The City Council recommended favorable action and keeping animal breeding regulation in committee to discuss fines for violation during Monday’s Legislative Affairs and Elections Subcommittee meeting at City Hall.
Councillor-at-Large Stephanie Smith asked who is going to enforce the regulations. Smith wants to make sure that Animal Control Officer Stacia Gorgone is protected.
“Why aren’t breeders being taxed, like everyone else?” Gorgone asked. “This is the animals’ lives we’re talking about.”
Gorgone said other animal welfare organizations, such as kennels, rescues and dog daycares, need to have them. She knows of approximately five breeders in the city, but only one is reputable. The others just breed out of their apartments, which she said is not a good idea for many reasons. She said some of these breeders sell their dogs for bait or raffle kittens off to feed their snakes.
Councillor-at-Large John Hanlon said he wasn’t aware that people are selling their dogs for bait. He asked if the ordinance would apply to a non-neutered or non-spayed animal who has a litter of young. Gorgone said that it wouldn’t.
“Most of the residents, for the most part, are good with animals,” Gorgone said. “This will help me with residents who aren’t doing the right thing, and it will give me an extra layer of protection.”
Smith suggested mailing breeders a certified letter to make sure everyone is on the same page. Gorgone will also provide breeders with informational literature.
Ward 3 Councillor Darren Costa asked how many licenses do they anticipate. Gorgone replied, approximately five that she knows of. Providing basic veterinary care would be included in the conditions.
Ward 5 Councillor Vivian Nguyen, who sponsored the ordinance, suggested updating the annual license fee from $100 to $200 for 11 or more dogs.
Enforcement is up to $1,000 per animal with prior warnings, especially for first-time unregistered offenders. Breeders are subject to inspection at any time. Gorgone has the authority to seize animals who aren’t receiving humane treatment.
“You shouldn’t have 26 dogs living in a three- or four-family house,” Gorgone said. “These aren’t toys – these are little lives.”
Smith recommended favorable action and to leave it in committee and return with a schedule of penalties.
City Clerk Sergio Cornelio suggested a phased approach by educating people by increasing the fees for repeat offenders. Gorgone said there are some people who are overbreeding animals, putting animal mothers in jeopardy, where this ordinance would be helpful.