Editor’s note: First in a series reviewing 2012 through various departmental statistics and numbers.
As 2012 came to a close, three times as many pets in St. Clair were registered compared to the year before.
However, the total number remains extremely small.
According to records from city hall, 51 dogs and six cats were registered through the collector’s office last year. In 2011, the total number for both was 19.
City Collector Lynne Huff said last year marked the first time individuals have gotten licenses for their cats. Four of those registrations were made in February and one each in May and July.
According to Chapter 5, animals and fowl, in St. Clair’s code of ordinances, “It shall be unlawful for any person in the city to own, keep or harbor any cat or dog on or about his or her premises unless the dog or cat is registered as provided in this division.”
And, the ordinance goes on to state that before the pet can be registered, a valid receipt must be presented showing the animal has been vaccinated for hydrophobia.
“Although it’s an ordinance to register dogs and cats, most citizens are basically unaware of it,” Huff told The Missourian. “By requiring licenses, it helps the city to know that the animals are receiving their rabies shots annually, and if a pet gets lost and is found by someone the tag number can be looked up at city hall and the owner can be contacted.”
Fees to obtain a city pet license are $20 for the initial registration for a dog or cat that is not spayed or neutered and $5 for one that is. After that, the annual cost is $5 for unspayed or unneutered animals and $1 for those spayed or neutered.
The ordinance goes on to say that it also is illegal to have a dog or cat in the city that has not been inoculated for rabies, and that any such pet found in the city without a proper registration tag will be declared “a nuisance” and will be impounded. If an impounded dog or cat is not claimed within three days by its owner or others having an interest in the animal, it can be destroyed.
The regulations also state that every dog or cat impounded under the provisions of the ordinance can be picked up by the owner by paying a $10 fee for each day the animal is impounded. The pet then will be released upon proper registration with the city.
At-large animals picked up are taken to the Franklin County Humane Society in Union.
The majority of the pet registrations, 42, were taken care of during the first half of the year, statistics showed.
Animals at Large
The city’s code of ordinances also states that it is unlawful for any individual in the city to allow a dog or cat “to run through or across the yards, gardens or private property of another, and all persons in the city shall confine his dog or cat by leash, chain or proper fencing.”
Punishment calls for a $15 fine for a first-time offender plus any court costs, $30 plus court costs for a second offense and $60 for a third or any additional offense plus court costs. In addition, the same impoundment rules apply.
According to statistics fromt he St. Clair Police Department, there were 75 reports generated last year for animals at large and another 18 for animals not registered with the city. There also were 10 reports for animals not inoculated and 10 for animal bites.
However, Police Chief Bill Hammack said officers only will respond to an animal-at-large or related report if the department actually is called.
If St. Clair is a typical snapshot of the United States, then about 1,200 households in the city have a cat or dog.
If only 57 pets were registered last year, that means less than 5 percent of those households had the proper paperwork filed with the city.
According to 2010 U.S. Census information, St. Clair has 1,908 occupied households. Information from the American Pet Products Association states that 63 percent of American households — which computes to the 1,200 number in St. Clair — have a canine or feline.