Monday, May 18, 2009

Holding Ourselves Accountable: Confinement

It seems like I come across this type of story fairly regularly: one starting out with a pet Pitbull and from there, everything goes wrong. This one is from San Antonio, TX:

After repeated instances of pit bulls running loose from a home in the 8400 block of Timber Mill, at least 20 residents have signed a petition that states that they feel like “prisoners in their own home.” Now, one of the dogs — an excitable but not particularly aggressive canine named Genghis Khan — could face euthanasia.

Rather than quote much more from the article (you can read the lunacy for yourself), suffice to say that both sides have gone a bit (or more) wonky. And ultimately a dog with no record of biting may be killed. It does seem as if the whole situation - and many of these types of stories - could have been prevented from escalating if the owner had kept the dog confined. Keeping a dog reliably confined to your own property is a basic tenet of responsible ownership. Of course an accident can happen where a dog escapes but provided this is a rare occurrence and the owner has a history of responsible behavior, neighbors are likely to be more understanding than in the case of a dog who roams loose on a regular basis.

The days of letting the dog out the front door and assuming he stays in your unfenced yard are over. Or maybe you think he just visits neighbors who squeal with delight seeing your dog trounce upon their flowerbeds, fight or mate with their dogs, and potty on their lawns. Yeah, no. The fact is that many areas, both urban and rural, now have leash laws. And in some places, property owners can legally shoot your dog if he is on their property and for example, chasing livestock.

It does no good to campaign for an end to breed specific legislation if we, as dog owners, are not following the dog laws already on the books. Most of us do obviously but as a community we need to do better. Educating dog owners - and their kids at school - on responsible ownership, including adherence to existing laws, is essential. We can't all afford to fence in our yards or hire dog walkers while we're at work but we can - and must - work within our means to hold up our end of the bargain as responsible dog owners and members of the community.

One way to educate your neighbors is by example. If and when an anti-pet law such as BSL or MSN rears its ugly head in your area, you can stand up as a voice for responsible owners and their pets. Others may disagree with your opinion but they won't be able to dispute your track record of complying with existing dog laws and acting responsibly. That gives you an edge right out the starting gate. And in this climate of anti-dog legislation, we need any advantage we can give ourselves.

Related Reading: The Future of Dogs by Walt Hutchens


BlueDogState said...

Humane, proper tethering safeguards both dog and community.

Makes you wonder what the anti-tethering crowd is trying to accomplish. Doesn't it?

Joan Sinden said...

I personally do not agree with legislating anti-tethering because it's pointless to enact laws that are unenforceable - but I understand why people who feel compassion for our companion animals feel that anti-tethering legislation is the way to end the horrible abuse that anyone can very easily see in just about any neighbourhood anywhere just by looking in people's backyards. Abandoning a dog to a backyard is one of the worst ways we can treat dogs, and it's done extremely casually.

The "anti-tethering crowd" is not trying to create situations like this woman in San Antonio - what a ridiculous thing to suggest. They are simply trying to end the abuse of dogs at the end of chains.

The "anti-tethering crowd" believe that dogs belong inside the home as their human's companions - and when they're outside their responible owners keep them on leash and leash laws are followed.

The "anti-tethering crowd" is not responsible for these kinds of situations. Laziness, lack of education, bad dog/owner matching, and neighbour conflicts have created this situation.

Look at the facts.