City commissioners heard first reading of an ordinance last week that would require dogs and cats to be restrained by either a leash, fence or electronic collar whenever they are outdoors.
That law would replace the existing code, which requires animals to be kept on a leash unless they are under the "charge, care or control" of the owner. City officials say that phrase means people do not have to keep their pets on a leash if they have verbal control over their animal.
At last week's city commission meeting, several cat owners said a leash law was inappropriate for cats because, unlike dogs, cats do not typically tolerate being on a leash, and they can hardly be restrained by a fence. Supporters of the law, however, argued that letting cats run at large is dangerous for both cats and humans.
Supporters said cats at large can be a nuisance to neighbors. They also said cats are vulnerable to traffic and other hazards, and they can be exposed to dangerous parasitic diseases from colonies of feral cats that populate the city.