The lawyers are salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at the prospect of changing the terminology from “dog owner” to “dog guardian”. California is the pacesetter for silly laws. For example, they are purging all the school texts of references to low-nutritional value foods. No longer will the offensive, “Suzie has three lollypops and Mary has—“, appear in California textbooks. Progress is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, the silly law brigade is out in force in California and as California goes so goes the nation. What difference does it make? The fall-out, should this law pass in Los Angeles, is enormous and loaded with far reaching costs to the taxpayer. Animal Rights people and lawyers seem to be in favor of the law and that worries me.
It appears to be a conspiracy but who started it? Ah, a good question. All conspiracies are secret and the more people involved the greater the chance of discovery. Following the money may give you the answer. The more laws, particularly confusing, challenging and contradictory laws the more work for the legal eagles. Now bearing in mind what the Bard said, in a un-Bard-like quote, “The first thing we do, lets kill all the lawyers.” uttered by one of Shakespeare’s more obscure characters, Dick the butcher in Henry the Sixth, Part 2, Act 4, Scene 4. Everyone knows the quote but don’t know where to find it with the exception of the erudite DOG NEWS reader.
The president of American University in Washington, DC sponsored a moot trial in 1987. Fans of Edward de Vere, the 17th Lord of Oxford (1550-1604), one of the pretenders to the works of William Shakespeare, called on the court to determine was it de Vere or Shakespeare that was the author of works attributed to the Bard. There were some heavy hitters deciding the case: Three Supreme Court Justices. The above quote was tossed into the pot and the Justices attributed it and everything else to Shakespeare.
Follow the money is a good rule of thumb to help determine in whose interested in something. I come from a family of lawyers so I do not want my family to disown me. Lawyers have an interest in the newly emerging specialty in law. Animal law is appearing in more and more law schools. Currently there are over 25 law schools offering such courses, including Harvard Law School. A big plus from the lawyer’s point of view is that is hard for animals to initiate malpractice suits should they feel they have not been properly served. Do not forget it isn’t even necessary to return phone calls to their “clients”. One big Bar Association complaint on lawyers is a failure to return phone calls. The dogs won’t complain. This sounds like a win-win situation for the lawyers.
So let’s follow the money. Who is going to pay the lawyers? Don’t worry about the lawyers getting their money. They have it covered. They know how to get their hands on the money. Worst-case scenario from the indigent dog’s point of view is your tax dollar will pay the legal bills. Who else stands to make money? Animal Rights groups have a number of interesting similar characteristics. First, realize that their primary function is raising money. Free publicity is an excellent low-cost way of raising funds. The more bizarre the publicity the more press. Another characteristic of AR groups is that they keep no animals under their roofs. Do you know how much easier that makes their lives? Start thinking about how much easier your life would be if you owned no dogs. No kennels, no shelters and no animals to administer. Yes, the ARs are built for speed, ease and a high profit margin. They are money-making machines. ARs are not Animal Welfare groups. They are AR welfare groups.
What difference do these emerging laws make? Animal rights groups hope the masses will take the “what difference does it make” attitude. Note that some animal welfare groups are drifting into the animal rights mold. Some of the welfare groups see the money made and want to follow it all the way to the bank. When I asked one animal rights person their reason for this silliness he said it was to get people to think the “right” way about animals. I replied that was not the purpose of laws. Who says we have to all think your way about dogs? I own my dogs and seek no release from the responsibilities that entails.
Here’s a scenario. You have had a dog since it was two months old and he is a wonderful pup. “Gunner” is approaching a year of age and he is the best dog you have ever had. You spent big bucks buying him. You recognize it is the best money you have ever spent. You not only have had Gunner micro-chipped but tattooed and DNAed. You covered all bases.
There is a problem. Some one we’ll call R. B., to protect the guilty saw the dog and became quite enthralled with Gunner’s wonderful appearance. He steals your dog and changes his name to Jupiter. R. B. and the newly named Jupiter have become quite close during the two years you been frantically searching for him.
A friend has spotted Gunner and she checked the tattoo. She gave you the tattoo number Bingo! You have a home run! You go to the police with your AKC registration, bill of sale, tattoo number, DNA paperwork, photos, vet health records and microchip records. You also have the police department case number when you reported the theft of Gunner. Boy, do you have your act together! You say you want to press charges against R. B. for “criminally receiving stolen goods”. You were told that it might be hard to prove who stole Gunner but criminally receiving was an open and shut case.
You proved beyond any doubt that you own Gunner to the police. The police called R. B. in for an interview and when they asked if he owned the dog, he said no. On further interrogation R. B. said he had a dog named Jupiter but didn’t own him. R. B. explained he is the dog’s guardian. How could J. B. be guilty of criminally receiving something that people aren’t even permitted to own? He was the guardian for Jupiter and knew nothing and cared less about a dog named Gunner.
The police call you up and explain there is nothing they can do. It is a custody battle, not a criminal matter. Now to add insult to injury you now have to retain a lawyer——a family practice lawyer with heavy experience in custody battles.
The day you are to appear in court the judge decides she will show she has the Wisdom of Solomon. No, not draw the dog. She will have the bailiff hold the dog in the middle of the courtroom. Gunner hasn’t seen you in two years while Jupiter spent the night with R. B. You both are instructed when re-entering the courtroom to wait until told by the judge to call the dog. Hey, that doesn’t sound fair to you. You know what you will do. You’ll squat down when you call him. If this were a movie, the music would well up as the suspense mounts. The judge gives the signal and you squat down and holler, “GUNNER!” R. B. follows your lead and squats down as he hollers. “JUPITER!” The dog trots over, tail wagging to R. B. Your heart sinks. Perhaps you should have used Gunner’s new name. As R. B. passes you, leaving the court with Jupiter at his side, he whispers a two-word epithet at you. Unfair? Unjust? Sure but who said life was fair?
Don’t say, “What difference does it make?” Every week one hears of ridiculous court rulings. This warm and fuzzy word, guardian opens the door to a myriad of legal entanglements not even considered at this point. Wait until you see what pops out of this Pandora’s Box of legal problems.
The state can’t event take care of the animals they are currently supposed to and now they want to make all domestic animals wards of the state. Realize that a politician’s reflex action to any problem is to pass more laws. They don’t want to enforce laws currently on the books. That would solve the problem. It is better to pass new unenforceable laws.
What are some of the problems changing the term from owner to guardian will produce? Has anyone given thought as to how to enforce laws against non-owners? Currently dogs are property and we are told that is not right because that makes them no more than the equivalent of a pair of skis or a tire iron. What are the laws against tire iron abuse? Dogs have even more rights and fewer responsibilities than we do at the present time. It is impossible to tell the fall-out of such a change until the lawsuits settle some time in the middle of this century. Are you willing to take a chance on this crapshoot?
There are a couple of lawyers in San Francisco that wish they were the guardians of the two dogs that killed Diane Whipple. They wouldn’t be in jail today.
Of course Lassie, Arnold the Pig and Morris the Cat will have court appointed attorneys to pursue their suit against the discriminatory Screen Actor’s Guild for denying their civil rights. Hey, they want to join the union.
If a veterinarian makes a fatal mistake all he needs to pay is the replacement value of the animal. What about future earnings? Loss of love and companionship? Vet insurance bills will skyrocket equal to the MDs and each one of us will pay for it. Remember that the taxpayers would pay the court appointed attorney.
What do you think about the involuntary sterilization of human beings? That should be a super big lawsuit. How many dogs have undergone involuntary sterilization? This will be the end of dog sterilization. Oh, the lawyers will be kept busy.
Animal law is a growth industry.
Let’s look at the good side of this. As a dog ages the veterinarian bills climb. At age 9 years and 104 days your dog should be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. One year of a dog’s life is equal to seven years of a human’s. Don’t worry, someone will initiate that lawsuit.
Animal righters say they want to share their world with the animals. I can see one of them crawling into bed with a Duroc-Red Hog. They won’t have to undergo that indignity because they will be ridding the earth of all domestic animals.
I’m not worried about the animal righters. I’m worried about the lawyers.
(Originally published in Dog News)