Your Pet and the New Law: Update on Title 7
By Mark A. Everett, Public Health Administrator

DID YOU KNOW?
IN EL PASO:

  • Over 24,000 animals are impounded annually (*approximately 77 per day)
  • Over 20,000 animals are killed annually (*approximately 64 per day)
  • There are an estimated 100,000-150,000 stray animals in our community
  • Almost 5,000 (*16 per day) cruelty and bite investigations were conducted last year ( *Formulations based on 312 working days per year)
Is the Animal Ordinance (a.k.a. Title 7) new to El Paso? Absolutely not. Title 7 has been around for well over 20 years and had not been substantially revised in just as many, hence the excitement and confusion about its recent revisions. Title 7 is the local ordinance that assists with Animal Regulation and Disease Control (ARDC) and is primarily related to rabies control and prevention as well as pet care. Title 7 is what gives the Health Authority and Veterinarian Officer their authority to enforce certain aspects of the ordinance related to rabies, registration, nuisance conditions, animal care standards and dangerous dogs, for example, within the El Paso city limits.

At the direction of the El Paso City-County Board of Health several years ago, staff, area veterinarians, Board members (past and present), members of the public, professional breeder representatives and animal welfare advocates and agencies, participated in a comprehensive review. Working through two committees and taking into account substantial public input, amendments to this ordinance were recommended and approved by El Paso City Council on December 13, 2005. Some aspects went into effect on January 1, 2006. Other ordinance changes go into effect on April 1, 2006 and with the microchip requirement, there is an April 1, 2007 timeline. Here are some important questions and answers that will help you understand the new ordinance changes and what you need to do to comply:

VACCINATION AND REGISTRATION:

What is the new rabies vaccination requirement?
Dogs, cats and ferrets 4 months of age or older must be vaccinated against rabies. Effective April 1, 2006, your veterinarian will be able to determine if the 3-year vaccine is appropriate for your pet at your next annual visit. If your pet is given the 3-year vaccine, your pet will not need the rabies shot every year.

Is the annual registration required?
Annual registration is still required and an annual health exam and other vaccinations are highly recommended for your pet.

MICROCHIPS:

What is a microchip?
What is a microchip?A microchip is a device about the size of a grain of rice that provides a permanent means of positive animal identification that cannot be lost, damaged, removed or wear out. Animal health professionals insert the microchip by safe, painless injection between the animal's shoulder blades, normally requiring no local anesthetic. Once implanted, the microchip requires no further attention during the animal's life. Owner information can be accessed by scanning, ensuring the rapid return of a lost animal and will reduce the amount of animals impounded and killed. Microchip information will also assist in reminding pet owners to register and vaccinate their animals. The one-time cost is about $20-$25 per pet. If your animal has a current rabies vaccination and registration, you can wait until your next veterinarian visit to get a microchip. By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be microchipped by April 1, 2007.

If my pet already has a microchip will it need another?
No. Animal Control has universal scanners that can read all types of manufacturer's chips. Forms will soon be available to register your previously microchipped animal in El Paso.

Are impounded animals scanned for microchips at Animal Control?
Procedures are in place requiring all animals to be scanned twice - at the time of impoundment and prior to being killed.

Are microchips transferable?
Information on microchips is easily updated by notifying Animal Control. This service will be provided free to animals registered locally.

BREEDING AND SELLING:

What is the new breeding regulation?
Any person that allows a female dog or cat to breed will be required to pay a $75.00 annual litter permit fee for each female dog or cat and be allowed up to two litters a year per animal (accidents or planned, professional or non-professional, mixed-breed or purebred). You have 10 days after the birth of a litter to get a permit. Regulated breeding will help prevent the thousands of unwanted animals born each year. Puppies and kittens not purchased or given away may be later abandoned, neglected or treated cruelly.

Can I sell animals on the roadside?
It is unlawful to sell, trade, barter, lease, rent, give away or display for a commercial purpose any animal on any roadside, public right-of-way, commercial parking lot, or at any flea market or festival. A seller's permit and proper zoning requirements must be met before selling animals.

Does the new law regulate the number of pets I can own?
There is no limit to the number of dogs, cats or ferrets that a person can have in their home, but the animals must be properly cared for as per the local Standards for Animal Care.

EDUCATION & ENFORCEMENT CAMPAIGN:

What is Canvassing?
What is Canvassing?When visiting your neighborhood, Animal Control Officers will go to your door and ask to see your pet registration and vaccination documentation to check for compliance. They will also provide information and educational materials.
Canvassing increases the number of pets vaccinated against rabies.

OTHER IMPORTANT CHANGES:

Are wolves and wolf-hybrids allowed?
The new law no longer allows wolves or wolf-hybrids in the city limits due to no approved rabies vaccine per the Centers for Disease Control and USDA (places the public at risk).

What about rabbits and fowl?
A special permit is now required if you have more than 6 rabbits and fowl at any one residence.

What are the new pet care standards?
The revised ordinance includes new pet care standards intended to improve the life of our animals:

STANDARDS FOR ANIMAL CARE:

Every person within the City of El Paso who owns any animal, or who owns, conducts, manages or operates any animal establishment must comply with the following:
  • Shelter and shade for animals must be provided.
  • No animal shall be neglected.
  • All animals shall be supplied with sufficient good and wholesome food and clean water.
  • All animals and all animal buildings or enclosures shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition.
  • The use of any restraint device that is, or could be, injurious or cause unnecessary cruelty to any animal is prohibited. Chaining is not recommended.
STANDARDS FOR ANIMAL CARE


All in all, the quality of life for not only people but also for pets, as we know it today, will soon begin improving with the implementation of the new ordinance changes. Help us make El Paso one of the most responsible communities for our pets. For the complete ordinance, please refer to our website at http://www.elpasocitycountyhealth.com. For more information, call El Paso City-County Health and Environmental District Animal Control at 842-1000.