ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Pros and Cons of Animal Rights Legislation

Updated on October 20, 2017
Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob has been in the pet supply business and writing about pets, livestock and wildlife in a career that spans three decades.

Source

Much Proposed Legislation Is Fraught With Unintended Consequences

Since the 1990’s there has been a rash of animal rights legislation…at the local, county, state and federal levels…that I’ve reported on.

Though well intentioned, it is often neither well thought-out nor well crafted, but fraught with the promise of unintended consequences.

This article will cite a number of examples in the hopes that it will raise your awareness and inclination to act should similar legislation be proposed in your jurisdiction.

Just keep in mind, please, that these examples include proposed legislation, adopted legislation, failed legislation and legislation that died in committee.

Early on, I found it a daunting task to attempt to follow-up on all the various proposals, therefore I’ve chosen not to identify the jurisdictions involved simply because I am unaware of the law’s eventual disposition.

I do identify those locales where certain legislation was enacted.

Source

Does the Law See You as an Owner or a Guardian?

To be an owner means to have or possess as property; to have control over. Property owners enjoy rights, powers, privileges and immunities in the particular things they own.

To be a guardian means to be one who is entrusted by law with the care of a person or property. Guardians have temporary and limited possession of the property.

The guardianship right is granted by the government and can be arbitrarily revoked.

In most areas animals are legally regarded as property and, as such, pet owners’ rights as property owners are protected under the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

Which all sounds kind of callous and uncaring. We live in an age that increasingly sees pets, especially dogs and cats, elevated to the status of full family member with all the benefits and privileges that such a designation bestows.

However certain well-intentioned, and not-so-well-intentioned, entities have gotten behind a movement to change the term pet owner to pet guardian supposedly in the belief that a guardian will treat animals more responsibly.

I’m not aware of any evidence to support that position and agree with most people who believe that an irresponsible and neglectful pet owner will also be an irresponsible and neglectful guardian.

Other Unintended Consequences of Guardianship Laws

● Owners have the sole responsibility to care for their pets, while guardians are typically part of a group effort with the courts and other unknown third parties. Would you approve of your local shelter volunteers or organized animal rights activists being involved in decisions regarding your pet?

● Guardianship status would open the door to legal challenges to the course of treatment an animal's owner and veterinarian decide upon.

● Guardianship would expand tort law to allow the recovery of damages for emotional distress and loss of companionship in litigation involving animals.

● Guardianship would result in legislation that would allow owners to recover non-economic damages for the loss or injury of pets. In many jurisdictions, such rights of recovery aren’t available in cases involving the loss of human loved ones.

● Guardianship could force owners to seek a court order before making the humane decision to help end the suffering of a badly injured or terminally ill pet.

Source

Imagine that you’re out for a walk with your dog in foul weather and some third party determines in his wisdom that you’re being an unfit guardian.

Could he then seek to have you legally declared an unfit guardian? Even if he’s unsuccessful, is it right that you be put through the expense and inconvenience of having to defend such an accusation?

In the state of Rhode Island, the word owner was replaced by the word guardian several years ago.

There, the term guardian applies also to someone who is temporarily responsible for an animal (pet-sitters or dog-walkers, for example), or someone who is casually responsible for an animal (the good Samaritan feeding feral cats, for example).

Under the RI law, since people feeding feral cats are their legal guardians, they can be made responsible for vaccinating them against rabies.

There are laws already on the books that set standards for animal husbandry and that prescribe punishment for owners neglecting to maintain those standards.

Some states, Rhode Island and my home state of Massachusetts among them, have made animal cruelty a felony, and others are considering that same move.

A lawyer friend of mine doesn't believe that laws addressing pet guardianship would have the same ramifications as those relating to human guardianship, and says that special laws would have to be written so that the two would be separate and distinct. Am I relieved to hear that? Nuh-unh.

To steal a slogan from Fox News Channel, “We report; you decide.”

Other Examples That May Cause You to Shake Your Head

A city in Kansas passed an ordinance that limits the amount of time a dog can be tethered to one hour, with a three hour break in between each tethering.

How could such an ordinance be equally applied?

In one Canadian province it is illegal to breed, own, sell, acquire or import Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, pit bull terriers, American pit bull terriers or any dog with "an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.”

I wonder who gets to decide when “substantially similar” applies? Reasonable people can, and will, disagree.

The state of Ohio enacted legislation that deemed all pit pulls "vicious" and required their owners to confine them and purchase liability insurance.

Ohio was, at the time, the only state to have a breed-specific law. Or, should I say, used to. Their Supreme Court said, "Nuh-unh."

In its 4-3 ruling the court said that the law is unconstitutional because it doesn't give dog owners the opportunity to appeal the dog's "dangerous" determination before criminal charges are filed against them.

Source

In one state’s proposed legislation stores wouldn't be able to sell ferrets less than 12 weeks of age (those that lack full adult dentition) and they'd have to be spayed or neutered.

The latter requirement is not unreasonable, but the proposal stated they wouldn't be able to perform the surgery until the ferret was 10 weeks old.

Not only that, but the law would require a 7 day recovery stay at the surgical facility! Jeez, nowadays when we spay and neuter humans it's pretty much an outpatient procedure, isn't it?

Another state’s pols want to tack a fee onto bags and cans of dog and cat food. They say it could raise an additional 2 to 10 million dollars annually for the state's shelter system and spay/neuter programs.

How much do you want to bet they'll be building roads with that money.

This just in from our European bureau...pet owners in a wealthy town in central Italy must go above and beyond ordinary care for their pets or face fines as high as 500 euros.

For example, canary owners must buy a “significant other” for their bird so it won't be lonely.

Further, dog owners must provide sufficiently spacious dog houses in shady, protected areas.

I wonder who gets to define “sufficiently spacious” and “shady, protected.” Reasonable people can, and will, disagree.

An Ohio city’s proposal called for the city to purchase 1,000 microchips and install them in local cats. The proposal includes a $10 penalty for owners whose cats are picked up and returned to them.

I wonder what other stuff your friendly local government will order done to your pets.

The controversies associated with some animal rights laws may pit animal advocates against big business, small business, environmentalists, medical researchers, entertainers and others.

In most folks' view, sometimes the advocates are right on, other times they're over the edge.

Source

Consider the proposal of a California city to ban the retail sale of any live dog, cat or rabbit within city limits. It seems to me that the goal for such legislation should be to focus on closing down bad operators, not all operators. How about these other objections:

  • This proposal hurts a number of small businesses and would put residents out of jobs.
  • Limiting people’s right to get a pet only hurts the pet-loving public.
  • There is no credible research to suggest that someone who wants a purebred puppy and can’t obtain one will go to a shelter.
  • Putting legitimate pet stores out of business opens the door to underground markets.
  • Research demonstrates that pet store puppies are on average at least as healthy as those from any other source.
  • The vast majority of pet owners choosing a pet store animal are very happy with their pet. If not, there are laws to remedy such occurrences.

An Update On The California Law Banning The Sale of Pets In California

On October 13, 2017 Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill that will require pet stores to sell only dogs, cats and rabbits that have come from shelters or rescue groups.

The California law became the nation’s first statewide ban on the sale of non-rescue, non-shelter cats, dogs and rabbits at pet stores.

Under that law, the only breeders who will be able to sell these pets to Californians will be hobby breeders. The law takes effect in January 2019.

Such bans can serve to incentivize a black market in pet sales. The benefits of pet ownership are well documented, a lot of folks can’t imagine life without a pet, and not everyone wants a pet from a shelter, rescue group, or hobby breeder.

Professional Groups Weigh In On The California Law

Animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of The United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) applauded the law.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) criticized the law as blocking “all of California’s pet lovers from having access to professional, licensed, and ethical commercial breeders.”

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a trade group, opposed the law, saying it “strips consumers of many pet store protections, risks hundreds of jobs, and reduces pet choice.”

Animal hoarding has gotten some visibility in the print and electronic media in recent years and has spawned a flurry of activity to address the situation.

Animal hoarding bills typically pertain to people who keep more pets than they can care for, but such bills, depending upon how they’re worded, can adversely limit legitimate pet dealers from selling animals. While well intentioned, they need to be carefully written.

When crafting animal rights legislation, perhaps it would be good to consider that the strong arm of government is best tempered with the soft touch of common sense.

© 2012 Bob Bamberg

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Bob Bamberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Bob Bamberg 

      5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Ann, I'm with you. I'd like to think that Americans are getting pretty fed up with our big, bloated government...that gets bigger all the time...and are fed up with a Justice Dept. that files lawsuits against states, stops private industry from building a plant in a "right to work" state, yet declines to prosecute voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers. Maybe things will change in November. They just better keep their paws off our pets, right? Thanks for commenting and voting, great to see you again. Regards, Bob

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 

      5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Good grief, it's bad enough that our Government is more into our private lives than ever before, what with heathcare and threats to close down the Internet. Now, they have to tell us how to care for our pets, too?

      Good hub and voted up.

    • Bob Bamberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Bob Bamberg 

      6 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Jaye, thanks for checking in. You're right, it's hard to confirm that lawmakers are firing on all cylinders, and no one is wondering why Congress' approval rating is just barely in the double digits.

      At the local level is where I think most of the bad laws seem to be written based on knee jerk reactions. If someone's Aunt Molly is afraid of pit bulls, they think it's OK to simply ban them.

      It's at the federal level where knee jerk reactions are replaced by a more well thought out, sophisticated sense of priority...as in when Congress took it upon themselves to establish and regulate the technological protocols of flush toilets.

      Our tax dollars are never harder at work than when Congress is in session.

      Nice to see you, glad you stopped by to comment. Regards, Bob

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Sometimes you can't help but wonder if legislators are clicking on all cylinders when they draft these laws....

      I certainly don't think the term "guardian" would make someone suddenly become a better pet parent. You're right--animal rights legislation has a good sound, but more thought and logic should be used when composing it.

      Jaye

    • Bob Bamberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Bob Bamberg 

      6 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Larry,

      Thanks for visiting and for the votes. Sometimes the legislation is crafted with the heart, not the brain, and the situations I cited demonstrate that.

      There has been a bunch of animal-friendly legislation that I think is good, and I'll do something on that down the road. I just wanted to take this opportunity to offer some food for thought because, as you say, animal rights legislation sounds good...who wouldn't be for that?

      Often times, though, the devil is indeed in the details.

      Thanks, again, for stopping by and commenting. Regards, Bob

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      Hi Bob. The expression "animal welfare legislation" sounds nice, but the devil is always in the details. You've described some nasty scenarios, of which I wasn't aware. Voted up and interesting.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)