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Animal Limit Laws: Better Alternatives

by American Kennel Club

AKC's Position Statement on the Right to Keep and Enjoy Dogs.

  • regardless of their actions or the behavior of their animals. Responsible owners should be allowed to use their own discretion in determining the number of dogs they can keep on their own property.
  • A limit on the number of dogs one can own would restrict the many responsible breeders who raise and breed purebred dogs for the purpose of showing. These breeders make a serious commitment to their animals, not to make a huge profit, but instead with the intention of promoting the sport of purebred dogs and improving the individual breeds.
  • Limit laws would impact the many responsible fanciers who rescue unwanted animals and either personally adopt them as pets or find them permanent homes.
    Several courts have agreed that limit laws are unjust. In 1994 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania struck down an ordinance enacted by the Borough of Carnegie that limited residents to five cats or dogs per household (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Creighton, 1994). Similarly, a two-dog limit in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota was challenged and ruled unconstitutional (Holt v. City of Sauk Rapids, 1997).

Better Solutions Are Available.

  • Strongly enforced animal control laws, nuisance regulations requiring pet owners to be respectful of neighbors and society, and increased public education efforts are all better ways to address the issue of irresponsible dog ownership.
  • Effective leash and curbing laws would prevent irresponsible owners from letting their pets run loose, possibly endangering the public and other animals.
  • Clean-up ordinances, as well as noise, odor and nuisance regulations, would require all pet owners to take responsibility for their animals and recognize their obligations to society.
  • For those who do violate nuisance and laws, alternative sentencing in the form of community service at an animal shelter or participation in obedience classes would help correct irresponsible behavior.
  • Use of an arbitrator to mediate neighborhood animal disputes would help settle personal arguments that are not indicative of an animal control problem.
  • A public education campaign would help teach community residents how to properly care for and interact with pets, as well as the need to be a courteous neighbor.

The Purebred Dog Fancy and the American Kennel Club Are Valuable Resources.

  • The purebred dog fancy is extremely interested in developing fair and effective animal control laws, as well as bolstering public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership. To help achieve these goals, fanciers often assist the community by serving on or starting animal control advisory boards to monitor animal-related problems and develop reasonable solutions. Many volunteer their time and resources to help start or improve public education campaigns to teach responsible dog ownership.
  • The AKC's Canine Legislation and Public Education Departments also support communities in many ways. The Canine Legislation Department (919-816-3720, [email protected]) can provide sample legislation and help improve animal control laws. The Public Education Department offers free materials to schools, dog clubs, shelters and community organizations to help educate the public about responsible dog ownership. (Contact AKC's Customer Service Department at 919-233-9767 for more information.).

Legislators and purebred dog owners have a shared interest in making sure that neighborhoods remain safe, enjoyable places for both people and dogs. By working together, government officials and the public can find workable, enforceable solutions to animal control problems without resorting to limit laws.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).