Lake County city considers ordinance requiring pets be spayed, neutered

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TAVARES, Fla. —

Pet owners in one Lake County city could be forced to get their animal spayed, neutered or even microchipped.

Tavares is considering such an ordinance that if passed, would take effect next year. WFTV asked the city if it's overstepping its boundaries by telling pet owners what to do.

Katie Banks already had plan to get her new puppy Rosco neutered, but if she didn't, a new proposal on the table would have forced her. Even so, she's not totally against the idea.

"If you look around, you see tons of stray animals running around," Banks said.

The ordinance also says if pet owners don't get their animals spayed or neutered, they'll have to get them microchipped. The idea is if they show up in animal control or a vet's office, a technician can use a reader to see who the animal belongs to.

But some others aren't on board with the ordinance. Vice Mayor Lori Pfister has already received some criticism for the proposal, which she said makes sense because taxpayers pay for animal control.

"It's not fair for an irresponsible pet owner to make me pay higher taxes because they were irresponsible to take care of their unwanted pets," Pfister said.

Pfister said it can be as easy as your own neighbor calling code enforcement to check if you have too many animals. The vice mayor understands her proposal isn't perfect, but she said at least it's a start.

"If you have a better way, tell me and I'll try to get that on the agenda," Pfister said.

If the ordinance passes, pet owners won't be fined if they resolve the issue within 60 days of the citation. There are some exemptions for show dogs, services dogs and animals with medical conditions.