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Leash law solves nonexistent problem

Eternal vigilance: This truly is the price we pay for democracy. Under the impression the City Council had put to rest any proposal for a new law concerning the control of dogs, my wife and I departed for England where unleashed dogs are practically invited to sit at the restaurant table for Sunday roast. Lo and behold, we were shocked to find that the new ordinance had not only not been placed in trash, but had been considered and passed unanimously by our “conservative Republican” City Council.

Governance is complicated and difficult. Humanity forms societies for individual’s and the group’s mutual benefit and in doing so looks for ways to manage these societies to ensure continuity and provide expectation. Thus are governments born and laws produced. In our English tradition we have always looked for reasons in these laws since any law by its nature either restricts or proscribes some action.

And that is why this ordinance has so surprised me. In previous discussions I understand the council asked why such an ordinance is needed.

Have there been attacks by dogs under voice control by their owners? The answer there was apparently: none recorded. Have there been other difficulties with dogs under voice control by their owners? The answer was apparently: none recorded.

The reason given for the new law seems to be the local police chief’s need for something more concrete since voice control seems so ill-defined.

And after the council unanimously passed the leash ordinance, the chief informed us that this is not just another revenue-raising venture for the city but an opportunity to “counsel” dog owners.

So I ask, about what? If there was no problem before, why would the owners of dogs need “counseling” now? I guess we’ll need counseling about the new leash law that we didn’t need to begin with.

I’d like to call this a paltry and rascally original (stealing from Thomas Paine as usual) but the circuitous nature of the reasoning, while paltry and rascally, is far from original.

Since we arrived here 18 years ago, my wife and I have walked and run dogs under voice control. We have also witnessed many other people doing the same. In that time I have never heard of a dog either attacking or threatening a person while in the vicinity and under the control of its master.

I have witnessed many people who are agonizingly afraid of any dog. Of course I have also witnessed many people who are agonizingly afraid of flying. There are lots of people afraid of heights, germs, being outside, being inside, elevators, cars, cats, terrorism and life. Personally I have an unnatural fear of lightning so I make sure to go out on my covered front porch during storms, but that’s another story.

Laws already exist for dogs running free of any control. Tort laws already threaten the owners of aggressive or dangerous dogs. If the police wish to counsel people, there are certainly many other areas in our dealings with each other where such counseling might actually benefit society.

So here we are with an unwarranted new prohibition on another of life’s pleasures brought to us by a police chief who is keen on counseling and some fellow citizens who see their shadow and run back to their den for fear of Canis Lupus Familiaris.

My fellow citizens who don’t spend your time in fear of life and living, I think we can do a great deal better.

Restrictions placed on the actions of individuals ought to be balanced by a societal requirement for those restrictions and such a requirement ought to be weighted according to the evidence for such a need.

I hope all citizens, not just those responsible dog owners affected, but all who believe that there ought to be a demonstrated need before imposing another stricture on our lives, will take the time to examine this unnecessary encumbrance and make their protests known.

These are the council members who voted in this restrictive redundancy: Eric Imker, Doug Sturbaum, Kim Learnard, Vanessa Fleisch, and Mayor Don Haddix. Email them at council@peachtree-city.org.

Timothy J. Parker

Peachtree City, Ga.

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