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.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who speaks for pet owners? Lloyd Levine's AB 1634 finally grinds to a halt. Now what? Clock's still ticking for dog owners everywhere. And little feet are tap, tap, tapping. Levine and his best buds, HSUS and PETA, may be nursing their wounds and looking at where they messed up for now. . .but they'll be back. In fact, PETA is calling the failure of AB 1634 during California's 2007 legislative session a mere postponement. Wayne Pacelle's Humane Society of the United States doesn't acknowledge the "postponement" at all. Deny, deny, deny. It's worked for you before, Wayne. Maybe it will again. Maybe. But Best Friends Animal Society, that out-of-control carnival ride of an animal rights organization that withheld official support for AB 1634 for months? Well, now Best Friends is singing Lloyd Levine's praises, and promising to work with him in 2008. Bad Rap plays both ends against the middle First prize for putting the most spin on the ball goes to that savvy image manipulator and San Francisco pit bull "rescue" group, Bad Rap. These are the folks that co-authored California's notorious SB 861--the brainchild of ex-Democratic State Senator Jackie Speier--so that it would be more palatable in some circles, and then made sure Bad Rap appeared on the list of opponents of the proposal they co-authored. SB 861 set the stage for AB 1634 by rolling back California's historic ban on breed profiling. It allows municipalities in California to mandate spay-neuter on a breed specific basis. Now, a year and a half after SB 861 passed into law, Bad Rap blogs. . . In San Francisco, the BSL mandatory neutering law that targets pit bulls keeps SFACC's basement kennels full. Nice dogs, most of them, but uh, caught in the act of being intact. . . And in a final Byzantine piece of hypocrisy, Bad Rap pulled its support from AB 1634 because it "strayed from its initial intent" [of mandating the surgical sterilization of virtually every pet dog and cat in the state of California]. After Lloyd Levine amended, re-amended, and re-re-amended it during its final days, AB 1634 was too watered down for Bad Rap's taste. Why should pit bulls "caught in the act of being intact" have all the fun in basement kennels across the state of California, right? Why not spread the joy? Good thinking, Bad Rap. Any and all dogs (and cats) in California could and should suffer the same fate as the pit bulls you sold down the river. Excellent. Keeping the spotlight on those nasty, nasty, nasty, money-grubbing tax-cheat breeders from hell The one thing that every organization mentioned above agrees on: its all down to "breeders." "Breeders"--whether commercial, backyard, irresponsible, criminal, abusive, accidental, exploitative--its all their fault. "Breeders" stopped Lloyd Levine's AB 1634, according to the Best Friends, Bad Rap, PETA and the rest. And the American Kennel Club pretty much agrees. Lying trampled in the dust: pet dog and cat owners So, while the AKC and the animal extremists indulge in a free and frank exchange of view points, pet owners are left wondering who the hell represents them. With good reason. The over-whelming majority of pet owners already, voluntarily, sterilize their animals. Most pet owners have no practical need for "breeding rights" and few nurse the desire for an intact dog or cat. All the logic and facts presented by the many good and caring people who opposed AB 1634 won't mean jack-shit if typical pet owners are not wooed and won in the near future. And let's face it, there's not a whole bunch for pet owners to cuddle up to coming from the AKC. On the other hand, I've yet to meet a pet owner that believed the state of California could do a better job than they can themselves when it comes to veterinary care decisions for their pets. Stupid is as stupid does. Now, we know Lloyd Levine thinks pet owners are stupid. They are competent to make decisions about their own health care, but not smart enough to make decisions for their dogs and cats. Wayne Pacelle thinks pet owners are stupid, too? Yup. He sure does. HSUS & Co. aims at the hearts, minds, wallets. . . not to mention the ballots. . . of the vast, vast majority of dog and cat owners. And they're doing it by keeping the spotlight focused on those nasty, criminal, etc., "breeders." Let's just hope the Forces of Good wake up, and stop taking the bait. Maybe loosen up those corsets a little. January will be here before we know it. Waking the sleeping giant? Tom Hogen-Esch, a political scientist at Cal State Northridge, said the Levine bill woke a sleeping giant. "That type of legislation Americans find extremely intrusive, so it really sparked a backlash," Hogen-Esch said. . . . [Bill Hemby of PetPac said] The pet owners realized that they had been sitting on the sidelines watching their rights erode and not doing anything about it." B I N G O! Hooray, Bill Hemby! There's a 4,000 lb. elephant parked in the livingroom, folks. Better roll out the welcome mat. NOW! Who speaks for pet owners? Not Wayne Pacelle, not Lloyd Levine. Not Ingrid Newkirk, Bob Barker or William Shatner. "The Fancy"? Better do something about that elitist image, honey. "For the love of the purebred dog" doesn't play well with pet owners, and neither do exemptions from unreasonable restrictions just for "show dogs." Sadly, not the Democratic Party. At least not yet, it doesn't. Who speaks for pet owners? Pet owners like us do!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Battling for Control of Your Dog's Balls: New York Bill O'Reilly stands up for dog owners and property rights. Where the hell are the Dems? Jersey resident and dedicated dog owner Pete Georgoutsos finally, finally, finally got his dog bailed out of the NYC pound--in ONE piece. Price of a little temporary freedom for a dog and dog owner that did nothing wrong? $10,000 for a bond, which Georgoutsos was obliged to post in cash, as he defends his dog from NYC's mandatory castration requirement. The meter is still ticking on his attorney's fees. Picked up stray after a bungled robbery attempt set him loose, Spartacus the dog waited over a month--impounded in a public shelter. Two hearings were held because Georgoutsos refused to let the City of New York castrate his dog pursuant to city ordinances. NYC Gonad Nazis remain hellbent on enforcing a local requirement that all dogs and cats undergo surgical sterilization before release from city shelters. The requirement applies to animals claimed by their lawful owners, and it applies even if the animal was in the city temporarily and even if the animal was impounded only because a crime was committed against the owner. Holding pets hostage, blackmailing dog owners "The city would not let me see my dog for three weeks," Georgoutsos said, "and it was getting really ugly. "They said if I didn't neuter my dog he would be put up for adoption or euthanized. They were using Gestapo techniques." Georgoutsos maintains that the dog's health deteriorated during the impoundment period. Spokespeople for New York's CACC? Unmoved. Judges know extortion when they see it Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Arthur Schack doesn't mince words: We'll hold [Spartacus] hostage and then we'll kill him," said Schack. "That's what it sounds like. Judge Schack ordered the dog released, testicles and all. It took another couple of weeks of bickering, and $10,000 in cash, but Spartacus is now back home in New Jersey. The City is appealing the ruling, and it appears that Georgoutsos will be back in court this fall. Property rights on trial: Bill O'Reilly says a mouthful It took arch-conservative Bill freaking O'Reilly to point out the obvious: this just ain't right. The Factor was stunned by the episode. "We're supposed to be free in this country. If you have a dog and the government is saying you have to have him neutered, I think that's a violation of your freedom." Ok, this is painful for a liberal-type like me, but. . O'Reilly's right. That little bit of canine real estate that the City of New York wants to chop off and send to nearest landfill? It belongs to Pete Georgoutsos. City Councilman Peter Vallone: Oooops. We didn't mean it like that. The NYC law's author, that self-described animal rights activist and city councilman Peter Vallone Jr., found himself in a little bit of a jam over dog laws. Again. The judge is mad. The dog owner is mad. Bill O'Reilly is mad.

The people of the City of New York are mad.

"We never anticipated anything like this," Councilman Peter Vallone told the Daily News last week. "This is someone from out of state. It's not his fault the animal was loose." Oh, puh-leeze. Something like 40 million people visit the Big Apple each year. Do ya think Pete Georgoutsos is the first one to lose a dog, Councilman? Do you think this was the first time a dog was impounded through no fault of the owner?

Then there's the even lamer reasoning from MissionOrangeWorld--

ASPCA just makes shit up "Lisa Weisberg, a senior vice president at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York, said she doesn't believe the law applies to Spartacus. "If the person (owner) is just passing through the city for whatever reason, the spay-neutering requirement does not apply," she said. Uhhh, Lisa? The law doesn't say that. There is no "whatever" clause. The Whatever Legal Theory But let me get this straight. . .

According to the ASPCA's deeply orange rhetoric, its imperative--VITAL-- to neuter each and every loose dog because loose dogs are a public safety threat, and they spawn bazillions of puppy-dogs each year.

[Note that in the few hours he was loose, Spartacus didn't harm anyone. In fact, since the--by all reports very friendly--dog was hit with five tranquilizer darts before being brought to the shelter, I'm thinking he didn't have much of an opportunity for romance, either.]

Is "just passing through for whatever reason" a legal concept? Do residents of the City of New York somehow have fewer property rights than people who are "just passing through for whatever reason"?

Maybe Jerseyites have superior legal status for a reason, Ms. Weisberg?

Did Lisa Weisberg make sure that "just passing through" concept is included in the bill that the ASPCA is right this very minute promoting in Albany? NYS Assembly Bill 8032 mandates that every single dog or cat released by a "city" shelter must be surgically sterilized. There's no "whatever" clause. In fact, I don't even see the exceptions for so-called show dogs in the current New York City local law.

Footloose in the Big Apple

I agree that dogs shouldn't run loose on the mean streets of New York, by the way. They might get run over by an ASPCA paddywagon. Heck, they might even . . . wind up on Animal Planet and get blasted by another judge.

And that wouldn't be cool.

Or would it?

Life in a "free" country

Bill O'Reilly said it best: we're supposed to be living in a free country. Dog owners cannot be forced to neuter their dogs because the dog was picked up stray or impounded. Those dogs, and all their little pieces and parts, belong to their owners. New Jersey's Pete Georgoustos is a perfect example of how ridiculous, how useless, and how unfair the NYC law is. Councilman Vallone's Long Hot Summer But since all politics is local, we'll be checking back on NYC Councilman Peter Vallone this fall. Already an infamous pit bull hater and profiler of pit bull owners, how's he going to defend the assault on the personal property of all New Yorkers -- and every once in a while, a Jersey boy -- that he championed, anyway? See ya in September, Councilman Vallone. You're gonna have a little more 'splaining to do.