How many pets in your home? Proposed bylaw asks to limit foster pets

Coun. Maureen Cassidy is proposing changes to a bylaw to limit the number of foster pets in a residence.

Homes can currently have an unlimited amount of foster animals

City staff in 2014 proposed putting a limit on the number of pets a person can foster at a time. (Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter)

Should there be a limit to how many foster animals can live in a residential home? One city councillor thinks that should be the case.

Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy is proposing a change to a bylaw that would put a limit on foster animals in homes or apartments. Her motion will be discussed at next week's Community and Protective Services Committee.

There currently is no limit on the number of dogs or cats that can be fostered in residential homes.

Cassidy says she was prompted to write the letter after receiving emails from residents after a January 2020 fire, where there were around 40 cats in a single residence. Four of the animals died in the blaze. 

"My letter just asks the council to consider asking staff to change the bylaw again and put those limits in place that they had originally," said Cassidy.

A foster cat looks through the bars of a cage inside the London Animal Care Centre on Pine Valley Boulevard. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

In 2014, there was an attempt to limit the number of foster animals in a home to 10 cats or dogs, with a maximum limit of four dogs. In multi-unit type buildings, there would be a limit to a combination of three cats and dogs.

Cassidy says it didn't pass at the time due to advocacy by animal rescue organizations.

"The situation in January of 2020 when there were dozens of animals ... it was a duplex and apparently the people that lived on the other side of the duplex had to deal with all the nuisances that come along with a number of pets," said Cassidy.

"I felt the city staff recommendation. All those years ago wasn't a fair recommendation especially in a situation where there's multi-unit dwelling situation."

But Laurie Ristmae, founder of Animal Rescue Foundation, thinks the rehashing of this bylaw isn't a "good investment" of council's time.

Coun. Maureen Cassidy says there should be limits on the number of pets at a time a person can foster. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

"I really don't think it's necessary. (It's) a one-off here and there where there's too many animals in a single family home," said Ristmae.

"Let's say that (person) is a member of a rescue organization that's approved through the city of London, there are mechanisms already in place to be addressing animal welfare concerns. Limiting it on a piece of paper is really neither here nor there."

Animal welfare officers and other city bylaws such as noise restictions are there to protect animals and their well being, Ristmae said. 

"If the animals are not being cared for, fine, go through those channels. If they are, then what's the point of putting a limit on it? They'll end up euthanized or in an overcrowded shelter. Have them temporarily in a place that they're getting adequate care and get them adopted into their families," said Ristmae.

She says while the house fire was an unfortunate situation, the council is having a "knee-jerk reaction" to it and it isn't in the best interest overall.

"I don't see the concern. I don't see the numbers. I don't see the people who have 40, 50, 60 animals in their home. I don't know where they are," said Ristmae.

Instead, if the city wants to make a profound change, it should be looking at other changes within city limits, such as monitoring backyard breeders and those who are selling animals to meet increased demand, she said.

"This is just not a good investment of their time," said Ristmae.

"If you want to invest time and city resources in a way that is actually going to make an impact and improve the lives of animals and improve the city of London... this is not the way."