Last night, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, despite overwhelming public opposition, voted to enact a zoning amendment that will limit the number of cats a resident can keep to six. Previously, there had been no limit. The reason for this change? According to the supervisors, a single situation involving just one resident in the county prompted the measure’s introduction and ultimate passage. The result? Policy, with immense unintended consequences, that will now affect countless residents and innumerable innocent cats – all to prevent a single individual from keeping a substantially large number of cats on her own property (it is worth noting that this person has been routinely found to be providing responsible care to her cats). If this approach to resolving a single issue sounds like a bad idea to you, that is because it unquestionably is.
Board of Supervisors Chair Dorothy Jaeckle, who represents the Bermuda district and introduced the amendment, assured those who attended the meeting that the county would not be proactive in its enforcement of the new law. I’d encourage residents of the county who keep more than six cats (now or in the future) to mention that when the county asks them to file for their special exceptions.
The Richmond SPCA, which has more than 15,000 constituents living in Chesterfield County, was present for the Board of Supervisors’ meeting last evening, and we were joined by other private organizations as well as residents who shared our wide array of concerns regarding this amendment. You can read the reasons we outlined for our opposition to the measure in the text of our remarks to the board.
The Richmond SPCA is grateful to Supervisor Chris Winslow, who represents the Clover Hill district, for speaking with us earlier in the week to hear our concerns related to this measure before it was presented last night for a vote. We also appreciate very much his efforts, though unsuccessful, to have the vote delayed so that other options or revised language could be explored. Mr. Winslow cast the sole dissenting vote yesterday evening, and we thank him for his rejection of an ill-designed, targeted policy that hurts many more people and animals than it could ever hope to help.
If you are a resident of the county and share our concerns and frustrations, I hope you will consider writing to your supervisor to let him or her know of your dissatisfaction.
James M. "Jim" Holland
Clover Hill District
Christopher M. Winslow (Please thank him for voting against the amendment.)
Steve A. Elswick
Leslie A.T. Haley
Tamsen Kingry is the chief operating officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.