Los Angeles Mulls Allowing More Pets Per Household
Since the collapse of the economy and housing market in 2007, Los Angeles city shelters have seen an increase in the number of pets turned in from owners who no longer have the financial means to care for them. An increase in the number of animals per household, especially in a bad economic climate, could not only create havoc in neighborhoods but put animals at risk.
But supporters of the issue, who include the head of the Department of Animal Services and City Council members Bill Rosenthal and Paul Koretz, claim that the increase would generate up to $800,000 in revenue for the city from licensing fees. They say that the ordinance would help reduce the number of abandoned animals at the shelters, provide stray animals with homes and keep them from being euthanized in shelters.
Supporters say the increase is intended to save animals from shelters and increase the licensing fees required to have them thereby generating more money for the city. However, the opposition points out that the ordinance, as written, does not mention that any of the additional pets come from shelters.
An employee at the Lacy Street Shelter, who did not want to give her identity because her opinion differed from that of her superiors at the Department of Animal Services was promoting, called the proposed ordinance a breeder’s bill disguised to look as though it’s for the welfare of animals. She said that the additional pets could potentially come from puppy-mill pets, pet stores or from backyard breeders thereby increasing the limit could just add to our pet overpopulation.
Phyllis Daugherty, an animal activist who is spending her free time collecting signatures opposing the ordinance echoed the same sentiment. Daugherty said that if passed, the ordinance would actually increase the pet population. “There’s no guarantee that owners will be responsible,” she said. “There’s a potential for over 10 pets in each home.”
Confining large number of animals together increases their stress level, increases diseases and noise pollution. Many people who get extra pets may be completely unprepared for the changes in dynamics of introducing a new pet. Pets can become territorial and vie for attention, said Daugherty.
Dewey Parker was at the Department of Animal Services on November 12th trying to get someone to pick up 25 dogs. His boss illegally kept 25 Chihuahuas at her home, which attacked her and left her in the hospital. Since his boss was hospitalized, family and friends have not been able to get into her house to even feed the dogs because of how vicious they were.
“I tried to go there and feed them, but the dogs were so vicious that I couldn’t get inside the house even though I had the key. I just threw a few pieces of meat over the fence so they wouldn’t be 25 dead carcasses. I couldn’t do anything else. I’m just here trying to get the dogs out of there before they starve to death, but I was just told that they can’t do anything about it unless an immediate family member physically goes into the shelter and files the report.” said Parker.
After his boss’s incident, he opposes the ordinance as well.
“If you decide to move out of your home due to a barking problem, you have to disclose that information to your broker,” said Amy Galaudet, an animal lover and landlord. “Do you really think anyone is going to buy that house when they know what they are getting into? Pets adversely affect property values, ” said Amy Galaudet. She owns a slew of high-end apartments throughout West Los Angeles. She used to allow pets in her buildings until excrement wound up in her buildings and inside the individual apartment units. That, along with complaints from tenants about barking led her to completely ban them.
Brenda Barnette, general manager of the Department of Animal Services, on the other hand, supports the measure. She said that the city of Los Angeles has a critical need in the city to find more homes for animals because of the overcrowding situation in the shelters. She said that this ordinance would be a step in the right direction toward that goal. "We want to give people the opportunity to help save the lives of these animals," said Barnette. When asked whether or not she thought 10 animals would be too much to handle, she responded that she believed that pet owners would be able to self-regulate.
“Most of the people that I know wouldn’t have five dogs or five cats,” she said. “I don’t think that’s probably going to happen. It depends on the animals. I think if you have five Chihuahuas you can probably easily have five cats and the cats would be bigger than the dogs."
The opposition however maintains that there is no way to restrict the additional pets to “responsible” owners since a law applies to everyone, responsible or not.
A point the opposition also brings up is that there is no indication that those pet owners who already have three dogs and choose to add two more will license all or any of their new pets. It is estimated that only 10 percent of Los Angeles city dogs are now licensed according to the Daughtery. She says that even if the ordinance is passed, there would be no way in getting the $800,000 in revenue that Brenda Barnette claims the bill would bring in.
There is also no registration for cats at the moment meaning an owner could have five adult dogs and five adult cats, but litters under four months would not count. One could have four adult females, one male and have four litters of pups at a time, which could be 40 puppies in a large breed, says Daughtery.
Despite what supporters of the ordinance say, Daugherty and Galaudet remain committed to collecting enough signatures to make sure the motion does not go through. “We’re concerned because this will change the entire quality of life for the city. Is having 10 animals in one residence a quality of life for them?” Daugherty said.
The bill, also known as CF 10-0982, was denied on December 1st at the Mid-City West Council hearing. However, the ordinance still has a chance to pass at the next City Council meeting despite being shot down earlier this month.
“If this goes through, our neighborhood can become kennels. Mid-city West denied the Bill, which was great. This does not mean that the city council will pass it. said Galaudet after the bill was successfully shot down. Though she, Daughtery and others in opposition to the ordinance won a minor victory on Wednesday, they and other activists have already made plans to spend the remaining two weeks campaigning and gathering signatures. They said they will not rest until the bill is officially shot down at the L.A. City Council Meeting.
Whatever the outcome of the upcoming City Council hearing, implementation of the result of the bill will be the next step whether it be with three animals or five.
Ultimately, the promises of more money going towards the city of L.A. seems to be a false one. Regulating this bill would be nearly downright impossible, making the it practically useless for those hoping to generate more revuene for the city. And, perhaps most important, additional pets could bring about health hazards for pets and humans alike, and destroy property values.