Two new animal ordinances that took effect Jan. 1 pertain to cats and dogs. One addresses puppy and kitten sales, the other the feeding of feral cats.

This past year, city leaders approved an ordinance that requires pet stores to only sell rescued dogs and cats, not dogs and cats from breeders. The ordinance does not ban retailers from selling pets, but it requires those dogs and cats to come from “a city or county animal shelter, an animal control agency, or an animal rescue organization licensed by the department,” according to the ordinance.

Petco and PetSmart have been doing this for years. While shelters and rescue groups may have some rescued purebred pets available for adoption, if someone wants a specific breed of dog or cat, they will need to go to a local breeder.
 

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Local breeders can still operate within the city limits provided they obtain litter permits and care for their animals in accordance with city ordinances. The goal is to get puppy and kitten mills out of the equation.

The second ordinance puts restrictions on how people feed feral cats because of growing problems with overfeeders and with feeding on private property without permission. It sounds controversial, but it seems to be in line with current San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition, or SAFCC, best practices.

Sherry Derdak, president of SAFCC, said they always advise people to get permission from the business or property owner before feeding cats on private property. As for overfeeding cats, she says there are people who dump large amounts of pet food and just leave it, which causes complaints to Animal Care Services about feral cats.

Dumping pet food also attracts wildlife. “Raccoons can be very destructive, but it’s the feral cats who get blamed,” Derdak said.

The proper ways to feed a feral cat are outlined in San Antonio’s Chapter 5 animal ordinances, which can be read at sanantonio.gov/Animal-Care/Laws-Fees/Ordinances-Laws . First, they should only be fed cat food. Second, food should only be offered in nondisposable dishes. Paper plates can fly away, and disposable containers are often left behind, causing trash build-up.

Third, they shouldn’t be overfed. Most caretakers watch their felines eat before picking up leftover food and containers. And finally, feeders need to get permission from property owners before setting out food.

This is not a ban on feeding feral cats, so please don’t stop if you are doing it. It is simply new requirements on how to feed them. Also, if you are feeding feral cats, please get them fixed.

If you need more information or training on how to care for feral cats, contact SAFCC’s helpline at 210-877-9067.

Send your pet questions, tips, and stories to [email protected] You can read the Animals Matter blog at http://blog.mysanantonio.com/animals and follow her at @cathymrosenthal.