I spend a lot of time walking around my neighborhood. On many of these walks, I pass by houses where chickens roam free or a miniature goat is maintaining the grass. Not to mention all the dog owners out airing both themselves and their four-legged companions. This has, on many occasions, made me wonder: Just how many pets can one person have? 

According to a City of Seattle ordinance, each household can have a maximum of three small animals such as cats and dogs, up to eight chickens, but no roosters, miniature goats and potbellied pigs are allowed, with exceptions. Except for potbellied pigs, no swine are allowed. 

In addition to limitations on how many small animals you can have, the Seattle Municipal Code also sets forth some rather specific rules about what sort of behavior you and your small animal may engage in. 

First, make sure to always license your cat, dog, potbellied pig or miniature goat. The licensing fee goes toward the Seattle Animal Shelter and assists with low-cost spay/neutering programs, as well as keeping the shelter running for all those pets that are abandoned. 

The fine for not having a license for your pet certainly exceeds the cost of obtaining one: $125, for not having one; and $54, for not displaying it. 

Second, there are fines for failure to leash a pet (except cats), and as many of the local dog owners know, Animal Control seems to enjoy making Sunday-morning visits to some of the neighborhood city parks. Such a visit may be costly should you and your pet (off-leash) be there at that exact time. The fines are progressive, starting $54 for the first offense and topping out at $162 for the fourth or more offense. 

Lastly, animal waste must be removed at once from public property or property not owned by the pet owner. The fines vary, from failure to scoop at $54, plus another $54 if you also forgot the appropriate “removal equipment.” 

The most surprising ordinance is that pet waste must be scooped every 24 hours from the pet owner’s property. 

The most common complaint is usually pet noise. What exactly can you do if your neighbor’s dog barks all the time? According to the City of Seattle, citizens living in the city should expect a certain level of noise — whether it be traffic, lawnmowers, construction, barking dogs or other animal noises. So before you decide to make an issue about it, perhaps you should ask yourself if your expectations are unreasonable. 

You may also want to think about any noise that you may create, whether it be a motor saw on an early Sunday morning, or your favorite band late at night. 

The following is recommended both for neighbors who fail to leash a pet and for when the animal noise becomes unbearable: Communicate with the pet owner. Sometimes the pet owner may not know that the pet was loose or that their beloved dog barks all day when they are at work. By communicating the issue in a friendly way, you may be able to reach a reasonable solution in a neighborly manner. 

If that does not work, the next step is to submit a complaint to the Seattle Animal Shelter.  

Responsible pet ownership

Finally, a very important part of being a responsible pet owner includes lost-pet prevention. All pet owners should take the following preventative steps, which may prevent the pet getting lost, and if it happens, it will certainly speed up any reunification: 

•Secure your home by making sure that your pet cannot unintentionally get out. 

•License your pet, so that if your pet is lost, an Animal Control office can locate you.

•Invest in a personalized tag — Make sure all phone numbers are listed so that anyone who finds your pet can reach someone.

•Microchip — Tags and collars sometimes get lost, or perhaps your dog does not wear his collar inside. With a microchip, most veterinary offices have scanning equipment and all shelters do. It is a low-cost way to insure that your pet can make his way home should he get lost. 

MONICA LANGFELDT is founding partner at Queen Anne-based Langfeldt Law PLLC (www.langfeldtlaw.com). To comment on this column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.