Every year 5 million dog bite reports are
filed. Over $1 billion are paid in losses. Reacting to
complaints, city councils are passing ever more ordinances
that affect dog ownership. Neighborhood, rental complexes,
and home owners associations are including rules for regulating
pets within their boundaries. Even insurance companies
are putting in their two cents worth when it comes to
our furry family members. While its not always a top
concern for many dog owners, its definitely in your best
interest to be aware of the legal implications of owning
a pet. Considering that animal laws are not usually a
result of state or federal battles (contrary to that portrayed
in Legally Blonde 2), but rather the consequence of neighborhood
squabbles turned complaints to local governments, its
the duty of a pet owner to be aware of possible nuisance
factors and train your dog to be a good canine citizen,
to prevent confrontation or the threat of litigation.
To start, you should become acquainted with
the state and county laws as well as the pet-related ordinances
in your city. These vary from location to location, and
can often be found on the internet. These rules encompass
such things as licensing and tagging your pet, leash laws,
limits, vaccination requirements, breeding restrictions,
and areas where no dogs may be allowed. While most governments
have found it unconstitutional to ban specific breeds,
you may want to check your home owners insurance policy
in case they charge a fine for more aggressive breeds
such as pit bulls and rottweilers.
Keep in mind that just because theres not
a law against something, it doesnt mean Rover couldnt
get in trouble doing it. Good neighbor laws constitute
practices that keep canines on the friendly side of the
law. Gone are the days when you could let the dog out
unsupervised to do its thing. Better to play it safe.
After all, it is up to you to prove that you are a responsible
owner, and that your dog is an asset to the neighborhood.
Once youve given your neighbors cause to believe otherwise
you may quickly find out how miserable your neighbors
can make your life.
First and foremost, know your dog. Know
what agitates him, watch for aggressive behavior and NEVER
encourage it by playing combative games. (The majority
of dog bite victims are family members. Never mean up
your dog to turn it into a watch dog!) On the contrary,
properly socialize your dog, and let neighbors, especially
their children, know what your dog will and will not tolerate.
If your dog does biteor even snaptalk to your vet right
away. Dog bites are the most prevalent and expensive legal
problem; take this warning seriously and keep your dogs
nose out of the courtroom!
The second most publicized pet problem has
to do with irresponsible dog breeders. Im talking about
those owners who start with a female dog, and for one
reason or another they neglect having her spayed. Within
months Ginger is pregnant. Litter after litter, puppies
are born, and given away, left to roam the neighborhood,
or dumped. Unless you are a professional breeder with
champion-quality purebreds, there is no good reason to
breed your pet. Dont fall prey to the notion that Pookie
needs a litter to feel fulfilled, or that Shasta will
be a wimp if he is neutered. Above all, forget the idea
that the kids will learn the miracle of life if their
pet has a litter. Good, responsible pet owners always
sterilize their animals.
To further foster positive pet attitudes
in your neighborhood, follow these general guidelines:
never leave your pet outside unattended. Dogs left outside
may bark, dig their way out of the yard, or menace passer-bys.
Keep Baron confined when hes not on a leash. Always clean
up after your pet, even in your own yard. A lawn dotted
with dog feces raises eyebrows of even the most patient
neighbor. Finally, attend obedience training for at least
two sessions to teach Rex some manners. You may consider
certifying Winnie with the Canine Good Citizen test when
she is past six months old.
Being aware and proactive about the legal
side of dog ownership pays off for everyone in the end:
dogs, their owners, law-makers, as well as the general
public. Remember, it is your responsibility to show that
dog ownership is respectable and responsible.
About the Author
Emma Snow an animal lover works in marketing for Dog Pound
and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net
leading portals for pet management.