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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Commissioners move to eliminate requirement of microchipping pets throughout Marion County

Marion County Commissioners moved to eliminate the requirement of microchipping pets throughout the county during Tuesday’s general meeting.

During the meeting, commissioners reviewed proposed amendments to Chapter 4 of the Marion County Code of Ordinances, which encompasses Animal Control and Enforcement.

Chief Assistant County Attorney Dana Olesky presented commissioners with new language and requirements throughout the chapter, fielding multiple objections across the board in reference to microchipping and its associated definitions.

District 2 Commissioner Kathy Bryant referred to microchipping requirements as “feel-good legislation,” expressing concern over government’s role in pet ownership.

“The people that are responsible are going to be responsible. You cannot legislate irresponsible people. I don’t think that we should be enforcing microchipping of all animals,” explained Bryant.

Bryant suggested that there are licensing laws that are not being enforced and that more focus should be placed on “tightening” those laws rather than creating new requirements for microchipping.

“There’s so much that we already have in place that we’re not making sure is correct before we add more to it,” said Bryant.

District 3 Commissioner Jeff Gold suggested that the benefit in being able to locate and return lost pets to their owners might outweigh the potential downside of requiring owners to microchip.

“Microchipping is important. It’s something that’s good even if people don’t register. It gives a section where people can find [their pets]. We need to have some way of returning their lost pets,” said Gold.

Commissioners agreed that breeders and vendors of animals should microchip, but that they did not want to keep language in the ordinance that suggested that microchipping be mandatory across all pet owners.

“This is actually a constitutional issue,” said District 1 Commissioner David Moore. Moore expressed concern over what he perceived as a slippery slope.

“At what point do you go ‘if you microchip an animal, you go to mandatory microchipping of humans,'” said Moore. “I’m against the mandatory microchipping as well.”

“I am in agreement with Commissioner Bryant. I am not in agreement with mandatory microchipping for all animals,” said Chair Michelle Stone.

Bryant went on to suggest that the crux of the problem was irresponsible pet owners and that educating the public on spaying, neutering and microchipping through an open approach was the best solution.

“If we’re going to focus our energy, it needs to be focused on education. Spaying, neutering, that’s the only way that we’re ever going to really attack the over-population problem in our community,” said Bryant.

Ultimately, commissioners decided to remove any language referring to mandatory microchipping for the public, but not to remove language requiring breeders and rescue organizations to microchip the animals they sell.

“Mandatory microchipping comes out [of Chapter 4]. It only applies to breeders, shelters and retailers. If a veterinarian says the animal cannot be microchipped, that will go on record and no microchipping is required,” said Stone.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the commissioners or would you like to see mandatory microchipping throughout the county for all pets? Share your opinions in a comment below, or through a letter to the editor.