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Volume 15, Issue 48 ~ November 29 - December 5, 2007


That Dog Head Menace on Our Roads

Driving in rural Calvert County this morning, we heard a plaintive grunt and felt a cold nose on our necks.

“Please, please,” Moe, Bay Weekly’s office dog, communicated from the back seat.

The craving was unmistakable. So we buzzed a back window down half-way, and out popped a big yellow Lab head.

Joy oh joy. Whiskers flowing. Ears flopping. Gums jiggling in the wind. A canine smile? You bet.

We have an anxious friend who bought goggles for her pooch, so his eyes would be protected as he enjoyed the breeze. She offered Moe a pair, but he didn’t thank her.

“Better enjoy it while you can,” we told Moe, “because Calvert County wants to put you in the slammer for this. Us, too.”

A draft ordinance being fine-tuned by the Calvert Board of County Commissioners would regulate dog heads as well as dog houses and dog tethering as part of beefed-up animal control laws.

From what we have read, this is a planning about to run amok — if it hasn’t run there already.

What began a year ago as a request to consider ways to treat animals more humanely became an unwieldy and intrusive set of regulations that ought to be scaled back before they cause trouble.

And we’re not just talking about dogs. Or cats. The definition proposes to regulate “any living creature excluding human beings and livestock.” Farm animals come under another section of the proposal. The proposed rules would seem to cover goldfish, parakeets, hamsters and pet turtles. Don’t even think about getting a monkey.

We don’t go in for gratuitous government bashing. But this is the sort of over-reaching that deepens people’s disillusionment with political leaders.

If there are problems — like escaping pit bulls or excessive barnyard stink — go after the problems in focused ways and preferably by enforcing as many existing standards as possible. One solution would be to rethink the duties and methods of animal control officers with an eye on fixing the problems.

The commission already has backed away from some proposals not well thought out. It should now reject a citizens advisory committee’s unwise suggestions for draconian measures for humans who violate animal laws. The sheriff’s office already has said that deputies don’t have the authority to stop vehicles with dog heads protruding from windows.

But hey, as long as people are making recommendations, we have one for Calvert County, given Moe’s fondness for vehicles.

Could you make it clear that dogs can’t drive?

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