The Right To Keep Cats
by Elisa Black-Taylor
The neighborhood terror!
I'm calling this article The Right To Keep Cats because it will discuss the right of every cat owner to keep cats vs. a neighborhood's right to limit the number of cats allowed per household.
The idea to dig into this subject comes from the Madison County, Florida Board of Commissioners passing an ordinance aimed to prevent another situation similar to Caboodle Ranch. As most of you know, Caboodle Ranch: Cat Heaven or Cat Hell went viral on the internet due to the condition the cats brought to the ranch were living in. The article prompted people to make many hundreds of comments indicating the level of interest in the subject.
The new ruling will allow a person or entity to have up to 30 cats/dogs if they own 2.5 acres of land. With less land there are rules for fewer pets. If a person has more than 30 animals, they can apply for an Excessive Animal Housing permit. This new ruling, just passed June 15, 2011 with a vote of 5-0, doesn't prohibit people from having more than the legal number. It simply means that those keeping a large number of cats will now have to follow strict guidelines in order to keep the cats or face having their Excessive Animal Housing permit revoked. The fee for the permit is expected to be $100 annually. The council is allowing a six month grace period, or until December 15, for cat keepers in Madison County to fall into compliance. Before this ruling there was no way to police this issue.
I agree that intense record keeping should be kept anywhere cats are kept. This includes those who have only a few cats. You never know when you may have to grab the folder and go to the vet. I had to do it just yesterday morning for an emergency vet visit. Even my small rescue keeps a folder on each cat with all medical information and any other info I think important.
We are all sincerely hoping that just the knowledge that the government is cracking down on cat hoarders will improve the situation at Caboodle Ranch, located in Lee, Florida. Hopefully Craig Grant will decide to adopt out as many cats as he can find homes for before the government steps in and he finds himself facing a lot of charges and fines. There are people all over the country who I'm sure would love a Caboodle cat. It's more a matter of whether Craig will allow them to leave or if he'll try to hold onto his cats until the last possible moment.
Here is a must read link for more information about the new ordinance. I'm also giving "homework" pertaining to similar ordinances in different parts of the United States. Please see bottom of article for those.
Researching this article got me to thinking about how many cats a person can keep. I can understand the number being limited outdoors where the cats may wander onto a neighbor's property, for example my Calipso, and be labeled a "nuisance".
But what about cats kept inside? What about those being fostered out from different shelters until a forever home can be found? Or private sanctuaries? Is it fair to charge a large fee for a permit for those trying to create a better life for a cat?
Would a similar program where a permit was required for an annual fee put a lot of foster families out of business? We put a lot of our time as well as money into caring for these animals.
My next question concerns whether government has the right to tell citizens how many cats we can own on our own property? One man took the issue to court and the court decided it was listed in our constitutional rights to due process and those rights were being violated. This man argued the point that we should be allowed to keep as many cats as we please, providing they are cared for.
I look forward to hearing how the readers at pictures-of-cats.org feel about the government creating laws as to the number of cats we can keep. As long as there is a written record as to the good care a cat receives, should there be a limit?
I noticed the new ordinance is for Madison County, Florida and Caboodle Ranch is in Lee County. Do any of the readers know if there are restrictions for his area? I tried to Google it and couldn't find much info. I did read that places that have a lot of "wilderness" areas have fewer rules unless someone complains.
Also, if I've missed any vital information, please feel free to add it in the comment section of this article.
P.S. The photo for this article is my kitten Calipso. She was captured for "running at large around the neighborhood." Pretty good feat to only be 10 weeks old.