RDOWS POSITION STATEMENT ON DOGS AS PROPERTY
October 7, 2007
POSITION STATEMENT ON DOGS AS PROPERTY ã
Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States was formed October 15, 1989 to protect the rights, and interests of dog owners. Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States takes the position that dogs are valuable property. Dogs are among the most ancient of property of human beings. Before human beings settled to a plot of land, or threw a seed in the soil, they were dog owners. Archaeological digs have found evidence of dog ownership tracing back more than thirty-five thousand years to a time before the written word. With writing came documentation of dog ownership, and use. Ancient texts extolled the virtues of hunting, guarding, and herding dogs, all evidence of their value as the property of human beings. From the time of the domestication of dogs human beings have not only trained dogs to be of intrinsic value for working along side us, human beings selectively bred dogs to have physical attributes to better perform their duties. Sight hounds, scent hounds, guard dogs, herding dogs, were among the first to be selectively bred to serve mankind. Some of the earliest writings dedicated to dogs was the preservation of the pedigree. A pedigree is a dog’s lineage, it’s family tree. Before we human beings knew about genetics, it is apparent from breeding records that selective breeding was understood. Selective breeding has created dogs of every size, and form from a wolf-type progenitor. Human beings would not have bothered if dogs were not valued property. The only animals, other than cats, and horses that have been so selectively bred following domestication were those that were used for food, or for clothing. That we human beings have steadfastly held to dog ownership proves that dogs are valuable property. The longer that human beings have owned dogs, the more breeds were developed to serve in ever expanding capacities, so that in today’s society dogs are trained to aid the hearing impaired, the sightless, those persons with physical disabilities, as well as continuing to perform the most ancient of duties, those of hunting, herding, guarding, and protecting human beings and their possessions, and property. Only in the most recent of times, and with the advent of the so-called animal rights movement has there been an effort to define dogs as not property, but as entities under the law. This movement has vowed to remove all animal ownership, and use from society. In order to accomplish this end, animals, including dogs must be given a status as legal entities over, and above property. Historically, and legally dogs are, and must remain the rightful, valuable property of human beings. It is very important to understand exactly what the definition of property is before agreeing to give it away. We tend to devalue the idea of property, as “just property” thus showing our ignorance, and disregard for our precious rights of ownership. Property is divided into two classes: real property such as land, or real estate, and personal property meaning everything to which we own title that is not land or real estate. The ownership of property is one of our most precious rights granted under the Constitution of the United States of America. It establishes we the people as individuals with the freedom to control our own lives. The founding fathers of this great land came from European kingdoms where all of the people, and all of the land, and all of the animals, and all of the goods belonged to the monarchy. They understood that ownership is freedom. The right of property ownership is given an important place in our enumerated freedoms. Ownership, and possession of property are two different things under the law. Ownership gives the title holder the right to retain, and to enjoy your property to the exclusion of all others. Possession is the right to temporary custody and does not necessarily include the right to title. For example a renter of an apartment, or garage, or the lessee of a dog or a bitch for breeding purposes has temporary possession without ownership. The landlord, or registered dog owner has the title, and all of the rights that accompany ownership, but is not in temporary possession of said property. Property can be acquired in numerous ways, it can be bought, inherited, received as a gift. A sale transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer. It is the expected responsibility of the owner to maintain the property in such a manner as to cause no harm to either the property, or to the surrounding neighbors, or neighborhood. With ownership, comes responsibilities that are not incurred by those persons having simple possession, such as a guardian. A guardian is simply a buffer between the actual owner i.e. the landlord, or in the case of animals, or human beings the government. The guardian has no intrinsic rights of possession, that possession is transitory and is subject to the terms of agreement between the true owner, and the guardian. A guardian has no rights in buying, selling, or trading of property. A guardian is financially responsible for the property while said property is in his/her possession. Emotional attachment in an animal is an important reason to retain ownership, rather than relinquishing said ownership. An owner has a legal right to possession. Only when an owner’s negligence, or carelessness gives due cause for the removal of the property may authorities take legal steps to remove that property from the ownership, and possession of the titled owner. Each case must be tried on an individual basis so that all owners are not subject to the same punishments as the irresponsible, careless, or negligent owner. There has been great headway made in the Courts of this land to overturn breed specific legislation by the American Canine Foundation, after the initial losses incurred by American Dog owners Association. Animals are among the most ancient of traditional property. If we wish to continue to have animals in our possession, then we should fight strenuously to retain our ownership, and property rights.