The city of Austin could soon require pet owners to register with the city. The idea is that a registration ordinance would help keep animals out of the shelter if they are lost because the city would keep track of owner.
It's no surprise that the Austin Animal Center is constantly at capacity. But despite bursting at the seams the city has managed to keep at least 90 percent of all animals from the euthanasia list.
"If they had a microchip or if they have a pet registration tag it would make it really easy for us to get them reunited with their owners," Amber Rowland of the Austin Animal Center said.
"By requiring a pet registration the city would have a database of animals when they come in, look them up find out where they are boom return them back to their owners," said David Lundstedt, chair of the Austin Animal Advisory Commission.
Earlier this week he presented the idea of a pet registration ordinance. Cat and dog owners would give the city their name, address and phone number, and the animal's breed and rabies vaccine information.
"Right now the rate, what we call the return to owner rate is 18 percent for both dogs and cats," Rowland said.
"By requiring an ID tag with an address or phone number ordinary citizens can avoid taking them to the shelter in the first place by taking them straight home," Lundstedt said.
The registration would cost $50 per license per animal each year. It would be discounted for breeders and free if a pet is spayed or neutered or is a service animal.
While Lundsted says it would help bring more stray animals home. Others say the ordinance could threaten Austin's no-kill status.
"It will lead to far more animals dying at our animal shelter as pets are surrendered to the shelter," Ryan Clinton of FixAustin.org said
Clinton also an animal advocate says it's not only government overstepping its boundaries. But it could be financially irresponsible.
"It won't work, we know it won't work because it hasn't worked in other cities. It will in fact cost us more money that it even raises," Clinton said.
Clinton says funds to generate a database could be better put to use on adoption programs to help keep the center's population from spiking month after month.
Some surrounding cities and counties have similar but not as pricey requirements. The ordinance is in its early stages. If it's approved by the commission next year it could go to council next summer.