rules and regulations that govern your pet are dependant on where you live.
There are a few national laws that deal generally with commercial practices
and breeding. States can also have similar regulations on breeding and commercial
facilities. Typically they also define cruelty standards and penalties. Many
states specifically permit service/guide dogs access to areas typically off
limits to pets. While some states have more specific animal laws, it is local
cities and towns that typically control most of the everyday animal laws.
Nuisance laws or ‘good neighbor laws’ are common at the local
level. These laws consist of but are not limited to leash laws, scooper
laws, barking or disturbance laws, and containment laws. As their name
would suggest these laws are created for general good, health and happiness
of the community. Town and some states can also legislate for a variety
of additional purposes. These laws can control things such as the number
of pets a person can own. Licensing of animals is also a local function.
Breeding can also be regulated at the local level. Oddly enough in a few
communities the label of pet owner has officially been changed to pet guardian.
While the intent is to provide pets with better care, the trade off in
ownership rights is not always welcome.
Breed restrictions have become more common. This is typically a reaction
to dog bites or attacks. Pit Bulls are the most commonly restricted breed,
yet the ‘Pit Bull’ classification is unclear and can often
include a number of dogs that have a Pit Bull-like appearance. This is
particularly unfortunate for responsible owners whose pets have been properly
trained and socialized, and are kept contained and/or restrained. These
communities sometimes end up banning several breeds of dog in an attempt
to control bites or attacks. However, this isn’t always effective
because most breeds of dog can be raised and/or trained to be aggressive.
Typically responsible ownership is a better predictor of a well adjusted
safe pet than the breed. Calling your local animal control or talking with
a local vet is often a good place to find out what laws pertain to you
and your pet.