Transfers of Animals
This morning, I was able to convince my Council colleagues that the City shouldn't take an action that could have led to the unnecessary deaths of dogs in Minneapolis.
Last Wednesday, Animal Care and Control (AC&C) staff brought a proposal to the Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee. One of its provisions would have prohibited owners of dogs that have been declared either dangerous or potentially dangerous from transferring ownership of the animal to someone else. Given how onerous and expensive we've already made it for folks to own declared dogs, I was concerned that the proposal would have led to a large numbers of dogs being impounded and killed by AC&C.
I also know that in some cases, dogs that have been declared potentially dangerous can thrive in a different setting. A dog that has threatened or even bit someone when living in an abusive or neglectful setting - or even just a home with no yard, no one to walk him or her or with one or more agreesive cats or too many rowdy kids - can do fine in a better environment. I believe we should allow for this possibility.
However, I also understand some of the concerns AC&C is trying to address. Some bad pet owners have claimed that a dog has been transferred to someone else when it is not true, for instance. Such animals are then hidden, often continue to be neglected and abused, and sometimes even fought.
Working with AC&C staff, I drafted an amendment that requires people to get permission from the AC&C Director before transferring ownership of a declared dog. I am still concerned that this might lead to an inordinate number of destrutions, if AC&C unnecessarily denies these requests, so I also authored a staff direction. In a year, AC&C staff will have to report back to committee on how many people have asked to transfer ownership, whether the requests were approved, and what happened to the animals in question.
I'm pleased to have been able to craft this reasonable consensus that will address staff's legitimate public safety and animal welfare concerns, while still offering a second chance for animals that can lead happier, safer lives in better homes.