Thursday, November 15, 2012

Leaving Money on the Table

If you've been wondering why it's so hard to get nuisance barking under control, wonder no more. The inaction of tax-supported officialdom isn't just a bug, it's a feature.

And it's not just us, the barking-beleagured, who are trying to enjoy quiet evenings at home or hoping that tonight may be the night when we finally get a restful sleep. Think about the victims of dog attacks.

Many have heard animal control authorities say that what has happened to them was just an unfortunate accident. Too bad that you're seriously injured and facing medical bills that you can't possibly pay. Sorry, case closed. We're not even going to bother with an investigation. Matter of fact, we're giving the poor doggie that mauled you back to its owner.

In a recent post, the Occupy Maul Street blog questions the usefulness of animal control agencies. Quoting from the post:

"In an example of the current trend in Animal Control Departments across the country, San Diego County Animal Services recently launched the controversial 'Dare to Bull-ieve' free Pit Bull Adoption program. San Diego just experienced one of the bloodiest years for any Animal Control District in memory, yet they seem to feel adopting out Pit Bulls to those who can't afford the $69 adoption fee is good policy."

Mind you, this is the very type of dog that kills, maims, and causes serious injury at much higher rates than any other dog. So, why is a tax-supported agency giving them out for free?

Can you get a free gun over at the San Diego Police Department? I don't think so. How about a free loaner car provided by the bar where you've been drinking the night away? I doubt it.

Here in Pima County, Arizona, the animal noise complaint process starts with letters. Yes, that's right. Letters. You've had barking blasted into your living space without your consent and your irresponsible dog owner neighbor gets a letter from the Pima Animal Care Center.

Quoting from this letter:

"Animals make noise for a variety of reasons, including protection of their owner's property, response to new or unusual stimulus or from being left alone. However, animals that make noise routinely over periods of time, or at disruptive times can create hard feelings among neighbors and cause them undue stress and irritability."

Undue stress and irritability. That's the understatement of the year, Animal Care. And hard feelings among neighbors. Talk about sugar-coating the reality.

If you've lived in Pima County for any length of time, you're probably aware that Animal Care loves to cry poor about its funding. Seems that they just don't have enough money.

Well, I'm of the mind that they're leaving money on the table. If they were really serious about abating nuisance barking, they could make a fortune. Tucson Police Department, I'm looking at you too. If you issued barking tickets the way you issue traffic tickets, this city's budget problems would evaporate.

Useful (and fun) reference: Dr. Craig Mixon's site includes an essay, "A Cash Cow, Waiting to be Milked." And, for your reading pleasure, here's Dr. Mixon's money quote:

"Try this for yourself. Go out your front door and walk in any direction. Within ten minutes you will walk by at least four dogs that bark at every pedestrian that passes. (If you take a dog with you on your walk you will find that three times that number of canines bark as you pass by.) In twenty minutes on the job a noise enforcement officer could write a one-hundred-dollar ticket to each of those irresponsible dog owners. That's four hundred dollars he could bring in in twenty minutes. In a single day he could easily generate thousands of dollars for the city coffers.

"Now, in addition to citing irresponsible dog owners, imagine that your town also assigned officers to write tickets for motorized skateboards, car alarms, insanely loud car engines, blaring music systems and motorcycles that can be heard from blocks away. That could add up to a considerable sum for the city. It should easily be enough to hire back some of the teachers that have been laid off, or open some of the parks, playgrounds and clinics that have been closed in these times of budget cuts."

Do I hear the mooing of a herd of cash cows?

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