Stamford, Connecticut, Considering Significant Changes to City Animal Care Ordinance

A committee of Stamford, Connecticut’s Board of Representatives is currently considering changes to Chapter 111 of the City’s Code of Ordinances, which currently deals with “Dogs and Other Animals”. The changes include use of the term “guardian” to describe the relationship between dogs and their owners and requires breeders to acquire breeder permits. The American Kennel Club opposes portions of the ordinance as currently written, and encourages all dog owners in Stamford to contact the members of the Legislative and Rules Committee to express their concerns with the proposal.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A committee of Stamford, Connecticut’s Board of Representatives is currently considering changes to Chapter 111 of the City’s Code of Ordinances, which currently deals with “Dogs and Other Animals”.  The changes include use of the term “guardian” to describe the relationship between dogs and their owners and requires breeders to acquire breeder permits.  The American Kennel Club opposes portions of the ordinance as currently written, and encourages all dog owners in Stamford to contact the members of the Legislative and Rules Committee to express their concerns with the proposal. 

Click here for a copy of the full proposal, which also includes changes to the City’s dangerous dog ordinance and other animal issues.  

The American Kennel Club has several concerns with the draft ordinance, including:

  • Proposed Sec. 111-11’s use of the term “guardian” to describe the relationship between people and animals. The American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association and other leading animal advocates support the use of the term “owner” rather than “guardian” when referring to the keeping of dogs.  The term “guardian” may in fact reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property, limit the legal responsibility of those keeping animals, and restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.  It may also subject them to frivolous and expensive litigation.  The term guardian does nothing to promote more responsible treatment of dogs.

    Furthermore, Connecticut statute Sec. 22-350 states that, “All dogs are deemed to be personal property.”  The proposed use of the term “guardian” alludes to a legal status of animals as something other than property. 
     
  • Proposed Sec. 111-11 urging that “all pets be neutered at the earliest age allowed.”  However, a growing amount of scientific research demonstrates that juvenile sterilization may prove ultimately harmful to animals.  Surgical spaying and neutering are major, elective surgeries.  Radical castration and ovariohysterectomy, particularly when conducted on puppies as young as eight weeks of age, are harmful to the long-term health of a dog.  Potential harm related to juvenile spay/neuter includes elevated risks associated with neonatal anesthetization and recovery, as well as increased potential for cancer, hip dysplasia, ligament damage, a shorter lifespan, and even chronic incontinence.  Chronic incontinence creates housetraining issues, one of the more common reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters.  Although spay/neuter is properly considered an elective surgery, it is a major surgery with potentially serious consequences.  The decision to spay or neuter a dog is one that should be made by the pet’s owner after careful discussion with their veterinarian.  The draft proposal should reflect that care relationship and the medical expertise of veterinarians. 
     
  • Sec. 111-12, regarding the breeding of dogs, creates breeding permits.  The American Kennel Club opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans or the mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs, specifically those based on the number of dogs owned or maintained.  Such permits have been found extremely difficult to enforce. They penalize law abiding citizens while creating an incentive for others to avoid licensing, vaccination and regular veterinary care, ultimately creating a public health hazard. The AKC and local AKC dog clubs strongly support and actively promote a wide range of programs to educate the public about responsible purebred breeding practices and the responsibilities of dog ownership.


WHAT YOU CAN DO: 
Concerned Stamford residents are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Stamford Board of Representatives’ Legislative and Rule Committee, which is expected to reconsider the ordinance in the coming weeks, and respectfully urge them to address the concerns highlighted above and any other concerns they may have. 

City Representative Eileen Heaphy, Committee Chair -- eheaphy@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Elize Coleman, Committee Vice Chair -- ecoleman@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Harry Day -- hday@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Elaine Mitchell -- emitchell@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Susan Nabel -- snabel@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Gail Okun -- gokun@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Kieran Ryan -- kryan@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative Keith Silver -- ksilver@stamfordCT.gov

City Representative John R. Zelinsky, Jr. -- jzelinsky@stamfordCT.gov  

For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations (AKC GR) Department at (919) 816-3720, or e-mail doglaw@akc.org.  AKC GR will provide additional updates as information becomes available.