The Long Beach City Council discussed an ordinance Tuesday that would extend the current household pet limit from four to six pets. The ordinance would apply to any numerical combination of cats and dogs.
In January, city councilmembers directed city staff to create the ordinance as a solution for helping alleviate stress on Long Beach shelters. Currently, Long Beach animal shelters are empty due to a surge in COVID-19-related pet adoptions.
Councilmembers had varying degrees of approval for the ordinance.
Councilmember Stacy Mungo relayed that some of her constituents don’t want their neighbors to have six pets unless approved on a case-by-case basis.
“We have so many barking dog complaints in our community,” Mungo said. “The process to alleviate barking dogs is very burdensome on our neighbors and often causes neighbor disputes.”
Councilmember Jeannine Pearce, on the other hand, was receptive to the ordinance.
“Six is a manageable number,” Pearce said. “We want to be able to allow people to foster mother cats with their babies and potentially keep them, so we’re not putting them back into the system.”
Mungo proposed an amendment to the ordinance that would involve an approval process for residents, requiring them to receive authorization from Animal Services in order to adopt additional animals.
Director of Animal Services Staycee Dains seemed resistant to the idea that the ownership of six pets was cause for additional regulation.
“There are already state codes that deal with animal cruelty and neglect. What we find is that a number doesn’t really have anything to do with either one of those things,” Dains said. “Certainly [the number of pets] can exacerbate a situation, but they themselves don’t necessarily cause them.”
Mungo also pointed out that residents were unable to weigh-in on the issue. Dains only mentioned consulting with animal rescue organizations during her presentation.
“The community has not been involved. The animal advocacy groups have been involved, and, in my opinion, those individuals in animal advocacy are our best cases of the individuals who would be requesting six animals,” Mungo said. “There have been no public meetings on this topic except for this council meeting, a council meeting where the public does not have the ability to come and speak on the item.”
Councilmember Roberto Uranga voted against the item, expressing a desire to send the ordinance back to the drawing board for further discussion.
The council eventually passed the item with an amendment for city staff to draft a process for residents to be approved for an increase in pets. This process may include a review of the resident’s past Animal Control calls, barking complaints or off-leash complaints.
Due to the addition of a vetting process, city staff will bring the ordinance back for discussion at the next council meeting.
The next city council meeting will take place via teleconference on Tuesday, May 19 at 5 p.m.