Dogs have no rights
Quick reaction to today’s news: owning a pet in the city is a privilege that comes with many responsibilities and no rights whatsoever. This is not the current reality, but I believe it ought to be, and while I try to be pragmatic in my approach to most things, on this one I take a hard line.
Pet ownership is a about domesticating an otherwise feral animal, which makes it a form of animal husbandry, which really has no place in a high-density metropolis. There was a time some 100 years ago when it wasn’t unusual for city dwellers to have chickens in the yard or to see cattle being herded through back alleys on their way to the slaughterhouse, but those days are gone. We make exceptions for dogs and cats because, as working animals, they are still useful in the city, most notably for keeping pests (mice, raccoons) at bay. But we (ostensibly) require owners to obtain a license in order to keep one.
We expect parents to raise their children to socialize properly, to instill in them proper behavioural habits: don’t hit or push or scream or bite or steal; et cetera. (And also, when it comes to animals: don’t pull fur or yank tails.) And when children misbehave, we expect parents to correct their child’s behaviour promptly. The same expectations apply to dog owners only more so: the animals should be properly trained and predictably obedient (especially in any situation involving children). I am still miffed over the fact that the city’s Web site includes a page explaining how children should behave with dogs, but no page on proper dog behaviour.
I love dogs, but I especially love dogs that heel to their masters’ voices in any situation. Obedience school ought to be mandatory for dogs in the city, and off-leash areas ought to be fenced.