Animal ordinances in Sugar Land could see changes if a second reading is approved in May.

Sugar Land City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance at an April 16 meeting to establish fees for dangerous dogs and aggressive animal renewals as well as establish a community cat program.

Terms to know

An aggressive animal is defined as an animal that—on at least one occasion and while not legally restrained—has injured or killed a person, is a legally restrained domestic animal or livestock, or has committed unprovoked acts that would lead the individual to believe that an attack is imminent, according to the proposed ordinance.

A dangerous dog is defined as a dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person causing bodily injury in a place other than the enclosure a dog was being kept or whose acts cause a person to reasonably believe the dog will attack and cause injury, according to the proposed ordinance.

The details

Proposed fees for dangerous dog and aggressive animals include:
  • Dangerous dog registration: $250 initial fee with a $50 annual renewal fee
  • Aggressive animal registration: $250 initial fee with a $50 annual renewal fee
What else?

The city’s Animal Advisory Board also seeks to launch a community cat program, which aims to manage cat overpopulation and health in the community by ensuring cats are spayed or neutered and vaccinated as needed. It can also manage shelter populations, as it allows some cats to receive care in communities without adding to shelters.

Through the community cat program, animal rescues, humane organizations or residents intending to provide care, including food and/or medical needs, must notify the city with a letter of intention sharing the address of the animals as well as a phone number and email, according to agenda documents.

Through the program, provisions allow for:
  • Trapping a community cat to provide necessary veterinary care; although cats must be released to the location where trapped, unless it was unsafe to do so
  • Keeping a community cat at a veterinarian for the purpose of evaluation, rabies vaccinations, sterilization and ear-tipping
Animal City Services launched a pilot program in March 2023 for the cat colony at First Colony mall; within the last year, 18 cats have been trapped for spaying or neutering and returned to the mall, while 18 kittens have been adopted or transferred to rescues, Animal Services Manager Cindy King said at a March 19 City Council meeting. The program was initially launched by First Colony mall before the pandemic, though the city did not become connected until late 2022-early 2023.

The background

The ordinance was previously brought to City Council on March 19, where discussion from council members and the public led to the ordinance being tabled for further review by the Animal Advisory Board.

The board met March 22 to finalize language and clarify definitions to be included in the ordinance before appearing before City Council on April 16.

Zooming out

Other Greater Houston-area cities have also launched similar cat community programs, including Humble, Montgomery County and the city of Houston.

Looking forward

A second reading of the ordinance will be heard at a May 7 meeting; if approved, a notice of enactment will be published in the official Sugar Land newspaper to ensure the public is notified of the $500 fine per violation for dangerous dogs and aggressive animals.