Best Friends Blog

Five Reasons Pet Limit Laws Are a Bad Idea

A change to the pet limit laws is in the works for Los Angeles City.  Current laws limit household pets to three dogs and three cats. The new law would up the limit to five and five.  If passed, this will have a massive impact on the 26,000 animals that currently meet their end in the Los Angeles City shelter system.  In a city of 8 million people, imagine if the citizens were allowed to have a few more pets each–26,000 animals would probably find their way into a loving home. This would be one powerful tool in our kit for achieving No More Homeless Pets in Los Angeles.

Taking the broader view, I’m not sure of the rationale behind pet limit laws and what they are meant to accomplish that other laws don’t already address.

Animal abuse? Noise? Smell? Community safety?

All of that is covered by other laws…disturbing the peace, various public nuisance ordinances, leash laws and the like.

Neither New York City nor Chicago have pet limit laws…two cities where the living norm is side by side, top to bottom, stacked building complexes. You can have as many pets as you like in the Big Apple and the Windy City as long as the net effect doesn’t violate one of the laws crafted to help all those people who live cheek-by-jowl without getting on each other’s nerves.

Here are five reasons why pet limit laws are bad idea:

1. They promote the needless killing of animals in our shelters.  Try adopting a fourth cat to someone in LA?  Who wants to willingly break the law and risk fines, penalties or impound?  Pet limits narrow the pool of adopters and those who want to save lives.

2.  They are intrusive. Of all the things government shouldn’t be interfering with, the number of pets we have must top the list. As long as we manage our pets responsibly and don’t intrude on our neighbors, who cares? And if we do intrude on our neighbors with noise, smell or dogs running at large, there are laws on the books to deal with these issues.

3. Pet limit laws are arbitrary. Traffic laws, for example are based on known data – the design limits of cars and roads, stopping distance, traffic volume, etc. There is no data to support the idea that a given number of pets are too many. The Joneses might be able to easily manage eight dogs while the Smiths are in over their heads with two!

4.  Pet limit laws have been ruled to be unconstitutional in some states. A Pennsylvania court found the following: “What is not an infringement upon public safety and is not a nuisance cannot be made one by legislative fiat and then prohibited,” the court quoted from an earlier case. “Further, even legitimate legislative goals cannot be pursued by means which stifle fundamental personal liberty when the goals can otherwise be more reasonably achieved.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

5. Pet limit laws unreasonably restrict responsible, civic minded citizens from supporting and participating in shelter animal rescue efforts by fostering animals for animal rescue organizations or shelters.

If you live in Los Angeles please contact members of the Public Safety Committee and ask them to support raising the pet limit in Los Angeles.



Julie Castle

Director, Community Programs and Services

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  • Evelyn in Cincinnati

    I’m very much against governmental controls for just about anything/everything. But I came up against a sad situation recently where a legal pet limit would have been very useful. This was a huge hoarding case where a woman had about 70 cats in her home. In the course of several months that I worked with her, we spay/neutered the adults and removed another 65 kittens to get them healthy and adopted out.

    The local health department was involved and she had to meet their requirements as far as the habitability of her house; but although dogs would have been monitored/limited/licensed, etc.; there are no requirements about how many cats anyone can have in my area; a suburb of Cincinnati. How she can afford to feed them, I have no idea; and they’re far from healthy; but at least we’ve stopped the continuing population explosion there.

    With the proliferation of hoarding cases now being seized by H$U$ and ASPCA and the recent publicity on TV shows, etc. — without laws limiting the number of animals allowed it’s difficult if not impossible to keep them from happening – or deal effectively with them once they’re discovered.

  • Chwawa

    Thanks, Julie. You are right on target with your message and your points are well taken.

  • SLF

    The Dec. 6th council members postponed the discussion of this subject. It has been moved out of Public Safety and is now pending in the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, chaired by councilmen Ed Reyes. Please write or phone his office (213) 473-7001 and ask him to at least schedule the discussion on this very important issue.

  • Aristotle

    Here we can have as many animals as we wish! However it is our Vet we would need to fall back on if there was every a problem. It works for us because our critters see the groomers every two weeks (Groomer is at out vets office). I think limits are crazy, but again I think owners need to know there own limits.

    We have 8 dogs living here. All in tip top shape!

    • Brutuspittbull12005boxer

      We have 7 dogs ( 5 were rescues) and 15 cats all rescues. They are all in excellent shape, and we are on a first name basis with our vets. LOL Imagine if our town had a limit who knows were all our furry kids would be. I do agree make sure you can afford them, and do what works best in your home.

  • There’s no limit here in Springfield, IL – thank goodness… we have 3 dogs, 4 cats – and that’s because my boyfriend moved in with his two cats… I would never dream of ever getting rid of one of one my babies. It’s a lifelong commitment… they are not disposable.

  • Newjerseyoma

    In my township there is a two dog limit and, if you should have more than that, they will charge you $100 for each dog over two. Previously, I had lived in a township with a four dog limit and that’s what I had. Had I known about the two dog limit and the fine, I would never have moved into this township. I asked whether they used the money to fund special programs for low income pet owners and was told “no”. The money just goes into a general fund. It’s a money making scheme.

  • Carey Stock

    I live in Denver,Co. I have a dog and a cat. If I were finanically able ,I would adopt a couple more. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Princess Kokie Kitty and JD Butterbean!
    Carey Stock

  • Mhhaslam

    Just imagine the uproar if you were limited to the amount of children you could have, as long as the animals are well cared for and do not break existing laws it’s nobody elses business.I just the one dog.

  • Carlene@Brampton, ON

    I love this!! All 5 reasons are indisputable :o) I do agree with Kluke99 as well (although I live in Ontario, Canada so my thoughts can’t really count…can they?). There are a lot of folks out there who “love” animals and without thinking surround themselves with responsibilities they can’t possibly handle. Having said that, if high populous cities like New York & Chicago can do it, then it stands to reason that so can all the other states. So long as there are strong, enforceable laws for breeders and responsible pet ownership (i.e. spaying/neutering, vaccines, fencing, and general health & welfare).

  • JC

    Yeah…and here we are in living Kanab…..home to Best Friends…the LARGEST no-kill animal sanctuary in the COUNTRY….and there is a 2 limit dog law! Change needs to happen in our own back yard too!

  • Kluke99

    In theory I love the loosening of pet qty limits but its extremely important that people don’t adopt more pets than they can realistically afford to care for. I have two rescue dogs and one emergency bloat (gastric torsion) surgery cost $3,000 this year. The veterinary costs to properly care for animals increase dramtically according to the number of pets you have and their respective ages and underlying health conditions. I support adoption of pets wholeheartedly. Just be realistic on what you can afford.

    • Kanani

      It sounds like you could use some pet insurance. It’s fairly cheap and covers unexpected veterinary costs. You should look into it.

  • Iluvlife20011

    There is not a limit on how many children we can have in the U.S.A. Why should there be a limit on pets. There are so many pets that need a good home and so much love we can give the pets. I too agree that we do not need to buy from pet stores. There are so many angels waiting for a great home. Children and pets alike.

  • Lovefelines2003

    I live in Los Angeles, and volunteer in the so called LA Shelters ( I call them holding pens or death camps) and have written to our councilman before about this. I’ve just done so again. I could not have said this any better than you did Julie. One problem though – even if the city passed this so that the limit was increased, people who rent still have to abide by landlord pet limits which really stinks. I’m already over the limit according to the company who owns my building but I lied (yes I did!) and my 3 kitties are all indoor as is my tiny chihuahua. How do we fix that situation or would the law force building owners to change their limits as well? Thank you.

  • Mclifton78

    I’m lucky enough to live in area without pet limit laws, & 5 of our 8 pets are rescues, (while the other 3 are offspring of various friends’ accidental breedings). While I am all for people adopting as many critters as they can realistically care for from shelters & rescue groups, my fear is that people will (instead) increase their pet household with pet store “purchases.” Thoughts?

  • settermom

    I live in Michigan in a community where there are pet limit laws. However, we are over that limit with 1 dog and 4 cats. All our cats are indoor only cats,litterboxes at least 95% of the time are cleaned daily (there are 3 of them). Our dog lives indoors, uses the outdoors when necess., is limited to our own yard and is not allowed to bark unnecessarily out there. If we abided by the limit 2 of our 4 cats would probably not be here,they are all rescues.