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I spoke at the city council meeting in Chaffee Missouri June 15, 2009. The subject of my presentation was, again, the restrictions placed on certain dog breeds. Chaffee has not placed an outright ban on the target breeds. They have enacted an ordinance that places restrictions and financial burdens on the dog owners showing no regard for their neighbors. Unfortunately, it also punishes the owners that are the very best examples of responsible dog owners. This was the inspiration for my presentation.
Last Spring the Cape Area Family Resource Cetner became the host of a new type of dog obedience class. This class not only provides the training for basic commands, but also focuses on socialization and owner responsibility. The end result of this class is the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificiation. This is a certification program offered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) that recognizes responsible owners and dogs with exceptional manners, both at home and in the community. Missouri has a house resolution, HCR 4 that has already moved into senate committee, that would encourage trainers, kennel clubs and communities to establish CGC programs in an effort to eliminate the problems caused by the irresponsibility of some dog owners. In many cases, the irresponsibility is simply a lack of education. In other cases, it is an actual criminal element.
Chaffee enacted the restrictive dog ordinance, not because they dislike particular dogs, but because a handful of irresponsible owners have allowed their pets to become a nuisance to the community. All dogs have the capability of being dangerous. It is a fact of life that the large muscle breeds present a greater danger if they are owned by the wrong people. Anytime I am contacted regarding breed restrictions, it is always because of the actions of humans. Dogs are genetically hardwired to please humans. They only do what they are allowed to do. The pack mentality rules in the absence of any restriction or clear leadership. This is when communities feel the need to protect themselves.
It is always easier to enact ordinances that address dogs perceived as threatening. The investigation and prosecution of people is time consuming and expensive. Legislating dogs does not solve the problem. The people causing the problems simply move on to another dog breed. That means the issue comes up again and another dog joins the list of undesirables. The only way to stop this endless cycle is to address the problem of the irresponsible owner.
Chaffee already has the restrictive ordinance on the books. It was not my intention to have them repeal or change the ordinance. My intent was to introduce the CGC program in an effort to reward the responsible dog owners of Chaffee. The certification program is designed to showcase a dog owner's responsibility. It demonstrates the owner's dedication and love of their pet. The dog owners that are willing to pursue training are also the ones that provide health care for their dogs. They insure the dog's safety by supervising and controlling their movement in the community. These are the owners that do not allow their dogs to infringe on the rights of their neighbors. These are the people that should not be penalized because of the misdeeds of others. They should be rewarded for their efforts with special considerations.
This is the first time I have presented the CGC training program outside of Cape Girardeau. I feel a sentimental attachment to Chaffee because of my time spent working there. I admire the community pride the citizens share. They are dedicated to caring for their own and show an unparalleled dedication to the welfare of the community. They embrace both pet owners and non-pet households. It is their desire to do what is best for the community as a whole.
I left a package of informational material with the council. There is no cost to the City of Chaffee to implement a Canine Good Citizen program. The responsibility will fall to the dog owners once a location is secured to hold weekly lessons. This is a fair and practical means of rewarding the responsible dog owners and identifying the individuals that have no regard for the well being of their community.
This program has grown to include more trainers and a greater opportunity for the communities of southeast Missouri that wish to address the needs of their dog owning citizens. For further information on the program, or upcoming classes, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.