(A)   Animals at-large may be captured by animal services personnel, or other designated employees of the city if animal services personnel are not available, impounded in an animal shelter, and there confined in a reasonably humane manner with necessary food and shelter.
      (1)   An ear tipped cat received at the shelter may be returned to the location where trapped unless veterinary care is required. A trapped ear tipped cat may be released on site unless veterinary care is required.
   (B)   Immediately upon intake, animal services personnel are authorized to provide each appropriately aged impounded animal with core immunizations as defined by the Association of Shelter Veterinarian guidelines. These vaccinations may either be administered by a licensed veterinarian employed or contracted by the city or animal services personnel who is familiar with the common infectious diseases affecting dogs and cats of Bell County, along with any other necessary treatment the veterinarian, or animal services personnel after consultation with a veterinarian, determines is appropriate for the care and well-being of the animal, or to prevent animals currently housed at the shelter from becoming exposed to an infectious disease.
   (C)   If an impounded animal bears a tag, microchip or other identification, the Shelter Manager shall make a reasonable effort to notify the owner. Notice under this section is complete upon the earlier of:
      (1)   Verbal notification to the owner, if the owner can be reached in person or by telephone;
      (2)   Written notification affixed to the front door of the owner's last known address; or
      (3)   Written notification mailed to the owner's last known address, enclosed in a postpaid, properly addressed wrapper, in a post office or official depository under the care and custody of the United States Postal Service.
   (D)   Unless otherwise required by law, an impounded animal shall be released to its owner during regular hours of operation upon payment of the appropriate fees and upon proof of ownership.
      (1)   Acceptable proof of ownership may consist of a microchip or tag indicating ownership of the animal, a receipt for purchase or adoption of the animal, records from a veterinarian showing vaccinations administered within the previous 12 months, receipts for payment to a veterinarian or commercial pet service facility for services rendered to the animal, and photographic or videographic records showing the animal and individual asserting ownership at home or in other environments.
      (2)   Impounded dogs and cats for which the owner cannot show proof of current vaccination will be released only if and when the owner signs an agreement to show proof of same within 72 hours. Failure to show proof of vaccination within the 72-hour period will constitute a violation of this chapter.
      (3)   Community cat caregivers are empowered to reclaim impounded ear tipped community cats without proof of ownership solely for the purpose of carrying out Trap-Neuter- Return and/or returning ear tipped community cats to their original locations.
   (E)   If the animal is not reclaimed by the owner, then before the animal is released for adoption, humane destruction, or other disposition, the Shelter Manager or an entity contracting with the city to operate an animal shelter shall keep an impounded animal:
      (1)   At least three days (72 hours) after notification to the owner, not counting the date of notice, if such notice is required under division (C); or
      (2)   At least three days, not counting the day of impoundment, in all other cases.
   (F)   Any animal surrendered by the owner, or not reclaimed by the owner within the time provided in division (E), shall be deemed abandoned, and shall thereafter be the sole property of the city, and the owner divested of all right, title and interest in and to such animal. The animal shall then be subject to adoption, placement, transfer, humane destruction, or other disposition at the discretion of the Shelter Manager.
(Ord. 92-08, passed 4-23-92; Am. Ord. 2011-30, passed 9-13-11; Am. Ord. 2014-30, passed 11-18-14; Am. Ord. 2018-05, passed 1-9-18; Am. Ord. 2019-36, passed 10-22- 19; Am. Ord. 2021-38, passed 8-24-21)