Recently, some residents have been concerned or confused after changes were made to city code regarding the number of dogs and/or cats that are allowed in a home.

Recently, some residents have been concerned or confused after changes were made to city code regarding the number of dogs and/or cats that are allowed in a home.

Shawnee City Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance amending portions of the city code regarding animals, by setting the maximum allowable number of owned or possessed dogs and cats on a premise or lot basis — no longer on an individual basis.

Shawnee Police Chief Mason Wilson said before the change, code allowed each individual city resident to own up to two (unaltered) dogs. The amendment has changed the code to, instead, determine the number of dogs or cats allowed according to residence or lot.

The change stabilizes the unpredictability of potentially high numbers — when counting individuals — to a consistently singular term when considering a physical location.

“If you had 10 people living in the same residence, you could have ended up with 20 dogs at that residence and it was okay under the code at the time,” Wilson said.

All-in-all, the number of animals wasn't the problem; it was conflicting ordinances within city code.

“It was somewhat contradictory with our kennel licensing statute,” he said.

The issue was the wording in the code needed to be clarified to rectify an inconsistency, ensuring the maximum number of allowed dogs and/or cats did not conflict with kennel regulations.

“Kennel is defined as any lot or premises on which three or more dogs more than four months of age are kept,” the city code reads.

Shawnee Police Department Capt. Rick Greenland, who oversees the Animal Welfare Department, said after some resident confusion regarding how many animals were allowed the SPD brought the code in question to the attention of city attorneys, who determined the wording of Section 5-86 was making people think they could have more animals — which was in violation to the kennel statute — therefore, the code needed to be amended.

“This was a procedural change that was made to keep citizens from violating city code,” he said.

Residents don't have to rush out and find new homes for multiple pets.

According to the city code, each residence is still allowed up to three dogs without needing a kennel license — on the condition the animals are all spayed or neutered.

The situation is similar for cats.

A household can still have up to three unaltered cats — or up to six if they are all spayed or neutered.

In essence, a residence can have up to nine animals — three dogs and six cats — without needing a kennel license, as long as all the animals are spayed or neutered, Greenland said.

He said animal control is not out to take away residents' pets.

He said, as before, officers will investigate when there are valid complaints and try to work with the owner to resolve the situation.

“Under city code there are only a few reasons an animal would be impounded,” Greenland said. “They would be for running-at-large, vicious, court order, neglect or cruelty.”

Fees

The annual fee for a kennel license is $100, plus registration with the city for each dog or cat. Conditions of the kennel license include that each dog must have at least 35 square feet — or 12 square feet for each cat — of unrestricted pen area with a solid floor. Any dog or cat more than four months old must be inoculated against rabies.

The yearly rabies vaccination requirement must be administered by a veterinarian.

“That's a state statute we have to follow,” Greenland said. “The state only recognizes veterinarian-administered rabies shots.”

Registering an animal — though it's a city ordinance —apparently is not done often by residents.

“It shall be the responsibility of any person acquiring a dog, whether newly born or transferred from another owner, to obtain a new license, which shall be valid one year from the date such dog was vaccinated for rabies,” the code reads.

Greenland said in 2017 there were only 314 dogs and 137 cats registered.

“And no one applied for a kennel license last year,” he said.

Greenland said the city-issued registration tags can be beneficial when a lost pet ends up at the shelter.

“Number one, in order to get that tag, the animal has to have a rabies shot,” he said.

An even bigger point is that the registration number on the tag on the animal can be used to reunite a lost pet with its owner.

“Last year we returned 88 dogs to their owners,” he said. “So it is important. It only helps the owner of the animal.”

He said 24.31 percent of the animals that came to the shelter were returned back to their owners.

If the dog has that tag on, Greenland said there's a very high probability they can get it back to its home.

“Our guys also have chip scanners so they can check if they are registered,” he said.

Registration or kennel licensing can be done at the Animal Shelter, 1900 W. Independence. The cost for registration is $5 annually for each spayed or neutered dog or cat, or $10 for each animal not spayed or neutered.

Greenland encourages interested residents to volunteer their time at the shelter. An application is required.

Volunteers are allowed to spend time with the animals, help clean kennels, feed them, etc.

For more information, call (405) 878-1531 or visit shawneeok.org.