To the editor:
A recent letter to the editor discussed the need for limits on the number of pets per household. In researching this issue, there’s no consensus that this in anyway improve the lives of animals. I cannot find a reputable organization which specially supports companion animals, dogs and cats in particular, which advocates for limitations on the number of animals per household.
Best Friends Animal Society points out that neither New York City nor Chicago have limits on the number of pets or even the size of pets. NYC is regularly noted as being one of the most dog friendly cities in the country. Note that this actually impacts the economy. Pet-related industries are noted as being recession proof and add to the tax base, a boon to even non-pet owners. The pet supply industry in the U.S. has only increased in profits over the last decade or so, and this trend is expected to continue.
The author of the previous letter suggested rather horrifying health results for animals in multi-pet households. There is no evidence that animals suffer from atrophied muscles or emotional stress at a higher rate than anywhere else.
Copperas Cove and Fort Hood both have limits, but there is no verifiable indication that this leads to less animal cruelty than merely enforcing existing cruelty laws. In Bell County, there has been an ongoing and significant issue with the county DA not taking animal cruelty cases seriously. With the correlation between animal cruelty and domestic violence, this should be a concern even for those who do not live animals. Existing cruelty ordinances along with ordinances relating to noise, nuisance, and dangerous dog issues are more than sufficient to address problems.
City ordinances relating to breeding regulations are, if enforced, sufficient to protect animals from overbreeding or the horrific environments found in many breeding facilities. While these government overreaches happen, they will continue to be challenged legally, and I expect them to eventually be found to not ensure the well-being of animals nor uphold the rights of owners.
Anecdotally, it’s not difficult to come up with examples of multiple pet households where the pets are well taken care of. I know someone with thirteen personal dogs residing within the city limits, most of whom are large dogs, who takes remarkable care of them.
There are many examples of homes with a large number of pets in which the animals are well cared for. Conversely, there are those people who cannot adequately care for a single animal and are cruel to that animal. Again, cruelty laws are much better equipped to address these issues when taken seriously by law enforcement and by the courts.
As a mental health professional, I do want to clarify that animal hoarding is a mental illness. It is not related to the number of animals. It is related to the care of the animals and the overall mental health of their supposed caregivers. There is no absolute number of animals that would distinguish a hoarder. There is not even a specific range in which this illness falls when looking merely at the number of animals.
The public often has the misperception, but animal hoarding has nothing to do with having a lot of well cared for animals. There are instances when well-meaning rescuers get in over their heads, though. Laws limiting the number of animals per household may make those individuals, who are clinically distinct from hoarders, less likely to seek help in caring for their rescues due to fear of penalties.
In summary, there is no evidence that limits on the number of pets improves either the health of the animals or the quality of the community. Existing laws, when enforced, are sufficient to address those issues. Limits on the number of pets per household are intrusive, arbitrary, not substantiated by research and impact the rights of pet owners.
Janice J Holladay, LPC
Killeen Pets Alive