How many companion animals should you be allowed to own?

Illinois Seeks to Limit Number of Pets Residents May Own

Illinois would like to limit residents to six pets. If Bill HB 1166 passes, it would be the most restrictive anti-hoarder law in the country. People who want to have more animals would need a permit.

Six animals may sound like  a lot of pets to someone who has none, but, take it from me. It’s pretty easy for those numbers to ratchet up. We currently have three cats, two dogs and a horse. Not that long ago, we had an additional two cats and another horse. There have been times — we often foster kittens for rescue — when we’ve had as many as nine cats.

So what happens to the family with rabbits, or mice, or cats that have a litter? Must they run out and obtain a permit based on the number of little ones?

The penalties add up quickly.

Under the proposed bill, first-time offenders would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Second-time or subsequent violators would be guilty of a Class 4 felony, with every day that a violation continues constituting a separate offense.

Anti-hoarding laws should protect animals. Under the state’s Humane Care for Animals Act, it is currently defined as someone who has a “large number” of animals for which they do not/cannot provide proper care such as keeping the animals in a severely overcrowded environment or in conditions that adversely affect the animals’ and/or owner’s health and well being.

Should someone who takes good care of their pets be labeled a “hoarder” simply because their numbers add up to seven? I certainly hope not!

So, how many “companion animals” do you have? And do you think there should be a limit if you can take care of them?

8 thoughts on “How many companion animals should you be allowed to own?

  1. My husband and I have 11 cats, all rescues, all indoor. I also have two horses that I board. My standard for owning pets is as follows: own only the number of pets that you can actually have individual relationships with, and I mean real relationships, not just food and water every day. There are no discards or overlooked cats in my house. We have physical, financial and emotional room for each of these cats, and possibly one or two more. We’re not looking for another one right now, though, but we always leave a little “space” in case someone shows up and chooses us.

    Thanks for the excellent post.

  2. Does this rule apply to agricultural type facilities, too? At my home, I have three cats and two dogs, at the barn 3 miles away I have three horses, half a dozen chickens and four barn cats. However, the barn cat population tends to vary with the amount of drop offs any given spring (yay for irresponsible owners dumping their problems on my far). I’m just curious as to how far reaching this rule would go, even though I’m nowhere near Illinois.

    1. It seems like the wording in the proposed bill is intentionally vague. I’m sure there are others who have similar situations. Maybe it’s just another way to tax animal owners.

  3. I wouldnt worry too much – consider how much that would take to enforce – especially in the econimic climate. I would think that the only ones to worry would be those reported for neglect etc…
    They should direct their attention to all cases of neglect instead of numbers. There are many ‘singular’ animals suffering too….

  4. I agree about it being another tax. After all, this would take money to enforce. Expenditures: places to board animals that were “confiscated”, vehicles to transport them safely, vet care, animal police, follow up investigators, social workers to provide counseling services for children deprived of pets and/or parents (who might be in jail), foster care for said children, legal representatives for those who cannot afford it (i.e., Miranda rights), and of course all the paperwork to go with it, which means administrative personnel and their equipment. Then, to track the individual animals one would need tracking chips, most likely. That would enable the government to know for certain how many animals are in one particular area (possibly via satellite) and send in the animal SWAT team overseen by the Czar of Animal Hoarding…

    It all sounds a bit silly on the surface, but in reality could be one more means of government control. Big Brother is watching Fido. Thanks for a thought provoking and insightful blog.

  5. Wow. My mom and I are moving in together on horse property. She has two dogs, I have two dogs. Together we have three horses. We’d be at the limit right there!
    We’re going to have two barn cats (once the barn is there and a safe haven exists for the cats to get away from predators, as well as a fence around the place), and if we find my rescue mare has issues with being left alone when the other two are out, we’ll get her a companion animal of some sort. On top of that, I want a second (less trained) horse to work with as my horse and I progress, so whenever that horse comes along I will have another horse.

    I’d hardly call us hoarders! I guess Illinois would, though!

  6. We have 1 horse, 2 rescued dogs, 2 ferrets and 1 gecko. I consider that hardly even close to “hoarding”. The bill sounds ridiculous. 20 I can see… not 6!

    My aunt has 10 cats currently. 3 of which she saved from an owner who threw the kitten out in the cold winter! She brought them home and boom – months later she had a litter of 5 kittens! That doesn’t count the family of strays she already had. She has a huge yard and house though and they literally live in cat heaven… if she lived in Illinois I guess she’d be in trouble though. Geez.

  7. I think this should definitely NOT be enforced. I have 5 cats, 1 dog and a guinea pig. The piggy was a rescue who was going to be left for the wolves. 3 of my cats were rescued the same way. We saved my dog from an abuse situation. This should not be a rule, or at least not at such a low number.

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