Round Rock City Council gave the final nod of approval to a proposed ordinance at its Dec. 20 meeting to clarify existing rules enforced by Animal Control and further protect animals within city limits.
The ordinance, which was also approved by council members unanimously on first reading on Dec. 6, addresses shelter, animals in vehicles, microchipping, beekeeping, sale of animals and feral cats. Several residents attended previous meetings to voice support for the ordinance.
Below are highlights of the ordinance:
A change to the ordinance on basic care of animals requires that shelters provide animals with “protection from rain, hail, sleet, snow, subfreezing temperatures, sun and excessive heat and is large enough to allow the animal to stand erect, sit, turn around, and lie down in a normal manner.”
Animals in Vehicles
The updated ordinance bans leaving an animal in a standing or parked vehicle in such a way as to endanger the animal’s health or safety. This gives officers the ability to use reasonable force, such as breaking a side window, to remove an animal for its safety. The same rule applies to animals in an open air vehicle, unless the animal is confined to the vehicle “by a vented container or cage, or by chain, rope, or other devise cross-tied to prevent the animal from falling or jumping from the motor vehicle or from strangling on a single leash.”
In lieu of registering a pet with the City of Round Rock, the ordinance now requires that pets over the age of four months be microchipped by owners within 30 days of moving to Round Rock. Microchipping is already common practice, according to officials, and the update will negate the need for residents to file paperwork for tags from the City of Round Rock. Pet owners will be responsible for keeping information on their animals’ chips up to date, and if ownership of an animal is transferred, this is the new owner’s responsibility.
Condition of Sale
The new ordinance outlaws individuals from commercially selling, trading, bartering, leasing, renting, giving away, or displaying any animal that’s kept in a cage or pen of any type unless specific conditions are met:
- Animals must be at least eight weeks old or else be sold with their mother.
- Animals must originate in Williamson or Travis County at a licensed and legally-operating facility.
- If the animal is kept in a cage or pen, the cage or pen must be large enough for the animal to comfortably stand. The cage or pen must also have enough room for the animal to turn around or move naturally without stepping on another animal, animal feces, or food or water provided for the animal.
- The cage or pen must have water and food that is accessible to the animal.
- The cage or pen must be situated so that air may circulate through it to avoid extreme heat. During cold or inclement weather, cages or pens must be situated so that the animal stays warm and dry.
- The flooring of the cage or pen must be made of a solid, non-permeable material.
These updates will ensure that these facilities will be held to the same standards of health, safety, and sanitation that any other private citizen is held to. The requirement that all animals originate in Williamson or Travis County promotes the sale of municipal shelter animals, lowering local animal shelter populations.
Backyard beekeeping has become increasingly prolific in Central Texas. The new ordinance, created with the assistance locally-owned Round Rock Honey, closely mirrors the City of Austin’s beekeeping ordinance and establishes guidelines for responsible beekeeping while giving Animal Control the ability to enforce City rules.
Although trap, neuter and return programs have operated within Round Rock city limits for more than 10 years, no ordinances currently exist to regulate these programs to ensure they meet the original goals set by City Council at that time. The ordinance follows similar guidelines agreed upon between City Council and colony managers a decade ago, and focuses on giving all citizens the ability to participate in this important program while giving homeowners the freedom to protect their private property from cats in their neighborhood.
It is now unlawful for any person to use a metal chain to tie or stake an animal.
Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter
Outlines authority of Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter’s board of directors to set rules and regulations regarding the shelter.
The definition of a collar means any “properly fitted collar constructed of nylon, leather, or similar material, specifically designed to be used for a dog.”