KANSAS CITY, Mo. — How many animals is too many?
One Kansas City woman said she’s being punished for having too many dogs. She feels that the system is too hard on responsible pet owners.
“I didn’t really realize there was a limit. Don't know why there is. There's not a limit on love,” Sharon Boysaw said.
Boysaw and her mother, Martha, said their seven chihuahuas are family.
“They're loved. They're spoiled,” Boysaw said.
But according to city officials, seven pets is too many. The limit is four animals and includes dogs, cats, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and ferrets.
Boysaw said her “furbabies” spend most of their time in the house. They are let out in the morning and afternoon.
In February, someone anonymously reported Boysaw's dogs for barking. As a result, an animal health officer cited her for having too many dogs. He noted that he smelled urine and spotted “junk” in the yard.
Boysaw said her house is not a danger to her dogs.
“They told us to get a lawyer because if we plead guilty to having seven dogs that we can face jail time,” she said.
Modifying the pet limit is part of a larger discussion the Kansas City Council is currently having to improve the city's Animal Health Division.
“Really, when it comes to the number of pets that people can have, there's no clear-cut consensus on how many there should be,” city spokesperson John Baccala said.
Baccala said the data the city collected from surveys at the end of summer doesn’t show the majority of people lean one way or another.
In October, city officials cited only one person for having too many animals.
“We don't see it that often. It really isn't an issue,” Baccala said.
According to Baccala, most people want to see modifications in the way animal health officers issue citations. For example, one suggestion is that officers should do more to work with the animal owner and explain the citation instead of writing one and leaving.
“To me, if you're over the limit, as long as they're vetted and taken care of it shouldn't matter,” Boysaw said.
If a resident want more than four pets, they can get a hobby or avocation license, which allows them to own 10 animals. It requires an annual $100 fee and inspection.
To keep all of her dogs, Boysaw also has to get signatures of consent from all of her neighbors within 150 feet. She has seven signatures so far and needs nine more, but said many of her neighbors won't come to the door.
41 Action News went door-to-door, and only two people answered. Those people said they've never had an issue and have multiple dogs themselves.
Boysaw goes back to court at the end of November. It's an extremely emotional issue for her.
"They told us we have to get rid of three of them unless we get this permit. There's just no way to decide," Boysaw said, crying.
The city said that if you have an issue with a neighbor's barking dog, you need to address it with the neighbor first before calling 311. If you have to call 311, there are certain criteria that must be met, including signing a formal complaint.