H-SANTA MARIA

Jun 27, 2013 6:33 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

A county ordinance could help overpopulation in local animal shelters

The Santa Maria Animal Shelter is full.

So to deal with the pet overpopulation problem, shelter officials would like to see the city pass its own version of a Santa Barbara County ordinance.

Back in 2010, the county adopted a Responsible Pet Owner ordinance to encourage owners to spay and neuter their pets.

Santa Maria, Guadalupe and Carpineteria are the only cities in the county that did not adopt the ordinance for their communities.

"This is a perfect example of when you get an animal and you don't alter it," said animal shelter coordinator Stacy Silva.

"And we do charge a fee for owner surrenders," said Silva.

Silva says the Santa Maria shelter takes in the highest number of animals of all three shelters in the county.

"Which can be a reflective of the fact that not all the cities have adopted this ordinance," said Silva.

Since the county's pet owner ordinance took effect three years ago, dog intakes decreased at the Santa Barbara shelter by 19- percent and decreased 6-percent in Lompoc.

During that time, the number of abandoned animals in the Santa Maria shelter increased by 11- percent.

"The ordinance is a good tool in our toolbox, but we can't force any city to adopt the ordinance," said Silva.

Guadalupe's mayor says something must be done to deal with the problem.

"Sadly, when animals wait too long in shelters, nationally 3 to 4 million a year are euthanized," said Guadalupe Mayor Frances Romero.

Before she became mayor, Romero said Guadalupe chose to not adopt the ordinance.

She says it's time for all three cities to take that step to curb the animal population.

"A lot of people think they need that one litter out of their pet. What they don't think about is what happens I fall those dogs don't get good homes."

We tried to contact city officials in Santa Maria and Carpenteria, but weren't able to get responses intime for our report.

Santa Maria does have ordinances for licensing and leases.

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