The Solvang City Council has renewed the city’s animal control contract with Santa Barbara County but postponed a decision on adopting the county’s spay and neuter ordinance.

The $34,903 contract with the county for the 2011-12 fiscal year is an increase of $1,037, or 3 percent, over this year’s cost, City Manager Brad Vidro noted. The county asked for no increase in the contract for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

While the council unanimously renewed the contract March 28, several members expressed reservations about updating the city’s animal control ordinance to include the county’s spay-neuter provisions.

Council members directed Vidro to come back with a comparison of the two ordinances so the council could hold a public hearing before deciding.

“I think it’s an overreach,” Councilwoman Tara Wood said of the county’s ordinance, and Councilman Ken Palmer said individual pet owners should make their own decisions.

Jan Glick, head of the county’s animal services, said the county ordinance is misrepresented when it’s called a mandatory spay-neuter law.

Pet owners can leave their animals intact, she said, but must pay a higher license fee if the pets aren’t spayed or neutered.

The other provision is that owners who want to avoid spaying and neutering their pets must provide proof that they’ve discussed the issue with a veterinarian.

“It really mandates that they show the responsibility of going and talking to a veterinarian,” Glick said.

Buellton and Lompoc have adopted the county’s ordinance and Santa Barbara has a similar one, Glick noted.

“I don’t feel as a government entity that we should be telling people they have to go to their vet and have this discussion,” Wood said.


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