The legislative season is underway in many states and cities, which, of course, means hundreds (thousands!) of pages of proposed laws and ordinances governing animals and animal enterprises.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, the number of dogs or cats a person can own without a permit increased from four to six, while new regulations on groomers and boarding facilities were rejected. In Monroe, Georgia, a 2014 ordinance was updated, banning the tethering of unattended pets. Meanwhile, a leash law was narrowly rejected in Clarinda County, Iowa, and Pierce County, Georgia, discovered their new ordinance on animal burials was unnecessary: there has been one on the books since 1991. And these examples are just from the last few days.
Laws regarding animals and animal issues are nothing new. The Code of Hammurabi dealt with – rather forcefully – the theft of livestock and working animals nearly 3,800 years ago! Animals play such a vital role in our day-to-day lives, it is essential that a legal framework exists to define our relationship with them. At the same time, it is important to be aware that many laws pertaining to animals, even if they sound great on the surface, can be arbitrary, redundant, or too one-size-fits-all to be fair or practical. They may be left unfunded and unenforced (or simply be unenforceable), pushed by business interests with ulterior motives, or by activists whose end goal is destroying (or possibly supplanting) a popular hobby or industry. They are also quite often crafted by lawmakers who possess little to no hands-on experience with the issues they are attempting to rectify – so even if their efforts are entirely heartfelt and come with the best of intentions, they are often operating without the full picture.
Keep this in mind. And when you hear about a new animal ordinance and wonder if you should support it or not, ask yourself a few questions. Does it seek to remedy a legitimate public health and safety or animal welfare issue? If so, will the ordinance actually be enforced? What, if any, unintended consequences or “camel’s noses under the tent” can you see? Laws are necessary, but they must also be reasonable, solve real issues, and be enforced. If they are not, they probably create at least as many problems as they solve.
★ LV Council approves increase in pet ownership, rejects more regulation of animal pros
★ Monroe unanimously adopts the amended Animal Ordinance in accordance with Walton County’s Ordinance
★ Proposed Clarinda leash law fails second reading after calls for stricter regulations
★ County discovers it already has large animal burial ordinance