Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Animal Control Bylaw

I'm slowly getting to the end of the 1998 road trip chronicle, there are only a couple of weeks' entries left and most of them are short. I am quite frankly bored with the process and looking forward to the end. The journey itself was wonderful but the writing about it is not. Oh well, nearly done!!

Last week my dog crossed the street in front of my house by herself, I did not see her go. She likes to sit on the front porch in the early morning and watch the world go by, and then she goes down behind a bush and sleeps in the grass until it is time for her morning walk. But last week was a little cooler than usual and I guess she was feeling a little friskier than usual so she crossed the road. There's a fire hydrant there that passing dogs leave little urine posts at, I guess she was checking the mail.

Anyway as luck would have it a young woman who is terrified of dogs was walking by and encountered my dog. I did not see what happened but the net result is that the young woman complained vigourously to my neighbour and then later to the animal control officer (for brevity, 'aco' from here on out). My neighbour relayed the complaint to me, it was mostly about how dogs ought not to be allowed to run loose.

A couple of days ago the aco came by but Hapi and I were at the dog park so she left a note saying that my dog had been seen running loose and engaging in "annoying behaviour" and I should call her immediately. Which I did. It wasn't her actual phone number, so I had to leave a number for her to call me back. Which she did.

First I got the lecture about keeping my dog under control at all times (and have I read the dog bylaw?), and then about having my dog licensed (which she is, I duly gave the aco my dog's license number), and finally about her aggressive behaviour (and have I read the dog bylaw?). If I had been on the ball I would have asked what specifically my dog's "aggressive behaviour" was but I was not.

The aco said, She was barking?

I said, She's a malamute, she doesn't bark. Then I said, Have you met my dog? Do you even know what you are talking about?

She said, No but I would like to, are you home during the day?

I said, You'd have to call, we are in and out.

So she told me that she was giving me a warning, that she was writing up the complaint and it would be filed against my dog's name, and if there was another complaint, it would get serious. She didn't specify, other than to say, Have you read the dog bylaw?

So after the conversation I read the dog bylaw. I had read it before and it is not pleasant reading but I thought I better touch all bases. I read the damn thing.

If there is a bylaw more draconian and punitive, I don't know what it would be. Lots of references to "seize and destroy". Basically the aco has the authority to seize and destroy any dog she deems dangerous, without notifying the owner. "Dangerous" is defined as meaning among other things, capable of aggressive behaviour. No proof of actual behaviour is required, and there is certainly no recourse or appeal process.

I went down town and visited the post office and several stores, ran into lots of people I know and repeated the gist of the conversation. Without exception the reaction was, This dog? Are you sure they know what they are talking about? One merchant offered to start a petition if necessary, and admonished me never to read bylaws, it would utterly destroy my faith in humanity. Got that right.

I understand that in this world animals do not have rights, or nothing compared to human rights. But if you were to take the dog bylaw and substitute the word "Jew" or "Indian" for the word "dog" you would get an inkling of my terrified reaction to reading the bylaw. Our town bylaw was derived from the county bylaw which I also read and it is even worse. Among other things it doesn't say "seize and destroy", it says "kill on sight".

I know dogs don't have human rights, I know we humans run this world and we dictate how all other creatures shall be treated. Consider faith in humanity destroyed. How can we talk about saving endangered species when we can't even get it right with our pets?

The clincher for all this is that the contract for animal control bylaw enforcement in this county is held by the SPCA. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Faith in humanity dead as a doornail.

No comments: