Published: Feb 04, 2014 3:37 PM EST
Updated: Feb 04, 2014 6:53 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County is toughening its animal control laws, in an effort to reduce the over-population of dogs and cats, and reduce the need for euthanasia. Commissioners passed the new ordinance that will become effective May 1.

"This has been a long time in coming. It is going to take years to reduce the population of un-wanted pets, but they say, you never finish if you don't start.   I am glad that we have taken this step to start, today," said Donna Ward, director of Lee Animal Services.

The new regulations require breeders to get a county license, and submit to inspections by Animal Control officers. Breeders would have to micro-chip their puppies and kittens for identification. It also gives officers more powers to fine people who have pets that are not sterilized. That is supposed to give the officers some power against fly by night breeders. The rules also prohibit the tethering of dogs.

More than 30 people spoke to commissioners during a long public hearing on Tuesday.

Commissioners passed the ordinance 5 to 0. They did put a "sunset" of one year on the law, meaning they have the chance to fine-tune the ordinance over the next year, and approve any changes before May 1 of 2015.