Animal ordinance is folly

Members of the Fort Dodge City Council have spent months considering a revision in the laws governing dogs, cats and other pets. This entire saga is a good example of how government should not work.

Two critical guiding principles that should always play major roles in lawmaking seem to have been forgotten by at least some members of the council – and apparently also by some members of the public.

First, laws and regulations should not be enacted that are not needed. To do some infringes on liberty and potentially wastes tax dollars on enforcement actions that have no real merit.

Second, it undermines the respect for government when policies are adopted that can’t be implemented uniformly at a reasonable cost and consequently are enforced sporadically – and potentially unfairly.

Elements of the animal control ordinance under consideration by the council violate one or both of these principles.

For example, there is no compelling reason why the city government should be concerned about how many pets someone has. Even a single pet that poses a problem for the community is an issue. Ten that do not should not be.

Additionally, there are provisions in this poorly conceived and unnecessary ordinance regarding the way pets are restrained on one’s own property and the length of the leash that a pet owner uses. Both requirements amount to some combination of unjustified government interference in personal freedom and just plain nonsense.

Similarly, no compassionate person should leave a pet unattended in a hot vehicle. That does not mean it is a sensible use of taxpayer dollars to create the type of big-brother enforcement system that would be required to enforce such a rule fairly.

Many people who already live in Fort Dodge have raised objections to the council’s poorly conceived regulatory proposal. Others who are contemplating moving to our town have advised this newspaper that this type of intrusive governmental approach makes them less likely to do so.

If the council wishes to revise the license fees for pets, that’s fine. The council should not, however, enact the other provisions of this ordinance.

The Messenger urges council members to devote their energies to addressing problems that truly exist in our town rather than spending time imagining new ways to spend tax dollars enforcing unneeded laws.