Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Right, privilege, or something else?

Dog ownership.  Right or privilege?

Is owning a dog a fundamental human right, protected by the state/something anyone can claim, or is it a privilege granted by the community?  Or is it something else entirely?   Is it really one thing but treated as if it’s actually something else?

First, let’s get the terms straight:

A right is something you always have, and it can only be taken away.  Core rights such as life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc… are good examples.

A privilege is something for which you require permission from others.  For example, driving an automobile on public roads is generally considered a privilege.  You have to obtain a driver’s license from the State and maintain that license in good standing in order to maintain your driving privileges within the jurisdiction.

An entitlement is something you are empowered to take from someone else.  For example, Social Security payments are an entitlement.  You are taxed to pay someone else until you reach an arbitrary age and then someone else is taxed to pay you. 

The repeal of Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban was *defeated* in both the Florida Legislature and the House.  Florida itself has a ban on breed specific bans, essentially overriding the wishes of any Florida municipality to ban certain breeds of dog.  However, the Miami ban pre-dated the state law, and Miami was thus allowed to maintain their ban on pit bulls.  Anyone caught with a pit bull in Miami will have their dog seized, euthanized and fined $500.00.  See the article on this site for more background.  Banning breed specific bans indicates that some think that housing a dog in a human community is a fundamental human right to be protected by the state.   However, the defeat of the repeal indicates that the State lacks the legal ability to force legalization of any dog breed. 

Consider that just because the government does something does not indicate that it truly has a legal right to do so.   There is much case history indicating that discrimination against certain dog breeds is legal.  I don’t think the State’s ban-on-ban’s would hold up to much legal scrutiny, which is why I believed they allowed Miami to keep their ban.  If Miami had taken the case to the Supreme Court I am confident they would have won, anyway.

Based on the above, I do not believe that owning a ANY type of dog is a protected legal right.   The fact that some entities may overstep their bounds in this area doesn’t change that.

Furthermore, landlords are allowed to discriminate against prospective tenants harboring ANY pet.   How many “houses for rent” clearly state NO DOGS or NO PETS.   If owning a pet were a protected legal right, they would not be allowed to do this with the frequency that they do.   This further lends weight to dog ownership NOT being a protected civil right.

So, if owning a dog is not a protected civil right, then what is it?

I believe that owning a dog is currently considered an entitlement by dog owners and authorities.  Now, there is NO legal basis for this, but it is what it is.  The absurd pro-bark and pro-bite laws that are on the books in most of the civilized world are indicative of this fact.   Our neighborhoods are filled with endless loud barking, our emergency rooms are filled with dog bite victims, our soil and water is befouled with dog shit, and loose dogs trespass and destroy property and rarely are ANY action taken against any of these dogs or their owners.  If you disagree, how many dogs are destroyed as a result of biting someone?  How many dogs are silenced as a result of a barking complaint?  I thought so.

Going back to what an entitlement IS:  It’s the power to impose a cost on someone else.  When you are entitled, someone else absorbs the cost for what you want.  In the case of the dog owner, they destroy the peace, send people to the hospital, pollute and destroy property and pay nothing.  Nearly ALL of those costs are borne by others:  Tax payers, insurance companies, and nearby residents.   Dogs and their owners have the POWER to impose those costs, both directly and indirectly, on YOU.  All of these “costs” aren’t necessarily of the economic variety either, folks “pay” with their health, their freedom, their personal relationships, and their sanity.  The dog owners play, YOU pay.

In my opinion, dog ownership should NOT be an entitlement NOR should it be a protected civil right.  Housing a dog in a human community should be a PRIVILEGE.  The solution to all of the problems outlined in the previous paragraph is to setup an owner licensing system.  Anyone wishing to house a dog in the jurisdiction must apply for and receive a license.  Liability insurance should be mandatory.   If they violate the licensing agreement, their privilege is revoked and they are no longer allowed to house a dog.  Until this is done, these problems will be allowed to escalate.  How much longer are we going to allow dog owners to impose these costs upon us?


  1. Quiet Tasmania (Australia) at http://quietas.net/Page62.html has long recommended the evaluation of owners for suitability.

    Here is the text of the article:


    TOPIC: Owner Suitability

    It has always been the case that many dog owners are inadequate for that role, or refuse to accept their responsibilities, or are otherwise unsuited to animal ownership.
    Should such people receive mandatory training and demonstrate good husbandry to a required
    standard, or should they be denied the right to keep a dog until they do?

    The Paper Noxious Barking elaborates further:

    When there was an abundance of open space where both species could free-range at will there
    was no trouble from barking because dogs in the wild did not bark. They could freely do what
    nature intended.

    With mankind's exponential increase in numbers and because of the tremendous economic and
    social advantages made available by concentrated suburban living, man has graduated to this totally different abode and adopted an entirely different lifestyle.

    Despite these profound changes, today's man has not altogether discarded his biological
    conditioning and evidently still requires his accompanying dogs. He feels uncomfortable without them.

    But now with so many of his neighbours just a few metres away and not over the next range as
    before, man has failed to recognise that the everyday environment for his companion animal is
    now totally different too.

    Whereas man with his superior intelligence developed the capacity to adapt to radical change, his thoughtless expectation that his companion animal would adapt in parallel has proven unfounded. Dogs remain dogs. These creatures remain the descendants of wolves and their animal nature and instincts are still just under the surface.

    Man has foolishly tried to anthropomorphise his companion animal into malleable horizontal
    replicas of himself, but no matter how much he indulges in this delusion the unpalatable fact
    remains that he has failed. It cannot be done and he never had any right to try. But in his
    mindless selfishness he persists as if by force of personality he can achieve what nature never
    intended, and he still tries to dominate and exploit another creature by sheer determined

    Thus has developed a suburban environment where half the population recognises that dogs are
    substantially unsuitable animals for it, while the other half denies the fact and defends its
    position fiercely.

    This division between the haves and the have-nots causes enormous trouble, misery and
    conflict - a battle of wills wherein those who've still not recognised the realities of the totally changed environment have become entrenched in their determination to retain what they perceive to be their inalienable right.

    Cruelly confining his companion animal to its wholly unsuitable and unnatural backyard plot the owner goes away, oblivious to the torment he so mindlessly inflicts upon his dog every day. This is the main cause of so much suburban barking.


    1. That where an authorised person is of the opinion that an owner is unsuited to the ownership of a particular animal, he may require that owner to demonstrate a suitable standard of animal care in order to continue that ownership of that dog in that location.

    2. That in the event an owner cannot demonstrate or otherwise convince a council of his suitability for ownership then that dog may be seized and relocated at the owner’s expense.

    3. That councils be required to record all such events against the owner’s name in its Register
    of Authorised Owners.

  2. As far as I can tell, the idea that owning a dog is some kind of entitlement originated with the pit bull (and other weapon dogs) fashion. Where I live, a dog will be confiscated for nuisance barking, for seriously biting someone, for killing (animal or human) -- unless it's one of these weapon dogs, upon which even the authorities fear being Not Politically Correct. It's scandalous that so-called general animal advocates have participated in this, since it's generating so much hatred towards, as well as so many maimings and mortalities among, normal dogs. To say nothing of weapon-dog slaughtered cats, horses, cattle, sheep and other animals.

    It's flabbergasting to find again and again that the pit-bull type dog has been granted human rights (taking these away from our very children to give them to these monsters); that the pit bull owner is granted entitlement to his/her consumer article above and beyond our rights to life and liberty (eg, to walk to a bus stop or enter our own back yard without fear of being savaged). It's scandalous that so-called general animal advocates have participated in getting our shelters so flooded with monster dogs that normal dogs are being put down to make space for the monsters -- and not a word of protest from the animal advocates, except on behalf of the killer dogs.

    It's collective insanity.

    I do believe that a ruthless crack-down on the weapon dog types would impress all dog owners with the fact that keeping a dog means making sure it fits into the community without ruining anyone else's life, nor interfering with other's rights.


  3. Owning a dog is a privilege. Nature made Pit Bulls peaceful, caring breeds, but man has turned the Pit Bull and many other dogs into ruthless, fighting dogs. However, B.S.L is a responsible owner's nightmare. I had to get mental help because I was on the verge of suicide, I had a note ready and everything. If there is one, there is always others. People love dogs, sometimes like their own child like I loved my late Pit Bull Sasha. When she was basically kidnapped, I had tied a pink ribbon to her ear to support the fighting of breast cancer and to stop B.S.L from going any further, since B.S.L is against my religious beliefs. I'm only 12, but my friend in the 5th grade (she was 10) committed suicide over her Pit Bull. She was my only close friend, the rest of my friends were just classmate friends. People should have dogs. What about the disabled people with service dogs? What if they have a seizure while everybody is asleep and dies because this person didn't have his or her service dog? Having a dog isn't a privilege, nor is it an entitlement.

    It is a right.

  4. Nature didn't make pit bulls, Man did. I think you need your medication adjusted. I am sorry for your difficulties.

    Animal Uncontrol.