Want to Own a Dog? You'll Need to be Screened.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Would-be dog owners in Summer, WA may face criminal background checks in order to be licensed to own a pet. The ordinance is directed specifically at those who wish to own “dangerous dogs.” City Councilman Matt Richardson presented the ordinance and urged “no loopholes” in allowing dangerous dogs to enter the city.

The background check would cost about $10 and there is some fear that the cost would discourage people from obtaining the license. There were other concerns as well, regarding the size and threat of the pet being licensed and whether or not a check should be done prior to licensing or only after a complaint had been lodged. The background checks would likely be triggered by the breed of dog, with some known breeds considered more dangerous than others, such as pit bulls.

If a person has a history of owning or breeding aggressive animals that bite humans or other animals, is it appropriate to dig up that history to limit the number of licenses that person might obtain? Football player Michael Vick is brought to mind and it seems if there is a way to deter the abuse of animals and limit the danger they represent to humans, it is for a good cause. However, it certainly should be recognized that a license should be legally required, because if it isn’t, then why would a criminal submit to background investigation they knew they would fail?


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