NEWPORT NEWS — City Council here recently updated its ordinance regarding animals running at large and impounded animals.
Now, dog owners whose pets run loose throughout the city will be fined $100.
“The amendment to city code added a $100 civil penalty to owners of dogs found running at large in packs,” Sarah Bowman, spokeswoman for the city, wrote in an email, “This was needed to conform with SB 1367, which was passed by the 2019 Virginia General Assembly.”
That specific part of the ordinance states the owner or custodian of any dog running at large in pack are subject to the fine.
While the updated ordinance applies to dogs who are loose in the city, what happens to the dog caught by the city’s animal control?
According to the city’s municipal code, impounded animals are held at the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter for at least five days. If the dog or animal has a microchip or some sort of identification, they are held for at least 10 days, Kim Lee, spokeswoman for the city, wrote in an email.
“After that time, we assess the animals to determine which outcome is best,” she wrote.
Lee said the animals can be transferred to the adoption floor, partner organizations, breed specific rescues or foster homes if the animal needs special attention.
“Some are euthanized primarily due to temperament or health issues,” Lee said. “Those that are euthanized are then cremated.”
The Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter is a city-run shelter which accepts all animals. Some arrival at the shelter dead or close to dying and the shelter tracks the different “outcomes” of its shelter residents.
There are several disposal methods such as the animal being transferred to the adoption floor, a specific breed rescue or a partner organization and foster homes care if the animal needs special attention.
The other option is euthanasia.
While disposal does not necessarily mean euthanization, Lee said the city does have a veterinarian on site who euthanize animals for a variety of reasons such as injury or illness, temperament and space constraints.
The maximum number of dogs and cats is 90 and 200 respectively — Lee said the shelter actually averages anywhere from 310-315 animals at a time.
“Euthanization is the last choice for us,” she said.
After the vet euthanizes the animal, the city’s contractor, Pet Cremation of Tidewater, comes and collects the animals for cremation, Lee said.
When an animal is admitted to the shelter, the animal undergoes a series of medical and behavioral evaluation to determine disposition and what the shelter does with the animal, Lee said.
“It’s an open admission shelter,” Lee said. “We take every animal.”
Lee said the shelter also euthanizes feral cats and there are several agencies who trap feral cats and bring them to the shelter.
In addition to tracking the outcome of each animal admitted to the facility, such as adoption, euthanization, another organization or foster care, the shelter also tracks the reasons why an animal was euthanized.
In 2018, the shelter received 5,740 animals. About 42 percent of the animals were adopted (2,415 to be exact), and 1,712 were euthanized.
Of the 1,712, 638 were because of health reasons, 526 of behavioral issues, 531 because the animal was considered feral and 17 because of space.
The number of euthanized animals decreased by 329 compared to the 2017 numbers.
In 2017, 704 were euthanized for health reasons, 634 for behavioral issues, 649 were feral and 54 for space.
The Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter, currently has at least 50 animals up for adoption. These animals include dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils and hamsters.