Dogs will be allowed to be in more parks in Watertown, while owners have outdoor cats will have more rules to follow in the new Animal Ordinance approved by the Town Council Tuesday night.
Under the previous rules no dogs were allowed in Watertown’s parks, except for Whitney Hill, but that changes in the new ordinance, said Animal Control Officer Karen O’Reilly. See the new Animal Ordinance by clicking here.
“It allows dogs on leashes on marked or paved walking paths in Whitney Hill Park, Saltonstall Park, Linear Park, Filippello Park, Howe Park and the park behind 552 Main Street,” O’Reilly said.
Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she wanted to make sure it was clear that not all walking areas are open for walking dogs, particularly the walking track at Filippello Park and track at Victory Field. The Council amended the ordinance to prevent dogs from being on the two tracks.
Other areas dogs are not allowed to go are school property and cemeteries.
With the new rules for dogs in parks, Councilor Susan Falkoff said she would like to see the new rules posted at parks as soon as possible. The Council voted to approve the recommendation.
Rules for cats got some revisions in the new ordinance, too, O’Reilly said.
“Outdoor cats are required to be spayed, neutered and microchipped,” O’Reilly said.
A cat found outside that cannot be identified will be deemed as stray, the new ordinance reads.
The Council voted to request that the Health Department publicize the new rules for cat licensing and requirement for microchipping of outdoor cats.
The new ordinance spells out how many animals are allowed in a household. No more than three dogs six months or older may be kept in a home, and no more than five cats over six months of age can be kept in a home.
The old ordinance had a rule for dangerous dogs, but not for cats. That changes with the adopted ordinance.
“We have had situations with dangerous cats and they have caused injuries,” O’Reilly said.
Dog and cat licenses are $10, and $5 for people age 60 and over. A change to the ordinance is that dogs must be licensed beginning at age 6 months, not 4 months. O’Reilly said this means that people can avoid the $25 breeder fee charged to anyone who owns a dog that has not been spayed or neutered.
Both cats and dogs must be vaccinated for rabies. O’Reilly said veterinarians are required to report rabies vaccinations for dogs to the town, but not for cats. She said she will work with local vets to get cat vaccinations reported.
The Council voted to request that Town officials look into the best options to track pet vaccinations.
The fines for violating the rules in the Animal Ordinance are $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $200 for the third. Each day that someone is in violation of a rule is deemed a separate offense.