Dog musings

In these somewhat unsettled times, one looks for signs that people have not lost or are losing their sense of proportion. Browsing the news happens to be not as reassuring as one might wish. Just one example: the law on the protection of animals is again being discussed in the Legislative Assembly. Making it is proving to be a very protracted and difficult delivery. Curiously enough, currently the protection of the said animals from mistreatment by their human fellows seems to have lost topicality. The major subject under discussion now is, so the media report, the protection of humans. Therefore, all dogs in public spaces must be muzzled! We might think that is a subject better dealt with by other legal frames, including but not limited by those concerning the civil responsibility of all citizens, which covers, one presumes, the behaviour of their pets. The legislators seem, implicitly, to disagree. As a consequence, some suggested and we are reassured, the government has already acquiesced to that rule. An earlier proposal applied the rule only to dogs over 23 kilos. Why 23 kilos, no more, no less, no explanation could be found even after some research. But it is (was) such an important threshold that one might expect to find a clarification easily, somewhere. No such chance! Maybe it just happens the original idea was thought of using imperial units, and this is no more than the rough conversion to kilos of a round 50 pounds figure – still unexplained though. Nonetheless, one might ask: was it justified because there is a neat alteration in aggressiveness associated with dogs over that specific weight? Do we expect that weight to correspond to some standard dog size from a reference breed? How will we deal with smaller but obese animals, or bigger but skinny dogs? It was not clear! At any rate, these did not seem to be the driving concerns behind the extension of the muzzle to all kinds and size of dogs. (So far, other categories of pet seem exempt). The big reason, that one, was for once explained – and made all the previous questions irrelevant on the spot. The question was: how could someone complain that a dog had no muzzle unless the animal could be weighed? Which – as I presume was in the mind of the proponents – the dog, the owner, or both, might object. So, hey presto! All dogs must be muzzled. Problem solved. All citizens can now complain by a mere and even distant observation. For my part, I know I will not need to keep my cool any more any time I come across a muzzled Chihuahua or Miniature Pinscher. Nowhere, it appears, has the proportionality, convenience or feasibility of the rule been assessed. And now… What was the law truly about?