Six Pets Might Be the Cutoff in W.Va. City

Pet owners with more than three dogs and three cats could face $1,000 fine per day under proposed ordinance.

Posted: April 25, 2008, 5 a.m. EST

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Owning more than three dogs and three cats in the city of Beckley, W.Va., might cost residents $1,000 per day in fines under a proposal to amend an ordinance. The plan, announced this week at a Beckley Common Council meeting, has staff at an area shelter bracing for a pet overflow.

Tom Robertson, a humane officer at the Humane Society of Raleigh County, says that setting a new limit on the number of dogs and cats per household will burden the shelter. The staff must euthanize animals on a daily basis, he says, and the revised measure would result in a higher euthanasia rate.

“We will be inundated with all kinds of dogs and cats,” he says. The shelter has the capacity to house 30 dogs, 10 kittens, nine puppies and five cats.

As it stands, the ordinance has a loophole that makes it OK to own several pets, if no more than three of each go outdoors. Robertson says many people have anywhere from eight to 15 animals in their possession, which has led to neighbor complaints.

With a staff of four at the shelter, he says there likely will not be enough manpower to deal with the expected deluge of dogs and cats. For now, he said they will wait and see whether the proposal moves forward.

The measure must first go before city planners and council members. Members of the public would have an opportunity to voice any concerns before the council makes a final decision.

What remains to be seen, Robertson says, is whether a new ordinance would solve the issue of keeping large numbers of pets. “Nothing on the books is worth anything if it is not being enforced,” he says.

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Sharyn   Lexington, Virginia

8/13/2013 1:22:00 PM

If the animals do not go outside, what are the neighbors complaining about? And Mary, this country was founded on freedom, not freedom limited to what you or I think is "enough." the government has no business limiting our rights unless they infringe on our neighbor's rights. If there is no complaint, a person should be allowed to keep the number of pets he or she wants, not limited to six simply because someone across town complained about someone else.

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Isobella   Nashville, TN

9/10/2009 4:50:04 PM

I disagree one hundred per cent with this new rule. As long as a person has adaquate space and is properly taking care of their pets I see no reason to limit the number of pets. This will cause an increase of animals in kill shelters and for what? If I lived there I'd move with my three dogs and four cats to a more petfriendly and less weird city.

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Mary   Battle Creek, MI

4/27/2008 11:47:10 AM

I don't know why you would need more than six. I think four is plenty.

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Pat   San Angelo, TX

4/27/2008 10:15:53 AM

If this is something that this town feels it has to do, I think the new rules should only apply beginning with pet acquistions made after the date the new rules take effect. It would be extremely unfair to require people to give up pets they already own that they got before this proposal was made. In this situation, it would be almost impossible to find new homes for these animals; their shelter would not be able to accomodate many of these pets. Also, a large majority of these pets are probably very well socialized and housetrained and would make excellent pets for someone. Requiring these owners to give up some of their pets would be cruel and almost a certain death sentence for many due to a circumstance they have no control over. It isn't right.

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