkpoints."