Would having to to obtain an animal license reduce the animal surrenders, overpopulation and abuse? If a person wanting to obtain an animal were required to read a booklet much like a driver's license that contained all of the animal laws such as not leaving your dog unattended in a car, no tethering... not giving a dog basic medical care such as heart worm pills or sterilizing and the reasons why... It should also inform the public of the overpopulation, effects of over-breeding... This license should be the owners social security number. No chance in losing that number or not finding the correct owner with a social. This booklet should also talk about the costs of ownership and resources if someone falls into financial hardship... Basic training and behavioral challenges that are easily addressed, such as pulling on a leash, barking...
My two cents...
There are many people who will shy away from too many rules. Having an animal can be like having a companion for people who are forced to live alone or in reduced circumstances. If you ever watch shows where Vets do free clinics for street and underprivileged people's pets, there are circumstances where the animal eats better than the people. I don't necessarily think that a license is the only way to go. Our city recently went to requiring yearly licenses for all pets, and if the pet is an indoor cat, well seen to, then it just feels like a cash grab or a penalty to everyone for those who don't care properly for their pets. I made a decision a long time ago that, if I couldn't afford the upkeep, I wouldn't have an animal in a small apartment. I foster in order to look after the need in me as I am a single person who enjoys the comfort of a caring companion animal. I wish I had an answer as to how to train people to respect the responsibility and compassion needed in pet ownership or of pet parenthood. Attitudes have to change first, as I truly feel that you shouldn't try to enforce responsibility any more than you can "legislate stupid" or thoughtless or self-centred behaviours in people.
But having a pet means you should feed them every day, that in most cases sterilizing is responsible, vaccinating is a necessity. Aren't these sort of like rules? I think that love is not going to cover everything. Besides many people really don't know even the basics of taking care of an animal (which in my opinion is loving an animal). I know that there are many people that feed their animals better than they feed themselves, but at one point what if they can't even feed the animal? They should be aware of their resources and responsibilities towards the welfare of that animal. For example I had a tenant we discovered was housing 6 animals in a studio, some were in crates. Her idea was that they were better there than in the shelter. She had to be evicted for not following the 2 animal rule. Rules are necessary and they are made to protect others. I am sure she had the best intentions.
While I agree that all of that education is valuable information to share, I tend to think that fewer rules/requirements are better. More rules and regulations (especially associated with a SSN) may turn away decent adopters. If your goal is to only adopt to the highest quality of pet owner then, I think, the unfortunate side effect will be more animals are euthanized (or turned away and then euthanized, or worse). This will be even harder to implement in rural areas.
A better option might be to offer a Pet Owner Class which they can voluntarily take before adoption. These adopters might then be offered preferential adoption choices (especially for puppies), a discount on their adoption, a discount on training, etc. Positively reinforce good pet ownership rather than add another hurdle to adoption. I'm developing online training for fosters, people raising litters and pet owners and this has given me a good idea for another class to include.
What if the current pet owners were grandfathered in and moving forward new owners were required to obtain a license? The reason I thought this would be a good idea is because after doing much research I see that many animals are being surrendered for reasons such as "hard to walk, not trained, not enough time..." I also see that many pets are abused, come back with heart worm or many have had litters, they are not sterilized early enough. If we had more informed owners wouldn't that cut back on having to euthanize in overpopulated shelters? Here in Florida we also have people that still don't know that leaving your dog in a car is against the law and so is tethering. I think there is some basic knowledge required if we want to avoid some of these horrific scenarios. idk it seems like every time I turn around I'm seeing something that should have been common sense.
I feel your frustration, I really do. As people who dedicate their lives to helping animals it is very hard to deal with the ignorance that causes many animals to lose their homes or lives. Your heart is in the right place and I think it is a worthwhile question to ask but legislating morality is a tricky business.
Parents should take good care of their kids - should we require that they take a parenting class before they have children? Everyone should take care of their health (healthcare costs effect everyone) - should the government require everyone to exercise 3x a week and eat a certain number of vegetables? Would overweight or sick people be penalized for not being healthy? People spread misinformation and ill will online - should we all be required to have a license to be online? I'm not picking on you, sometimes it is hard to see how these things unfold, especially when it is a subject close to our hearts.
How would it be implemented? Are you proposing that a law be created? State or federal? Then, how would it be enforced? Who decides what a good pet owner needs to know? Who will pay for the creation, production and distribution of the booklet? Who verifies they have read the booklet or administers the test? Who keeps track of these licenses? Does it expire? If you are caught owning a pet without a license, are you fined or sent to jail?
I've had animals my entire life, have a BS in zoology, owned a dog walking business and have fostered over 200 animals. If a shelter told me that I had to get a license to adopt a pet - I would be very annoyed. Some people don't even understand why shelter animals aren't free in the first place, let alone why they need a license to get a cat. My guess is that some people would welcome this idea, benefit from the education and it would keep some animals safely in their homes. But for everyone else, they'll either just skip getting an animal all together or turn to less reputable sources for animals like Craigslist where breeders don't care about overpopulation, responsible breeding practices or what types of people they sell their animals to or what happens to them when they leave. As for people who abuse or neglect their animals, I doubt there is much that can be done to change their attitudes, rules or not.
I think the best we can do is provide non-judgemental encouragement, education and post adoption follow ups. Great discussion, though!
In Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, when I first restarted fostering again approximately 2 years ago, I was encouraged and made aware of the free online courses for fosters offered through Maddies' Fund (and to explore potential info on Youtube). It made me feel almost competent with orphaned neonatal kittens. There are many resources that can be accessed if you work for them to become a responsible pet person...Thx.
I agree with you that education about how to care for animals is key. I don't think licensing will change how people think about taking care of and loving their pets.
It would be a big help to start education in schools early on. I believe this could make a positive difference. It does start at home but we all know that doesn't always get taught in a home.
If animal control or local animal rescue were involved educating kids early on I believe it would make a big difference.
I think your hand out idea would be great for animal rescues to give to people when they adopt a pet.
I'm originally from New England and have lived in FL for over 20 years now. I've lived in different parts of Florida and depending on the area people either love and care well for their beloved pets, or don't care at all.
I've wondered why some people even have pets when they leave them outside, let them run loose, don't give them proper medical care, time, love, attention, training.
I think stronger penalties for neglect, abandonment and abuse are needed. Not only jail time but more substantial fines for abuse and neglect.
A long time ago, I was visiting my sister-in-law and a neighbors female Pitbull (with puppies at home) showed up at the door. My niece was giving attention, water and food to this loved starved dog who was being neglected by her owners. My sister-in-law called animal control. They came and picked the dog up. One of the ladies from animal control said to the owner "If you want your dog back it will cost you $60 to get her back." The owner said "I don't want her back, kill the B*#). I couldn't believe it. I would have taken her if I was in the position to do so at the time.
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