This page is part of Section Eight:|
the Cause section of barkingdogs.net
A Sure Indication that the Criminal Law has Failed
The criminal laws and the criminal courts exist to protect citizens against those who would victimize them, either by way of criminal actions or through irresponsible behavior. While the civil courts sort out disputes over who owes what to who. Clearly, barking dog abuse cases belong in the criminal arena. Yet, increasingly, bark-abuse victims are giving up on the criminal court process and trying instead, to quiet their neighbor's dogs by proceeding in the civil courts.
There is something seriously wrong with the system when a citizen's only option for settling a criminal matter is to go through the civil courts. But in general, that does not seem to have occurred to the movers and shakers of the legal system. In an attempt to illustrate how well the system worked, an attorney from the Santa Rosa D.A.'s office told me with pride that people are filing barking dog cases in the Sonoma County small claims court "everyday." He didn't seem to grasp that that's not something to brag about. It is a disgrace, because it indicates that there are a great many local residents suffering with intractable barking problems, which brings discredit to the city and the system that created the licensing procedures that allowed this widespread problem to develop.
Beyond that, though, a steady stream of barking dog cases being processed by the civil court is the ultimate indicator that the criminal law has failed. It doesn't prove that the system is working. On the contrary, it proves that it has broken down. After all, if the only way you could get a thief to stop breaking into your house was to sue him in civil court at some date in the distant future, you wouldn't speak with pride of how well the system dealt with burglars.
It's pretty clear, then, if the criminal law worked, we wouldn't have all these people filing barking dog cases in civil court, and we certainly wouldn't see so many lawsuits progressing all the way to trial.
Above all, remember this about the civil court as a remedy for barking abuse: At best, it allows some of us to eventually receive some compensation for our suffering, but it doesn't protect us from abuse, and it doesn't prevent us from being victimized. It certainly is not an acceptable substitute for an effective, immediately enforceable criminal law.
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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