ALTUS, OK (KSWO) - Big changes are on the way for Altus pet owners after the city council voted to amend a city ordinance.
The new ordinance will change how the city handles pet licensing and will establish a fee for all animal surrenders. It will also increase the fines for committing crimes involving animals and set forth guidelines for whether those charges will be handled in city court or county court.
Assistant City Manager Matt Wojnowski said the new ordinance will offer stiffer punishments for those committing crimes such as animal abuse. It will also set minimum and maximum punishments for those crimes.
"We just want to make sure that pet owners are well aware that they need to treat their animals with respect and take care of them. Having these higher fines and penalties will help them ensure how important it is to the City of Altus," Wojnowski said.
There will also be a new fee for surrendering animals at the shelter. It will be $20 if the pet is spayed or neutered and $40 dollars if it isn't.
"Hopefully this will encourage people to find ways to find other homes for pets and only use the shelter as a last resort," Wojnowski said.
Pet licenses will also see a change. Currently, all pet owners are required to have a license for their pet. With the new ordinance, all pets that are spayed and neutered will receive a lifetime license for free. But pets that are not spayed or neutered will require a new license each year, which will cost $50.
"They'll be registered with the animal shelter to help us keep track of the animals if they get lost."
Wojnowski said the changes have been in the works for the last six months and show the city is truly dedicated to improving its Animal Welfare Department.
"It's been wonderful, a great process. It's been a lot of teamwork to improve the conditions, improve the ordinances, to see the benefits of our partners as well, to find new homes for our animals. It's a rewarding feeling and shows Altus should take pride in our animals and pets," Wojnowski said.
The change will go into effect on February 5th. You can read the new ordinance in its entirety here.