Proposed pet ordinance draws hisses

After listening to a litany of concerns from area pet store owners and other pet lovers, the Kitsap County Commissioners decided Monday not to act on an amended animal control ordinance.

“We need to work out some of the bugs in this ordinance,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen, suggesting the item be carried over until a Jan. 14 meeting. “This is an important ordinance to so many people in the county.”

Stephanie Stebbing, who owns the Country Pet Shoppe in Kingston, said she was slightly disappointed she and other independent pet store owners weren’t included in the work study group that examined and reworked the animal control ordinance over the past year.

She and other pet store owners plan to meet with the county and other stakeholders to mull through the animal control ordinance and fix what needs fixing in the weeks ahead.

The proposed amendments would require pet stores to provide animals in their shops with veterinarian care from a licensed practitioner. Pet store proprietors said that’s not practical.

The Country Pet Shoppe focuses on selling birds, mice, rats, rabbits, lizards, snakes and fish. If a rat contracts a respiratory problem, Stebbing can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on veterinary care for an animal that will sell for $6.99.

“That can be cost prohibitive,” Stebbing said, adding that she often nurses sick animals and takes care of health problems herself.

It also can be difficult to quickly locate a veterinarian who can diagnose and treat specialized health problems for a particular animal.

A provision that would require pet stores to report owner information to the Kitsap Humane Society whenever a dog or cat is sold also could be up for discussion. The Humane Society handles dog and cat licensing services for the county.

“Liquor stores and gun shops don’t have to collect the names of their customers,” said Stebbing. “And I am not comfortable doing that, although I don’t currently sell cats or dogs.”

The proposed amendments to the animal control ordinance were worked on by a volunteer study group composed of pet lovers, breeders and fanciers.

While the commissioners don’t expect to pass the animal ordinance before the new year, they said they want to pass a provision for staggered licensing of dogs and cats before Jan. 1.

Under the current structure, pet licenses expire annually on June 30 regardless of when they were issued. Staggered licensing mirrors vehicle licensing, where a dog or cat owner can renew a license one calendar year after registration.

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