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Idaho Humane Society weighs in on proposed Boise City ordinances

The Idaho Humane Society was pleased to have input into the proposed amendments to Boise City Code governing the care and keeping of domestic animals. We appreciate the strong and compassionate leadership of Boise City Councilman Thomson in this ambitious effort to make Boise a more humane community. While there are opportunities for further improvement, in total the amended ordinance represents a significant improvement in the animal welfare laws for the City. Significant changes to the City ordinance of note include:

Animal Cruelty, Neglect and Abuse

Significant improvements in Idaho’s animal welfare statutes during the past 20 years have been achieved through the efforts of Idaho Humane Society and other animal welfare advocates. The proposed amendments make the City’s ordinance consistent with State Law. While the City cannot impose any increased penalty for cruelty or neglect beyond what is provided in Idaho Code, and the amended ordinance does not expand the scope beyond those acts that are currently illegal under Idaho Code; the ordinance does provide much more specificity regarding such acts and omissions. This may make prosecution for these offenses easier and should help guide law enforcement in identifying offenses and charging perpetrators. Importantly, the revised cruelty section prohibits displays of live animals such as big cats or elephants that may be exploitative or abusive.

Limitation of Pet Ownership

While the overall limit on dogs or cats per household remains four total, the amended code provides the opportunity to own a total of five cats in a cat exclusive household.  Idaho Humane Society appreciates the increase in pet ownership limits which improves the situation for multi-cat households in the community without acquiring a noncommercial kennel license. We understand that the City is challenged to provide a “one size fits all” solution to a rapidly urbanizing, increasingly congested community with housing that ranges from small studio apartments to large homes situated on expansive lots. However, as a general principle, we are opposed to laws that arbitrarily limit the number of pets a household may maintain. Rather, we support enforcing laws that are based on actual standards of care. Idaho Humane Society also believes the rights of individuals to pet ownership should be based on regulations and standards applied to everyone equally rather than the approval of neighbors.

Humane Population Control for Free-Roaming Community Cats

Provisions related to the non-lethal control of free-roaming cats make Boise’s ordinance consistent with peer communities elsewhere and reflect the community’s effort to address animal overpopulation in a humane and effective manner. Trap-Neuter-Return of free-roaming cats has been practiced in Boise for decades. These practices have made Boise a community with one of the highest save rates for cats entering the animal shelter.

Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Dogs

The ordinance makes the City’s law regulating dogs that have injured human beings more consistent with the two-tiered system that exists in Idaho’s dangerous dog statute, which was the result of a multi-year effort by the Idaho Humane Society. This system is also similar to many of the contemporary ordinances of peer communities across the U.S. We remain concerned regarding the potential for the destruction of dogs that engage in aggression towards other dogs or animals that may be normal for the species and the circumstance. Read the ordinance here (page 13)

Prohibited Animals

The section is improved with the inclusion of several species of concern and further ensures that the keeping of such animals must be humane, restricted to authorized individuals and clarifies the role of law enforcement in ensuring standards of care are maintained.

Noise Nuisances

The ordinance provides more objective criteria to validate the complaint of noise nuisances (typically this applies to barking dogs). This clarifies and makes the enforcement of the law less subjective.

Prohibition on Free-Roaming Unaltered Cats

The ordinance provides that any free-roaming cat must be altered to prevent it from breeding and producing unwanted litters.

Confinement of Pets in Unattended Vehicles

Provides for the rescue of pets from excessively hot, cold or unventilated vehicles by Good Samaritans and protects such rescuers from civil liability. Clarifies the role of law enforcement and emergency personnel in removing pets from vehicles in circumstances in which the animal is in danger of imminent harm.

Prohibition on Sale of Commercially Bred Dogs and Cats in Retail Stores

The ordinance prevents the sale of animals in public right-of-ways and in retail stores of commercially bred dogs and cats, which in many cases are sourced from disreputable and cruel puppy or kitten “mill” operations. Currently, Boise has no stores that sell such animals and the ordinance would prevent any store from engaging in this practice in future.

To provide feedback to the City of Boise, please visit their website and scroll to the bottom to complete their feedback form.

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