New Animal Control.Org

This page is part of the Failed System section of New Animal Control.Org

A system spawned by governmental negligence

Throughout the world, our dog-related problems continue because of an appalling pattern of irresponsible behavior on the part of government. We see it in the way they shirk their duty to craft and enforce workable anti-barking regulations and instead, saddle the victims of barking abuse with the chore of initiating and driving forward any legal action, if there is to be any legal action.

We see it again in their failure to educate the public about dogs and acceptable standards of canine socialization. Most reprehensibly, we see it in their failure to devise adequate licensing procedures for dogs and dog owners.

Maybe you are under the impression that government requires potential dog owners to actually know something about dogs before getting one. Or maybe you think there is a law in place that requires perspective dog owners to commit to caring for and properly socializing the animal before they are issued a license. If so, you are confusing what is with what should be.

Getting a dog license is a pro forma affair open to any fool with a few dollars to pay the fee. The city does not screen applicants nor does it offer them any training or establish for them a code of conduct specifying the obligations of those who take on the responsibility of dog ownership. The potential licensee need not even be familiar with the local dog laws, much less make a commitment to obeying them. Even a horse's ass is allowed to get a dog. No knowledge of canines or commitment to train, socialize, or care for the dog is required.

And you can see the product of those policies. Of the seven to eight million dogs that pass through the nation's system of animal shelters each year, 85 percent of them are there because of behavioral problems. That's a telling number, because behavioral problems in dogs are created by the way their humans interact with them and arrange their situations.

Clearly then, millions of people are acquiring dogs who lack the knowledge, skills, resources, or commitment necessary to properly socialize and care for the animals. We see the result not only in the wholesale slaughter of dogs in the overactive death chambers of our overflowing animal shelters, but in the chronic barking epidemic, and in the almost five million Americans bitten every year by dogs that are owned by people who lack the knowledge and/or the commitment necessary to control them.

When local government is irresponsible in its method of licensing dogs, and in its failure to license dog owners, it sets the stage for irresponsible behavior on the part of many of its dog owning citizens. In so doing, government has created both the barking and biting epidemics, and condemned tens of millions of dogs to death, or to lives of terrible suffering.

An Ethic of Irresponsibility

A while back I spoke with one of the city-employed attorneys who handles the barking dog court cases for the City of Santa Rosa. He grew agitated when I pointed out that the city's three-household Law is worthless, and he took exception to my assertion that, instead of harassing the victims, government should be proactively pursuing an energetic program of barking dog abatement. That prompted him to critique my personality before he added in irritation, "You're asking the city to proceed under that section" (the three household ordinance). "You're asking the city to do the work for the citizens."

"Yes, that's it!" I replied. "That's what I'm asking." What a concept, the government doing the work of the people! "That's what government should be doing," I said, "and by not doing it, the city is behaving irresponsibly."

"The city of Santa Rosa is not responsible for taking action against the owners of barking dogs," he said.

"That's my point exactly. The city is not responsible for that and it should be. Refusing to take responsibility for that which one should be responsible, is by definition, irresponsible behavior. So by making victimized citizens responsible for curbing the behavior of their abusive neighbors, the city is behaving irresponsibly."

It is not the job of the private citizen to regulate the behavior of his neighbor. We aren't required to chase down speeding motorists or write tickets to other citizens when they park improperly. Why should it fall to us to make a neighboring dog owner behave responsibly? Forcing people to behave in a responsible manner is the purview of government, not the private individual.

When it comes to barking dogs, it is an absurd situation in which those in authority refuse to take responsibility, while the victims, who are forced to take responsibility, have no authority.

This page is part of the Failed System section of New Animal Control.Org