Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Are you a dog owner. . .or a sex offender? What's the difference? Online registries treat dog owners like rapists. Fasten your seat belts, boys and girls. You, your dog, and your privacy could be thrown under the bus in the mad scramble to cope with screaming headlines and "dangerous" dogs. Electronically shunning wrong-doers: perpetual purgatory The State of Virginia's press release on their brand spanking-new online database of personal information on dog owners is explicit: The registry, which is similar in concept to the Sex Offenders Registry, enables people to check to see if dangerous dogs reside in their area. . . Users may search by locality or by zip code to determine the presence of dogs deemed dangerous by the courts or local officials. . . The publicly accessible section of the Virginia registry will ultimately include the name of each "dangerous" dog's owner and their address, along with photos, the name and the breed of the dog, the acts that resulted in the dog being deemed dangerous, and information necessary to access court records of the adjudication. A little bit "dangerous" In Virginia, "dangerous dog" means a dog that has "bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal that is a dog or cat, or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat." Dogs that bit other dogs are in the online registry. Dogs that killed cats are in the online registry. 75 -100 dogs per year are typically found "dangerous" in the State of Virginia, and the owners of those dogs will have to update their address and other private information for the database each January. They also must comply with a long list of automatic sanctions including muzzling in public, "dangerous dog" signs for their homes, and special "dangerous dog" tags and orange "dangerous dog" collars. How could neighbors be unaware of such dogs, even without an online registry? Cost to taxpayers in the Old Dominion? News reports indicate $200,147 to set up the registry, plus $78,302 a year to operate it. New York politicians just itching to sell out dog owners

Not to be out done, Westchester County, New York, under County Executive Andrew Spano, took the initiative to establish its very own online dangerous dog registry to publicize the home addresses of dog owners. Westchester Cty. is busy pressuring local municipalities in the county to contribute home addresses to its public listing.

Even though state law doesn't require them to do it. So far, they've snared one dog for the Westchester registry. Sex offender, or dog owner. . .what's the diff to vigilantes? In his piece titled "Virginia Bureaucracy is Foaming at the Mouth over Dogs", Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher wonders if there's much of a connection between people whose dogs bite other dogs and sex offenders. But is a registry the right tool for the government to wield against this particular social ill? A sex offenders' registry shines light on something that people try to keep secret -- their disgusting and dangerous criminal records. The problem with dangerous dogs is not finding out where they are, but getting something done about them, and the registry isn't of much help there. Fisher is right, of course. But treating dog owners like sex offenders could have far more serious repercussions. Bad dog, bad dog! Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? In the opinion of John LaFond, a retired University of Missouri law professor and leading expert on sex offenders and the U. S. penal system, online registries are an open invitation to vigilantism but there is no evidence to indicate that they enhance public safety. Vigilantes have used online registries to hunt down, and murder, individuals whose information appeared on them. The killings have provoked debate and criticism, particularly in "progressive" circles. States like Idaho have added a warning to their registry's home page, warning against the use of the information to criminally harass or intimidate. Murder, arson and assault get a free ride. Not owning a dog. So tell me: Is this any way to treat the owners of a dog that bit a cat? Does anyone out there really think its reasonable to treat dog owners like rapists? Why do politicians think its okay to treat our private information like a public commodity? Do drunk drivers have a greater right to privacy than dog owners? How does that work? Nationally, dog owners represent a healthy chunk of the electorate--an estimated 43% of residences include a dog, and in many places that percentage is much, much higher. Why are we permitting these useless laws this crap? My Dog Votes, and he sure won't vote for politicians that cannot distinguish between the owners of a dog that gets into a scuffle with another dog, and a sex offender. Yeesh.


Anonymous said...

The USDA also wants to treat those who own horses/livestock like sex offenders and child molesters by having them register their premises (clouding title to property rights) microchip each critter and file reports on births, deaths and off property movements of all those animals. Just in case disease is suspected the USDA can come in and depopulate the animals. At least the sex offenders and child molesters get to keep their pets. Why is this program being implemented? Called NAIS for national animal identification system, it was created soley for the benefit of corporate agriculture so they can sell meat globally and show the world what a safe food supply we have. But most tainting of meat comes AFTER the animal is slaughtered and the meat sent to be made into chili or whatever. But corporate ag does not have to chip and track each animal. They get one lot number per group of animals. Any one of those critters could be diseased and who would know. See nonais.org for more info.

Canis Familiaris said...

What's with the war against dogs these days?

Is my suspicion true, that due to rampant human overpopulation, resources are more scarce than we know and dogs are seen as competitors for valuable protein? I mean, what's driving this bus?

To be honest, I don't think anybody's name, address and family information should be available to every twit on the internet whether they've committed a crime or not. If they done time or whatever, aren't they supposed to get another chance?

As for 'dangerous' dogs, yeah, OK. So Boots bit the cat when he got near her food bowl. Hoo boy, that's some dangerous mutt, alright.

I think if they are serious they'd be better off posting info about the owners, not the dogs. Call me crazy but aren't the owners the problem?

As I say, this kind of thing really creeps me out.