Hello Dear Readers,
Today I am going to slip into some direct local political action. You may feel free to follow along if you wish, if not I understand. There is an old saying that all politics is local. This involves proposed new animal control ordinances for Darlington County, South Carolina. If you wish to follow along please open the pictures below and read the entire proposal paying particular attention to the highlighted portions.
First let’s take a look at Section II item D. The idea of dog & cat licensing is not a new one and has been tried in many areas with mixed results at best. We are already required by law to vaccinate all of our animals against rabies and I have current rabies tags on all of my animals, both of my dogs are fixed, and kept at home. Tell me again why such a license is necessary? As far as I can tell the only purpose of this fee to generate revenue and perhaps create a job for someone’s brother or sister in law. The people whom have unvaccinated poorly cared for dogs & cats running loose aren’t going to say oh my God, I Have to get in compliance with the new law. Those people will either ignore the new law like they do the existing one, or if they do become afraid of having to pay, they will throw all the puppies & kitties into a sack with a brick and toss the whole shebang in the river. Is that really what you want?
Item F: Delinquent fees? This is all the proof I need that this is just a revenue generating scheme. This is a poor county; the economy is in shambles, everybody that has a job just got hit with a very noticeable payroll tax increase that for some people has taken grocery money out of their pockets. Some of these families that can barely afford the joy of having a pet for their children will just say to hell with it and get rid of their pets creating an even larger burden for the animal shelter.
Item H: The enforcement provisions of this law are especially troubling. The requirement for tags is minor but the currently issued rabies tags are fully traceable so the need for a new extra cost tag is superfluous. More disturbing is the requirement that the owner be required to produce on demand by any law enforcement officer a certificate proving the license of their pet even if the animal is wearing the appropriate tag and is confined on the owner’s property at the time. This section of the ordinance is in direct violation of Article 4 of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, prohibiting illegal search and seizure, by attempting to give unlimited power to inspect animals & demand paperwork at any time even if the animals are safely ensconced on private property.
In all practicality these ordinances will be nearly impossible to enforce as intended. My prediction is that if this becomes law it will be enforced selectively for a. purposes of gaining access to private property for purposes not related to the animal control law, (i.e. drug searches without a warrant) b. harassment of minorities who tend to be less affluent and may not be able to afford the fees or possibly may be unaware if the new law passes, and c. I see this law being abused as a revenge tool either by feuding neighbors, or possibly by elected/appointed officials to attack political opponents, unfavorable journalists, or bloggers.
Section IV The owner’s responsibility section states that pet owners should ensure their dog or cat has identification at all times. Of course the first recommendation for I.D. is a microchip. Once again they are talking about taking more money from people with less & less to give. I wonder if any microchip manufactures or dealers are contributing to the effort to get this passed. This is pure speculation on my part, but hey this is pure politics and this whole deal just reeks of that unique combination of do-gooderism, bullshit, & money.
Section VI Repeal of conflicting ordinances. This whole section is just hilarious as the every single enforcement provision of this proposal is in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. Sorry you can’t repeal the Constitution. I know some have tried to water it down, but we’re not talking about terrorism here, just a way for a small county government to make some more money using Fido & Puss to extract it from you & me.
Although I didn’t highlight it I love the wording of Section IX the “Safety Clause” apparently we’re all in grave danger from unlicensed pets without microchips in them running around loose. In fact we all may catch some weird disease and die. Oh the horrors! Officer shoot that unlicensed cat & take his owner directly to jail so we can all be safe! At least in this section they did finally show a little compassion for animals and recommend breakaway collars for cats to keep them from choking to death. But I’m sure that when your cat manages to get rid of the collar you will still have to pay a stiff fine to get it back, or it’s into the gas chamber for kitty.
Even more disturbing to me is that our local humane society is behind this proposal. Sorry folks but this is a bad idea. Sure it might help your budget shortfalls a little, temporarily, but it will have horrible unintended consequences for both animals and people. You think the shelter is overcrowded and underfunded now wait until this law is passed…
One of those consequences will be that truly responsible pet owners like myself whom regularly contribute to your fund raising activities at places such as your booth at the Good Living Marketplace, BBQ dinners and other events may feel hurt, & betrayed by your backing of this new law, and just leave our dollars in our pockets. Not to mention people will develop an attitude of, “well they get money from the licenses they don’t need our help anymore.”
Saddest of all you will no longer have our respect as the last of the true public servants, instead the animal shelter & animal control officers will become just another bureaucracy to avoid & fear.
I know times are hard, people are stupid and mean to dogs and cats. Money is tight and the demands for your services are growing but this proposed law will do your organization more harm than good. If this proposal fails I’ll give you a permanent donation link from this blog. If it passes screw you.
If you believe that this proposed ordinance will create more problems than it solves please contact your Darlington County S.C. council representative and let them know that you oppose this law which does nothing to help animals and much to restrict freedom.
The picture below lists contact information for our council representatives. In addition Councilman Le Flowers has given me permission to link to his Facebook page so that you can contact him there.
You can view the council website through a link at the bottom of this list.