City pet law now requires microchips, bans sale of commercially-bred pets

Houston City Council has voted unanimously this week to update ordinances covering Houston pets and pet sellers.

Pet owners are now required to microchip their animals in addition to obtaining a city license. Microchipping involves placing a permanent electronic ID the size of a grain of rice beneath the pet's skin. Humane organizations and veterinarians can use an electronic device to read the chip's data and help reunite stray animals and their owners.

The microchip will also serve as proof of licensing, so metal tags will no longer be issued.

The mandate took immediate effect. Pet owners can have their dogs and cats microchipped for $15 by their veterinarian or through the city's BARC animal shelter.

The ordinance also allows BARC to reduce the stray hold from 72 hours to 48 hours for animals without a microchip, allowing for quicker adoptions and transfers.

The city will now also prohibit the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores within city limits, unless the animal came to the seller from a humane organization or county animal shelter. New pet shop owners must comply with the ordinance immediately. Owners of existing stores have one year to become compliant.

A new state law, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, also went into effect this week. It requires animals kept outside to always have clean drinking water and adequate shelter.

PHOTO: Getty Images

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