New Orleans City Council approves new pet ownership rules

The City Council on Thursday approved a broad update to the city’s pet-ownership laws, something the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said was necessary since many of the existing rules had not been updated since they were written in the 1950s.

The council voted 7-0 to pass the 43-page ordinance.

The newest laws spell out minimum standards of care for pets during severe weather events and set rules for what to do with dogs seized because of dog fighting.

Under the ordinance, the LA/SPCA, which handles animal control for the city, can take possession of dogs seized in connection with a charge of dog fighting.

The LA/SPCA can find a new home for any dog taken for that reason if several conditions are met. Previously, those dogs were considered “vicious” under the law and were euthanized.

The new law that deals with dogs seized from fighting rings allows for them and their new owners time to adjust to one another.

Other key changes in the ordinance include a reduction in the frequency at which pets must be vaccinated, increased standards of care to help keep pets safe during extreme weather conditions, updated tethering requirements, feral cat control policies and a new designation for “potentially dangerous” dogs.

Under the proposed ordinance, pet owners would only need to vaccinate their animals every three years, though vaccination licenses must still be obtained annually.

Privately owned cats that live inside or outside must now be microchipped or ear-tipped.

Muzzles are prohibited on dogs unless an owner is present or the animal is under a veterinarian’s care.

Dogs can only be tethered if they are neutered. On a tether a dog must be free to move at least 30 feet on a lead that is attached to an overhead trolley system.

Dogs cannot be tethered unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Also prohibited are “wild or exotic” animals, including such animals as tigers, roosters and alligators.

The new ordinance does not deal with noise issues or limiting the number of animals a person can own. Those issues are handled by city law regarding zoning and code enforcement.