The city of Bakersfield could soon begin regulating dog and cat breeding within the city.
After eight speakers urged the city council to act at a meeting in January, city staff are in the process of drafting a new ordinance that could limit the amount of litters a household could produce per year.
“I don’t think anybody wants to see puppy mills that are operating,” said Councilmember Chris Parlier, who chairs the Legislative and Litigation Committee that is overseeing the drafting of the new ordinance. “Listening to the people that spoke in front of the council, and when they came to the committee, it does sound like there is a potential need for regulation in this area.”
Any new law would attempt to stop residential homes in Bakersfield that produce multiple litters of puppies per year without any sort of oversight.
Although the city does not have data on how big of an issue unregulated breeding represents, local residents say they see the consequences of these problems on a daily basis.
“I am tired of seeing the endless, unwanted, puppy litters for free or for sale all over social media and in our streets,” said Annabelle Jimenez at the January council meeting. “We continue to fail our pet population.”
The other speakers at the meeting spoke of their own experiences of finding and rehabilitating dogs that had been abused in what they described as unhealthy environments.
“Local rescues are running ragged trying to alleviate the problem, and shelter staff are going above and beyond trying to find homes for these dogs,” said Faviola Plant.
Yet, data gleaned from the Bakersfield Animal Care Center indicates the city is moving in the right direction when it comes to stray animals.
“We are trending significantly in the right direction,” said Assistant City Manager Steve Teglia.
Over the last five years, animal intake at the center has declined from 10,346 to a projected 7,224 in 2019. At the same time, the care center is finding homes for a projected 77.6 percent of its animals, compared to 29 percent five years ago.
Any new regulations would likely impact citizens who live in residential areas. City staff will present an array of options for the Legislation Committee, which will make a recommendation to make to the council at large.
The city could require a permit for any breeder that produced more than one litter per year, or the regulations could be more restrictive.
“We still have a lot more work to do at the committee level,” Teglia said. “We want to go through and look at what makes the most sense for enforcement, and what makes sense for both the backyard and the normal residential environment.”
Currently residents are allowed to own three dogs in residential areas.
The city encourages all residents to spay and neuter their pets. The city provides vouchers, and weekly clinics are held from 9 to 10:30 a.m., Fridays, at the Bakersfield Animal Care Center, located at 201 S. Mt. Vernon Ave.