Australia Goes Right Past Nanny State To Dog-Walker State

The new Australia law’s sponsors…

And all you thought they would do to stomp on individual rights  was to take away everyone’s guns! No, that was signature significance, you see. A state that decides that it, and not its citizens, should decide how they get to protect themselves is not going to stop with that. As Clarence Darrow said in the Scopes Trial, “Fanatacism is ever busy and needs feeding.  Always it is feeding and gloating for more.”

Down Under they just passed something called the the Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill. Among its provisions is one that holds that dog owners can face heavy  fines if they keep their dog confined for 24 hours. Unless they then allow the dog to  “move freely” for the next two hours or face prosecution. That’s just a sample, however: the Australian Capital Territory’s new law says…

A person in charge of an animal commits an offence if the person fails to give the animal —

  • (a) appropriate food; or
  • appropriate water;
  • appropriate treatment for illness, disease or injury; or
  • appropriate shelter or accommodation; or
  • a clean and hygienic living environment; or
  • appropriate grooming and maintenance; or
  • appropriate exercise; or
  • appropriate opportunities to display behaviour that is normal for  the animal; or
  • care that is appropriate for the animal’s well-being.

No vagueness there! Maximum penalties include heavy fines , imprisonment for up to a year, or both. The territory is the first jurisdiction in Australia to recognize animal sentience, which apparently means the legislators let dogs write the legislation. Not smart dogs, either. Basset Hounds maybe. Irish setters.

Here are the particulars on dog-walking:

Failure to exercise dog

(1) A person in charge of a dog commits an offence if—
(a)  the dog is confined so that it cannot exercise for a continuous period of 24  hours;  and
(b) the dog is not exercised, or allowed to exercise itself, for—
      (i) the next 2 hours; or
      (ii) the next 1 hour and for another hour in the next 24 hour period.

(2) In deciding if a dog is confined so that it cannot exercise, regard must  be had to the dog’s age, physical condition and size.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if—
        (a) the dog is kept in a yard or residence in a way that it can move 24 freely; or
        (b) the dog needs to be confined for the dog’s welfare.

Example—a dog needs to be confined, on veterinary advice, after a surgical procedure

Note: The defendant has an evidential burden in relation to the matters mentioned in (3) (see Criminal Code, s 58)

(4) An offence against this section is a strict liability offence.

Awww. They care!

If only the legislation weren’t obtrusive, overly-broad, bureaucratic, oppressive crap. The government, and not the dog owner, will now decide what is appropriate food, grooming, care and exercise. Presumably some commission or study or some other pompous authority will make these calls, and a dog welfare officer will periodically stop by the house and interview the dog, like Dr. Doolittle. My first Jack Russell, the genius Dickens, hated to walk because leashes offended him. He got his exercise chasing balls in the house when it was too cold or hot outside, and when we let him out to go on one of his mysterious unsupervised journeys around the neighborhood, always to return in 20 minutes or so. There’s no mention in the law about a particular dog’s temperament, preferences, and eccentricities. If dogs are so sentient, why not?

Imagine the regulations coming—and they must be coming—regarding “appropriate’ ways to raise one’s children, if the government presumes to dictate how to care for one’s dogs. Fortunately, in the U.S., if the government ever got in the habit of trying to lock up parents because they let their kids eat junk food, watch violent TV shows and live in a messy house, the public could assert its defiance and parental rights with a show of force, and Big Nanny might have to reconsider when faced with the prospect of daily shoot-outs.

Australians, unfortunately for them, don’t have that option.

6 thoughts on “Australia Goes Right Past Nanny State To Dog-Walker State

  1. It makes more sense to encourage in the culture healthy dog/owner relationships. All those legal rules are not only exhausting but like many policies that intend to be helpful (in an authoritarian kind of way) there’s going to be so many exceptions, that invariably many dogs may suffer under the weight of such “goodness.”

    Dogs do generally need walks unless there’s health issues. They are meant to migrate daily. Meaningful training usually curbs dog willfulness in that area.

  2. Did it say that the burden of proof was on the defendant? Guilty until proven innocent on top of everything else there. Australia really has gone to the dogs.

    • For subsection 3 (which is a medical exception). So the owner has the burden to prove that there was some sort of medical exception as to why the dog was not getting exercise.

      I think the fact that this is a strict liability offense is troubling. “Oh, we know you walked your dog two times for 45 minutes, but that is not an hour, so you are guilty”

  3. I shudder to think of the bureaucracy that awaits Aussie dog owners when this new legislation catches on. Of course their ACT is about 14 times the size of Washington, D.C, with only about half the population, so hopefully there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor dog exercise.
    As for giving up their guns like obedient subjects, I saw an estimate recently that there are still as many as a quarter-million unregistered firearms, primarily rifles and shotguns, in the country, mainly in the rural areas. Since there was no national registration of long guns before, there was no accurate account of how many there were. I am told by Americans living and working in OZ that many, many citizens own guns and that there are in fact more guns there now than before the new laws took effect, the ban on “assault rifles” notwithstanding. Competitive shooting sports are reportedly thriving, as participation in such sports is one of the few ways to obtain a firearm license to own a handgun. Hunting predators like feral hogs is also an avenue to owning center-fire rifles. Trust me, quite a ruckus can still be raised with bolt action rifles and pump shotguns in skilled hands. In a pinch you can certainly use whatever weapons you have to acquire better weapons from a better-equipped foe, “foreign or domestic.”

  4. “he public could assert its defiance and parental rights with a show of force, and Big Nanny might have to reconsider when faced with the prospect of daily shoot-outs.

    “Big Nanny”, as things stand, still walks right up to the line and sticks its toes over, knowing that as long as these incessant trespasses don’t become too egregious too quickly, it will continue to get away with it. The Walking Dead among us can’t wait to remove any such deterrent, apparently thinking that that old, obsolete, troublesome document could still magically prevent any of this type of mischief, plus all these 2-bit tyrant bureaucrats are really good at heart, and want to do the American thing at the end of the day. And unicorns.

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