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Dog license & the law

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Wright, Apr 17, 2002.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    Here's the scoop: We live on the outskirts of a city, but are technically within city limits. The city has a dog licensing ordinance that says you have to buy a license for your dog every year. I personally believe this is taxation without representation and a violation of my constitutional rights. My dog is small, lives indoors and never leaves the house unless she's on a leash. In fact, I've owned small dogs all my life and they've never left the house, never been picked up by dog catchers, etc. In other words, I'm a responsible dog owner and most people don't even know I have a dog.

    So, I've never bought a dog license. Well, the city has decided to send a city employee door to door looking for unlicensed dogs. They snoop around your property, peek in your windows, etc, looking for a dog. When they find one, they fine you. Well, the dog nazis came to my house today while my wife and daughter were in the front yard, and asked my 5 year old daughter if she had a puppy. Of course she said yes (she loves our dog) and they slapped us with a $20 fine for not licensing her (the dog).

    Now, I'm told that if I don't pay the fine, they will continue to fine me $100 PER DAY. If I continue to not pay it, they will put a lien on my house.

    OK, so it's only $20, and I know some of you are going to tell me, "Stop your whining, you violated the law, you have to pay." Well, I think the law is BS, and I want to call the city on it. I'm willing to go to great lengths to stop this insanity of a special tax for dog owners.

    What can I do (besides the obvious bend over and take it)?

    And, am I out of line for finding this forced taxation on dog owners reprehensible? Should I just shut up and pay it like a good little citizen?
     
  2. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    First, does the fine also buy you a license, or do you have to pony up for that too so they can't get you again next week?
    Second, I'd first pay the fine then fight it. If you try to fight it first and lose then you'll have to pay an even heavier fine.
    If you win you should then get reimbursed for the fine, as well as demand that all other fines get reimbursed.
    For years California has been making people pay a "smog fee" when they register their "out of state" vehicles (no California emissions installed). A group of people sued California for this unfair taxation and won. The California Supreme Court determined it to be unconstitutional and the state had to reimburse everyone that paid the $200+ fee. At the time I had to pay it I just bent over and took it (ouch!), but I sure was glad when I got that money (plus interest) back.
    I don't really know how you'll go about fighting this thing. Perhaps go door to door to get people to sign a petition. Then present the petition at a city council meeting. If they refuse to budge then I would see if some lawyers would be willing to take it on and take the city to court.
    As much as I hate to sue over every little thing...I also hate it when people think they can just take every penny of yours in the name of a "fine." [​IMG]
     
  3. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Why does it matter where you live? Every town/city around here, large and small, has dog licensing laws (some even license cats). Is this not the case everywhere?

    If you're within the city limits, you must be represented by an alderman or city council member so this is not "taxation without representation." Take it up with him/her.

    I'd say if you're within the city limits, you have to play by the city rules. Or you could choose to not have a dog. But to choose to have a dog, knowing that the law says it must be licensed and purposely NOT buying a license, I think the fine is deserved.
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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  5. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    I too think that licensing for dogs is total crap and a huge cash grab. There are laws that state you must have a dog on a leash and you also have to licence them, yet every cat in the city runs freely and they are not required to have a licence. They are anti-Caninenites [​IMG]
    I think you should go in and say that your 5 year was talking about a pet that had died recently. That way you won't have to pay. Plus, they had no right to question your child in a legal and official capacity without a guardian present.
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    You should get a plush toy and get it a license too!

    No, I can see their point. If it has a license and gets loose, they will know where to return it. The alternate is the pound, and they usually have a 2 day waiting list for the end of the line.

    But I don't think that they can just walk onto your property and start snooping around, and the fact that they talked to and took the word of a child leaves somthing to be desired. I'd pay and look into it. Find a sleezy lawyer and have them go for it.

    Glenn
     
  7. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    There's also got to be some kind of law preventing such excessive fining of $100 per day with a lien on the house. Even if you don't pay your regular tax bills there's only a small percentage fee tacked on. Shouldn't it be illegal to apply a 500%/day fine? There's got to be a word for it...I just can't think of it. Oh yeah...extortion!
     
  8. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    Dog licensing is one thing, rabies vaccination is another. Does WA have a rabies vaccination requirement (most states do) and did you meet it? I'm only asking because it is a VERY serious disease (if people are exposed, and don't get treatment RIGHT AWAY, they die) and even here in GA, which has a lot of Rabies, many people neglect to have their dogs and cats vaccinated.

    As far as the dog licensing fee; in most places, this usually starts as an attempt to control the number of animals being euthanized at the animal shelter. Typically the fee for owning an un-neutered pet is higher than for an altered one, thus theoretically encouraging spay-neuter. But governments do tend to expand with time.
     
  9. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    While I don't have a specific problem with dog license laws (the fees help pay the vets who take in the strays, care for their health, and euthinize unwanted animals. They don't do it for free!), I do have a problem with someone coming on your property to check for a dog, and asking your child. It's one thing for a city employee or police officer to see a dog in your backyard and determine that it is unlicensed. It's totally another thing to enter citizens property looking for unlicensed dogs.

    My advise is to first, ask for a court date on your fine. You do have an unlicensed dog. You may not agree with the law, but that gives you no right to break the law. You can argue the case in front of a judge. You probably won't win, and if you don't, pay the fine.

    Second, license the dog. It's the law, and just because someone disagrees with the law of the land, they have no right to not obey that law.

    Third, talk to your alderman. Explain your displeasure with a city employee coming on your property uninvited, talking to your child without your presence or knowledge, and then you can also speak about your disagreement with license laws. While I don't think anything will change about the requirement to have a license, I do think that a well thought out arguement against city employees conducting criminal investigations and questioning children may make sense to a reasonable alderman. (Be sure to avoid inflamatory rhetoric, such as "Dog Nazi". That does nothing for your argument).

    Fourth, write a letter to the editor of your local paper.

    Fifth, if you still have gotten no satisfaction, attend your next city council meeting, and ask to speak. Again, avoid rhetoric, but make your points.

    Good Luck!
     
  10. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  11. brian a

    brian a Second Unit

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    I think it's pretty tought to apply laws only to law breakers. The idea that I'm a responsible person, so the law shouldn't apply to me doesn't work. There are plenty of folks that are not responsible dog owners and wouldn't keep their dogs shots up to date and whatnot without laws like this.
     
  12. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    You're complaining that a 10 dollar per year licensing fee is unreasonable? And unconstitutional?
     
  13. DennisHP

    DennisHP Second Unit

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    I complained about a neighbors dog barking all night and ended up with a ticket for not having my dog licensed. I live on the edge of city limits but in a county that is deemed rural. I have to license my dog but yet I can have chickens in the yard and that's ok. Tell 'em your dog was old and died and to keep off the property.
     
  14. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Wouldn't the method they're using for this crackdown be considered an illegal search? Can they really send someone onto your property without any reason to believe there is a dog there to collect evidence against you? I would have to think that they're violating the Constitution on those grounds. If somebody was peeking in my windows without any reason, I'd be calling the police on them in an instant. I'd think you would need a lawyer for that. But I'm not a lawyer, so what do I know?

    Regardless, I think if its that bad you got a good case to raise a public outcry against the actions of your city. It may not change the law, but it should be able to stop them from going out of their way to find unlicensed dogs. The only time they should be fining people is if Animal Control picked the dog up because it was loose or bitten someone. Then if its unlicensed slap a big fine on the person. Other than that, there's no reason to be wasting the taxpayer's money on this nonsense.
     
  15. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

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    I totally sympathize with you. My county also requires registration... along with a tatoo. I have yet to comply.

    Except that I'm a responsible dog owner and my dog never gets loose.

    It doesn't matter that YOU are a reasonable dog owner. The reason laws such as these get passed is because a number of folks out there are NOT. The city has to pay a large amount of money to run an animal control department, which in turn puts to sleep untold numbers of animals who were abandoned, or didn't have tags and got loose. I'm sure most of the owners that come in retrieving their animals say that "they never get loose" either. All it takes is once.

    And while the owners of the animals they collect have to pay a fine... a good number of animals are never retrieved, and the costs go uncovered and they have to be put to sleep. Licensing your pet helps reduce this number (by giving the city a way of identifying your pet) and cover the costs.

    Pay the fine and register your animal. But if you want to complain about the penalties, the place to do so and try changing the law is in the city counsel meetings. If you don't get any satisfaction there, you know who to vote against next election... or you could run for the office yourself.
     
  16. DennisHP

    DennisHP Second Unit

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  17. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  18. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Just pay for the license, and get over it already. There are reasons for licenses, namely people who own dangerous dogs (pitbulls, etc.). Also, if your dog ever does get loose and you have a license on it, it will help you get your dog back.

    What if someone's dog got loose and attacked your young daughter in your yard? If that dog is licensed, the owner is known and can be held liable. After seeing the aftermath of a pitbull owned by people down the street, escaping then ripping the jaw off and killing a cow, I totally believe in the necessity of licensing.

    J
     
  19. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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  20. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    Considering how much I pay in taxes it wouldn't be worth my time taking a stand over $10.
     

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