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May 10, 2007



I think part of the property law piece is they're trying to say pit bulls are inherantly dangerous and that is why they should have the power to regulate/ban. This was argued in T v. T...there is NO proof that pit bulls are inherantly dangerous and therefore they have no more power to regulate them than any other breed. There has to be a measure of fairness to regulation...or at least should be.


I agree with you to a certain extent.

The property/not property argument is less a matter for the courts than a refusal to let the AR fanatics move pets into the guardianship zone. Property ownership is important in that regard.

I agree completely, however, that the due process aspect is more important. The point you raise about the burden of proof being on the prosecution is one of the fundamental principles of our justice system. The problem with BSL is that the 'guilt' does not involve any sort of criminal act - just the appearance or, in fewer cases, the purebred status of a person's dog. This is presumption of guilt in the absence of any wrongdoing. These laws should never have been allowed to see the light of day.

The reason they have reversed the onus of proof is that they know the proof is impossible. This alone should result in a huge public outcry. It is nothing more than a witch hunt.

In Canada, we have no property rights protection in our constitution. The reason for this is that one faction, our socialist party the NDP, refused to sign off on property rights when our Charter was brought in.

Despite the lack of property rights, we have had some success in Canada with lawsuits challenging breed bans. In Guysborough NS, the ruling was very clear - breed bans are based on fiction and are not constitutionally valid. In Ontario, the provincial breed ban was partly struck down with dog owners winning two out of three constitutional points, none involving property rights. The Ontario case is not finished, the final ruling is imminent. In Sarnia, Ontario, a dog owner successfully challenged the provincial breed ban when a justice of the peace ruled that his dog was not a 'pit bull' because it is impossible to prove. And so on.

So yes, there are many approaches to the issue. Restrictions on mobility, presumption of guilt, search and seizure without due process, prevention of a fair and impartial hearing, etc, are all constitutional violations in both of our countries.


"The property/not property argument is less a matter for the courts than a refusal to let the AR fanatics move pets into the guardianship zone."

How is it "fanatical" to not consider your pet a piece of property? I am no fanatic, but I cringe at the word "owner" to describe my relationship to my dog. Much as I'd cringe if I heard someone claim to own their child. I know plenty of non-fanatical people who feel the same way.

I really think that this kind of language only serves to alienate people who are on your side. I suppose some would consider me an "animal rights fanatic" because I don't eat meat and I consider myself my dog's guardian. (Well, okay, I actually call myself his mom.) But I am passionately against pit bull bans and I think life without "pets" would suck. So, maybe everyone doesn't fit into a neat little category.

Just something to consider. I think that with issues like pit bull bans, we need all the people we can get on our side.



Help me understand, what difference does it make if we call ourselves guardians or owners if it's "less a matter for the courts". The only reason I can see that the terminology matters is for what protection the Constitution provides in the way of ownership.


I obviously don't think of my dogs as property, they are my friends for whom I am responsible - not my relatives, either.

That said, I think it would be a mistake to take them out of the property section.

Guardianship is a tenuous arrangement, not the same as being a parent or owner. A guardian does not have the same rights as either of those.

For example, do I have the legal right to sterilize my ward?

Can I elect for euthanasia to end suffering without legal complications?

Can I walk my ward on a leash and collar? Board them if I go away?

How about adoption? Will it be easy to adopt a dog from a shelter or will it become more complicated?

Will I be open to spot inspections, interviews, etc, to be sure I'm performing my guardian's duties properly? Who would set the standards? Who would enforce them? Who would pay for it?

The only 'side' I'm on in this war, and it is a war, is the side that wants to preserve the millennia-old relationship between people and dogs. That pretty much keeps me out of the AR camp, as their goal is to eliminate domestic animal husbandry. This has been flatly stated for years by the wealthiest AR organizations, it's no secret and it's not a theory.

'Guardianship' is a slippery slope. As with breed bans and insanely complex regulations such as Albuquerque, the Louisville ordinance and CA's AB1634, guardianship is another brick in the AR wall.

Many well-meaning people confuse animal welfare with animal rights. The two are diametrically opposed. Animal welfare groups want to make domestic animals' lives better. Animal Rights organizations want to eliminate domestic animals.

There's not much middle ground there.


Wow. Interesting comments, Caveat. If that's truly how you see things ("a war") then I can understand why you call people who disagree with you on some issues "fanatics." (Though I usually save that language for people who blow things up and hurt others in the name of their beliefs.) But that doesn't leave much room for politely disagreeing on some issues while being allies on others. And that's really too bad.


Also, on the property issue, I can see advocating keeping pets as "property" legally if that would provide the greatest benefits to animals and the humans who "own" them. And, of course, I understand wanting to protect your rights re: your animals, especially in light of breed bans - the consequences of which obviously have been horrible and heartbreaking.

BUT, what about people who get revenge on others by, say, killing or hurting their dogs in some way? Won't those types of people continue to get a slap on the wrist, and the owners to have no real legal recourse as long as pets are still viewed as property?

The way I see it, the law should reflect what IS, and I don't know anyone who has a pet who would say that their pet is the equivalent of their couch. What makes pets different is that they are a living being with the capacity for emotion and to feel pain, and the capacity to form a strong emotional bond with the owner that goes both ways. Therefore, to have them legally equivalent to a couch, or even grandma's antique locket, just doesn't seem right. I don't know the answer, but it seems there should be a distinction.

I can see the other side, too, though, re: Constitutional property rights.



Thanks for the info - as always, insightful.

I've never really thought about the "ownership" problems that would come from being a "guardian" if I couldn't make certain decisions for my dog...that certainly wouldn't make sense (if it were up to my dog, they'd NEVER see a vet - -something about not liking the thermometer up their bum).

Sadly, I think there is a lot of middle ground -- just because of there are a huge number of people out there that see the work PETA does with preventing testing of products on animals, and give them money. And people think of HSUS as a national group that is similar to their local Humane Society (When the former doesn't do anything to save dogs, but the latter usually does a ton).

Sometimes I think the language we use regarding these groups (PETA, HSUS) turns people away because they think WE'RE the crazy ones...and yet, sometimes harsh language is the only way to get the message across. I'm not sure where the line is.


MDog and Brent,

Yes, yes, yes. It is important to foster a culture of responsibility and caring towards all animals. This is something I have known since I was a toddler.

I really don't think there is much disagreement on this board about what the issue really is.

As for violence, etc, yes, those people are fanatics. Animal rights fanatics. They are very different from people who care about the overall welfare of animals.

As you point out, Brent, HSUS operates no rescues or shelters, promotes breed bans and other legislation designed to limit and eventually eliminate pet ownership. Ditto Peta and others. Many of thesse groups are on the FBI watch list due to vandalism, arson, and other crimes.

Yes, MDog, it is a war. A covert, long, slow one being fought behind the scenes by paid lobbyists, politicians, media personnel and others. It's a war being waged with propaganda, hypocrisy and deceit. Look at the prevalence of anti-dog sentiment these days. Think back even 20 years - if anyone had told you that breeds would be banned, that dogs would be viewed as a threat, you would have laughed in their face. That's how propaganda works, it's insidious and plays to emotion, not reason.

If existing bylaws were enforced, 95% of all problems related to pet ownership would disappear within a short period of time and the remainder would soon follow.

Enforcement of licensing, leashing, maintenance, housing and sanitation regulations is really all that is needed. Writing more laws when the ones on the books aren't being enforced is senseless. Writing laws to cover a very tiny minority of people who abuse and neglect their dogs is also senseless. Writing laws which are opposed by committed, humane and responsible people, who were never the problem in the first place, is even more senseless. That's the group that legislators should be listening to and working with, not against.


Both of you make interesting points. I'm still curious to get your takes on the problem of bringing to justice people who harm others' pets, as it relates to animals-as-property.

Also, I'm not sure I agree that the anti-dog sentiment these days is somehow connected to the animal rights movement, if I understood you correctly. It seems to stem just as much from the overall nanny culture of society today. (Ie; 30 years ago, we were allowed to run around unattended, climb trees and even play with toys we might choke on! And dogs were allowed to run around the same way. Now people expect to lives their lives 100 percent safe and never inconvenienced.) So, I think there are a lot of factors that play into this.

Also, can either of you recommend groups that are fighting to help animals that are being mistreated in medical labs, the fur industry, etc., that don't believe in outlawing pets so those of us who wish to help other animals besides dogs, along with helping dogs, can have a place to donate? (I used to donate to PETA, but never will again after the reprehensible story about their killing and dumping dogs they were supposed to be "rescuing.") Thanks!



I agree on the nanny society thing. I think it's very much a factor in our trying to create a perfectly safe environment (as long as it's not inconvenient for people). Don't understimate the power of some of the lobbying though...I think a LOT of people have given money to PETA/HSUS without realizing their stance on pet ownership.

Here's my advice on helping the animals in medical labs, fur industry, etc. Donate money to your local shelters and humane societies. Most do a great job of helping animals -- and usually the money goes directly to helping the animals, without so much $$ going into administrative things like national orgs often do.

Then, buy responsibly. My wife and I work really hard to buy food from companies that use free range animals. It's more expensive, and harder to identify these companies, but at the end of the day, consumers have a LOT more power than they give themselves credit for when it comes to voting with their dollars. I'm going to see if I can find a few resources for info about such companies or other groups that help these causes. MichelleD might be able to help us here too.

Cherie Graves, Chairwoman RDOWS


Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States takes the position that dogs are valuable property. Dogs are among the most ancient of property of human beings. Before human beings settled to a plot of land, or threw a seed in the soil, they were dog owners. Archaeological digs have found evidence of dog ownership tracing back more than thirty-five thousand years to a time before the written word. With writing came documentation of dog ownership, and use. Ancient texts extolled the virtues of hunting, guarding, and herding dogs, all evidence of their value as the property of human beings.

From the time of the domestication of dogs human beings have not only trained dogs to be of intrinsic value for working along side us, human beings selectively bred dogs to have physical attributes to better perform their duties. Sight hounds, scent hounds, guard dogs, herding dogs, were among the first to be selectively bred to serve mankind. Some of the earliest writings dedicated to dogs was the preservation of the pedigree. A pedigree is a dog’s lineage, it’s family tree. Before we human beings knew about genetics, it is apparent from breeding records that selective breeding was understood. Selective breeding has created dogs of every size, and form from a wolf-type progenitor. Human beings would not have bothered if dogs were not valued property. The only animals, other than cats, and horses that have been so selectively bred following domestication were those that were used for food, or for clothing.

That we human beings have steadfastly held to dog ownership proves that dogs are valuable property. The longer that human beings have owned dogs, the more breeds were developed to serve in ever expanding capacities, so that in today’s society dogs are trained to aid the hearing impaired, the sightless, those persons with physical disabilities, as well as continuing to perform the most ancient of duties, those of hunting, herding, guarding, and protecting human beings and their possessions, and property.

Only in the most recent of times, and with the advent of the so-called animal rights movement has there been an effort to define dogs as not property, but as entities under the law. This movement has vowed to remove all animal ownership, and use from society. In order to accomplish this end, animals, including dogs must be given a status as legal entities over, and above property. Historically, and legally dogs are, and must remain the rightful, valuable property of human beings.

It is very important to understand exactly what the definition of property is before agreeing to give it away. We tend to devalue the idea of property, as "just property" thus showing our ignorance, and disregard for our precious rights of ownership. Property is divided into two classes: real property such as land, or real estate, and personal property meaning everything to which we own title that is not land or real estate.

The ownership of property is one of our most precious rights granted under the Constitution of the United States of America. It establishes we the people as individuals with the freedom to control our own lives. The founding fathers of this great land came from European kingdoms where all of the people, and all of the land, and all of the animals, and all of the goods belonged to the monarchy. They understood that ownership is freedom. The right of property ownership is given an important place in our enumerated freedoms.

Ownership, and possession of property are two different things under the law. Ownership gives the title holder the right to retain, and to enjoy your property to the exclusion of all others. Possession is the right to temporary custody and does not necessarily include the right to title. For example a renter of an apartment, or garage, or the lessee of a dog or a bitch for breeding purposes has temporary possession without ownership. The landlord, or registered dog owner has the title, and all of the rights that accompany ownership, but is not in temporary possession of said property. Property can be acquired in numerous ways, it can be bought, inherited, received as a gift. A sale transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer. It is the expected responsibility of the owner to maintain the property in such a manner as to cause no harm to either the property, or to the surrounding neighbors, or neighborhood. With ownership, comes responsibilities that are not incurred by those persons having simple possession, such as a guardian. A guardian is simply a buffer between the actual owner i.e. the landlord, or in the case of animals, or human beings the government. The guardian has no intrinsic rights of possession, that possession is transitory and is subject to the terms of agreement between the true owner, and the guardian. A guardian has no rights in buying, selling, or trading of property. A guardian is financially responsible for the property while said property is in his/her possession.

Emotional attachment in an animal is an important reason to retain ownership, rather than relinquishing said ownership. An owner has a legal right to possession. Only when an owner's negligence, or carelessness gives due cause for the removal of the property may authorities take legal steps to remove that property from the ownership, and possession of the titled owner. Each case must be tried on an individual basis so that all owners are not subject to the same punishments as the irresponsible, careless, or negligent owner.

There has been great headway made in the Courts of this land to overturn breed specific legislation by the American Canine Foundation, after the initial losses incurred by American Dog owners Association. Animals are among the most ancient of traditional property. If we wish to continue to have animals in our possession, then we should fight strenuously to retain our ownership, and property rights.



Tell Grommit he can have a thermometer in his bum up to 70 degrees and he's not gay. After 70 all bets are off.

I think the "nanny state" mentality is why the AR propaganda is working so well. As with all things, many factors have to line up for something to work.

I too see the importance of dogs being property even if America Jr. (sorry C I couldn't resist) has no property rights in the constitution. Although I think for most people not involved directly with the cities/courts it is all semantics, which is why people like MDog take offense. There is one important reason why I listen to arguments from people who say dogs should be "more than just" or "at least" property. The burden of proof for regulating property in matters of public safety is insanely low. Basically if you can convince someone in a persistent vegetative state that pit bulls are dangerous, you have yourself a law. There is not a lot of higher brain function involved in proving something needs to be regulated for "safety reasons."

Just for the record, I do wish the same fate on stupid people who ban pit bulls as I do terrorists who blow stuff up. They both use fear to accomplish their goals and they both have the same regard for life, rational thought, liberty and reason and they can all eat sh.......


Wow. I don't have time to reply to all of this right now, but I can certainly see your points of view, and I think you all make some interesting arguments.
I'm a little confused, though, about what you mean by "AR propaganda." Are you implying that there aren't really horrible abuses going on in many industries today? That the AR groups are totally making this up to fuel their agenda of ridding the world of pets?


Cherie, next time just post a link instead of taking up someone else's blog with a book if you don't mind. You have your own platform for your opinion...


"I think the "nanny state" mentality is why the AR propaganda is working so well." - hell yeah AB, brilliant as always.

MDog, don't take everything that is said to the extreme (and remember the grain of salt ;-). PETA is very right on some things, so is HSUS, so is RDOWS, so am I!! But just because some of what they/I say is true doesn't mean everything they/I say is true. But I've personally seen a Tyson chicken truck and that $hit is on the money!

I've come to be very critical and weary of beleiving anything that is fed to me without proof or by someone with an agenda (and who isn't?). There is also a distinction between what in my heart I know is true and what can be upheld in a court of law (remember a Few Good Men :-) Being a "piece of property" and a "member of my family" aren't mutually exclusive to me.

There IS a war going on and both our personal liberties and our dogs lives are at stake - we've lost many of both already. And the thing that pisses me off the most, is these KNOW IT ALLS within the animal community that would rather prove themselve right by attacking others, than work together for the betterment of all. And you a$$holes know who you are...


MDog, I think the ASPCA is a good national org to donate $$ to. Some folks will still find them too instrusive but they are NOT AR. They have been VERY helpful helping us fight BSL in KC.

Jennifer Tomlinson

MDog, I saw your objection to calling the radical animal rights nuts "fanatics". Just for the record, both PeTA & HSUS have been quoted as endorsing violence, property desruction via incendiary devices, and murder to futher their agenda. Sounds like a fanatic to me. ;-)

To All: As far as contributions to improve the lives of neglected and abused dogs, give to a local rescue or shelter instead of a national organization. The locals are the ones in the trenches. The Big Four (PeTA, HSUS, ASPCA, & AHA) spend less than 10% of donations on directly caring for animals.

Jennifer Tomlinson

Oops! P.S. I meant to add that what Brent says about voting with your dollars is spot-on! Great way of putting it.


The problem with guardianship law/legislation is that it paves the way for breed-specific bans, which all of you are probably against. Our dogs as property (under the 14th amendment which provides for life, liberty, property, due process, and equal protection) has been the *only* thing that has allowed us to be successful in combating BSL.

It's funny that people are now calling those of us in the dog lobby who are against guardianship "conspiracy theorists" and other derogatory names. Many naysayers called us conspiracy theorists when we said that PETA was pushing for breed bans, but low and behold, PETA now is openly pushing for "pitbull" bans. Perhaps some shouldn't be so quick to judge. Especially not people like Caveat and Cherie who are veterans in the dog lobby and for that reason alone should merit our utmost respect.

But if you won't believe them, look at what AR activists are saying for heaven's sake:

"We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of Humane Society of the US, formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Animal People, May, 1993

“It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership.” Elliot Katz, President “In Defense of Animals,” Spring 1997

Because we know from people like Joyce Tischler, who is an executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, that guardianship is an animal rights concept, and given the quotes I listed above about ARs desire to end domestic pet ownership, what do you think the end-game of guardianship is?

If they take away our property rights to our pets, BSL will start passing like wildfire and you won't have a legal leg to stand on.

Golly me, I forgot the PETA quotes:

“In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.” Ingrid Newkirk, national Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Newsday, 2/21/88

"For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship – enjoyment at a distance.” Ingrid Newkirk, national Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), The Harper’s Forum Book, Jack Hitt, ed., 1989, p.223.

“Let us allow the dog to disappear from our brick and concrete jungles–from our firesides, from the leather nooses and chains by which we enslave it.” John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of A Changing Ethic Washington People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA), 1982, p. 15.


"If they take away our property rights to our pets, BSL will start passing like wildfire and you won't have a legal leg to stand on."

But this was my very point on the original post. While this part of the argument against BSL is important (along with the reality that it doesn't make any sense in the first place), in my opinion, the idea that it has to be enforced without any due process because it's IMPOSSIBLE to prove, is an even bigger issue than the property rights issue. As Caveat noted, they have been successful defending this legally in Canada, even without property rights guarantees in their Constitution.

Remember the 14th amendment isn't just for the purpose of fighting for our dogs. These are our civil rights and they come as an inalienable package (or they're supposed to). Give up your property rights to your dog, and your couch, and your grandmother's antique's can go next too. Anyone heard of eminent domain??? For instance, look at the 5th amendment:

"No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

Is it just a coincidence that the clause about eminent domain is in the same amendment about life, liberty, property, and due process?? The government shouldn't be able to take your stuff without due process, and due process is a recognition of life, liberty, and property rights. In other words, they're all tied together. But the government takes children away from their guardians, i.e. their parents all the time. The government just took a kid away from his parents in Texas because the parents honored the child's wish not to undergo chemotherapy and to pursue homeopathic remedies instead. The state of Texas said that was child abuse and took the kid away. Think about that same scenario with your dog.

The other thing is the rational basis test which is what I think someone meant when they said it was the lowest burden of proof. States need only have a rational basis for passing BSL, and safety is their supposed "rational" basis for that. Go to trial with that and say that there is no scientific proof that one breed is more dangerous than another, which is correct, and that therefore BSL does not make communities safer, and all the opposition has to do is hold up a bunch of life-size photos of children being mauled by so-called "pitbulls." That's exactly what happened in Denver. So it's better if you can argue against BSL from many different angles.

Brent, hopefully I understood you correctly and addressed what you had said in your intial post. Now can you see what I was trying to say about guardianship and how it is an AR concept dating back to the 70s? Combine guardianship with those AR quotes and their agenda is unmistakeable.


Well, this is way later, so comments are probably not being read anymore, but I'm just now getting to it. I absolutely agree w/ everything Brent says. I also understand Mdog's concerns. I am, of course, not opposed to dogs as property, hard as that feels on one's emotions.

But what I want to know is why can't we oppose PETA's and HSUS's right to define 'animal rights'? I do not believe that ANY organization that views itself as God/Nature, Judge, and Jury by deciding which animals can live and which shall be killed has the right to call itself an 'Animal Rights' group.

I believe that there are those who believe that animals have rights, but who do not believe that a clandestine, purposeful killing of family pets is defended by 'Animal Rights'.

Regardless of what a group defines itself by, or what philosophy it claims to purport, doing wrong is doing wrong. ANY person or group that uses any law or definition to defend immoral acts is immoral. PETA, is an example on the Animal Rights side. And those who defend a person's right to breed dogs specifically for the purpose of fighting to the death are an example of the 'dogs as property' side. Neither of these groups are right and do not have the right to expect those of us who try to make moral decisions to accept either of their personal philosophies in defense of 'Animal Rights' or 'Animals as property.'

That is like me claiming the definition of 'a good parent' is to be a parent who beats their child. Which side are you on? The 'good parent' or the parent who is 'not good'?

chelsea kelly

i agree with you. i am completely against the ban on pitbulls. its wrong and they have no right! we dont kill every forign person becuz there different or becuz some places like iraq are known for being bombers and are constantly at war, if u kill all the pitbulls then why arent we killing bad people, like look at our jails filled with criminals, wahts the point to having them there? dogs should have the right to live no matter what the breed. i have met some of the sweetest pitbuls ever! they'd never hurt u i know one dog u can beat the shit out of him kids can but theirs hands in his mouth and he wont touch u. he will sit there and let u do it. the locked jaw thing is crap. pitbulls ahve a one track mind, they are determined to get their job done and thats that, if they have enough respect for their owners they may even stop.i believe they act the way they are brought up jsut like a child does, if u trian them to live a thug life in the ghettos slangin drugs they will, jsut like if u teach a dog to be mean they will. for instence i have a pitbul, we didnt know he was until he grew older becuz hes mixed, but he is the sweetest charming doy ive ever met, hes very good to ppl all he wasnts is love and to play, if he starts grawling while we play we just sit him down and tell him to let go and he will, its all in the way u raise them just like the way u raise a child. u train it to be mean and thats what it will do ive trained mine to be nice and hes the biggest suck, ever. i did here that story aboutt he lady who was malled buy her pitbull while having a sheizure, so my question to that story is did he bite her to death? or was he trying to help her but instead hurt her? dogs dont have hands they have paws so obviously they are going to look bad when theres scratch marks there, thats like edward scissor hands did he mean to cut her? NO he jsut didnt have hands that wouldnt hurt her. i love my pitbul miz and i will fight to my death for him i will not let him go i will move to a place where they are legal if i god damn ahve to.

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