Animal Advocates Want to Muzzle Dog Ordinance

Measure requires people who find lost dogs to try to contact owners

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    Advocates say Dallas' measure will discourage people from helping stray dogs.

    Animal advocates say a Dallas ordinance to protect pet owners will instead lead to more stray animals on the streets.

    The ordinance requires anyone who picks up a stray dog to call the number on the dog tag, take the dog to a vet to check for a microchip or contact animal control within 72 hours. Good Samaritans who don't could face a fine of up to $500.

    Doggie Ordinance Has Surprising Critics

    [DFW] Doggie Ordinance Has Surprising Critics
    Animal advocates say a Dallas ordinance to protect pet owners will instead lead to more stray animals on the streets. (Published Friday, Jun 18, 2010)

    "How can someone really prove that it's within the 72 hours, that it happened within the city limits, that you didn't try to contact someone through microchip or tag?" said Jonnie England, of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission.

    The commission is asking the City Council to repeal the measure.

    Some dog owners say they worry that if they do lose their animal, the ordinance would deter a Good Samaritan from rescuing their dog if it's seen roaming the streets.

    "Had somebody not turned in my dog, I wouldn't have him today," Corey Rawdon said. "If there were an ordinance in place that would potentially stop someone from taking in a dog, then I wouldn't really be in favor of that."

    England said she has heard similar concerns.

    "I've gotten e-mails and calls and seen on blocks that people are concerned about this, making comments like, 'I guess I'll never rescue another dog again,'" she said.

    But Dallas resident Brad Kirby considers the dog ordinance a victory.

    "You're not rescuing a dog if you take a dog off the street, and it has ID, and you don't give it back to the people who own it," he said.

    Kirby fought the city for years after his dogs were stolen from his front yard. He even sued the city for not doing more to help him. The case was dropped. He said he's pleased that the City Council passed the ordinance.

    "And now I'm happy, and I appreciate what the city did," he said.

    But England said the new ordinance wouldn't help a dog owner in Kirby's position.

    "It would be horrible -- it would be just tragic to have your dog stolen," she said. "I would be devastated. We all would be, but this is not the ordinance to fight that."