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License now required to own more than three cats in Dudley, Massachusetts

Voters in Dudley, Massachusetts voted to modify their bylaws so that a kennel license costing $50 is now required for anyone who wants to own more than three cats. The vote was a reaction to a neighborhood feud regarding the behavior of one resident's 15 cats, some of which are let outside and have gotten into neighbors' yards.

The resident, Mary Ellen Richards, faces a fine of $100 a day for violating the new requirement, as does any other resident who fails to either limit their cat population to three or fewer or obtain the necessary license. She plans to move to a more cat-friendly city.

Media reports do not indicate whether Dudley has any restrictions on the number of dogs that a resident may own without a kennel license.

My take:

It is understandable that residents were upset by damage done to a neighbor's yard by cats that were not properly contained by their owner, and that they want to prevent any further damage or similar instances. However, the solution that they came up with for addressing the problem is very shortsighted. It will apparently solve the immediate problem by driving Ms. Richards out of town, but punishes people who are in no way contributing to the problem, and fails to address the real root causes of the situation.

Residents would have been better off voting to require that owned cats be kept indoors or otherwise kept on the owner's property, or finding another means of addressing this specific incident. The number of cats that Ms. Richards owns would not be a public issue if they were not allowed to wander the neighborhood and cause damage. And while the new license may be a nice source of funds for the town of Dudley, it will do nothing to prevent similar problems with residents who have three or fewer cats that cause damage in neighbors' yards or otherwise cause objections from neighbors.

What do you think? Please comment below!

Sources: Worcester Telegram & Gazette, MSNBC "Animal Weirdness"

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  • The Baltimore Pets Examiner 5 years ago

    This is sad indeed. For those find inividuals who care fro feral colonies of cats, this new licence requirement will make things even more difficult and is a death sentence for many many cats, feral or not.
    What a shame this neighbor dispute will resulted in the death of countless cats and heart break for those who care about them.

  • Tracy B Ann 5 years ago

    $50 a year? That seems a small price to pay. 15 cats is a lot of cats, I have to say. I've had as many as 5 at a time and that a lot of caretaking. My cats stay inside but really what kind of damage are these cats doing?

    I'm pretty sure I have more than 15 squirrels in my yard and I don't think they do any damage. I have a lot of turtles (not mine really, they just live on my land) they don't do any damage.

    The birds do drive me nuts, make a mess and I think the woodpecker is ruining a tree, but cats? I don't see the potential for damage. Except to the poor cats left outside to fend for themselves.

    Animal people have got to get together and keep these laws from passing and also pass laws that anyone with large numbers of multiple cats needs to be taking care of them.

    We passed a great one here that applies to quality of care whether you have 1 cat or 100.

    Tracy - Nashville Natural Pet Care and Training Examiner

  • Ana 5 years ago

    Is it my impression on is there a fever of cat-phobia over the US? I live in Portugal and it is with some concern that I've been following several news about neutering campaigns, promoted apparently just by anyone without any control. There are reports of "feral" (or should we say stray?) collonies of cats that have just disapered after a visit by the local humaine society, a pet cat who was lost was put to sleep, and what need is there to neuter an indoor pet? Nine never had kittens, their isolation is control enough.
    Isn't this too much? We have to consider that our cities also have an ecosistem, even though we have the arrogance of thinking that we control nature in such spaces. But there are birds, pets and most specially a good deal of mice, rats and roaches living right bellow our feet. Is it a good idea to let just anyone, without any control or previous evaluation, to just go and neuter cats at random? Shouldn't the need a license?
    Who neuters the rats?

  • timcharles 5 years ago

    This person is nothing more than a cat colloector, that poses as a rescue, in order to get donations to support her "habit".

  • timcharlestimcharles 5 years ago

    she was asked by the town to keep her cats indoors, and she refused, stating that they were used to being outside, and that if they were kept indoors, But, she claims that they know not to mess in other people's yards. Are you serious? Please!

  • dbcooper 5 years ago

    First and foremost, it is not very neighborly to allow numerous cats onto your neighbor's property, regardless of the alleged damage they are doing. Personally, I would not want to see numerous cats on my property lounging about. However, this is a seriously overblown reaction to a very minor and isolated incident. For the town to step in and play Big Brother by requiring fees and licensing for numerous pets is an overstep of local boundary and an inability to understand a neighborly dispute. It would be one thing to fine a woman who refused to change numerous times but it sounds that a dispute ensued, the town overstepped its bounds, and now cat owner's of even just three or four have to suffer as a result of one easily agitated neighbor or one reckless cat owner. And, truthfully, what kind of "damage" do cats really do?