Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the A/R Shadow Falls on Dallas

Permission given to cross post.
This article is written by Joyce Miller of Dallas, Texas.

Be sure to read the last line a second time.

Right now, animal rights people have fanned out across the country to make what got tabled in California happen city by city, town by town, state by state. The approach is to local animal services organization; the agenda is new animal laws that will have a startling effect on our ability to enjoy our dogs.

The AR volunteers work within the animal services in city after city, town after town, to get a proposed law put together that is extreme to say the least, and they can do all of this within animal services without worrying about open meeting laws. After all, the AR people are simply volunteers helping the staff. By the time a community gets any inkling that these laws are about to hit the stage, it's just about too late to stop them.

At the most, people try to get some of the most severe terms relaxed. Right now, there is a law proposed in Florida to make collecting animal semen illegal.

Now that I have your attention, let me share with you what is currently being recommended in Dallas, what Animal Services and the City Council are assuming will be law by the end of the month, and to date, nothing in the local newspapers, the local news programs, or even a copy of the actual proposed law.

Unlike San Antonio, the previous last city to fall to these tactics, the AKC kennel club registered in Dallas, the Texas Kennel Club, has hired an animal lawyer to help them fight this legislation. But to date, without any news coverage, very few residents know what is about to happen and how it will affect their enjoyment of their dogs.

1. Pet limits. Dallas has never had limits on the number of pets a resident may own. As with most communities, there are plenty of laws on the books that can handle households that have too many pets that are creating a neighborhood nuisance or constituting cruelty to animals. Under the proposed new laws, the limit will be either five or six pets (no one seems able to get a consistent reading on the number). That is dogs, cats or combination in a single family home.

2. Mandatory spay neuter by four months of age. Owner of unspayed or unneutered dogs and cats over 4 months of age commits an offense if the owner does not have a Breeder Permit issued annually for each individual animal. (Only dog and cat show breeders qualify for this permit). Owner cannot have a say in their dog being put under anesthesia, being made a perennial puppy by losing the hormones needed for balanced growth of body and mind, etc.

3. Breeder permits/licenses (and the only article that has mentioned anything about this law was a quote by the acting director of animal services, a man who has won an award of some kind of merit from PeTA: in that article, this man stated that he would not allow any breeder permits in residential neighborhoods). So what will a breeder license look like in Dallas if the law is passed without changes. It appears that there will be:

A. Breeder permit/license to keep an intact dog or cat. Breeders can apply to Animal Services for a breeder permit/license. Such applications must be approved by the director of Animal Services.

B. Each dog or cat approved for a permit must be registered with a national registry (approved by the animal services director) AND whose owner is a member of a purebred dog or cat club (also approved by the animal services director). The club must have a code of ethics restricting breeding dogs and cats with genetic defects and life threatening health problems for approval.

C.The breeder permit will be $500 annually for EACH intact animal; the animal's license will be an additional fee.

D. This permit will not be available to any other pet owner. And as mentioned above, it is unlikely that the current Animal Services administration will allow any of these permits/licenses in residential neighborhoods. This means that sports people, performance people, SAR people, hunting people will have to have their animals neutered.

E. Anyone who gets a breeder permit agrees that Animal Services has the right to send in someone to make unannounced inspections of their premises at any time and the breeders must admit them.

F.. No one else can legally breed animals in Dallas.

4. No tethering of any dogs if the owner is not present.

5. Confined dogs must have crates or runs or pens that meet confinement requirements of 150 feet pen size per dog

6. Foster Care Providers must obtain a form from the director to apply for a permit (notarized by the legal owner and one occupant of the dwelling unit) to keep up to 10 dogs, cats or any combination which authorizes unannounced inspections of premises and this permit must be approved by the director.

When I first read these proposed ideas, I thought that they were making them so outrageous so they would have wiggle room in order to reduce things like the permit fee for breeders etc. But given the fact that hearings are going into their second week (only on Wednesdays), there has been no media coverage, and proponents are saying that they expect these to be law by the end of the month, I suspect that the final law could be quite close to what is outlined above.

The first that I heard about it was in March, and I heard about it from two people who are very involved with the kennel club and with getting people to attend hearings. No cost assessments/analyses have been done. Animal Services is currently underfunded, and the mayor has made it clear that there will be no increase in their funding for these laws.

So, here we are discussing different ways of training, recognizing the work that goes into having an obedience or agility champion, knowing what the dogs need maturity to participate in any serious sport or work, and all the while, across the country, more and more of these laws are becoming law with little or no fanfare.

Here in Dallas, the proponents are saying that this will solve the problem of loose dogs breeding randomly, but the only people that will be caught up are the residential breeders whose dogs never run loose and never breed randomly. With the requirement that a breeder belong to a breed club approved by animal services, this is also meant to do away with mixed breeds.

Do, please, check out what may be happening in your city or town, and be ready to fight for your right to decide when and if your dog will be neutered, the right of careful breeders to breed to their breed standards, etc. Dallas breeders and animal lovers are making a valiant effort, and they are grateful for the help of the Texas Kennel Club, but this is very, very serious. And it sounds like it will come to a city or town near you.

Joyce Miller of Dallas, Texas

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