Waynesboro leaders reverse course on proposed pet limits

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The botched rollout of a proposed new animal control ordinance in Waynesboro is going back to the drawing board.

“I want everyone in the city to know that we as a City Council do not support limiting the number of dogs and cats for our residents. That is something that we’re not interested in and will not push forward. Nor do we support the licensing of cats,” Mayor Bobby Henderson said at the beginning of Monday’s Waynesboro City Council meeting.

The proposed ordinance – which would have placed limits on the number of cats, dogs, chickens and roosters that city residents could own – was not on the agenda for the meeting, which was moved from the City Council chambers downtown to the auditorium at Kate Collins Middle School, as city leaders perhaps expected a similar overflow crowd as had been on hand for the Aug. 23 city meeting at which the animal ordinance made its public debut.

A sparse turnout – less than 20 people – was on hand last night.

But Henderson indicated that City Council members had been deluged with comments from residents who would have been adversely affected by the proposed limits – and that the comments had impact.

“At our last Council meeting, we really got the blood pressure up on a lot of citizens of Waynesboro, and we apologize for that. Over the past two weeks, we have had a lot of comment and chances to meet with citizens, and we appreciate the comments and things that came out of those meetings,” Henderson said.

“The city code (has) general provisions to promote animal welfare and responsible care, and understanding that there are established laws in the Code of Virginia in that area, we would direct staff to review those provisions, and incorporate the appropriate references to consider the adoption of those relevant and necessary provisions to our city code,” Henderson said.

“City Council also supports the tethering provision that was presented last time, and we would ask staff to continue to work with that provision,” Henderson said. “Staff has been asked to provide additional context and explanation for recommendations regarding roosters and chickens. The City Council is also interested in understanding how a grandfather provision might impact the ordinance.”

Henderson indicated that the fast track that the city had set itself on to review and adopt a new animal control ordinance this month is off the table for now.

“We originally expressed the intent to have the ordinance come back to City Council at the Sept. 27 meeting. We have directed staff to research these items further and schedule a presentation once the research has been completed and we’ve got more information for Council,” Henderson said.

Story by Chris Graham

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