When I first heard about the news of Tammy Grimes getting sentenced for her crime, I passed it over as a blog topic. It was exactly what I expected, so I expected it not to be big news. However, the news of the event has trickled through the internet world, and I wanted to address it. The world isn't black and white -- there are a lot of shades of gray. People who don't see it that way tend to be very wrong...and tragically so.
For those of you who don't know the story, here's a brief catchup. A couple of years ago, Tammy Grimes, who is the founder of animal welfare group Dogs Deserve Better (a group that pushes for anti-tethering policies) found a dog, Doogie, attached to a chain and in horrible condition. When animal control didn't respond to multiple calls by a neighbor, Grimes removed the dog (Doogie) from the situation, potentially saving the dog's life. When the owner tried to get the dog back, Grimes refused. Grimes video-taped the whole event in hopes that the video tape of the dog's horrible condition would justify the theft of the dog.
Let's make no mistake; Grimes is guilty of theft here. Many could make a strong case that it was justifiable; but it was, no doubt, theft.
Lost in this matter is that Animal Control completely failed to do its job (which would have solved this problem in the first place).
Now, several out there have used this as an opportunity to lash out at Grimes and her group, Dogs Deserve Better. But one particular blog entry, from over at Dog Politics, has really gotten under my skin, so I'm going to respond.
Before I go into the info in that horribly written
post rant, a quick note on the writer of Dog Politics. She's on the far right end of the dog spectrum. She's a firm believer in the fact that dogs are property, and as such, any legislation targeting dogs for any reason is a violation of our Constitutional property rights.
The post lumped Grimes and Dogs Deserve Better into the Animal Rights category with HSUS, PETA and Best Friends. Then uses the majority of the post to talk about how HSUS, PETA and Best Friends support BSL and that Grimes is just using her sentencing to raise money for their Animal Rights agenda.
Let me start with the note Best Friends does not support BSL, in any form. HSUS and PETA do, on a varying levels. I'll also note that none of that has a damn thing to do with Tammy Grimes. In fact, a quick search of PETA and HSUS's websites reveal that the two groups combined have mentioned Grimes a mere 3x COMBINED, since at least 2002. And all three of the mentions were of Dog's Deserve Better's Chain-Off event (in different years). However, She groups Grimes into these groups because she considers that because Grimes supports anti-tethering legislation (a violation of her property rights), she assumes that Grimes must then support all other restrictive laws like BSL all the way down to no longer wanting pet ownership (PETA and HSUS ideas).
Here's my beef, and note on the property rights folks. They're right. Overall, each and every day, our government makes new laws that restrict personal freedoms. I'm sick of it. On almost every level.
However, what has become obvious to me is that the property rights folks are losing. Every day. Badly. In almost every form of property I own, the government has some ability to legislate it. My car has to be licensed and every two years I have to have my Hybrid checked to see if it meets admissions standards. My lawn has to be mowed before it gets to a certain height. I have to trim my trees when they get into the power lines. I have keep my house with a decent paint job and structurally sound. I can't allow old refrigerators and toilets to sit out in my lawn, or cars on blocks. If I want to build a new garage, I have to meet certain guidelines, and keep it 4 feet off the property line. I am required to keep my dogs vaccinated for rabies. Pretty much in every form of property that I own, the government has some ability to restrict how I use it.
And this is just for my home, I haven't even begun to hit how they restrict private businesses.
Whether I necessarily agree with these restrictions or not, doesn't change this reality.
I happen to favor some anti-tethering ordinances. I'm completely against all forms of BSL, pet limits and am a huge fan of the long-term presence of dogs and cats as pets.
See, I read the stories about dog attacks that occur in the media every week. I use these media reports to fill this blog. For two years, I've read nearly every dog bite/attack/mauling/fatality story that has been published from around the entire globe. The correlation of dogs being left on chains as their primary form of containment and people being bitten by dogs is undeniable.
If city councils are insistant that they need to "do something" about dog bites, this is the easiest, fairest solution. Additionally, it's one of the few forms of legislation on dogs that has actually proven to WORK to help solve some of the problems of biting/attacking dogs.
Yes, I have some reservations about anti-tethering laws. I get concerned that dogs will be brought inside and kept in even worse conditions (chained in a basement for example) where they cannot be monitored by authorities. Yes. Overall, I'm tired of nanny-government sticking its nose in my business. Yes, I get concerned anytime cities start talking about unnecesariy dog laws (primarily because they seldom get it right). However, overall, a well-thought out and properly enforced tethering ordinance can be very affective.
Do I think that a tethered do gshould be instantly removed from the property? Absolutely not. There are certain Constitutional rights of searches and siezures that still need to be followed (do you hear me KCK?) However, in the long term, I think a good law (and proper enforcement) will be better for dogs, better for owners, better for minimizing dog bites, and thus, better for preventing BSL (becaue you'll minimize dog bites and thus, the perceived need for BSL).
Despite the Dog Politics Writers' thinking, this doesn't make me Animal Rights. It doesn't make me want BSL, or any of the crap that PETA and HSUS push for. It does mean that I see that this isn't an all or nothing world. There are shades of gray. And the people who don't see that scare me almost as much as those organizations that seek to end pet ownership.
I sincerely believe that given what I know about the case, that Grimes deserved her punishment and to be found guilty of theft. But sometimes when you're an activist you have to do things that you believe are right, even if you may suffer consequences at the end. Taking the dog illegally was wrong. But if I were in her situation, I would likely have done the same thing, abnd taken the punishment that awaited me.