In a marathon city council session that began Monday afternoon and lasted until half-past midnight Tuesday morning, the Huntington Beach, Calif., City Council dropped its pursuit of a mandatory spay, neuter and microchip ordinance in favor of incentive-based licensing fees that reward those who alter and microchip their pets.
After hearing spirited comments from a strongly divided audience in the packed auditorium, the council eventually decided to scrap the original legislation and direct the city attorney to draft a new resolution that would create a five-tier registration fee scale. The scale would reduce licensing fees for those whose pets are altered and microchipped in an effort to provide incentives for dog and cat owners. The highest fees would be reserved for those whose pets are not spayed, neutered or microchipped.
Currently, cats are not required to be licensed in the city. The new ordinance would require cat licensing and the same tiered fee system would apply, however dog licensing fees will be higher. If it passes, the exact fees will be established at a future council meeting.
“It’s a great compromise solution,” said Council member Don Hansen, who was opposed to the original ordinance. “It eliminates the mandatory nature and gives people the comfort that if they don’t want to alter their animals, they don’t have to alter their animals.”
In a straw vote, the council voted unanimously to draft the resolution for the tiered fee structure for dogs. The council voted 4 to 3 in favor of requiring cat licensing and applying the same tiered structure to felines.
In ascending order from lowest to highest licensing fees, the resolution will be drafted as follows:
• Service animals
• Altered and microchipped animals
• Altered, but not microchipped animals
• Not altered, but microchipped animals
• Not altered and not microchipped animals
Competition animals would not be exempt from the higher, unaltered licensing fees.
The city attorney is expected to return with the new resolution at the Dec. 17 council meeting.