The city council of Fort Worth, Texas, is mulling over revisions of its animal ordinance — with the possibility of requiring all pet owners to have their dogs and cats implanted with microchips for identification.
Fort Worth Animal Services is pushing for the initiative, and a vote is expected on the proposal next month.
Some pet owners have expressed concern over the additional cost of pet ownership, but if passed, a microchip mandate would replace the more expensive current requirement for having a pet licensed: Microchipping costs $12, while a pet license costs $36.
While microchipping became mandatory in the United Kingdom years ago, it is a rare requirement in the United States. But another Texas city, Dallas, made the practice a pet ownership requirement last year.
The regulations implemented by Dallas were more stringent than the Fort Worth proposal. Dallas requires any pet owner who wishes to breed their animal to hold an annual breeding permit at a cost of $100. The dog or cat also has to be registered with a purebred kennel club and only one litter per year is permitted.
Currently, Fort Worth requires pets to be both licensed and spayed or neutered. Microchipping is optional, for now.
Dog owner Chuck Menke supports the proposal, and believes there's no excuse for noncompliance.
"It's a responsibility as a pet owner or a parent and we consider ourselves pet parents," he said. "It will help people that are not pet owners be responsible pet owners or have a second thought about 'Am I going to own a pet or not? Do I want the responsibility of that?'"
But for some owners who have already licensed their pets and consider themselves responsible dog owners, the new ordinance is simply seen as an additional cost.
Ryan Black, a Fort Worth resident who owns a 3-year-old dog, said, "We just have an 8-foot tall fence so whenever he's outside he's not going to get out of that."
The incentive for Dallas to implement its more sweeping initiatives in 2017 was the fact that Dallas Animal Services was at near capacity. Regulating pet breeding was seen as part of the solution.
The animal shelter's chief, Major Barbara Hobbs, said, "We're trying to allow breeding, but to restrict it from backyard breeders who are just trying to sell puppies in the parking lot of Walmart."