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L.A. considers increasing the maximum number of dogs and cats that can be owned by residents

September 22, 2010 |  5:50 pm


We've heard from a number of L.A. animal lovers that they'd love to take in another dog or cat, but they're already at their legal pet limit -- three. A proposal introduced over the summer by City Council members Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz would change that. In their motion (PDF), Rosendahl and Koretz argue in favor of raising the legal limit from three dogs and/or cats to five.

"Since the start of the recession, the rate of abandonment of dogs and cats has increased throughout the state as a result of the economy and home foreclosures," the proposal reads in part. "It was reported that in city shelters these factors have contributed to a 20% increase in the rate of animal impounds. ... However, there is one barrier that prevents animal adoptions -- the city's limit on the number of animals a person may own."

Raising the legal limit is an idea supported by the L.A. Department of Animal Services' new general manager, Brenda Barnette, who says the move could help prevent healthy dogs and cats from being euthanized in municipal shelters. Barnette told the L.A. Daily News that her "research shows that communities that have increased or have no pet limits, they're saving more animals' lives, with no more incidence of barking or fighting dogs." She also argues that more pets mean more pet license fees, potentially bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue to the city coffers.

Of course, not everyone is in favor of increasing pet limits. Jim Clarke of the Apartment Assn. of Greater L.A. is one major opponent of the proposal, telling KABC News that his group is "concerned about the noise and the quality of life for our tenants. We're concerned about rodents."

Another concern opponents have raised is the wording of the motion, which refers to "[raising] the number of dogs and/or cats that a city resident may own," rather than the number of dogs or cats living in a single household. Opponents fear this could lead to unmanageable -- but legal -- numbers of animals in households where multiple people live.

Phyllis Daughherty of the Animal Issues Movement, who is also against the proposal, argues increasing the legal pet limit in L.A. is "cruel to the animals. It's cruel to people who will have dog packs in the streets." Daughherty predicted outrage from residents if the motion is approved. "L.A. will be known as the Barking City," she told the Daily News.

Others doubt that many pet owners would run out and bring home additional pets and say the proposal, should it pass, would mainly affect pet rescuers.

The L.A. Department of Animal Services held a town meeting for citizens to weigh in on the proposal last week in Van Nuys. Another town meeting takes place Wednesday at the department's West L.A. animal care center, 11361 W. Pico Blvd., beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Lefisc / Your Scene

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