Proposed Pet Limit Law Would Send Some Owners to Jail

Mike Hamp, the city manager in Waynesboro, Virginia has proposed a law limiting the number and types of pets residents can keep. Specifically:

[The] proposal would limit the number of dogs per household at four, the number of cats at five, the number of chickens at 10, and would prohibit residents from owning roosters.
(Stock photo via Pexels)

No currently owned pets over the limits would be grandfathered in and violations could result in death for the pets and jail time for the owners.

To be clear, we would have a rise in our euthanasia numbers, and animals who would otherwise be loved and well cared for will die,” [animal welfare volunteer Casey] Eldridge said.

Cat rescuer Renee Clark explained to the city council what a disaster the law, which includes licensing requirements for cats, would be:

“You have to pay Animal Control more to go out and round these cats up. Then you have to bring them to the shelter of Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center, which is already stretched so thin with staff and funding, so you’re going to have to up your monetary contributions to the shelter, which I wouldn’t think anyone would want to do that, because for community cats it typically results in killing cats,” Clark said.

“If you bring a feral cat into most shelters, the greatest danger to the animal is to be killed. You know, you have to hold it for five days, the taxpayers of Waynesboro have to pay to feed that animal, they have to pay to euthanize that animal. Maybe you can find a barn for it to go to, but then you’re going to have a lot of barn people who are going to be reluctant to come forward to you because it penalizes them,” Clark said.

Hamp suggests that residents who are over the proposed limits might not have their pets taken away, if they are good and quiet and don’t make waves:

“It may be helpful and comforting in some regard to hear a word about compliance currently, and I would anticipate going into the future. The city acts on provisions of the animal ordinance by complaint. We do not intend or have a plan to go door to door seeking out violations of the ordinance, if adopted, and we would simply respond by complaint regarding a particular residence,” Hamp said in his presentation to City Council on Monday.

“Having said that, and without suggesting or encouraging animal owners to evade the law, it is conceivable then that if you had an animal that was in violation of the law, but did not draw unnecessary attention to itself or the residence, that it could go on without encountering regulatory action by the local government,” said Hamp[.]

Feeling comforted? Waynesboro pet owners are just one nosy neighbor away from getting a knock on the door from the police to take their animals. And I guess no one will raise concerns about the roads, bridges, or other city responsibilities either, lest they draw attention to themselves. Which might make a city manager’s job pretty easy.

(Stock photo via Pexels)

The proposal is slated for a vote by the Waynesboro city council on September 27.

Further reading: The No Kill Advocacy Center’s paper opposing pet limit laws.

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