As animal lovers, we can sometimes become blinded by how many strays we bring home or adopt from the shelters. We are not thinking about this action as a potential danger or possible felony. Instead, we are thinking about giving a living thing a forever home that we are willing to share. As kind-hearted as it sounds, bringing home too many pets can quickly become a hazardous and sometimes illegal situation. How do you know how many pets are “too many”?
Pet ownership vs. Animal Hoarding:
The hoarding of pets and animals is believed to be a mental illness. No specific number of pets defines a hoarder of animals over a regular pet owner. However, the situation and the way the pets are cared for are the determining factors. There are various ways to tell if you or someone you know are pet owners or animal hoarders. The main factors to consider are:
- Is the space large enough? There isn’t a mathematical equation to tell you whether or not there is sufficient space for everyone living in the home. Typically, if there are enough sleeping, playing and hiding spaces for everyone, with plenty of room to spare for the humans in the home then the space may be large enough. The people should not feel as though their space is more appropriately labeled as “animal space”.
- Is it a threatening or tense environment? This involves the pets and how they interact with one another. Cats and dogs tend to be very social animals, but, they have their limits. Sometimes if the home is overly crowded, then the pets will begin to fight or bully each other for dominance, territory, and attention from their owners.
- Are the inhabitants of the home all right? This factor has to do with the pets and their overall health and well-being as well as the health and well-being of the owners. If the owners are struggling to feed themselves because they are spending every penny on pet food, then the owner is no longer healthy and would be considered an animal hoarder as well as in poverty. On the other hand, if the number of animals in the home greatly exceeds pet ownership then the pets may not be able to receive the proper primary care that they require (like eating enough), nor are the animals likely receiving veterinary care. This can quickly become a dangerous situation for the pets as well as the owners in the home. Often, the animal hoarders will be blinded to the number of pets in their home as well as the condition that their home is in. They may not realize that not only are their animals living in filth and neglectful conditions but, so are they.
Pet ownership looks vastly different. The animals in the home have received veterinary care, regularly. They are fed the appropriate amount of food, each day. The humans can keep their home clean and filth-free. Their animals are not only being properly cared for but so are they.
Legal Pet limits:
Another factor to consider when discussing how many pets is “too many,” is the pet limits per household by law. These laws will likely vary depending on where you live (state, country, county, city, etc.) and they will explicitly list a number of pets that are legally allowed to be in the home. For example, Multnomah County in the state of Oregon says that the legal maximum of animals in a single household is four. Therefore, if you own five or six dogs you are not only breaking the pet limit laws but, you would also be considered a kennel. Also, a “kennel” in Multnomah County is illegal to operate in a residential area. Therefore, the owner of 5+ dogs or cats in Multnomah County is breaking the law and will be prosecuted for such.
The type of pet(s) in the home:
The legal pet restrictions in your area should be followed to avoid felony charges or fines. However, what about areas that don’t have legal limits set? Pet owners in these regions may then need to look at their type of pet(s) as well as their living situation. There are questions that you need to ask yourself that only you can answer to help you determine if you have “too many” pets or not.
Do you have cats or dogs?
An all cat home or an all dog home faces many pros and cons. The number one issue that any pet owner will tell you is the poop. Cats should relieve themselves in a cat litter box of some kind. It does not need to be fancy, but, it does need to be clean! Cat owners will attest to how often they need to clean their cat boxes. The more cats there are in the household, the more cat boxes there should be as well as the more waste there will be to clean up. Dogs relieve themselves outdoors which can become overwhelming if you have “too many” dogs. The number of “too many” cats or dogs in a single home will then be defined by the care that they are receiving. Are their owners feeding them properly and providing enough water for all to drink? Do the owners have a litter box for every cat in the house at a minimum? Are they allowing their dogs to relieve themselves outside enough?
Do you have both?
Having both dogs and cats in the home can open a whole other can of worms. This is the result of not all dogs being cat-friendly, and not all cats being dog-friendly. Therefore, if there are an overwhelming number of cats and dogs in a single household, the owners may fall witness to bullying and possibly intense animals fights. Owners that plan on having both dogs and cats in the home should do so in small numbers and should adopt them while they are young.
Are they neutered?
Multiple pets of both genders in the home that are not neutered are at a high risk of reproducing. This will quickly double if not triple the number of pets in the home. Therefore, creating a situation of “too many” pets in the home.
Do you live in an apartment complex or do you own your own home and land?
This aspect can play a significant role in how many pets is too many. One reason for this is the space. Apartments will not offer as much space as a single family home would. The apartment complex will likely have a landlord that will only allow certain types of pets as well as a certain number of pets in the apartment.