By Taylor Short
The Cove Herald
Members of the Copperas Cove City Council, animal control and rescue groups raised several issues with proposed changes to an ordinance regarding animal adoptions during a workshop meeting Tuesday.
Following a January meeting that showed that more than 1,000 cats and dogs were euthanized in 2009, the city began working with nonprofit rescue group members and concerned residents to make the process of releasing animals from the shelter to no-kill rescue organizations easier.
Two ad hoc committees were formed in March that spent about seven months working with the city's Animal Shelter Advisory Committee to revise Chapter 3 in the code of ordinances and create an application for rescue groups wanting to work with the city shelter.
George Fox with the Assisi Animal Refuge in Killeen served as chair of the committee to establish an application and presented its suggested changes to the council.
The proposed application would require a copy of the group's charter as a nonprofit or affiliation with a national or regional group; a letter verifying a working relationship with a veterinarian; a copy of the group's adoption-screening process; a list of people who could act as agents for the group; and a copy of the most recent inspection by the Texas authority on animal rescue groups.
"I have to tell you that I'm very proud of our Copperas Cove citizens that participated in this. It was a long process and you'll see close to 40 changes in the ordinance and a lot of work went into getting this done," Fox said.
The proposed amendments to Chapter 3 included changes to three sections, but contention between ad hoc committee members and the city's Animal Shelter Advisory Committee hinged on two words - "shall" and "may."
One sentence reads that once a number of days - which remains unspecified for now - has passed for the public to adopt an animal, "the animal control officer shall transfer the animal to an approved nonprofit organization if available."
The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee chaired by Deputy Police Chief Mike Heintzelman changed the "shall" to "may" during a Sept. 29 meeting - a change that the ad hoc committees took issue with.
Fox said that their problem is that the word "may" could turn into "may not" when an approved animal rescue group wants to transfer an animal.
"If the application is approved and the animal is available, I want it. I don't want to hear 'may'," Fox said.
Barbara Story of the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee praised the ad hoc committees for its work, but asked the council to consider the changes her committee recommends.
Other changes included the removal of a requirement that made the City Council the approving body on which rescue groups would be qualified to transfer animals to their refuges. A section was also added that makes the nonprofit organization the releasing agency - meaning it would be responsible for medical care and registering the animal according to its state or local laws.
"When this is all hopefully passed, we're not going to have 500 organizations showing up here, you're going to have these people behind me here," Fox said as he gestured to the roughly two dozen residents in the audience. "They understand, because they were involved in this … the result of that will be less euthanasia and more animals transferred."
The next workshop to review the changes will be on Oct. 19 and the council is set to take action during the Nov. 3 council meeting.
Contact Taylor Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcove.