Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who Lobbies On Behalf of Dog Owners?

Donald McCaig sent me the following email this morning, and I think it's so true and well-said that I asked if I could post it here, and he has graciously consented. Enjoy!

The Right to Keep and Love Dogs

I happened upon a Northern Virginia apartment rental ad which is typical. The $1000 a month renter can have one (25-pound) dog, must pay between $35 and $200 extra rent, and provide an (unspecified) non-refundable pet deposit.

The Dog Fancy and its tool the AKC, was and is devoted to the very rich who have no trouble keeping or transporting their dogs. Since, for generations, the Fancy sucked up all the air in the American dog room, their indifference to ordinary folk meant that nobody lobbied lawmakers to advocate for sensible dog ownership policies. Nobody.

Unlike silly old France, Americans can't take mannerly dogs on trains or buses or into cafes. Unlike most of Europe, our dogs are viewed legislatively as public nuisances if not a threat to life and safety.

The American lower middle class and working poor must deal with onerous, expensive and trivial restrictions that make it far more difficult for them to keep the dogs they love.

A few figures. There are 25 million Latino voters 16 million African-American, 5 million financial services employees, 3 million farmers, 1.5 million auto industry workers, 400,000 doctors, and _ million LGBT.

Thirty-nine percent of American households own a dog. Assuming 2 eligible voters per household and 50% participation, that works out to 110 million voters with a dog. Discounting, say 30 million who wish they didn't, that leaves 80 million Americans who care about their dog and would like to have better access and fewer nonrefundable deposits.

Yet, they have no political power - none.

We dog owners have no NRA, no American Medical Association, no US Chamber of Commerce, no Farm Bureau, no NAACP, no AARP.

The only dog organization promising to better the lot of American dogs and American dog owners is the God damned American Kennel Club which has done zip shit.  Must have been too busy grooming.

Did Seamus ride the Romney roof in vain?


metisrebel said...

I live in Toronto.

Here the dog can go on the tranist for free outside of rush hour, which makes sense if you don't want your dog trampled.

Even "no dog" leases cannot be enforced UNLESS the dog is a nuisance via barking, not housebroken etc. although in one case a dog was turfed because one of the close neighbours was allergic. Even that took years to get through court before the owner was evicted.

Some *condos* have no pet rules or size limitation. Rentals don't get that option.

Without a license the maximum amount of dogs that can live within one residence is three, unless you have a kennel license.

So, some places have somewhat reasonable dog laws.

Jemima Harrison said...

I'm in the UK and my dogs travel for free on public transport - including trains, buses and the tube. Bus drivers have the right to turn away a dog if they don't like the look of it (or in some cases if they don't like dogs..) and they ask you to travel on the upper deck, but it's usually not a problem.

Some council properties (public housing) have limits on the number of dogs their tenants can keep - typically 2 or 3) but I own my own property and currently share it with 10 dogs. There are no restrictions and no special licenses needed. Of course my neighbours have a right to complain about noise etc. Some rentals allow dogs - but not all. You are unlikely to be asked to pay more - although some landlords may ask for an extra deposit to cover an extra clean at the end of the tenancy.

You are expected to keep your dog under control, but outside of some town centres, most walking is off-leash.

Unlike France, dogs are not welcome in cafes and restaurants, but almost all will allow you to sit at tables outside with a dog - and many pubs welcome dogs, even in the eating areas, as long as they are well-behaved.

I believe the UK is still one of the best countries in which to own a dog.