I have always been an animal lover, and over the years, have rescued or obtained many a dog or cat. All of my animals have either come from animal shelters, or have shown up at my house, or the homes of friends. Recently, I’ve even had friends come to me with animals they’ve had show up, and I’ve tried to help them find homes for them. I’m starting to worry that I’ll become one of those cat ladies you see on the news. I’ve even considered moving to the country where I could have room to provide foster care, boarding, or even start a shelter.
Speaking of moving to the country, I want to tell you the story of pets in my little town. I live in a small town where there are, I’m sure, many ordinances that have been on the books way too long. Several years ago, I came to be familiar with one of those ordinances in a very unfriendly way. We moved here with many pets. We loved all of them dearly. We took good care of them…regular vet visits, kept them current on their vaccinations, kept our dogs on leashes or in a fenced yard, kept our kitties indoors at all times…they were a part of our family. We were law-abiding citizens in every way.
One day, we received a not-so-friendly letter in the mail from our city clerk, informing us of one of those ordinances I mentioned. Apparently, through a bio I’d been asked to provide for the local newspaper, I’d mentioned how many pets I had. Apparently, our city clerk reads the paper very carefully, and believes everything in it. The letter, without first establishing that the information in the newspaper was correct, informed us that we were in violation of the pet ordinance. It went on to say that the city would allow us to keep our pets, since we were likely not aware of the ordinance, but we would need to license all of them properly, and that in the future, we could not obtain any more pets when these were gone, to exceed the limit of 3 cats and 2 dogs.
After the initial shock, several very interesting questions sprang into my mind. If they had decided that I could only keep 3 of the cats, just how would they have decided which ones I could keep, and what plans would they have had for those I couldn’t keep? Would they take the cats from me, and take them back to the shelter from which I rescued them? Would they take them down to the river and put them in a bag and dispose of them? Would they make me decide which ones had to go? Would it go down like the accounting practice of last in/first out? Russian roulette? Eenie, meenie, minie, mo?
And as far as enforcing this ordinance, did they plan to go door to door, inspecting homes for inside pets in violation of the ordinance? Would they have the right to enter our homes on a regular basis for pet searches? If the cats were hiding under the bed, would we need to extract them, or would the city officials do that? Sounds reminiscent of what Hitler was doing. And what about other pets that might be inside pets, such as turtles, fish, geckos, snakes, etc.?
As I said, we were law-abiding citizens, and I have no problem with licensing my pets, if it is required. I do, however, have a huge problem with the city being able to regulate how many pets I have that live inside my home. I also have a problem with the concept of them assuming the power to allow me to keep my pets, or to enforce this ordinance. And how were we to know of this ordinance in the first place?
My cats never go outside. They are healthy and well cared-for. They are not roaming the streets, damaging property or terrorizing small children. We, however, had been assumed guilty and deemed “offenders”, providing hideouts for several fugitive cats! Every year when I visit City Hall to purchase my pet licenses, I half expect the clerk to demand to see death certificates for those of my sweet kitties that have since passed on to that big litter box in the great beyond. I guess the lessons learned are: be careful what you say about your personal life that might end up in the newspaper, and when you move to a new town, go directly to the city clerk’s office and ask for a copy of ALL the laws and ordinances. Oh…and keep your house clean, as you never know when the city officials might stop in to see what’s in your closet!