New Animal Control.Org

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

A Reactive/Back-Loaded System

In my younger years, I lived in a house that had no screen door on the front entrance. Much to my frustration, I shared the place with a guy who was forever leaving the door open. If he was unloading groceries, going to get something from the car, or dropping something off next door, he'd leave it open while he was gone. Or he'd stand inside the house, with the door wide open, having a long conversation with someone standing on the porch. Why not invite them in, or go out and talk to them on the porch? Why stand there with the door open for twenty minutes?

Each time he did it he'd save the four or five seconds it would have taken to close the door. Then, for the rest of the day, I would spend an enormous amount of time and energy stalking mosquitoes, swatting flies, poisoning roaches and trapping mice.

There's a moral to the story, which is this: It is infinitely easier to avoid a problem than it is to correct it after it develops. Any firefighter will tell you it's more cost effective to prevent a fire than to put one out. That's so obvious any fool can see it.

Nonetheless, seemingly, every developed nation on earth has a back-loaded dog management system. That is to say, the system is structured so that absolutely no attempt is made to avoid dog-related problems before they develop. All the resources of government are directed to the amelioration of problems after they occur.

To the best of my knowledge, there isn't a single jurisdiction anywhere that screens potential dog licensees to weed out unfit owners. No government official says to the potential owner, "Before you take this Pit Bull for a walk past the elementary school, you're going to have to prove that you can control the dog." No one says, "Before you chain this Beagle out in your front yard, you're going to have to satisfy us that he will be afforded a high quality of life. And before the dog is ever allowed to set foot on your property, you're going to have to guarantee us that he will not bark and disturb the neighbors."

Currently, there is no specified code of conduct to which a potential dog owner must agree to adhere. And there is no screening, and there is no mandatory training. In the eyes of the current animal control system, you can never be too ignorant, too irresponsible or too belligerent to own a dog.

Who is served by a purely reactive system? Not the general population of humans. Many of us can no longer work, rest, sleep or relax in our own homes due to chronic barking. And statistics show that most of us have suffered at least one dog bite before we even make it to junior high. Certainly the canine population does not benefit from that type of system. As a result of the back-loading policy, dogs are neglected, mistreated, and slaughtered by the oven-full, millions of them every year.

A proactive system that emphasized screening, training, and the exclusionary licensing of potential dog owners, would immeasurably relieve the suffering.

Devastated Dogs & the Public Health of Humans

In contrast, the current dog licensing system allows absolutely anyone to acquire a canine, regardless of their fitness for the formidable task of socializing, caring for and supervising a dog. The result of allowing unfit people to acquire dogs has been to devastate the canine population. Every year our animal shelters put to death something in the neighborhood of three million dogs. Dogs that must die because government allowed them to be acquired by people who were not equal to the responsibilities of ownership. Averaged-out, that comes to a rate of 342 dogs being killed every hour, 24 hours a day, every day of the week, every week of the year. But you don't need any statistics to know that the canine population is in torment. Just listen to the number of dogs crying out in misery within earshot of your house.

However, dogs aren't the only ones suffering the effects of this atrocious system. Both the barking and the biting epidemics exist because people who are unfit for dog ownership are, nonetheless, permitted to acquire animals.

From a public health perspective, it has proven to be a disastrous way to manage the canine population. Roughly five million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. Around 800,000 of those injuries are serious enough to require medical attention and 5,000 of those are so severe as to require hospitalization. On average, 18 of our countrymen are mauled to death by canines each year. As a society, dog bites cost us $1 billion dollars a year in medical expenses and liability claims, and another $310 million is eaten up yearly by insurance payouts. Furthermore, dog attacks are the leading cause of traumatic injury throughout the general population, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, and they are the leading health problem among children, who are the most frequent victims of such encounters. And it's getting worse. The number of dog bites is increasing faster than the number of dogs. And it is happening because there is no screening component to our industry-oriented, back-loaded system.

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