Amid the rise in popularity of animal daycare smartphone applications and websites such as Rover.com, Leander’s Animal Services department is adjusting its regulations.
Leander City Council unanimously voted to amend the city’s Animal Control Ordinance March 21 to include a section regarding boarding apps and networks. The new amendment prohibits boarding at any location for a fee without a commercial animal enterprise permit. The ordinance now defines boarding as keeping an animal or animals that are not owned by the property owner, such as for animal daycare.
“With certain animal care apps that are out there, we have been receiving complaints and concerns from citizens regarding home businesses,” Leander Animal Services Supervisor Edna Ellis said. “That’s where this ordinance came in. If it’s an actual business, then… we would have to have a commercial animal enterprise permit process completed.”
Animal care networks enable pet owners to hire individuals to look after their pets. Rover.com, for example, connects pet owners with people who walk dogs, house-sit and board dogs for a weekend or over several weeks, according to its website.
“In this kind of boarding, you have multiple animals together, so you’re talking about potential issues for transporting animal diseases,” Leander Police Chief Greg Minton said. “We don’t know about [the boarding location], so it can’t be inspected to make sure it’s meeting health and safety codes.”
Pet sitting at the animal owner’s residence or walking other people’s dogs in public areas are still allowed, according to the ordinance.
Ellis said she would not give a commercial animal enterprise permit to someone seeking to create a boarding business in an area that is not zoned to allow for businesses. For example, the city’s code of ordinances does not permit commercial kennels to be conducted out of residential dwellings.
Minton said the changes to the Animal Control Ordinance are attempts to catch up with changes in technology.
“This is kind of how Lyft and Uber was in Austin,” Minton said. “We’re just trying to get ahead of this.”
City Council approved a number of other amendments to the Animal Control Ordinance March 21 related to pets, including the following:
- people cannot “permit, facilitate, promote or allow breeding of any animals for a fee or profit in any area zoned residential;”
- people cannot “permit, facilitate, promote or allow the sale of animals for a fee or profit in any area zoned residential;” and
- when registering dogs and cats with the city, residents who have microchipped their pets, spayed or neutered them and vaccinated them against rabies, now must give the microchip number, current address, name and phone number to the Leander Police Department. Prior, residents registering their pets via microchips only had to make sure such contact information was on file with the microchip manufacturer. Ellis said this change allows the department to return lost dogs in a more timely manner, since phone calls with microchip manufacturers can take hours to determine who the pet owner is.