We citizens of the United States of America are still engaged in a civil rights struggle. This struggle knows no racial boundaries, it knows no social status, it knows no financial status. It affects every person, from the poorest, to the most affluent, from the city dweller, to the largest land owner. It goes to our most ancient and traditional property, and to our ownership, and use rights in animals. Dog/animal ownership is as varied, as is the human tapestry that bonds our great nation.
All domestic animal breeds were developed by human beings. The Canine Genome Project used DNA samples to prove that all domestic dog breeds have been developed using canis lupis familiaris, a sub-species of the grey wolf. Dogs have been human property for tens of thousands of years. Dogs serve us in most every capacity from the gentle companion to service dogs, to guide dogs, to police dogs, to search, and rescue dogs, military dogs, drug sniffing dogs, hunting dogs, field dogs, herding dogs, guard dogs, show dogs, obedience dogs, dancing dogs, agility dogs, fly ball racers, the list is endless, and endlessly varied. Dogs are valuable property.
When we site the adage, "Punish the Deed, not the Breed", we are actually encouraging legislatures to hold animals responsible for their actions. Dangerous dog laws remove the human factor, and concentrate solely upon the dog, not taking into consideration that the dog is the responsibility of it's owner. Lawmakers go to great lengths to describe, and to define animal behaviors, and to then punish said behaviors. It is far more reasonable to write laws that are directed at the dog owner, rather than the dog.
Our laws must be written for we human beings. Laws must be reasonable. Animals must not be criminalized under laws that are intended to protect human rights, and to control human behaviors. It is unreasonable to write animal behavior into laws that no animal has the capacity to understand, answer to, or to function under. It is unreasonable to mete out criminal labels to animals, i.e. dangerous, or potentially dangerous. It is unreasonable to prescribe punishments to animals under our laws. We must bring this writing of animal behaviors into our laws to a halt, and demand that humans be held accountable, not animals. We must stop thinking that it is a better trade off than prohibitions on dog ownership. We are wrong. Neither is a good choice.
No dog is capable of understanding, or answering to any law that has ever been written. Dangerous dog laws that hold a dog to a set of written regulations that it will never respond is a perfect set up to promote animal rights, where an animal is given a legal position under the law to conform, or to behave in a proscribed manner. Laws are not in the realm of the understanding of even the most intelligent dog. To set forth behavioral acceptability, and punishments for animals is to elevate them to a human level under law. This is just exactly what the animal rights movement wants. When we accept dangerous dog laws, we are hugging the serpent. Our laws must only be written to proscribe human behavior. We must see dangerous dog laws that hold animals to accountability under the law for what they are. As the law elevates animals, it devalues human beings. The animal rights movement expects us to fight breed specific legislation, and to promote dangerous dog laws, and we have done just that, undermining our own civil rights. Dangerous dog laws appear on the surface to have due process, but it is the animal that is put on trial, and the owner is not allowsed any imput into the hearing. The Spokane County Superior Court found that Spokane's dangerous dog law's due process was flawed, and was not in reality due process.
Laws must give people the right to due process of law. BSL in Denver, Kennewick, and many places across the United States remove animals for no reason other than breed, from responsible owners, with no charges of negligence, and no opportunity to have a case, or to have the case heard in the Courts. BSL allows warrantless searches, and seizures of private property for no reason other than the breed of dog involved. BSL violates the Constitutional right to recompense for property taken by government for public use, i.e. public safety. New Jersey is proposing to have special licensing to own dog breeds.
A license is a temporary revocable permit that allows the licensee to have something, or to do something that would be illegal to have, or to do without the license. It makes dog ownership illegal. It turns over all ownership, and use rights to the licensing agency which can at any time, inspect, confiscate, suspend, revoke, or halt issuance of the license. Licensure is a taking by government without compensation. If you live in a city, town, municipality, county, or state that requires dog licensing, then the act of dog ownership has been made illegal without permission of government.
Some licenses are reasonable. To drive upon public streets, roads, and highways your drivers license is proof of proficiency. Drivers licenses are regularly revoked, or suspended for failure to show competency. It's reasonable to license for the practice medicine, or law. Licensing has been carried to the extreme in the USA. We supposedly live in a free enterprise system, yet every business must be licensed. We must have a license to marry, to fish, to hunt, to own firearms, which is how our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms was undermined to the point of illegality.
When we agree to license our dogs we agree to give over our ownership right to the licensing agency, which can at any time revoke our use rights. We grant them absolute control over our animals. They can come onto our real property, and remove our transitory property (dogs) without due process of law. Ostensibly cities, counties, or states which require licensing could refuse to issue further licenses, and revoke the privilege of dog ownership. Mandatory dog licensing was the initial step in removing dogs from our ownership.
Those who own the target breeds are set apart, are vilified, and made to look like criminals, so that the rest of society will not be troubled by the government's taking of the dogs. The owners of these targeted breeds are victims of hate crimes, initiated by government. Communities will actually endorse the taking of dogs, not realizing that other breeds of dogs are going to be added to the growing list of restricted, or prohibited dogs. The targeted dogs are purportedly endowed with mythical powers that no other breed of canine can match. The surrounding myth would make these dogs so omnipotent that no mere mortal could possibly outsmart, control, train, contain, or have a normal owner relationship with them. These are exactly the self same tactics that have been historically used against any of the victims of hate crimes.
Neither should we allow prohibitions on the responsible ownership of any dog by breed. It violates the XIV Amendment, equal treatment, equal protection. The taking of dogs by breed is only the beginning of the eventual removal of all animals from our ownership, and use. Animals are among the most ancient of our traditional property, when government decides to remove our ownership rights, it will be piecemeal, not whole hog. Think for a moment what would happen if your city, or county government stipulated that all dogs must be forfeit. People would stand up, and put an immediate stop to that. It would immediately be recognized as an assault on our civil rights, whereas the taking of dogs by breed doesn't engender the same recognition.
The secondary step was the introduction of breed specific dog laws that limit, or prohibit the ownership of dogs based solely upon their breed. To the inexperienced, or uneducated citizen BSL appears to be a way to control dogs. Far from that simplistic view, it is government exerting control over the rights of human beings to have the full use and enjoyment of his/her property as is granted under the US Constitution. Breed specific dog ordinances set up the owners of the named breeds for exceptional treatment under law. In the limited , or restricted permission to own a "dangerous breed", another license was brought to bear upon the dog owner, plus the added burden of having to post an exorbitant surety bond, or liability insurance that was unavailable.
Breed specific dog laws appear on the surface to be about dogs, but upon closer examination we discover that BSL is all about we human owners of dogs. It's about government invading the sanctity of our homes, and our property without a warrant and removing animals that we consider to be a part of our family. It is about government criminalizing the ownership of dogs by breed. It is about the taking from we, the people, all of the numerous breeds, and mixed breeds of dogs that are now named in breed specific prohibitions, or restrictions in venues across the United States at this very time. Prohibitions on the ownership of dogs can overlap to become prohibitions on all animals. There are no stop-gaps built into breed specific legislation to prevent an overlap.
As citizens we are guaranteed equal treatment, and equal protection. As owners of the targeted breeds we are treated as though we have committed a crime, again without due process of law. We are labeled as being less responsible, less capable, of having less rights than our fellow dog owners whose breeds have temporarily escaped the restrictions, or prohibitions. Are we not tax payers? Are we not property owners? Do we not participate in our political processes? Are we secondary citizens? If we do not stand up for ourselves we will all become slaves to an out of control government.
All law is based upon supporting, and upholding the rights granted to us under the Constitution. Laws must be able to stand up to the Constitutional challenge. Local, state, and federal agencies have circumvented law by initiating "regulations, ordinances, codes," etc., which we citizens blindly agree to abide by, thus making these regulations, codes, and ordinances enforceable. Once we comply, we must ever comply. Compliance is agreement. If you have ever paid for and received a license to own a dog in your local, and you refuse to re-license at the end of the period that the license was issued you can be cited, and taken to Court. The Court can sentence you for not continuing to abide by the agreement that you entered into with the licensing agency.
Obviously the third and final step in removing our property rights in animals is the complete ban on ownership. A retirement community in Florida has already made the proposal. It was soundly trounced. The USA is not yet ready for an all out ban. But the chipping away process is in full speed ahead. Breed specific ownership ordinances have been with us for over thirty years. It takes time for radical ideas to begin to sound reasonable. They must be bolstered with heavy doses of propaganda. They must be propped up with legal precedent. Most importantly they must be acquiesced to by the people.
Far more people are killed by any number of other things than by dogs. Venomous snake bites kill an average of fifteen to twenty Americans per year. Bees kill one hundred, to three hundred persons a year on average. In 1989 fire-ant stings killed thirty two people in Texas. Lightening strikes one in every six hundred thousand persons killing one hundred, to three hundred persons annually.According to the U.S. Department of Labor there were five thousand, five hundred, and seventy-five work related fatalities in 2003. There were thirty eight thousand (38,000) fatal automobile crashes in 2003 across the U.S. Sadly, an average of fifteen hundred (1,500) children are killed each year in the United States by a parent, or guardian. The leading cause of death among pregnant women in the U.S. is murder at the hand of the father of her unborn child.
Given these figures, the restrictions on ownership of dogs by breed, makes no sense. California's SB 861 analysis quotes figures that there have been forty-seven human deaths in California that were attributable to dogs from the years 1965 through 2001. That averages to one death a year out of a population of some thirty-five million, eighty-four thousand, four hundred and fifty-three people (35,084,453). Subtract one from the figure 35,484,453 and you will see how many people did not die from dog bites in California each year... San Francisco averages three hundred and sixty two reported dog bites per year, approximately one bite per day from a population of seven hundred fifty-one thousand,six hundred and eighty-two (751,682) people. In any given year in San Francisco 751,320 people are not bitten by dogs. Public Safety, cannot, and must not be used as an excuse to remove our civil rights. Sound, responsible dog owner legislation that is strictly enforced, is a reasonable alternative that reinforces our civil rights.
Every year approximately four million people across the United States are bitten by dogs. That number makes up about 1% of our population. Out of that figure, the vast majority of dog bite victims are unattended children who are bitten by their family dog at home. The rest are unattended children who are off of their family property that are bitten by a dog that is at large. The number of fatalities resulting from dog attacks across the United States average from twelve, to twenty four in any given year. Dogs are certainly not the threat to public health, and safety that the news media would lead us all to believe. Shocking, and horrifying as these dog related fatalities are, there are many, and far more serious threats to human life here in the United States.
There are a whole lot of dogs, in the United States, tens of millions. Of the 350,000,000 of us human beings ,about sixty-five percent, give or take, own dogs. If the vast majority of dog owners were not responsible, there would be at least as many deaths attributable to dogs, as there are to automobile crashes. Dog related fatalities are very few in comparison to any other cause. Out of a population of some 350,000,000 to lose 12, to 24 people in a year to dog attacks is a strong case for, and speaks volumes to the overall safety record of dog owners
Once we realize that these laws are truly aimed at removing all of our property rights, civil rights, and Constitutional Rights we can shed the blinders, and get down to the real business of protecting our civil rights. When we stand up for ourselves as citizens, when we refuse to have our rights, and our property stripped from us, then we will be invincible. We must demand due process of law. We must not give over our civil rights, and our property, or our property rights. This country was founded upon the ideal of free people taking responsibility for their actions, participating actively in the political process, being citizen statesmen, and women, and being self governing.
The following statement exerpted from the Constitution of Washington State expresses exactly what the framers envisioned for we the people; "All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights." The U.S. Constitution guarantees that we would be able to protect ourselves, and our property with the following words; "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Every household in the United States of America should openly display, and study the Constitution before we have acquiesced all of our rights and liberties away.