The Fort Smith Board of Directors passed an ordinance on Jan. 19 amending the city’s animal regulations as well as resolutions to help residents spay and neuter pets and help the city’s feral cat population. Will do.
When the board passed an ordinance in March that overrode the city’s animal and pet regulations, it required them to spay and neuter pet dogs and cats to help reduce the city’s animal overpopulation. Needed to be cleaned. An amendment to the ordinance passed in April said the city could offer vouchers to income-eligible residents to help pay for the neutering of their pet dog or cat.
“The original language allowed for one voucher per household per year. Such language is fine when the stray animal population is under control, but for the initial period, it is understood that eligible households should vaccinate their existing pets. More than one voucher may be required to clear,” noted a memo from city publicist Josh Buchfink. Relationship Manager.
The amended ordinance allows four vouchers per household until December 31, 2026. Vouchers must not exceed $100.
Beginning January 1, 2027, households will be limited to one voucher per calendar year, according to the ordinance. The proposed ordinance also amends the voucher section to specify that city vouchers can also be used to cover the costs of microchipping and rabies vaccination (if required) when performed at the time of the spay/neuter procedure. can be done Pet requirements for city animals include microchipping and rabies vaccinations.
Eligible pet owners can request vouchers online on a first-come, first-served basis. Voucher amounts will depend on available and budgeted funds, explains a memo from Butch Funk on the spay/neuter voucher system. Proof of residency and income is required to apply for a voucher.
“This voucher system is a step toward humanely reducing the stray animal population in Fort Smith. This resolution is an important step toward ensuring the health and safety of our pet population,” the memo said.
The city has budgeted $75,000 for vouchers for 2023 and 2024. With no voucher funds spent in 2023, $150,000 is available that year, the memo said. The funds will come out of the city’s general fund.
Director Christine Katsavis suggested the board needs to eliminate income requirements for vouchers until the pet population is under control. Director Kevin Settle said leaving the income requirements in place would allow those with the greatest financial need to benefit the most from the voucher system, at least for the first year.
“I want to have a targeted approach, at least for the first year, at least for the poor, the people who can’t afford it,” Settle said.
Director Leon Morton agreed, saying keeping the income regulations will allow the city to see how many residents will benefit from the program. Butch Fink said the program will begin once the city signs contracts with at least one veterinary clinic in the city.
The board also approved a resolution creating a program to trap, sterilize and release feral cats in Fort Smith. The program will allow for veterinary services including spaying/neutering, medical evaluations, vaccinations, ear notching, and record keeping. Providers are required to maintain records of treated feral cats, including the number of cats, details of the individuals providing the cats, and the locations where the animals were trapped and returned.
Providers who have completed a contract with the city will be paid $50 per feral cat treated under the TNR program. Invoices must be submitted to the City for processing and payment. Funding for the program will also come from $150,000 available for 2024, Butch Fink said.