The white elephant in the animal world is not the puppy mills, or the euthanasias happening in the high-intake shelters, or the community cat dilemma. Those issues have gotten a lot of media attention for many years, and are now being addressed with a more positive outcome.
The white elephant that no one is addressing is this country’s growing discrimination against pets in homes. No one is taking on the communities with breed-restrictive legislation, or the ones with pet-limit ordinances or laws on the books.
The number one reason people surrender their animals to shelters is because they are moving. When pressed to see why people are not taking their animals with them, the reason almost always given is, “The landlord will not allow pets.” When further asked, “So, why do you not find a home that will allow them?” They say, “We just cannot afford that type of housing.” Or they say, “They will not allow the specific breed of dog that we have.”
How about working to educate landlords and property management companies to become more pet friendly? I can promise you, after raising two children, I know toddlers do a lot more permanent damage to a home than dogs!
In the past two days, the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley has had approximately 34 owner surrenders. I personally believe the number is higher, but many people are too ashamed to admit they are giving up their family pet and claim that they “found” it.
I have heard many folks moving to Colorado say they cannot take their dog because it is a “pit,” and because many communities have breed-restrictive legislation. I cannot believe that we in America — the land of the free — are restricting what breeds of dogs our citizens can own, or how many they can own.
My Grandpa came over on the boat from Italy way back in the day “for a better life” as he used to tell me. I can guarantee you he would not be happy if someone would have told him what kind of dogs and how many dogs he could own. He would’ve said, “If I paid my property taxes then no one should be able to tell me what to do on it as long as I am not hurting anyone or thing.”
The ability to care for a pet should be the guideline we use on how many people can own. I know folks who have 10, and I know folks who cannot handle one properly. Then there is the size issue. With all due respect, there is a huge difference between owning two Great Danes and five little Chihuahuas. Yet we have ordinances on the books throughout this country saying, “Oh no, you have to get rid of three of your Chihuahuas.”
Now for the breed-restrictive legislation issues. Many of you may be thinking, “I am scared of the bully type of dogs, boxers and rottweilers.” But you are profiling. You are judging all of the dogs that look similar based on what you think you know about one dog. Any dog can exhibit behavior that can pose a threat to society. There is Dangerous Dogs legislation that we would use to protect society from that specific dog, but we should not be judging all of the dogs in a specific breed based on one dog — we sure would not want to be judged that way.
I currently own six dogs and one is a rottweiler — she is my third rottie. She is as sweet as pie — I am not going to judge her based on behavior I have seen from others rotties in my career.
The reason I wrote this article is to encourage you all to start fighting back against all the restrictions that we are allowing to be put on pet ownership.
Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock is the executive director of the Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley.
Read the original article here.