San Diego City and County's Positive Experience with No Cat Residential Limit; Santa Monica Has Similar Positive Experience

San Diego City and County both either have no limit on the number of cats allowed in a residence, or a very high limit. Both limit dogs to six.

Their experience with hoarder busts is that they have very few--fewer than Los Angeles County or City. Also, the euthanasia rate is far lower than LA County, and far lower than the city of Los Angeles.

Animal Control officers say it is a matter of living conditions, not numbers or animals.

Also, Santa Monica has no limit on the number of indoor cats, and they have not had a hoarder bust in the last five years and only 2 or 3 in 15 years. They also allow outdoor kennels with no neighbor complaints.

The acting shelter director there made an identical statement as the County officers: It is not a matter of numbers of animals, it is the condition.


Pet Limit Laws in Select California Communities



The City of San Diego does not have a cat limit. The limit on dogs is 6.

The Live Save rate for San Diego County Animal Services that covers both the City and the County is 82% for dogs and 54% for cats. Their live save rate for other animals, which would include rabbits, turtles, ferrets, etc., is an amazing 83%, and the live save rate for all animals, dogs, cats and other animals is 70%.

All of these stats are better than either LA City or County Animal Services. (This was calculated in September 2009. Later numbers are available which I have not analyzed and can be found below.)

Therefore, having no cat limit law, and a 6 dog limit certainly has not affected their save rate statistics negatively.
San Diego County Agency impounds about 26,000 animals annually, which is about 50% of LA City's usual impound rate.

In addition, San Diego Humane, which does have investigation and seizure powers, as well as takes owner turn-ins, handles about 3,500 animals a year and has a live save rate of 86%. They work in association with the County agency.

In addition, eight City, County and private SPCA organizations cooperate to save animals in San Diego. Together they have an impound rate of 47,000, slightly less than LAAS, but with a live save rate for dogs of 85%, 64% for cats, 89% for other animals and 76% for all animals.

These are fantastic statistics compared to Los Angles City or County.

2007-2008 Statistics:

Actually, it was hard to talk to anyone at the SD County shelter because no one seemed to be answering their phones. I finally talked to someone on their emergency reporting line, and then someone in the administrator's office. Both told me there was no cat limit. In addition, I then searched the stats of the various shelters and the SD Municipal code for info on pet limits. The city website confirmed no regulation of cat numbers.

From the City of San Diego website:

The quantity and type of animals kept on residential property are restricted in the San Diego city limits. Cats are not regulated.The total number of fowl and rabbits maintained on a residential property is restricted to 25, except up to 100 pigeons provided that the animals are kept at least 50 feet from any residence.Having more than six dogs at a residence is considered a kennel, and is not permitted in residential zones.

I talked to Lt. Kalanai Hudson this morning of San Diego County Animal Services.

In her opinion, it was a blessing not to have to enforce a cat limit law. She said she has been to houses where there were 65 indoor cats and you could see no dirt and smell no smell. She said with no limit, the County is not in a position of being forced to settle neighbor disputes where fighting neighbors use animal services as a club.

She stated when there are complaints of an animal nuisance, like too many cats, they inspect, and if necessary intervene based on their animal sanitation codes( In matters of very poor maintenance, they will impound and treat. She said they also will involve volunteer and non-profits who will come out and help clean or supply food. She said they handle each case on an individual basis, and the term "hoarder" is never used, because its conditions, not the number of animals that is important. She said raids with mass impounds are almost unheard of as they work with people to abate problems.

She points out they have not had a substantial increase in impounds on a year to date basis as has Los Angeles.

Santa Monica

I just talked to the acting head of Santa Monica's animal shelter, StanHernacki. (This talk was in September, 2009) Stan has been with the shelter for over 20 years.

Stan said he was asked by their Council 15-20 years ago to do a study of the number of busts they did regarding people with too many cats. The study revealed they did 2 or 3 in a ten year period of time, despite having no limit on the number of cats owned.

He said during the past five years there were no such cases. Any impounds were for single or animals.

He stated several people have built cat or dog kennels in their back yards that cause no neighbor complaints whatsoever.

He stated sometimes SMAC responds to neighbor complaints of excessive smell or nuisance conditions, and they do investigate. He said, for example if they found 30 cats living in deplorable conditions due to an owners inability to maintain the cats, they might give an order to reduce the total number to 15 or face further action.

If conditions persist, they could and would seize under Californian Penal Code 597, but they have not.

He says it is not a matter of how many animals but the conditions the animals live in.

Once again, this leads me to question the logic of a 3-cat, 3-dog limit, regardless of living conditions, as well as the excessive time that is spent by Animal Services and the ACTF enforcing such limits.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a native San Diegan who is often embarrassed by my city's actions and politics (can you say "bankruptcy" and "Congressman Bilbray"? Gag.), this is a breath of fresh air.

My family has adopted all of our pets over the years from a variety of facilities throughout SD, and I guess it does not surprise me that SD is leading the pack in doing the right thing by our animals and their guardians. Helen Woodward, the gorgeous new mid-city shelter, and the many smaller SPCAs and Humane Societies should be an example for other cities.

Its nice to hear success stories for a change.