TN City Enacts Pet Limit Law and Targets Cats for Killing

The city of Rockwood, TN recently enacted what sounds like a terrible anti-pet ordinance.  I wanted to read the actual ordinance but was unable to find it online so had to rely on the summary provided by an area news outlet:

Pet owners and advocates in Rockwood said they are upset over a new city ordinance that limits the number of animals they can have to five, and allows animal control to trap feral cats and stray cats, and euthanize them after three days.

The local news spoke to a woman who cares for 11 cats, seven of whom are feral.  She has trapped, neutered and vaccinated all but 2 of the ferals already.  But under the ordinance, she will have to choose which ones she wants to live (up to 5 total) and even then, the feral cats she cares for will still be at risk for being trapped and impounded by AC.  The only way for a Rockwood resident to own more than 5 pets is to obtain a kennel license and keep the animals on property in a commercial zone.  She told the news she is going to move out of the city.

“Our goal is not going out and trying to roundup all the cats in Rockwood,” said [Mayor James] Watts. “I hope people don’t think the city of Rockwood is an animal hater. We’re not. We’re trying to put the responsibility back on the citizens.”

The city of Rockwood should be trapping, neutering, vaccinating and returning feral cats.  They aren’t.  Instead private citizens are doing it for them.  Now the city wants to punish them and kill their cats.  This is putting the “responsibility back on the citizens”?

Watts reassured people who take care of their animals properly would not be targeted.

Really?  How can the mayor possibly reassure anyone of that?  The lady with 11 cats is taking care of her animals properly but she would be targeted under the ordinance.  As will any cat who walks into a trap set by AC, regardless of who owns or feeds him.  Traps don’t know whose cats to target.

Punitive legislation doesn’t work.  I hope the citizens of Rockwood demand that the city abolishes this anti-pet ordinance.

(Thank you Peter M. for the link.)

9 thoughts on “TN City Enacts Pet Limit Law and Targets Cats for Killing

  1. Pet limit laws seem unconstitutional, and I wish someone with a law background would pursue this as far as it can go so that no pet limit laws would be enacted in the future. It’s an invasion of privacy and seizure of property without a real cause. I’ve heard public health reasons being used, but come on, a family with six cats isn’t increasing the risk to their own health or their neighbors’ health compared to a family with five cats, so these randomly chosen limits make no sense.

    All these limits seem to do is remove beloved pets from the people who love them and who are caring for them responsibly, while making it harder for shelters to limit their intake and increase their adoptions. In the end, I’m sure it costs taxpayers more to enforce and it doesn’t stop real hoarding.

  2. It must be so nice to live in Rockwood, TN. Clearly they have such low crime that they feel that they can dedicate resources to rounding up people’s pets and killing them.


  3. When I have a nice big house and a backyard, I could easily see myself owning over five cats and dogs. Compared to the kennels they are kept in at shelters, my house would be a mansion. However, the area I live in now has a pet limit of four, which also seems ridiculous. I’m sure their policy on feral cats isn’t any more forgiving.

  4. Sounds like the Cat lady needs to get Alley Cat Allies involved. They need to teach the fine folks who run Rockwood how feral cats are properly managed! Mayor Watts – “Yer doin’ it Wrong!”

  5. In a section of Old Hickory, Tennessee, (a suburb of Nashville) they do a monthly program where they do the trap, spay/neuter release. They have MANY feral cats in that area and the community feeds/takes care of them. Hopefully, Nashville won’t enact this type of legislation, but our Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) already has a 76% kill rate that we’re working now to improve upon. Hoarding is one thing, but responsibly caring for any number of animals should not be regulated!

  6. This is a contact form for the City of Rockwood. Please write mayor James Watts and express your dissatisfaction with this law.

    Additionally, Rockwood City Council meetings are held at 6:00 p.m. at the City Hall Council Room on the fourth Monday of each month. These meetings are open to the public. If there’s anyone close to Rockwood and its knowledgeable about TNR, it would be a good idea to attend one of these meetings to speak out about this ordinance.

  7. I had the misfortune of finding this after becoming under contract for a home. If I had a choice, I would back off and reconsider. I am under the pet limit on cats and dogs, but not when you add in birds. Without the text of the law, I have no idea if I will be in compliance or not. I won’t be happy if they trap my cat in any case.

    1. Nef, be kind to your pet cat and keep it indoors. There are so many ferals in Rockwood, your cat may end up in a “bigger cat fight.”- I worked in Rockwood. Best wishes to you in your move.

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