TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Texarkana, Arkansas Board of Directors passed an ordinance Monday requiring residents to spay and neuter their cats and dogs unless they are licensed breeders.

The city’s animal shelter has been at capacity for the last couple of years and the board believes the new ordinance will help decrease the number of animals being brought to the shelter and in turn, the number of animals that have to be euthanized.

“We need pets registered inside the city as well too, so trying to do a combination of making sure we know how many animals we have in the city as well as trying to control the population,” said Texarkana, Arkansas City Manager Jay Ellington.

The new law will apply to cats and dogs six months or older.

Under the new law, Texarkana, Arkansas, residents generally will not be able to buy or adopt unsterilized cats or dogs from rescues or shelters, either.

It will be illegal for any pound, shelter, humane organization, or animal rescue group to release any dog or cat which has not been sterilized to a new owner except in cases where a licensed veterinarian says the animal cannot be sterilized for medical reasons. In those cases, the animal has to remain in foster care until it can safely be sterilized or until two licensed veterinarians certify that it is unlikely the animal will ever recover enough to be safely fixed. At that point, ownership can be transferred to an owner who certifies that the animal will not be used for breeding.

The ordinance also requires breeders to obtain a breeder maintenance permit from the city, as well as a breeder permit from the animal shelter at a cost of $100 a year.

There is currently no similar ordinance on the county level.

The city ordinance will go into effect in 30 days. Residents who violate it could face a fine of up to $500.