Animal rescue groups should soon find it easier to operate in Turlock as the City Council adopts an ordinance that clearly separates the nonprofit groups from kennel operations.
Currently, the Turlock Municipal Code does not properly define animal rescue groups as a separate entity from private owners and kennels and as such has inadvertently tasked them to function under regulations that make it difficult to operate in the city.
On Jan. 22 the City Council unanimously voted to add a subsection to the municipal code that officially defines animal rescue groups and opens avenues for them to work with the city's animal shelter. A final reading of the ordinance is set for Tuesday's City Council meeting.
"Over the years the animal rescue groups here have fallen through the cracks because they've been undefined," said Ron Reid, acting assistant city manager.
Up until the current amendment, Turlock's municipal code states that it is unlawful for an individual to keep or own more than three dogs older than four months and three cats older than six weeks, unless permitted to operate a kennel.
Rescue groups, which take in abandoned or stray pets and seek to find them permanent homes, can find themselves with more than the permitted number of pets at any given time, depending on how many foster homes are available.
The state Food and Agriculture Code requires animal shelters to release animals to nonprofit rescue groups if circumstances deem it appropriate, instead of euthanasia. The code also encourages animal shelters to work with animal rescue and adoption groups.
"We want to be able to do that," Reid said.
Any rescue group operating in Turlock would have to provide proof of their nonprofit status and submit to annual inspections. Rescue permits could be revoked by Animal Services if there are complaints of excessive noise or smell. Additionally, any kennels used to house the animals would have to comply with city regulations.
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is also expected to:
• Hear a presentation from Pacific Gas and Electric on pipeline safety enhancements.
• Hear a final reading amending the city's municipal code to adopt building department fees.
• Request a change in the start time of City Council meetings from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.
• Request a change to the number of permits given to firework vendors from 50 to 35. The highest number of permits issued in one year has been 27, according to city records. The amendment would also eliminate the need for nonprofits to possess a tax exemption certificate from both the California Franchise Tax Board and the Internal Revenue Service.
• Request a $3,000 payment to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement account to settle an administrative civil liability complaint.
Prior to the regular meeting the City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss key issues necessary for the preparation of the 2013-2015 City of Turlock Strategic Plan. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall.
The Turlock City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.