Creature comforts may increase for some animals, decrease for others

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — Animals in the borough, depending on where they fall within regulations, may be celebrating or lamenting a recently introduced ordinance if it passes.

Introduced at the Jan. 22 Borough Council meeting, the law would change the number of licensed cats or dogs allowed per household from two of each to four of each.

“The two and two seems a little outmoded in Metuchen,” Councilman Ron Grayzel said, adding that several families in town rescue pets in need of homes.

The regulations would apply to cats or dogs of licensing age, not to kittens or puppies.

Households would not necessarily be limited to four licensed cats or dogs, according to Denis Murphy, borough attorney. With written permission from the town, additional animals could be allowed, he said.

“However, you have to show good cause for receiving more than four [pet licenses],” Murphy added.

Other changes under the proposed ordinance deal with the feeding of animals not kept as pets. These changes would expand upon the existing regulation that prohibits feeding wildlife on public property to include private property as well. In addition, residents would not be permitted to feed unlicensed stray domesticated animals.

“These were recommended by the Board of Health,” Mayor Thomas Vahalla said.

However, Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen pointed out that for those with birdfeeders, it is difficult to avoid inadvertently feeding squirrels. She said she would hate to see residents being punished for such unintentional infractions. The proposed ordinance includes exceptions for bird feeding within specified parameters, Murphy said.

“Someone would have to complain, for the inspector to go out [and check on people feeding squirrels],” he added, stating that residents would be given the opportunity to correct the offending behavior before being issued a fine.