Alderman Mike Pigg would like to see the city create a program to house personal pets, such as cats and dogs, in the city animal shelter when a medical emergency takes a live-alone resident out of the home.

Speaking at the Nov. 7 board meeting, Pigg said he gets calls from people who are aware of a pet whose owner is temporarily not able to care for them.

“More and more lately I’ve had to deal with calls where a single person living in the house was being transported to the hospital and an animal was being left behind,” he said. “We have code enforcement and we have a pound and we could utilize it.”

Pigg said when an ambulance is called to transport a patient the police also are frequently there. It could be left to the police to notify code enforcement when an animal is involved.

“To leave that animal in the house to me is cruelty to animals,” he said. “If we could take that animal and house it at the city pound until the next day or the day after, it would give the person who was rushed to the hospital adequate time to make arrangements.”

Pigg said it places an undue burden on individuals who have to leave their homes temporarily and have no one to look after their pet, which is their household companion.

“You can’t just leave a pet alone in the house,” he said. “I think this is something the city could do.”

The service would benefit the city as well as the residents, he added.

“We spend all this time looking into raising taxes to get something for residents,” Pigg said. “This is something we could do in-house and give something back to the residents without it being a fee.”

Any such service would be only for a temporary emergency, he said.

Pigg later told The Missourian that he’s not asking for immediate action on his request, but wanted to start a discussion about it.

“I wanted other officials to start thinking about this. Its a real problem,” he said. “One of them may come up with a better solution so we’ll keep talking about it.”