Six Chihuahuas, are they better than three St. Bernards and three cats?
You may not be able to find out and still be a law-abiding citizen in Manteca.
Manteca municipal staff has proposed limiting households to three dogs and three cats.
The rationale for capping the number of traditional four-legged pets at six is rooted in health and nuisance considerations. We live in an urban setting where such a numerical limitation is reasonable in terms of the overall community given that noise and odors can raise questions about impacting the lives of others beyond your property lines.
The number six in terms of capping the number of dogs/cats the city will legally allow has a lot of traction as a reasonable limit based on the number of jurisdictions that have such prohibitions. Of course if you have an irresponsible pet owner with one dog that is allowed to bark non-stop and rip apart common fencing or dig under fencing or where the owner never picks up their back yard droppings one dog can be one dog too many.
At the other side of the spectrum you can have a responsible owner with 10 dogs and they may never infringe on the quality of life of neighbors.
Such a limit on traditional household pets that either meow or bark isn’t pure government overreach as some contend given the overall scheme of things that includes neighbors and how they are impacted but dictating how many of those pets can be dogs and/or cats is.
I currently have one Dalmatian. I have no cats but you can’t tell that from my front yard that is one big spa and bathroom for non-feral cats up and down the street. That’s because I do not have lawn nor do I have hardscape. I have lots of ferns as well as shrubs and trees. I prefer leaving a nice covering of leaves to naturally compost as well as to help control weed growth. As such there is plenty of soft dirt making my yard the only natural kitty litter box on the block.
It can make it unpleasant at times if I’m watering or pulling up weeds. I deal with it.
Besides it’s much better than when I first moved in nearly 11 years ago and several cats were using my roof as a urinal. I did aggressively go after those cats.
I must deal with a neighbor who — from time-to-time — has a Doberman in their backyard that without fail will start non-stop barking whenever I’m in my backyard. Now that’s irritating. That said I’ve had people living next to me that actually had five plus dogs and I never had an issue with them.
Like everyone else I’m less than thrilled when I come across dog poop on public sidewalks.
I get, however, that dogs and cats are part of the landscape of civilization. At the same time it is more than reasonable to restrict the numbers when thinking globally as in a community as opposed to just the desires of one person.
What I don’t understand is the rationale the city is pursuing of having an exact limit on species — the three cats and three dogs limit — while having no allowance for variations.
Dogs that annoy me the most happen to be out of control Chihuahuas — or those left to roam loose in front yards for potty breaks. I’ve been bitten by one on the heel as I jogged by and charged by four others over the years. I’ve also been bitten by larger dogs but they didn’t hurt as much based on where they bit me. But that said I don’t know how you can rationalize saying a Manteca resident can’t have six dogs if they have no cats. It comes down to how responsible and thoughtful their owners are. The idea that four, five or six dogs per household are somehow toxic for Manteca as opposed to three doesn’t make sense unless they are vicious, are allowed to run loss or their owners are clueless or abusive.
As for the top worry — vicious dogs — the city has an ordinance that they enforce fairly effectively.
Due to that there is no public safety issue at stake driving the three dogs/three cats limit.
The type of dog if it is trained and treated well shouldn’t be the issue.
So what the Manteca City Council needs to ask is what is inherently wrong about a household having six cats and no dogs, six dogs and no cats, four dogs and two cats, or four cats and two dogs.
It’s not a scientific survey but most of the people I know with more than three dogs have dogs that tend to be small as well as on the small side of medium sized. At the same time most people I know with more than three cats treat them like royalty.
While I’m not advocating it a size limit in terms of weight might make more sense. The possible issues associated with noise, smell and flies from poop not promptly collected would be a much larger issue if someone had six Great Danes or six St. Bernards as opposed to six Boston Terriers.
But let’s be honest. This isn’t about Manteca having a law in place that they will enforce either by peering over fences as they do from the cab of fire engine during weed abatement sweeps or even if law enforcement personnel comes across a violation unless it is in conjunction with another offense. That’s why the ordinance — for all practical purposes — is a pile on offense in terms of charges or one that a neighbor can use to start a good old fashioned Hatfield and McCoy style war.
Barking dogs and public health issues are one thing. Arbitrarily deciding how many of the traditional four-legged pets that the city is proposing to cap at six are dogs and/or cats is another.
It is not good enough the city allows you to apply for a kennel license if you want more than three dogs as such a request triggers a significant Big Brother list of things you can and cannot do. It also requires the city’s blessing to have four, five or six dogs.
On the flip side you can probably find someone who definitely believes the more cats a household is allowed to have — in this case in excess of three — the more issues there are. Why not a special license requirements for four or more cats?
The quality of life concern is legitimate. Dictating how the allowable six pets are distributed between cats and dogs is highly subjective.
Someone with six Chihuahuas shouldn’t be legislated into criminal status especially when there is an expectation that someone with six dogs regardless of their size that doesn’t take their neighbors into consideration when it comes to barking, keeping poop from piling up in their yard, or being able to contain the dogs on their own property will be dealt with accordingly by the city when a neighbor makes a complaint.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.