To The Editor:
I would like to thank Mr. Luke Phillips for his editorial on the City’s Animal Care Program (Holtville Tribune, Aug. 19, 2011). This editorial provides an opportunity to increase public awareness by reviewing the history, fiscal limitations and key provisions of Holtville’s animal care program.
Holtville’s animal care program dates back nearly a century. City of Holtville Ordinance No.58 was enacted on January 3, 1913. Drafted in direct response to public health concerns about rabies, the Ordinance ordained the “Muzzling of Dogs Within the City of Holtville and Providing for the Disposal of all Dogs Not so Muzzled.” The law stated that “the Marshall of the City of Holtville was hereby authorized to kill and dispose of all dogs running at large without muzzles, where in his judgment the same would appear to be for the immediate safety of the public…”. While this may seem harsh given today’s standards, this Ordinance indicates that dogs have been a public health issue in the city since the city was incorporated.
Animal control regulations were last updated by Ordinance No. 267, which was enacted on November 13, 1961. Provisions of this ordinance which remain in effect today required the annual vaccination, and annual licensing, and strictly limited the maximum number of animals per household. The ordinance also provided for the impounding of loose dogs (those found running at large) and their destruction, after a period of 72 hours, if not redeemed by their owner.
Ordinance No. 267 included an annual quarantine of dogs and cats, between January 16 and March 1 of each year, for the express purpose of containing rabies. Strict penalties for violating this ordinance included a $500 fine or imprisonment in the City Jail for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The Ordinance also referenced an agreement between the City and the County of Imperial under which the County of Imperial Animal Control Office enforced the animal code.
So where does that leave Holtville today? Contrary to popular opinion, the City does not have a full time employee devoted animal care. The City has historically been reactive with regards to animal care. One staff member from the City’s streets and water division performs animal care on a part-time, on-call basis, in addition to their regular assigned duties.
For Fiscal Year 2011-12, the City has allocated $7,800 for its animal care program. The salary is paid equally from water and sewer revenues. Of this $7,800, a total of $4,800 is allocated to the Humane Society for long term care, adoption and disposal of unclaimed animals. The City further allocated $6,000 in Fiscal Year 2011-12 to participate in a study of regional animal care needs.
As of August 2011, seventy (70) dog licenses have been issued to date. Licenses are issued for $5 per dog generating $350 in annual revenue.
Therefore, in the area of Animal Care, expenditures exceed revenue. While it would be desirable to have a full time City employee devoted solely to animal care, the City lacks the financial resources to do so at this time.
So what are Holtville’s animal care laws and how do they affect me? Many Holtville residents are unaware of the laws pertaining to animal care.
1. There is a strict limitation on the number of dogs and cats allowed per household. A maximum of three (3) dogs over age of four months of age are permitted in any one residence. Similarly, a maximum of three (3) cats over the age of four months of age are allowed in any one residence.
2. Licenses are required for all dogs. It is against the law for any person to have a dog without first having obtained a license.
3. Rabies vaccinations are required. Before obtaining a dog license, a certificate of rabies vaccination is required.
4. Loose dogs are prohibited. Dogs found running at large may be impounded.
5. Noisy animals are a public nuisance. Habitually Barking dogs are prohibited.
6. Dogs must be kept on leash and under control.
7. Additional regulations pertain to the keeping of animals, rabbits, hamsters and fowl.
To report a loose, abandoned or dangerous animal, noisy animals or habitual barking dog, or any other potential animal nuisance issues please call 760-356-2991. Your confidentiality will be respected.
To learn more about the City’s regulations governing animal care, please consult the Holtville Municipal Code online at http://www.codepublishing.com/ca/holtville/
If you would like to speak to me directly regarding this or any issue, please feel free to contact me directly at 760.356.4574.
Alex Meyerhoff, City Manager
To The Editor: