The village of Moreauville, Louisiana recently enacted a ban on Rottweilers and Pit Bulls within their village. Their ban apparently listed them as “vicious” dogs. According to The Canine Chronicle, that ban—which took effect December 1—was repealed as of December 2. This is probably as a result of the national attention to the ban and the ire of local resident dog owners.
An article in AvoyellesToday.com, there are more than 700 cities which have regulations or bans on “vicious” breeds of dogs.
The article cites the fact that the defunct law was based on a law in another Parish of Louisiana.
In Avoyelles Parish, Bunkie has an ordinance declaring pit bulls and rottweilers as “vicious.” In Bunkie, when a dog is declared to be “vicious,” the owner must obtain an annual permit to keep the dog in the city limits. The permit fee is $50. The dog must wear a red, circular tag — kind of a canine equivalent of the “scarlet letter” — identifying it as a vicious dog. The owner must present the permit to an animal control officer upon demand. Pit bulls and rottweilers are “presumed vicious” under the ordinance and automatically subject to all of its requirements. The dog does not have to be proven to be vicious.
The problem is that Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are not inherently vicious. In fact Dalmatians can be just as vicious as the “regulated” breeds. The temperament of any dog is based on the training of the owner.
OUTRIGHT BANS VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION
The ownership of dogs is protected by the Constitution of the United States just like real estate or any other property. They cannot be taken away from you without just cause.
Some of you will say I have never seen private ownership of anything in the Constitution. These are, of course, people who know what others SAY the Constitution says instead of studying it for themselves. People who cannot think for themselves. People who should not own dogs.
The astute of you will remember that the unalienable Bill of Rights (the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution) has a Ninth Amendment which states:
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The reason that amendment was added was that the Bill of Rights was not a popular idea at the time. It was felt that the Constitution fully protected the rights of everyone because everyone knew what their rights were. If a specific list of rights were added, the government might infringe on rights not on the list. Thus they added this amendment as a “catch-all,” in the terminology of today.
Therefore it is clear that you have the right to own any animal responsibly.
REGULATIONS ARE CONSTITUTIONAL
The regulation of animals is Constitutional. So long as those regulations do not put a hardship on the animal or owners. I would have to say that the regulation cited above is questionable because it automatically assumes the ferocity of certain breeds.
Still the government does have a responsibility to protect the rights (not the safety) of every member of a community. As Thomas Jefferson put it:
No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.
If my dog does create a vicious environment, he needs to be regulated even to the point of putting him down if needs be. In most cases, however, the owner has to be regulated more than the dog. If it is apparent that the owner is irresponsible, they owner should be banned from owning dogs. This is Constitutional. Just as a felon may not own a firearm.
Most States have a means of restoring lost rights which can be applied to dog ownership.
Across the country this Christmas, kids will wake up to find a puppy under the tree. In six to twelve months time that puppy will be found in a rescue shelter hoping to be loved someday. At worse, that dog will be euthanized. Even in the shelters run by the loving “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.”
Most will not even realize that puppy probably came from a puppy mill in which a female dog is caged and whose whole existence is to produce puppies. Most of the animals from such breeding mills are prone to physical complications which lead to euthanizing the animal later.
Owning a dog comes with responsibility just like owning a car or a gun. Just like the inanimate objects which can be a danger in the hands of the wrong people, a dog can be a danger in the hands of the wrong people. The problem with most dogs is that they are not shown the proper love. Dogs, and other animals, have emotions just like people.
Here are some tips for being a responsible dog owner.
1. Do NOT surprise your children with a gift of a puppy. They will love on the animal for maybe 48-hours before they have to start picking up the poop, feeding him at regular times, playing with him, walking him and so-forth. Never trust your kids that they will not mind doing the right thing unless you absolutely know your children. Many children will—don’t get me wrong. Just make sure that they will. Have you given them goldfish, gerbils or guinea pigs in the past? How did they treat them? Is their objective to actually have a dog to love? Or just because little Johnny down the street got one? Be prepared to take on the responsibilities if your children do not.
2. Dogs take hours a day of training. I have been chastised in the past for my “treatment” of my dog. Yet my dog is nearly always by my side and routinely loves to meet and greet visitors to our fair city. Especially children. You can spank a dog on the butt when he does something wrong, but like children you have to do it carefully as not to injure the animal or make it meaner. Especially in cases where you have to get its attention for safety reasons, such as teaching it not to just run out in the streets in front of cars. However, like children, the tone of your voice can be a major factor in training. Spanking a dog after-the-fact is essentially useless because a dog cannot understand why you are doing it.
The GOOD news is that training sessions end over a period of time. Usually about age three they will learn to sit and stay properly and obey your commands. And you can teach an old dog a new trick.
3. Dogs will tend to become protective, but not necessarily vicious. If you show your dog the proper love, he will become protective of the property and the family just like (I hope) you do for your children. You have to be aware of that fact. If you decide to get a dog from a responsible rescue shelter, in most cases that dog will become EXTREMELY protective. It is up to you to train them when to be protective and when to chill.
4. Dogs are pack animals by nature. If you get four or five—or more—dogs, you will find that they will band together. And if they get loose they will revert to that pack nature. They will fight to protect each other. It is nice to have two dogs because they have a playmate when you are not available. More than that can cause problems. It can be done, but you have to show that much more love for that many more animals. If you pack all of those dogs in your car and drive downtown, they are going to have a pack mentality. They are protective of even your vehicle. You are responsible for training a dog when it is all right to protect your property. And it IS Constitutional for a properly trained dog to protect your car. If you leave them in the heat, however, police in most cities ARE authorized to enter the vehicle, rescue the dogs and ultimately fine the owners.
5. Dogs eat. Big dogs eat a lot. It can get expensive particularly if your dog likes more expensive brands of dog food.
6. Dogs need medical attention. They need shots. You may choose to neuter them. They need regular checkups. They may choke on something they grabbed when you were not looking. All of this cost money. Health insurance is available for emergencies and regular checkups. Like any other policy read before you sign. Your veterinarian is a valuable source of information for nutrition and warnings about certain toys and products for dogs. Particularly those made in China.
7. Learn to know your dog. If your dog is very protective, you may not want to walk him down busy sidewalks. Especially where there are other dogs.
8. My dog was trained not to fight other dogs initially. He is a Rottweiler, Labrador, Malamute and Pit Bull mix. Unfortunately he was attacked three times by dogs of irresponsible owners. So I have to carefully monitor him when we approach other dogs. Most of the time he gets along. Sometimes he does not.
9. Not all people like dogs. And it is not necessarily their fault. They may have been bitten in their youth. Their parents may not have liked dogs. Whatever. It is up to you to try to monitor your surroundings and avoid such people. Most of them will avoid you. Even people who like dogs may be appropriately cautious of your dog. They do not know you or your animal. That is why I keep my dog off to the side and I tell people that he is friendly. Remember that a dog with a wagging tail does NOT mean that he is friendly. Most kids love to pet my dog when they meet him and he loves the attention.
10. Even friendly dogs jump on people. I have tried, with marginal success, to train my dog not to jump on people. He still tends to jump up on people he knows to lick their face. He also nibbles the hand of people he likes. He does not bite, just nibbles. Usually only people he knows, though. That can startle a person, however. For the most part he just loves to lick. I also know that my dog is powerful even for his size. He has knocked ME over when I was not paying attention. He has knocked a friend of mine over when he was running hard and not paying attention. I have to account for that.
11. A dog that is chained outside and left to its own devices will become vicious. Don’t believe it? Have someone chain you in the front yard in the rain and the snow. See how you feel after a couple of hours. My dog loves to play in the snow. Not so much live in it. If you cannot have a dog in your house, do not get one. Sometimes it is necessary to chain a dog for a short time, but it should not be its lifestyle.
12. STUDY THE BREED! Certain dogs do have certain characteristics. You have to learn what they are and how to train them. Any dog not shown the proper love, however, will become a problem.
I might also point out that I know the breed of dog that my dog is likely to have problems with. I rein him in when approaching such breeds. In fact I rein him in with every dog I do not know. You have to learn to read the actions of your dog.
In training your dog you have to know that YOU must train your dog. If you take him to an obedience school, or trainer or whatever, the dog may learn to follow the instructions of the trainer, but not you. A good trainer will train YOU how to train your dog.
Do not give the dog a treat every time he learns a new trick. He will then only do what you tell him in exchange for a treat. In other words, don’t train your dog to do a trick for a treat. If you are training your dog to sit, for example, make him sit and stay several times. After the completed training session, then give the dog a treat if he has performed properly.
The bottom line is that if you do not have the time for a dog, do not get one. You will only cause trouble for yourself or the animal.