Save Pets Increase Limits

Thursday night two Riverside County residents made the trek to Van Nuys to support the proposed increase in pet limits for the City of Los Angeles, under the new Director of LA Animal Services Brenda Barnett.

The room was packed with pet owners, rescue group volunteers and a few show dog people. Representatives from CarPOC and CDOC were there too. Channel 7 News and Channel 4 News were in attendance with filming the story for the 11:00 O’ Clock news.

The majority of the speakers, about 45, supported the increase in pet limits. About 4-5 people did not support the increase, stating they had problems with barking dogs or that increasing pet limits would lead to more problems. This included Laura Beth Hiesen the former commissioner and former candidate for director.

The rescue volunteers spoke of how increasing the pet limits would allow for more foster homes to help with dogs and cats in need. Many of the rescue volunteers expressed fear of LA Animal Services knocking on their door because they are over the legal limit of animals from time to time. The rescuers told how they cannot just turn away or send to the shelter an extra dog or cat knowing it has a pretty good chance of being euthanized. Rather, they will risk being over the legal limit to rehabilitate sick animals, train animals with behavior problems, or just keep extra dogs or cats until suitable homes become available.

The rescue volunteers spoke about the process to adopt a dog or cat. They spoke of interviews, applications and doing home checks before placing rescued animals into the right home. The rescue volunteers explained that placing rescued animals is a process that takes time and can lead to being over the legal limits until the right home is found.

Cathie Turner of CDOC, and a resident of LA, spoke about the increased revenue the city would receive from licensing the additional dogs from the people who desired more dogs than the current limit of three. She also pointed out that not everyone who owns three dogs would increase their dogs to five (the proposed new limit). However families willing to add one more dog to their household would save more animals and the city money. Cathy also noted that there were responsible breeders in the audience, but they were afraid to come forward.

According to Brenda Barnett in a letter sent out over the Internet:

“Other communities that have higher or no pet limits at all have not reported increases in barking dogs, dog packs, dog bites or the reduction of property values nor do they report any plans to reduce the pet limits in their communities. Currently only about 5% or 6000 of the licensed dogs in Los Angeles are from three dog families. Therefore it is unlikely that there would suddenly be an enormous number of 4 or 5 dog families. However, if 1/3 of the current families who license their dogs added one dog and one dog license, the annual revenue for the City at $20 per license would be $792,000 annually at a time when that additional revenues to the City are critical. People who already break the law whether it is not observing the leash laws, not purchasing dog licenses, not getting their pets spayed or neutered or by becoming hoarders are not likely to change because of or in spite of this motion if passed.”

LA Animals Services is very fortunate to have Brenda Barnett. She seems ready to work with the entire pet owning community to reduce the shelter numbers in Los Angeles.

If it works in Los Angeles, maybe it could happen in Riverside too.

Hannahs Story


Denied an exemption for a rabies vaccination, Hannah’s owner faced a dilemma: administer the potentially harmful injection or risk the consequences of Riverside County Animal Services knowing she kept an unlicensed dog.

Hannah was a rambunctious and affectionate eleven and a half year old spayed standard poodle. To paraphrase Will Rogers, to Hannah there were no strangers, only friends she hadn’t met yet. So when Hannah stopped being energetic and showed signs of being in pain, her owner had her examined by a well respected vet. The diagnosis was numbing: osteosarcoma…bone cancer. The standard medical procedure would have been to amputate the affected leg and half the pelvis. Even then, the likelihood of significantly extending Hannah’s life was small. Hannah’s owner opted to treat her holistically, hoping that this would give Hannah the quality of life she deserved and keep Hannah with her as long as possible. For her owner, every day with Hannah was a blessing.

At the same time, the Riverside County license for Hannah and her two poodle playmates came due. Her owner went to the Coachella Valley Animal Shelter and renewed the licenses for Hannah’s friends. She then explained the nature of Hannah’s disease, produced a letter from her vet recommending against the rabies vaccination, and requested an exemption so that Hannah could be licensed.

The next Saturday morning, the owner received a call from the Coachella Center saying that the request for an exemption had been denied by the Riverside County Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Allan Drusys. She was shocked and distraught. In trying to follow the law and her conscience, she had exposed herself and Hannah to a miserable choice. She appealed the decision and was told that it was firm: there would be no exemption for Hannah.

The owner began to look for help. She appealed to her Riverside County Supervisor and to her California State Assemblyman and Senator. She asked for assistance and advice from dog advocacy groups. A bill, SB 2000* had previously been introduced in the California Legislature by such a group to deal with this exact type of situation. She seriously considered that she might have to move. She had the means and the resolve to take Hannah away from the situation.

Finally, about five weeks after the saga began, the owner received a call from the Coachella Center. The exemption was granted. She could license Hannah.

Hannah passed two weeks later. Her license arrived the same week.

We are left to ask why was this woman put through this? She wanted to be, tried to be the good citizen, do the right thing and follow the law. Her reward was a gut-wrenching ordeal.

* SB 2000 was laid to rest in committee by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-S.D.). Her explanation: “It was political.”