Public Education Corner


Need to Protect the Right to Own and Breed Never Greater
Message from Walter Bebout, AKC Canine Legislation Director

The introduction of crop and dock ban bills, breed-specific legislation, and mandatory spay/neuter ordinances is rampant across the United States. From Los Angeles County, CA, and Albuquerque, NM, to San Antonio, TX, and Louisville, KY, local governments are embracing mandatory spay and neuter ordinances as a panacea to deal with perceived pet overpopulation issues. So far in 2006 we have seen the consideration of an ear-cropping-ban bill in Vermont and the introduction of a crop-and-dock-ban bill in New York state. Breed-specific legislation, banning the ownership and/or breeding of certain breeds, plagues dog owners in scores of communities. The need for a resolute dog fancy committed to protecting the right to own and breed dogs has never been greater.

Our own complacency constitutes a serious threat to responsible dog ownership. It is all too easy for a dog owner involved in breeds not cropped or docked to have the view that crop-and-dock-ban bills do not affect them or their breeding programs. The same attitude can dismiss the relevance of breed-specific legislation if your beloved breed or breeds are not included in a proposed breed-specific ban in your community. Mandatory spay and neuter ordinances may provide exemptions, usually for “competition/performance/show” dogs, so again the outlook can be that “my dog is in a ‘special class,’ and my right to breed is exempted and protected under mandatory spay/neuter ordinances.”

But exemption from mandatory spay and neuter requirements comes at a high price. Albuquerque, NM, requires an annual $150 intact animal permit and a $150 litter permit, while Los Angeles County, CA, features a $60 intact animal license and a $175 litter permit if you choose to breed a bitch. But the greatest cost to dog fanciers is not monetary. Instead mandatory spay/neuter and crop/dock bans and breed-specific legislation singly and collectively threaten the rights of dog ownership.

The menace of repressive dog legislation is not a complex issue. Instead it reduces to a simple question: Who should make the decisions regarding dog ownership and breeding -- the responsible dog owner or the government? If your answer is that owners and breeders should make those decisions, then every piece of negative canine legislation introduced becomes an issue requiring active opposition by everyone in the purebred dog community. The common bond between all dog fanciers is our love of the purebred dog. Dog fanciers have shared interests, and we also have a shared responsibility to protect the right to own and breed dogs.