|Were you aware that the only animals truly protected under the law are dogs?
Its true, though I couldnt believe it myself. But for the animal control
officer or SPCA to bring any real pressure to bear against a pet store, breeder or even a
private citizen, a dog has to be involved; theyre the only ones listed under the
I first discovered this bit of legal idiocy one day when I saw some
ferrets being mistreated. I was outside a local pet store, just after it closed for a
three-day weekend. There were two ferrets in the window. They were young: far too young to
have been removed from their mother, neutered, descented, and shipped to the store. But
there they were.
Whats worse, the only food they had was cat food that had become soggy, and
then hardened into an inedible mass. But I figured someone would be in the following day,
so I let it slide
for the moment.
I went back the following day, hoping to see new food in the bowl. No such luck.
It didnt look as though anyone had been in to take care of any of the animals. Now
what do I do?
There was an alarm companys name and number listed on the window.
Brainstorm: They must know how to reach someone. So I called them. Yeah, they
could reach someone
in fact, the person on the phone claimed he was one of the
owners of the pet store.
Great. I told him he should get someone out to take care of the animals, because
the ferrets needed attention. He claimed someone already had taken care of them that
morning. Well they need to try again, I replied, because the ferrets food
hadnt changed since the night before. He refused.
At this point I told him if someone didnt come out, I was going to start
making calls to the humane society and so on. Go ahead, he replied. He was in compliance
for caring for the animals.
So I started making calls. And the bottom line was, if there werent any dogs
involved, there was nothing anyone could do. Of course, as soon as I heard that, I
immediately told them about the puppies that werent being cared for either. That got
some action. But without the dogs, all of a sudden nobody spoke English.
I dont know about you, but I think that stinks. Arent ferrets entitled
to the same level of protection as dogs? What about cats, rabbits, birds, pot-bellied
pigs, and so on? I think so.
So whats the answer? I think the reason for this inequity is simply an
oversight: When the laws were written, the legislators were thinking about their own pets,
which happened to be dogs. They probably didnt even realize that the laws they wrote
dont cover other companion animals.
That being the case, the answer is to tell them: Call, write or e-mail
your representative in Congress, and ask why the law doesnt protect anything but
dogs. Let your representative know that you want to see the laws changed that you
want the same protection for your furry friends as dogs enjoy.
And ask your friends to do the same. Remember, while they may not be particularly
good about protecting you from big business, Congress loves the
opportunity to show that they care about you especially when it
doesnt cut into the interests of their large contributors.
So call, write
and make some noise. Maybe together we can provide the
protection our four-legged friends deserve.