Ahem. From the Pittsburgh Municipal Code:
§ 633.12 NUMBER OF PETS PERMITTED IN CITY LIMITS; EXCEPTIONS.No person or residence shall be permitted to own, harbor or maintain more than five (5) dogs or cats or any combination thereof within City limits. This section shall not affect any person or residence whose number of dogs, cats or any combination thereof exceeds the limit of five (5) prior to the effective date of this section and upon elimination of dogs or cats by adoption, death or any permanent removal from that person or residence, owners exceeding the limit of five (5) are not permitted to obtain additional dogs or cats. This section shall not affect kennels and catteries that have been granted a kennel/cattery permit by the City Animal Control Department nor shall it affect kennels registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.(Ord. 29-1992, eff. 7-16-92)
I haven't heard this mentioned at all during the whole cat licensing debate. I spoke with the staff at three different City Councilpersons and none of them had heard of this.
Here's the deal — my dogs are licensed and thus “on the books” whereas my cats are not. If I have more than two cats, I go over the limit. So, if I license my cats, I open myself up to fines or penalties for breaking the pet limit law.
Take it a bit further … if you face fines and penalties, perhaps you would need to get rid of a pet or two. Where would they go? Would Jim Motznik adopt them? No, inevitably some would end up at the shelters and some would end up on the streets.
There's more. In 1994, PA Commonwealth Court struck down the five-pet limit law of the Borough of Carnegie because it did not connect owning five pets with creating a public nuisance or adversely affects the safety, health and welfare of the community. No one can arbitrarily determine that the pet conditions of five is okay whereas six puts ya over the top. Here's a pet site with a detailed explanation and the court ruling.
Now, this is just me. If I tried to be a law-abiding citizen and licensed my cats, I might get cited for violating the pet limit law. I would not turn my pets over to a shelter. I would not take them to visit Uncle Jimmy. I would not let them roam loose in Manchester and toss some kibble over the fence every day.
I would sue the City.
Yes, that's right. I would drag the City into court based on the 1994 decision and probably win. Tax dollars would be spent defending the City. I doubt the cat licensing fees would cover those expenses.
There are hundreds of households with more than five pets that are perfectly neat and clean and humane. My understanding is that state law permits up to 15 pets (maybe it is 18) and then requires a kennel license. A kennel license brings a greater level of scrutiny to the pet owner. Thus, the municipal duty of protecting the health and welfare of the community is preserved without compromising the liberty of citizens to self-determine how many pets they can care for within the requirements of the law (and sanity). Please don't comment about hoarders. That's a whole different pond of koi. Cat licensing and pet limit laws aren't going to do a damn bit of good for hoarders.
Licensing cats is a waste of tax payer dollars. Put those monies into spay/neuter and trap/release programs. Put those monies into education campaigns about spaying and neutering AND keeping your cat inside.
Maybe giant billboards with Luke stretched out in the Barkalounger with a few cats draped artfully across his lap while he watches the Stillers.
So, call your Councilperson and let them know that a cat licensing law is going to trigger a nasty mess over the pet limit law. Is that really where we should be investing energies? Call Payne and Carlisle. I bet there are dozens of little old ladies with 6 or 7 cats in their districts. Call Koch. Lots of dog/cat households on the Southside. Tell Peduto and Harris you don't want your mother to be dragged down to court because she has 7 animals and give both more ammunition to fight a stupid law.
My understanding is that most of the calls have been coming from outside the City. That's not very helpful. Get your City people to make a call. It takes five minutes b/c they barely listen to you anyway. Well, they listen a bit more attentively than Specter's people. But your boss won't even notice you doing it. Seriously. Call.
And save up a few pennies for my legal expense fund. I'm not going down without a fight.