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Why no laws for cats? (vent)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
There are laws about liscencing dogs and having to have proof of shots why are there none for cats?
I think a lot of people who "hoard" cats, let them run wild and let them keep having kittens, would have less of them and take better care of them if they had to pay for these things just like people do for dogs!
Guess i`m just totally fed up with how people can be so stupid about some things. (NOT the animals fault....but they are the ones who end up having to "pay" for humanities carelessness!
post #2 of 15
We have laws here. The cats have to have to be licensed and have their rabies shot.
I think the trouble you have though is that there are so many people backyard breeding that there are so many kittens being produced and not everyone takes them to the vet. If they don't go to the vet how can they be kept track of? If they don't go to the vet they aren't spayed and neutered and the cycle goes on and on and on....
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
I do not think we have those laws here. I have just sent an email to Petfinders to see if they can give me an address to write to a congressman about this issue.
There are so many people that come here to TSC....maybe if we all would take a few minutes to write a letter it could make a difference.
If there were laws in place then people who are "backyard breeder" could be turned in and their animals taken (and hopefully fined BIG TIME!)
I have said`nt it sad that some people will only be responsible with their pets if it hits them in their pocketbook?
If you are not going to take care of your animals then IMO you should`nt be allowed to have them!
post #4 of 15
I don't know about the rest of Washington State, but Seattle has vaccination and licensing laws for cats and pets per household limits.
As well as unenforced laws about any domestic animal 'wandering'.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Gosh I wish we did...and if we do, and I just don`t know it, I hope to find out...and will definatly be SPREADING THE WORD!
Anyone here in Michigan know if we do...or how to go about getting these laws (or getting them inforced?)
post #6 of 15
Read this:

This one too:

It is naive to think that legislation will solve the problems. True, most areas no longer have a "dog problem", but it did not happen miraculously overnight and dog welfare was not at the forefront of anyone's mind when dog licensing laws were passed. The laws were passed as a public health measure for rabies control, and licenses were really proof to the government that the dog was vaccinated for rabies.

And a lot of homeless and loosely owned dogs were rounded up and killed on the way to where we are today. I don't think any of us would want to see this happen to cats, even if it were possible to round up all the stray cats in a community.

If licensing were enforced, this would take a lot of time and money and this would mean less money for things like low-cost spay/neuter programs, adoption advertising, care for city shelter animals, and a lot of other necessary programs.

I'd love to see "backyard breeders" put out of business as much as anyone, but realistically the consequence of cats being impounded is that the cats will be killed.

Plus, the biggest source of cat overpopulation is stray and feral cats. They are not owned so there would be no one who could "license" them, and it certainly would not be fair to ask a caregiver who is already spending his/her own money to take care of these cats to pay a licensing fee as well.

What we need are well-advertised, accessible, and affordable spay/neuter programs and public education programs that deal with proper pet care. Licensing is just not the answer.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks you for your imput here.....these are issues I had not thought about and I would like to read up on these sites...but when I got to them all I get is a little box in the upper left hand that what others are getting, or is it jsut my puter?
post #8 of 15
Here is another viewpoint:

Cat licensing
Question from Deborah in AR:
My town has a leash law covering cats as well as dogs! This means that no one can get a feral cat spayed/neutered under our shelter's new low-income S/N program unless the cat is afterwards licensed and kept indoors. I would like some advice on how to persuade the City that it is in the public's interest to exempt cats from this requirement.
Anticipated arguments against this change would include: gardeners who don't want cats messing in their flower beds, bird enthusiasts who insist cats decimate wild bird populations, some who fear cats might spread disease, fanatic dog lovers who would resent cats getting any special treatment (a larger group than you might imagine), and officials who think the City would lose money gained through licensing fees. Thank you for providing such a wonderful service.
Response from Nathan:
I remember working for a large law firm when I was practicing law. One of my mentors was a wise old lawyer who told a great story about how his firm was representing an insurance company who did not want to pay out in a toxics pollution case worth millions of dollars. Both sides were writing briefs, citing legal precedent, asking for more and more documents, while the case dragged on for months and even years. When all was said and done, there was a statute on the books that was clear and to the point. The opposing side didn't have a case. Had any of the attorneys working for the insurance company bothered to look at the actually statute that governed the situation, the case could have been dismissed early on. So before you go on the attack, read the ordinance.

When I was working at the San Francisco SPCA, one of our feral volunteers received a citation from the Health Department for allegedly violating the city's pet limit law because she was feeding a feral colony across the street from her home. She was threatened with a fine and even jail term. But the ordinance defined cat ownership as someone who feeds a cat for 30 days on property they own or possess. Since she was feeding the cats on public property (which she did not own or possess), she was not the legal owner as defined by the city ordinance. So I called the Health Department and told them to read their own ordinance. The enforcement action stopped.

Cat confinement laws and cat licensing laws are detrimental to saving lives. If you want to get rid of them, more power to you. But if you have a more narrow focus - you are worried that they will impact your feral work, get copies and read them first to see if they even apply to you before you wage a campaign that may be unnecessary. Many local ordinances require that a person have an ownership or possessory interest not present with regards to feral cats. What this contemplates is an indeterminate time of custody, control or responsibility. In contrast, the feral cat caretaker would exercise custody only for the purpose of physically taking the animal to be sterilized, at all times presuming the animal's re-release. To me, that does not confer ownership for purposes of town licensing or leash laws.

But if the ordinance applies to you and you want to change it, always start with a well-written position paper. It should include a cost-benefit analysis of the competing claims in favor of cat licensing and leash laws. If you do your research, you will find - like the claims about feline disease and predation noted in the earlier post - that all the different claims made in favor of these ordinances do not stand up to scrutiny. You have many communities you can draw on to show what a failure it is in terms of reducing the numbers of cats entering shelters, generating revenue, or controlling feline "delinquency." From San Mateo, California to Fort Wayne, Indiana, communities that passed strict cat confinement laws generally killed more cats when their ordinance went into effect than they did before it, and continue to kill cats in numbers that are above the curve for similarly situated communities without these laws. In fact, get the facts and figures from your own community, which you have a right to do under state public records act (often called Freedom of Information laws). You'll find that compliance rates are low, generating additional compliance through canvassing costs more money than is generated by licensing revenues, nor can any link be made between confinement laws and reductions in nuisance complaints or impounds. I would challenge any community to show otherwise.

Follow the money. It ain't there. When I lived in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, the local humane society pushed a countywide licensing scheme that failed. We put out an 11-page position paper, going over point-by-point the claims made to support it, and debunking each one with facts and figures from ours, and other jurisdictions as follows:

The labor-intensive enforcement provisions of cat licensing, including the creation of a crime, cannot be supported as a cost saving measure.

Low compliance rates, complaint driven enforcement, discouraging of privately funded and administered cat care and sterilization efforts and the experience of other jurisdictions with cat licensing demonstrate that jurisdictions that have implemented cat licensing have seen the number of cats handled and kill rates increase, or have had no effect to warrant the imposition of and drawbacks associated with cat licensing

Experience in jurisdictions with cat licensing demonstrate reduced reclaim rates due to fears of penalties and/or inability to pay impound recovery fees. In addition, since a majority of cats killed at shelters are unowned, it is unlikely that reunification rates would be increased. This is further exacerbated with low public compliance experienced in all jurisdictions with cat licensing despite aggressive programs and expensive door-to-door canvassing

Taxing those who have cats living in their homes or who undertake rescue and care efforts at their own expense will NOT represent an equitable shift in the animal control tax burden since most cats entering the shelters are unowned or owner relinquishes, and since owned cats are not contributing to animal control costs. Therefore, cat licensing amounts to a penalty tax, penalizing responsible cat owners and those that are acting to ameliorate cat overpopulation through privately funded means.

To believe that "taxing" a cat will raise the status of a cat in a caretaker's perception is as silly as it sounds. In fact, marginal caregivers and homeless cat caretakers will either be pushed underground or will be forced to abandon their efforts, forcing the cats onto the town's charge and increasing shelter deaths.

In short, we argued successfully that although cat licensing is promoted as a benign public health and safety regulation (and as a population control for cats), closer scrutiny revealed that its real effects were far from beneficial. Licensing required the county to make considerable expenditures to implement programs for controlling and licensing cats, at the same time they undermined existing efforts to reduce cat overpopulation undertaken at no cost to the county through arbitrary mandates, fines, taxes or fees - and, at the threat of impoundment and killing of the cats - which defeated the likelihood that community groups and volunteer organizations could make a lasting and significant contribution to solving the "pet overpopulation" problem. Our motto: "It's not just a cat licensing bill, it's a license to kill cats." The only thing killed was the proposal to license cats. You can do it, particularly in an era of tight budgets. If you offer it as a cost saving measure (shifting the cost from public control of cats to privately funded TNR and rescue efforts (what is called a "public-private partnership") is a good argument for exempting your efforts.

If all this sounds lawyer-like, it is meant to. When the county administration expected "crazy cat people" to show up screaming about fluffy (some did that too, the second motto was: "Better Fed than Dead!"), they were stopped cold with a crisp well-written position paper laying out the economic and political implications of a county-wide licensing scheme. When the county was looking at budget cuts, the last thing it wanted to do was to increase a costly bureaucracy that did not meet the goals proffered by animal control in surrounding communities that tried going that way.

In addition, while you advocate for change (you can form an association to put out your position paper, write press releases, attend city council meetings), have a fallback position. One compromise is getting an exemption for feral cats who are, in many cases, "unowned" and therefore properly outside the town leash law. Keeping a cat confinement or leash law off the books is generally easier than getting one that exists to be repealed. But amendments are made all the time to laws, and a well researched and well written position paper and advocacy campaign, combined with proposed exemption language for TNR, has a very good chance all things being equal.

As an aside, I am unclear without more information, what the mechanism is for checking licensing and indoor compliance under the low-income S/N program. But if it is truly a barrier, you need to find alternative sources of spaying while you work to change the ordinance. All feral cat programs should be actively fundraising and trying to work with multiple providers so as not to be impacted by changes with any single one.
post #9 of 15
I was actaully on tv for a thing about licensing cats... last October, when I worked at the cat rescue the news crew came and interviewed us about it I guess. Alot of people won't license their cat anyway.. even if it was a law. I know I woldn't want to.. only becaus theres a law statign that i can only ahve 2 cats in my house, yet I have 4.. and if I licensed then we would be fined. My cats are strictly indoor anyway. But I do agree that there should be a leash law for them. Too many cats are killed by cars, or getting knocked up. So..
post #10 of 15
I don't want any laws telling me how many cats I can have. Or that my friends have to have vaccinations given, if they think they lead to cancer. I think education is the key.
post #11 of 15
My city requires annual licensing for cats just like dogs, and has limits on the number a person can own. The fee is $20 for unaltered pets, and $5 for altered pets.

My city also euthanizes more unwanted pets annually per capita than any other city in the U.S. (though many groups are working hard with the city government to change that statistic).

The licensing law looks good on paper and I do agree with it, but in reality the only people who comply are the ones who take better care of their pets anyway.

Plus, our current law (though it will hopefully change soon) discourages TNR for feral control, because once you feed an animal for 3 days it's considered yours, and you can be subject to fines for letting it off your property or abandoning it.

"All dogs and cats must be confined to their owner's property at all times except when on a leash. Animal Care Officers have the legal authority to enter unenclosed front yards of private property to impound unrestrained animals."

The law is mainly there as a control for problem animals (problem owners, actually), but it's still a little disconcerting to know that I'm breaking the law by keeping a spayed, vaccinated feral cat in my unfenced front yard.
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by tuxedokitties
The law is mainly there as a control for problem animals (problem owners, actually), but it's still a little disconcerting to know that I'm breaking the law by keeping a spayed, vaccinated feral cat in my unfenced front yard.
You hit the nail on the head.

If a law is written so that a responsible citizen becomes an outlaw for doing something responsible and for the betterment of the community, it is a bad law and needs to be changed.

Of course these laws are written with good intentions. But intentions get, well, nowhere. It's the actual effects of a law that have to be the baseline. Cat licensing and confinement laws do not decrease the impoundment and euthanasia of cats. They do not decrease the number of free-roaming cats. But they leave good folks like you facing the possibility of fines - and worse, the death of their beloved cats - simply for being a compassionate and responsible citizen!

From my perspective, the baseline purpose of laws and of government in general is to discourage bad actions, encourage good actions, and most importantly to create a culture where it is easy (relatively speaking) to do what is right. Overall, if you have fulfilled criteria #2 and #3, there should be relatively little need for #1. If we make it easy for people to do what they should do, the majority of them will do it!

Laws like the ones discussed above discourage bad behavior, but that's where their good effects end. They also discourage good behavior, and make it more difficult to do what is right. This is something I find fundamentally insulting to the intelligence and goodness of the human species.
post #13 of 15
I also wanted to point out - as someone who has been involved in politics - that you have to think about who you need to lobby. Since any laws regarding cats are not likely to be national, a congressperson can do very little. You will recieve a standard "Thank you for your letter" reply b/c frankly, s/he has no jurisdiction over local bylaws. Most pet bylaws are municipal so in the US, that means a community or a County is responisble. Thus, IF you want cat licensing - and I also think it penalizes those of us who have cats or are in rescue - you would have to lobby "city hall" as it were.

There may be some state laws but they revolve around property and research and those sorts of issues. Thus, they'd come under Natural Resources.
post #14 of 15
You know, in Western Australia there aren't even any laws governing the specific abuse of or cruelty to cats - other than what is outlined by the RSPCA.

When I volunteered at the Cat Haven I was told that you are not even obliged by law to move a cat off the road if you run over it, here.

I was appalled - that is just sooooooo neglectful and irresponsible of our state government.
post #15 of 15
For animal laws in your particular state, Michigan State U. College of Law has a website that has legal info. & resources for every state. It also has great articles to read. I agree that cats are underserved, but I think that the prevalent attitude is a little more pro-dog in our society.
I, for one, would like to see more affordable spay/neuter programs, with discounts on vaccinations for all areas. It sure makes a huge difference. Often the ones most willing to take on companion dogs & cats are the people who have the least income & resources, including the elderly & disabled. We have a wonderful program, ICARE (Inyo County Animal Resources & Education) that has made a HUGE difference! A lot of it is due in part to the influx of educated, Southern Californians who relocated here, who have a refreshing mentality towards dogs & cats. I grew up with the men of the area thinking that neutering an animal was inhumane because it's "cutting his b**ls off"; it was called gelding, and done only to horses & calves (steers) to make them easier to control.
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