Saturday, 12 January 2008

Dog Fines are not Fine

Barking Mad has been assisting members challenging dog fines. We do this when we view the fine as ‘stupid’ because these people are acting responsibly with their pet, but not strictly following what their local council would like them to. We keep winning – and that is actually a problem. We need to lose so we can get these matters to higher courts where precedents are set. If you’re one of the people who has gone through the process of challenging a stupid dog fine, you know how emotionally, financially and time draining it is. It isn’t easy – but is that a reason to be apathetic?

Each time we as dog owners accept something we feel is wrong – be it a fine for dog off lead BUT under effective control (often evidenced by the ability to walk a well-trained dog near a busy road and trust that it won’t bolt into the traffic), or dog in prohibited place because you’ve taken your toddler and your dog to the local playground, we support the dog laws as they stand today.

Many pet owners have no problem with the laws as they are. To them, being a member of Barking Mad has no value; we respect this. The changes Barking Mad proposes will not impact on their happiness. Barking Mad’s short term goal is to have 10,000 members (nationally) by the time the NSW Parliament sits in 2008. Critical mass – it’s a critical philosophy when applied. Legislation ALWAYS lags pubic opinion. That’s why dramatic actions are required at certain times. As a society, we want a human face behind changes in the laws – we don’t want facts and figures. Ask any lobbyist, they will confirm that this is the fact of our society.
If you want more access for you and your dog (or cat) – to housing, transport and public amenities, and you are not a member of Barking Mad, then don’t complain about the current situation.

No other organisation in Australia directly represents the rights of pet owners on a state and federal level. Your paid-up membership represents at least 100 votes – it’s a powerful lobbing tool. We have things happening on a federal level and on a state level in NSW and Queensland.

Do you really want a law that requires you to leave your well-trained dog at home when you go out on a summer’s night with your family for a meal? What about when your car breaks down and you can’t get a bus or taxi home because you have your dog with you?

Responsible owners will make responsible choices about where they want their dog to accompany them. A funny example was at the first Barking Mad conference on 700 acres of dog friendly space. Within 5 minutes we had banned dogs from our meeting and set them outside to play. This was an appropriate place for them to run free.