GUEST COLUMN: Maybe we need a graduated dog owner’s licence program

There was a disturbing story this week about a puppy that died after being left for over two hours in a car in the heat of the day. Every summer we hear these stories repeated

There was a disturbing story this week about a puppy that died after being left for over two hours in a car in the heat of the day. Every summer we hear these stories repeated.

It amazes me that people smart enough to qualify for a driver’s licence don’t have the smarts to realize that if it is very hot outside the car, it will get much hotter inside the car.

Some folks get indignant when they go to a shelter to rescue an animal and find they will be interviewed to see if they qualify. The reason is simple. The shelter staff has to make sure that the people who want the dog have a higher IQ than the animal they want to take home.

For instance, dogs are not the least bit interested in classic cars. But every year at the Cruise-in, surrounded by tens of thousands of people, you will find dog owners winding through the crowd, dragging or pulling on leashes, hauling panting dogs across hot blacktop. It is not a pleasant experience for the dog or the people in the crowd.

Recently, I was at an outdoor event that displayed a sign saying that no dogs were permitted on site. One gentleman was very upset that he could not bring his dog in.

As he got into a heated argument with the lady at the gate, his dog became agitated and started barking loudly. He yanked back harshly on the leash, making the dog yelp then said to the lady, “Great, now you’ve upset my bloody dog!”

If there was a better illustration needed to back up the sign I don’t know what it would be, but I can only guess that the dog was hauled back to a vehicle and left there.

No sense letting that bloody dog ruin his day.

Sitting outside a coffee shop recently I noticed one lady with a small dog tied to a chair on the patio. Another guy walked through the area with a bigger dog and the two of them started lunging at each other and barking.

Again, the leashes were yanked and the ‘stupid dogs’ were yelled at. The lady scolded the dog without taking the cigarette out of her mouth and dragged it back to her chair.

I had an urge to get up and scold her but that would probably be against some law and I would get in trouble.

I was a good dog owner. I had a big fenced yard and a well behaved dog. It turned out she was much more intelligent than I was. I found out that even though she was in the backyard when I got home, she had a way to get through the fence and had the run of the neighbourhood all day and had been doing that for years.

So maybe we do need a graduated licensing program before we can own a pet. First there would be a written test followed by a practical test from an examiner. For the first year, when the dog owner is walking his dog he would have to wear an L on his arm then an N for the next year so people would know what kind of experience and training the owner had.

After all that, the owner would get the dog licence to wear around their neck.  We would learn to treat them like our best friends. At least that’s what McGregor says.

– Jim McGregor, Black Press


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