Editor's Page: Anti-Dog Legislation

After a while, though, when anti-dog legislation isn’t made law, we begin to develop a false sense of security.

By Christi McDonald | August 1, 2006

Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. — Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

In the 21st century we’re all routinely exposed to vast amounts of information.  Even those subjects that are most important to us sometimes become victims of what I think of as "alert fatigue” — we hear warnings over and over again on a subject we sincerely care about, until the warnings just don’t get our attention anymore. I think this has happened to some degree with anti-dog and breed-specific legislation in this country. We’ve been warned many times over the past several years about proposed legislation in different parts of the country, laws that we certainly don’t want to be put in effect; after a while, though, when the bills aren’t made law, we begin to develop a false sense of security. So many of the laws that are proposed seem so ill-advised and unthinkable to us anyway…  And then, when the alarm sounds the next time, it doesn’t seem as shrill, and eventually we hardly hear the warning at all. I’m afraid that "alert fatigue” is going to prove unfortunate for us as fanciers and hobby breeders.

On May 3, 2006, in California, Los Angeles County passed an ordinance that requires all dogs, except those that are law enforcement or service dogs, or that qualify as "competition” dogs, to be spayed or neutered. If a dog meets the county’s first criteria and its owner wishes not to spay or neuter, the owner must then acquire a $60 "intact animal” license. To qualify as a "competition” dog, a dog must meet one of the following requirements:

1. Competed in at least one dog show or sporting competition in the past year;

2. Earned a title from a purebred registry as recognized by Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control;

or

3. The owner must be a member of a purebred dog club, approved by the county, which maintains and enforces a code of ethics that includes restrictions from breeding dogs with genetic defects and life-threatening health problems "that commonly threaten the breed.”

This ordinance is not the usual "threat”; it went into effect on June 3. I realize that most of the dogs that live with us meet one or more of these requirements. Still, I find it alarming that this legislation passed. There are so many active dog people in Southern California, and yet this legislation was still passed and it appears that more is to come. It is imperative that we are all aware that these kinds of restrictive laws can be passed, and that we have to be diligent about fighting them.

Other California counties are considering similar legislation as you read this. In Berkeley an ordinance has been drafted that targets "pit bull” breeds and requires owners to spay or neuter and unless they pay hefty fees and agree to allow the city’s Animal Control department to conduct a home inspection to determine if the space is "suitable to breed and raise puppies,” and worse, allow the department to "evaluate the suitability of the dog to be bred, including consideration of their age, health and lineage.”  I’m sure I’m not alone in calling into question the qualifications of the Berkeley Animal Control department to evaluate the lineage of my breeding stock to determine whether or not I should proceed with my plans… or whether you should proceed with yours.

We must make ourselves aware of what is going on in cities and counties across America. We cannot assume that the "other guy” is doing the work to keep these kinds of laws from being implemented. If we do, life as we’ve known it as hobby breeders is going to disappear faster than we can imagine.

 

In Memoriam

On June 17, 2006, Dogs in Review and BowTie tragically lost our Production Manager and friend, Greg Warne, in an accident. Greg was an integral part of the DIR team, and he will be greatly missed. He was also a devoted Kuvasz owner and exhibitor.


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