On July 10th, in response to an editorial on hoarding, the Keene Sentinel published a letter to the editor from a supporter of HB 1624 and HB 1639. Her argument was that, rather than put limits on the number of animals a person could own, the legislature needs to enact laws similar to HB 1624 and HB 1639 – setting specific standards of care.  At the conclusion of her letter, she described the opponents of these bills in the following manner:

“….our representatives in Concord will continue to bend to the will of a small but extremely vocal group of citizens who would prefer to keep animal protection measures in the 17th century.”

Here is the response from our President which was published on July 17th.

READER OPINION: New animal-protection laws are not needed, by Joyce Arivella of the Dog Owners of the Granite State

In response to Jean Slepian’s letter published July 10: The solution to animal hoarding does not lie with more animal protection legislation. New Hampshire already has excellent cruelty laws. The solution lies with the public.

The bills Ms. Slepian refers to, HB1624 and HB1639, were poorly written bills that were rightly rejected by the Legislature.

HB1624 would have required all dogs to be exercised for an hour a day no matter what the weather or even the dog’s health. New Hampshire just went through a heat wave of temperatures close to 100 degrees. A dog that was forced to exercise in that weather could easily have died of heatstroke.

By making owners of unaltered dogs subject to the same rules as pet shops, the owners who kept their dogs in the house would have to get rid of any cats they had as the rules prohibit dogs and cats being kept in the same “primary enclosure.” Finally, the standards only applied to those who owned unaltered dogs. True animal protection applies to all dogs.

HB 1639, the tethering bill, would have pitted neighbor against neighbor if there was any suspicion of a dog being tied out for more hours than stated in the bill. A neighbor who simply didn’t like dogs could call the police to complain about the length of time it was tethered.

There were other problems with the bill, the length of the tether specified could have been dangerous for large breed dogs. Many housing complexes prohibit fencing, and for dog owners in these situations, tethering may be their only option.

As president of Dog Owners of the Granite State, I suggest that neighbors watch out for each other. Neighbors and friends of collectors have the best knowledge of what is happening in their home and the best access to the person with this type of psychological problem. They can gently speak to the person collecting animals and if reason doesn’t work, possibly they can bring in a family member to help. Perhaps they can help the person find good loving homes for some of the animals.

This is how things were handled in the past. Pet owners looked out for and helped each other through tough times, for the good of both the person and the animals. If the population is getting out of control and the person is unable to stop taking in more animals and unable to care for them then it is time to bring in authorities. This should be a LAST resort, not a first step.

The small and vocal group that Ms. Slepian refers to in her letter is Dog Owners of the Granite State. We are an American Kennel Club-affiliated federation. Our members are involved in all aspects of pet ownership including trainers, mushers, breeders, members of kennel clubs and cat clubs, pet owners and veterinarians.

Our members have served on state commissions and helped write some of New Hampshire’s very good animal laws. We operate two websites — www.nhdogs.org for legislation and nhpetsonline.com for general pet owners.

Rather than trying to keep “nh animal protection measures in the 17th century,” DOGS has been one of the leaders in animal protection in New Hampshire while protecting animal owners from unwarranted intrusion in their lives.

DOGS is against animal cruelty. I do not know anyone who neglects or hoards animals. If I did, I would do my very best to educate them, and only if that failed, would I report them.

7/17/10 – Letter to the Sentinel
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