Jefferson City considers proposal to limit pets

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri - Officials in central Missouri want to limit how many dogs and cats people can own and make it illegal to feed feral animals on public land.

An ordinance proposed in Jefferson City would make it illegal for people to dump animals or feed animals they don't own while on public land.

Plus, residents would have to get a permit to keep more than six cats or dogs, and pets could not be left in unattended vehicles when it is hotter than 90 degrees unless the air conditioning is running. Law officers, public safety employees and animal control officials would be allowed to remove animals from unattended vehicles.

The city council is expected to consider the measure at its Monday meeting.

Rich Koon, the council member sponsoring the restrictions, told the Jefferson City News Tribune the rules were designed to protect animals. There's a greater risk of diseases such as rabies if large numbers of animals gather in one place, he said. He predicted they would disperse if no one fed them.

"You get rid of the food supply, and the colony will start disappearing," Koon said. "Once they also eat the rabbits and squirrels, whatever they can catch, you won't have a colony."

But critics said pushing feral animals out of parks could create other problems.

"The cats are not going to starve to death," said Joe Wilson, who has urged city officials to reject Koon's measure. "They are going to move to other areas."

The proposed caps on pet ownership come after nearly 20 cats were removed from one house in April.

To get a license to keep more than six animals, residents would have to prove their pets were healthy and that three-quarters of the people living within 100 feet do not object. No one would be allowed to have more than 20 pets.

Wilson said the proposed pet cap was arbitrary.

"It doesn't address the problem areas. It's unenforceable," he said.

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