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The county of Los Angeles has just announced that they will be allowing just over a 33% increase in the number of dogs that may be kept in private homes within their jurisdiction, from three to four. The rationale behind the move is to provide more places for homeless dogs in the county to be placed.

Statistics are hard to find, but according to Much Love Animal Rescue, the LA Animal Services reports there are between 26,000 and 44,000 homeless dogs in the city at any one time. Estimates put the number of owned dogs in the city at about 460,000, with the number in the county at about four times that, so there could be upwards of a hundred thousand homeless dogs countywide.

As for why the limit in the first place, the issues mainly center on the effect a large number of dogs can have in an urban setting, such as noise, odor, or other nuisance, although there’s not a lot of consistency from place to place, nor is there a clearinghouse with all the information in one place. This is largely because such laws are set on a city or countywide basis, and there are over 3,100 counties (or equivalent jurisdictions) in the U.S. alone.

In some places, like Washington State, where there are limits, the standard seems to be three dogs, or three cats, or a combination of the two. Some places, like Providence, Rhode Island, are just now enacting three-dog limits, while others, like Grand Rapids, Michigan, have considered but then rejected such ordinances. Of course, the standard limit can vary. Fort Wayne, Indiana, allows up to five dogs, seven cats, or a combination of up to seven of both — and there are “grandfather” exemptions for people who live in unincorporated areas that are later annexed into the city.

There are also arguments against limits, which have been summarized by the American Kennel Club, which feels that limits do nothing to stop irresponsible owners while punishing responsible ones, are difficult to enforce, and can actually burden the community by contributing to the problem of homeless dogs and the extra expense of enforcement.

The question on number of dogs in a household should really come down to the humans and the dogs. Some people are quite capable of responsibly and safely having a larger number of dogs living with them, while others really shouldn’t even have one. The problem is, of course, that laws need to be “one size fits all.” It’s finding that right size that isn’t always easy — as the huge disparity in existing laws demonstrates quite readily.

Are there dog limits where you live or not? How many dogs do you have in your household, and do you think it’s too few or too many? Let us know in the comments!

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