It becomes more apparent everyday that dog owners need to be held legally responsible and liable for their dog’s actions. With more than 70 million dogs owned in the US, lack of responsible ownership is leading to many problems from dogs running lose to dog bites and maulings.

I don’t tend to do ‘dog bite’ stories because the media brings enough hype and hysteria to that subject already but one trend I am seeing more often is dog owners being legally prosecuted for their dog’s behavior. Usually the penalty is against the dog only, from confinement to death. Oh, the owner may face a fine or some civil action but that’s not enough. Now we’re finally starting to see real penalties, felony and misdemeanor charges, huge fines and even jail time.

There is no room in our society for vicious dogs and, in general, there is also no reason for it. I hate to see dogs being banned and killed because of the lack of responsibility of a small number of dog owners and it’s time to make them pay.

If you don’t take the time to properly train and socialize your dog, to keep it within your control and that dog wounds up running loose and wreaking havoc you need to be held responsible. There needs to be harsher penalties, legal penalties.

And I want to emphasize that what I am talking about are irresponsible dog owners! Not dogs owners whose dogs are protecting them and their property, legally. If your dog is on your property and someone is unlawfully trespassing, or someone comes into your home and threatens you, and your dog becomes aggressive, those circumstances must be taken into consideration. Dogs are naturally territorial. They will protect their ‘home’ and their ‘people’.

I’m also not talking about the once in a blue moon doggie escape.  It happens.  You open your door and out of the blue, your dog darts out and take off running.  Usually this isn’t a problem but if you’ve got an aggressive dog, this can be a big problem.

I am a strong advocate of canine welfare and I firmly believe that most dog problems can be laid at the feet of owners, not the dogs. Owning a dog is not a right, it’s a privilege and it comes with responsibilities.

I’m sick to death of writing about breed bans against specific breeds of dogs, today mostly targeting at pitbull breeds but also Rotweillers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chows, Akitas, Mastiffs and others, because idiots, jerks and thugs think owning a big, tough, mean dogs makes them tough. They make these dogs mean and when these dogs get out they’re going to cause trouble, bit trouble.

It’s gotten to the point now that if a police office sees a pitbull coming toward them they automatically draw their weapon and shoot. The dog may be one of the sweetest, nicest, friendliest dog there ever was but because of the reputation that irresponsible owners and media hype have given these dogs, they’re immediately seen as dangerous and treated as such.

The bottom line is that, most of the time,  dogs are not at fault for attacks because they’re doing what they have been trained to do or allowed to do by lack of training and socialization; the burden is with owners who need to control their animals. Stop making only the dog pay the ultimate price! Laws must sanction irresponsible owners, not just their pets.

And don’t forget enforcement and prosecution. Get-tough laws are great, but if the laws are not enforced and prosecuted to the fullest, they become worse than meaningless. It’s like animal abuse and cruelty laws. We’re seeing new and stronger laws being passed all across the country but enforcement and prosecution are lacking.

It’s time to arrest, charge and prosecute to the fullest. Fine them, jail them and ban them from ever owning a companion animal again. Unless this last penalty starts being used, what’s to stop these people from going out and just getting another dog and then the vicious cycle will just repeat itself. We need to make the penalties harsh enough to make irresponsible owners take notice!

Tell your legislators to hold the real offender responsible!! Write them, call them and let them know.

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