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City considers bill to require dogs in West Plains to be licensed

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A bill introduced by West Plains Animal Control Officer Brad Vannada to the city council this week proposes to require residents within city limits to license and tag their dogs on a yearly basis.

“The importance of this ordinance would be to ensure that dogs within city limits are vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian against rabies,” Vannada told the council, adding that public safety and the upcoming dog park on Worel Street are also driving factors.

He said the licenses and tags would be free of charge and would have to be renewed each year beginning April 1, which coincides with local clinics’ low-cost rabies vaccinations.

The proposed ordinance will need to be read a second time before it can be passed by the city council, which will hold its next monthly meeting March 22.

ENFORCING EXISTING CODE

“The city already has ordinances limiting the number of dogs per residence to three and requiring dogs to get a yearly rabies vaccine,” Vannada told the Quill on Wednesday. “This will just help us enforce those ordinances and keep a database of the dogs in the city.”

He added that the cost to the city to provide free tags for registered dogs would be about $2,000.

“I think the cost is minimal when compared to the benefits,” he said. For example, he explained, if a dog is lost or stolen, then animal control or the police will be able know who the dog belongs to and quickly return it or inform the owner.

He added the tags would be different colors, such as silver for dogs that are not spayed or neutered and colored tags for those are.

And while it won’t be required by the ordinance, Vannada strongly recommends people also bring a photo of their dogs when they register.

Those who live outside of city limits would not have to get their dogs registered, and they can still bring their pets into West Plains, but they must obey the city’s leash ordinance.

According to the proposed ordinance, all dogs over 6 months of age would need to be licensed and residents would have to get a license and a tag for each dog they own with a limit of three per residence. Each dog would also need to have documentation of an updated rabies vaccination.

If the ordinance is approved, licenses and tags may be acquired at the Utilities Desk at West Plains City Hall, 1910 Holiday Lane, or at the West Plains Animal Control Center, 1724 Old Airport Road. The licenses are not transferable and must stay with the dog registered.

If lost, the tags can be replaced by the animal control officer for a fee of $2 per tag. Unlicensed dogs could be impounded, and in order to retrieve them, owners would have to provide proof of a current rabies vaccination, obtain a city license if they reside in city limits and pay the impound fee.

‘HE WILL BE SORELY MISSED’

Also during the meeting, City Administrator Tom Stehn announced that, on March 5, Vannada will be leaving his position as animal control officer after nine years.

“He has done a terrific job,” Stehn said, highlighting accomplishments such as increasing exposure to help adoption numbers, networking with no-kill shelters, receiving awards and recognition for his work, and destroying the gas chamber at the pound which hadn’t been used since 2012.

“He will be sorely missed,” Stehn said.

Vannada, whose wife, Ashley, is a kindergarten teacher at Howell Valley School, said he plans to pursue a career in education and will return to school to get a teaching certificate. The couple also have a daughter, Kiera, who is in eighth grade at Howell Valley.

The city is currently accepting applications for animal control officer. For more information go to www.westplains.net/employment-opportunities.

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