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Barking Dogs & Animal Abuse
Today's student paper of the University of Oklahoma
(October 7, 1997) carried a front-page story about the
problem of abandoned dogs and cats. This inspired
me to call the animal shelter to request some data.
Norman's 1990 Census population was about 80,000.
In 1996, the city picked up 1939 dogs. Of these, they
had to destroy 1017. Additionally, 167 of them were
already dead -- for a total of 1184 dog deaths caused
by abandonment or other irresponsible behavior by
humans, such as letting the dogs run loose so they
could be hit by autos. Thus annually one dog is killed
for every 67 Norman residents.
Further, Animal Control informed me that they take at
least one call a day reporting animal abuse or neglect.
The newspaper article reported that Second Chance, a
private animal shelter, gets 500 requests a week from
people who want to dump their pets on them.
The solution I have advocated is that dog ownership should
no longer be considered a right. Like driving an auto, it
should be a privilege granted to those who demonstrate
knowledge of animal control law and responsible conduct
required of dog owners. Licenses for dog ownership should
be granted to those passing an exam, and having received
3 annual complaints should be grounds for revoking the
In the short run, a lot of dogs would end up dying after
their owners' licenses were revoked, but dogs are already
dying on account of irresponsible humans. In the long
run, both the dog and human populations would be better
off if my suggestion were implemented as law. There
would be fewer dog owners, but they would be better.
State and municipal law already forbids animal abandon-
ment, but it happens every day anyway, and I have never
heard of anyone being charged with this.
-- Michael Wright
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