Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thoughts on Dangerous Dogs & Seizure Warrants in Halifax

I believe in good animal control and good dog by-laws because public safety is important. I don't happen to believe in putting a healthy dog down.

Dogs just don't rate high enough as a threats to human life to merit killing them if they step out of line. Dogs don't even show up on the top 50 causes of accidental death and injury. So to me, killing a healthy dog because it inflicts harm, or is said to be likely to inflict harm, is unacceptably disproportionate. It's also immoral, when you consider that Canada no longer kill humans who kill other humans.

When balanced against the enormous value of the human-canine bond that predates modern society, killing healthy dogs seems very immoral. People have kept dogs for some 30,000 years - longer than there were cities, laws, and the family as we know it - and the human-canine bond is likely to endure longer than those institutions. True, not everybody likes dogs, but dogs serve everybody - in security, in special needs cases, at hospitals, and, lord knows, in research! So it's only right that our laws reflect how important dogs are to us.

As a result, any city insisting it has a right to destroy lawfully owned dogs must insure that those laws are fair and and effective. Above all, they must avoid infringing rights and harming dogs needlessly. And the most important part of dog by-laws is the definition of dangerous at their core. Without a reasonable, science-based definition of "dangerous", no dog laws can be fair or effective. When we look at how Halifax deals with "dangerous", however, things don't look so good.

Under Halifax local law,  deeming a dog dangerous doesn't require Halifax to seize and kill the dog in question, regardless of circumstance. The law doesn't stipulate when Halifax should kill a dog, such as following a serious incident. It leaves all of this up to the animal control officer and the prosecutor.