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Ounce of prevention worth pound of cure

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In recent weeks, the debate on the county’s dog ordinances has come back into the spotlight. I have read several criticisms of the current ordinances and as one of the members of the committee who helped write these, I wished to address my views on this very important topic.

The current ordinances were not crafted by a few illogical dog breeders with selfish motives. The committee was comprised of council members, dog owners, dog breeders, professional dog trainers, a member of the local humane society and a lady whose young daughter had recently been bitten by a dog. We all brought to the table our experiences and knowledge to help craft this ordinance.

The question has been asked why Lancaster does not have a requirement that any dog who attacks a person or another animal isn’t immediately euthanized.  With that type of rule in place, all it would take is an accusation and a pair of torn jeans to have a family pet removed from a home. A dog has no way to defend itself against the accusations of a spiteful, lying neighbor. The ordinance, as written, does provide for the immediate removal of a dog accused of harming a person or animal while a judge makes a determination about whether the animal is aggressive. If found aggressive, the animal is to either be euthanized or returned home, but must be subject to the requirements for having an animal declared aggressive, including it being housed in an escape-proof pen. While there are several steps involved in this, this protects all parties from abuse of the ordinance.

Also brought up recently is the idea of mandatory animal registration. A letter to the editor in past weeks said that those who are opposed to having their dogs registered will have to stand back and watch when their dog goes on the attack. This line of thinking is nonsense. This topic was intensely debated during the writing of the current ordinance. Saying that a registered animal will not bite makes no more sense than saying a registered vehicle will not run into you. Other counties and cities have instituted mandatory animal registration, but the main purpose seems to be to provide taxpayer funds for private animal welfare groups, not the safety and protection of the citizens.

As we have so recently seen, laws do not stop aggressive animals. Further rules and requirements will not eliminate the problem either. It is up to each of us to be mindful and proactive in helping control this issue. Fellow owners should be sure that they provide a safe area for their pets to play, and that they have the proper ID tag on their collar.

If you see a stray animal or one acting aggressively, speak to the owner or notify animal control immediately. Don’t wait until an animal bites someone before taking action. Also, immediately notify either animal control or law enforcement if you witness someone taunting or harming an animal. Many times this is the beginning of aggressive behaviors.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and an ounce of effort on all our parts is the best means we have to prevent these unfortunate situations in our county.

 

Derek Smith

 Lancaster