By Patty Van Sicklen, AKC Government Relations Legislative Analyst
Dog limit laws. Breed bans. “No Dogs Allowed” signs at parks, lakes, and trails. Have you ever considered what prompts such restrictions?
Often, laws and regulations that impact all dog owners are enacted in response to problems created by a handful of irresponsible owners and nuisance dogs. This is one of the reasons that AKC expects all dog owners to be good neighbors and to know, understand and obey laws or rules that pertain to them.
Elected officials are public servants. To get re-elected, it’s important for legislators to be responsive to constituents. One of the best ways for legislators to demonstrate this is to advocate for new laws based on constituent requests. But if legislators only hear negative comments about dogs, the introduction of restrictive new laws shouldn’t be a surprise.
Consider the following scenarios:
Just one dog barking at 2:00 a.m. may disturb an entire neighborhood and trigger a barrage of complaints to city hall.
A vicious dog bites a young child. Even where laws are already in place, a tragic incident prompts calls for overreaching bans that harm responsible owners.
Law enforcement seizes dogs kept by a person in illegal, substandard conditions. Law enforcement action demonstrates that laws are already in place, but coverage of the incident creates a natural desire for action.
AKC’s flyer on Be your dog’s best friend and a good neighbor offers a variety of tips you can share to educate dog owners in your community about how to be a good dog owner and a good neighbor. These tips not only make for good dogs and good neighbors, they can also prevent a situation that could easily escalate into restrictive new laws in your community.
For help with specific dog laws and related issues in your community, please contact the AKC Government Relations department at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.