By editorial board • 

Dog control a vital function in society

Where is it etched in stone that the county’s dog control function has to be self-supporting, but its myriad other functions do not? This seems akin to the city’s baseless mantra that the airport must be self-supporting, but nothing else does.

One of the past justifications offered by Sheriff Tim Svenson, who is suggesting the county abandon dog control, is that not all households include dogs.

True enough. But not all households include a school-age child either, yet we all share in supporting public education.

In fact, the national percentage of households with at least one school-age child, 41.4 percent, reflects percentage including at least one dog, 36.5 percent. Nationally, almost 50 million households include a dog, which has made local provision of dog control services virtually universal.

We are less concerned with the response system for dogs running at large, struck by vehicles or attacking people, pets or livestock than we are with the method for returning or rehousing stray dogs and sheltering them in the interim.

By default, city and county law enforcement will end up handling the former function on the public dole. But the latter will fall to private non-profits that may not be able to sustain the burden.

If the county is serious about abandoning such a central function, it is duty-bound to move thoughtfully and deliberately enough to guarantee broad community support and establish a fully functional alternative.

Descendant of wolves, dogs became the world’s first domesticated animal about 40,000 years ago, predating horses, cows, cats and chickens. Man and dog have established quite a bond over all those eons — one that should not be underestimated.

Globally, household ownership began to blossom in the 17th and 18th centuries, and is now thought to exceed 1 billion. And as the numbers rose, licensing and control services began to take root, both here and abroad.

The earliest known dog license was issued in Utrecht, Holland, in 1446, where the fee was paid in salt rather than coin. The earliest known American license was issued in Fredericksburg, Virgina, in 1853. Spurred by a burgeoning wild dog problem, New York City established the first American dog control agency in 1894.

“Couldn’t get elected dogcatcher” was a popular putdown for politicians. There is actually only one elected dog control officer in America, serving the Vermont town of Duxbury, but he has more than 12,000 hired counterparts.

All this goes to say, animal control is a core function in our culture, so should not be taken lightly.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable