Washington, D.C. Proposal Will Infringe Rights

It is imperative that breeders and concerned dog owners in Washington, D.C., express their...

It is imperative that breeders and concerned dog owners in Washington, D.C., express their opposition to the Animal Protection Amendment Act, a recently proposed ordinance that, if adopted, will make drastic, unnecessary, and burdensome changes to current District law.  Some of the most onerous provisions of the ordinance would:

  • Take animals outside the realm of property law by establishing an animal guardianship regime.  We vehemently oppose this.  The American Kennel Club supports the use of the term “owner” rather than “guardian” when referring to the keeping of dogs.  The AKC believes that the term guardian may in fact reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property and thereby restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.  The term guardian does nothing to promote more responsible treatment of dogs. 

  • Allow for non-quantifiable damages in lawsuits involving dogs.  Historically, these damages compensate the family of victims who have died or those who are most severely injured—events that are not easy for anyone to place a value on.  Extending this type of compensation may drive those who properly care for animals—especially veterinarians—from their professions due to the significantly increased financial liabilities this provision will impose. 

  • Provide any non-profit organization that claims to be concerned with the humane treatment of animals with a private right of action against animal owners.  This means a non-profit may legally enter private property and confiscate another person’s animals.  This provision violates traditional due process requirements by allowing people other than sworn police officers to take another’s personal property without proving probable cause to a neutral, objective judge. 

  • Mandate the spaying/neutering of all dogs six months of age or older.  The AKC opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans, or mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs.  Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.  We strongly support efforts to educate the public about responsible dog ownership to ensure that all dogs receive the care, love, and attention they deserve. 

 

The AKC has also been made aware of potential amendments to the proposed ordinance.  These may include:

  • Changing the animal guardianship language to “animal protectorship”.  This idea of animal protectorship, not yet seen before, is akin to animal guardianship and is yet another feeble attempt at taking animals outside the realm of property law. 

  • Mandating the spay/neuter of all dogs aged four months or older, unless the owner acquires an “animal intact permit”.  The language circulating is substantively in the vein of what California’s Senate is currently considering in AB 1634.  AKC believes that educating the public about responsible breeding practices and the responsibilities of dog ownership is a better mechanism to address purported pet population problems. 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Contact the members of the Council of the District of Columbia and express your vehement opposition to these proposals. 

Councilmember Vincent C. Gray, Chair (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8032
vgray@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Jack Evans, Chair Pro Tempore (Ward Two)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Rm. 106
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8058
jackevans@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Carol Schwartz (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 404
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8105
cschwartz@dccouncil.us

Councilmember David Catania (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 110
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-7772
dcatania@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Phil Mendelson (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 402
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8064
pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Kwame R. Brown (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 506
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8174
kbrown@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward One)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 105
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8181
jim@grahamwone.com

Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (Ward Three)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 108
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8062
mcheh@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Murial Bowser (Ward Four)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 406
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8052
mbowser@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (Ward Five)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 107
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8028
hthomas@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward Six)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 408
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8072
twells@dccouncil.us

Yvette Alexander (Ward Seven)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 400
Washington, DC 20004
(212) 724-8068
yalexander@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Marion Barry (Ward Eight)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW – Suite 102
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 724-8045
mbarry@dccouncil.us

 

For more information, contact the AKC’s Canine Legislation Department at (919) 816-3503, or e-mail doglaw@akc.org