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Down With Dogs

Here’s a statement calculated to invite death threats:
people living in towns should no longer be allowed to own dogs.

I happen to like dogs. 
I also happen to like their forebears, wolves, but neither belongs in
places where they have nowhere to run free, where they have the opportunity to
menace people going about their everyday business, or where their rancid
deposits can befoul parks and pavements.

This rant was prompted by a growing conviction but
also, more specifically, by a newspaper report that the authorities in
Mauritius, an island no bigger than Man, each year kills 20,000 feral dogs that
would otherwise roam the streets, ever multiplying, posing a hazard to life and
health.  In our own island, the relative
numbers are equally impressive.  Each
year, tens of thousands of homeless dogs are put down.  And each year, I understand, thousands of dog
attacks are reported to the police.  Only
the more spectacular of these incidents find their way into the newspapers –
typically when a pit bull savages a child, the report usually accompanied by
horrifying photographs of the victim’s injuries.  Other than extreme cases, however, few are

The way to control this invidious mayhem, surely, is to
restore the old dog licensing system.  Moreover,
such licenses should be near impossible to come by.  Urban or suburban authorities, for example, would
not ordinarily grant them unless the prospective licensee owned property of at
least one acre, with the additional requirement that the property be adequately

Yes, I know this discriminates in favour of rich
people living in big houses with spacious gardens.  But what the hell are the less affluent in
society doing with dogs anyway?  They
cost a small fortune to keep in dog food, not to mention exorbitant, not to say
exploitative, veterinary charges.

Licenses would be withheld from those breeds specified
as potentially dangerous.  Here I’m
talking about the dogs, not their moronic, attention-seeking owners, Bill Sykes
‘replicants’, who pose an altogether different problem.     

Apart from the financial cost of feeding a spiraling
canine population, think of the environmental damage – the millions of belching,
farting cows that must be raised to provide tinned chum for all those cuddly carnivores. 

In short, I’m advocating that the custom of owning
dogs become a thing of the past, like other unsavoury or unsafe social habits outlawed
in recent years, such as smoking in public places and driving while under the
influence of alcohol.    

While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the cats, too, for
all the same reasons except, obviously, for the threat of feline violence
against humans, reports of which are mercifully rare.  Humans may be safe, but those sweetly-purring,
sofa-dwelling moggies kill countless millions of garden song-birds, many of
them endangered species, representing what the Royal Society for the Protection
of Birds claims is the biggest cause, by several trillion whiskers, of
premature avian deaths.

I’d like to look forward to the day when keeping
animals – any animals – as pets became regarded as merely an aberrant social custom,
as quaint as bear-baiting or goat sacrificing. 

Sadly, this won’t happen in my lifetime.  But happen it almost certainly will.

Now you may boo. 
 Or, if you prefer, just bark.  


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