This page is part of Section Eight:|
the Cause section of barkingdogs.net
The Failure to Ask if the System is Working, and to Recognize that it Has Failed
If you are successful in getting an irresponsible dog owner into criminal court, the local prosecutor is the one who, supposedly, will carry the ball and persuade the judge to take effective action. When you talk to a prosecutor about the chronic barking problem in his area, you can pretty much count on him telling you that the legal system works great in his jurisdiction. Most of the ones I've spoken with seem to subscribe to that point of view. I've come to think of it as the see-no-evil approach to barking management, and it makes me wish they would pull their heads out of the sand, or wherever it is they have them.
When you're up to your knees in saltwater, arguing that the boat isn't leaking just makes you look like a fool. And when there are barking dogs everywhere, contending that the current system is functioning effectively projects a similar persona (i.e. purchase a clown suit as soon as possible). If the system was working, we wouldn't be in the midst of an ongoing barking epidemic. The fact that we are, proves that the current system is not getting the job done.
When you point out to a prosecutor that his multiple-household law is all but unworkable, you can bet he'll leap to the defense of that abominable ordinance. He'll tell you in indignant tones that he knows the system works because he sees people all the time who were able to jump the hoops and take action against an irresponsible dog owner in criminal court. What they never seem to realize is that many more people are failed by the multiple-household system than are served by it. People working in the system are under the impression it functions effectively because they are surrounded by the relatively small number of people who were fortunate enough and aggressive enough to work through it. They don't meet the countless others who were turned away before they could get that far because the system mandated that, before they would be afforded legal protection, they first had to do what, for them, was impossible.
When you talk to your local prosecutor, he's going to tell you that he sees people "everyday" who are able to negotiate the multiple-household system, and that's probably true. But I'd like to point out that somebody wins the lottery everyday, too. That doesn't mean the rest of us are going to be able to do it.
The consecutive disruption laws don't work at all and, at best, the multiple-household laws and other victim-driven ordinances provide some help to some people, sometimes, after a lengthy delay. We need a barking management system that provides relief to everyone all the time, not just the lucky, or the courageous, or the incredibly persistent.
So what percentage of people suffering with a frequent barking situation are able to successfully resolve the problem through the criminal justice system? I don't know. And it appears that the city of Santa Rosa doesn't want to know, and you can bet they're not leaning over backwards to get that information in your town either.
As with most jurisdictions, when you call the city of Santa Rosa, California with a complaint about a barking dog, they respond by sending you a letter detailing the many obstacles you will be required to overcome if you continue to insist that the problem be resolved. The authorities don't call you back later to ask if you were able to meet the system's requirements and get the problem cleared up. Because they have no follow-up, they have no idea how many people give up and move away or simply resign themselves to living with the noise. Or how many victims never called in the first place because word is out that notifying the authorities of a barking problem is an unproductive endeavor. The point is, the city has no idea how frequently the system fails, or the extent to which the victims may or may not be served by the system that, supposedly, was designed to protect them.
Go to New Animal Control.Org for more information about animal control reform.
Written by Craig
Spanish translation - Traducción al español
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