UPDATE — Proposed Orange dog and cat ordinance change designed to promote responsible ownership

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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City leaders are moving toward an ordinance amendment that would limit the number of dogs or cats that one residence could keep within Orange municipal limits.

Present city council members voted unanimously Tuesday evening to limit the numbers of dogs or cats to five per home. That number also includes combinations of dogs and cats.

To become official city ordinance, the amendment must pass a second reading planned March 12. The amended ordinance is effective once it is approved.

The vote Tuesday followed three impassioned pleas by local residents during the meeting’s “citizen comments” portion in which complaints of excessive dog housing was becoming a nuisance for area residents.

The residents said continuous loud barking, disgusting stenches and inhumane conditions are becoming all-too-common problems in some neighborhoods with irresponsible pet owners.

City council members overwhelmingly agreed, as elected leaders voiced little opposition to the city staff-recommended ordinance amendment.

Mayor Larry Spears Jr. stressed he did not want the new regulation to lead to an increase in animal deaths within the city.

“My main concern is if someone has ten dogs and we’re limiting it to five, we’re not wanting to get rid of those dogs,” Spears said. “We need to make sure we have some place for those dogs to be rescued or adopted. Lets make sure we continue to work with the entities that are here to make sure we can do something more for the city. I don’t want it to turn into: now we’re just disposing of animals.”

City Attorney Guy Goodson called the concern a health-and-safety issue.

“They are going to work with pet owners, and do it in a manner that is not a health-and-safety issue,” he said of the Orange’s enforcement plan.

According to City Manager Mike Kunst, the goal of the adjusted ordinance is not punitive but is solution-orientated.

“If somebody says they have more than the five (pets), we’re going to ask our animal control department to get with them to work on lowering (the number),” Kunst said. “We’re going to ask the two parties to work together.”

He said city staff purposely did not write a deadline into the ordinance.

“Just like other codes with violations, all the time we work with that property owner or tenant to try and get in compliance,” Kunst said.

There are exceptions written into the ordinance for harbors, breeders and fanciers.

There is also a waiting period included for pets that have puppies or kittens.

If approved, the City of Orange Animal Control officer would be authorized to enforce the ordinance.

Violations may result in fines, warnings, impoundment of excess animals or other penalties outlined in the city’s Animal Control Ordinance.

CVB Deputy Director/Assistant to the City Manager Divon Williams said the ordinance amendment is being presented to promote responsible pet ownership in the Orange.

Williams is assisting head animal control officer Andy Borel with this project.

Animal control also falls under the umbrella of the fire department and Chief John Bilbo.