Were I dog czar, and if it were possible to enforce dog-owner registration links, I'd probably push towards a liability and insurance regime. Get rid of current breed-specific regulations but mandate that dog owners get liability insurance. An old lady with a corgi or normal person with a golden lab would likely pay $2/year; a skinhead with a pitbull would likely find dog ownership beyond his means and might be invited to buy a menacing-looking breed of cat. Owners without insurance and whose dogs bit kids would be bankrupted and put into the workhouse to pay off their debts.Local Government Minister Nick Smith promised yesterday to kick-start a stalled pledge to investigate laws governing dangerous dogs.The inquiry was supposed to take place last year.Former local government minister Rodney Hide had pledged to reform dog control laws before the November election but that review had been delayed following the Christchurch earthquakes.The new minister, Smith, said last night he was concerned about the seriousness of the latest attacks.His office would investigate the incidents and identify whether there were any issues that had implications on dog control legislation in relation to public safety
That's likely outside of the set of the politically feasible. And, if linking dogs to owners is too difficult, it's also impracticable. But I like it otherwise. A decent proportion of dog-bite events are just random-draw bad luck, but a similarly decent proportion likely comes from "redneck owning a mean-looking dog because he likes scaring his neighbours and looking tough." Insurers would have reasonable incentive to get the premiums right. Keep it with strict liability regime; the only fights in the courts would be determining who owned the dog. Some of that could be helped by police routinely asking folks walking pitbulls to show registration and insurance certificates.
Meanwhile, a few simple rules for reducing your kid's risk of being bitten - almost certainly redundant for anybody reading this blog:
- If you're already a redneck, don't get a pitbull-cross dog;
- Don't associate with rednecks with pitbull-cross dogs;
- Most rednecks are good people. But a pitbull is usually evidence that the owner is trying to induce a separating equilibrium; take the hint.
- Let your kids pat friendly-looking dogs whose middle-class owners are nearby and give permission;
- Give rednecks with pitbulls a wide berth. And, when the owner's well out of earshot, explain to your kids why you've done so, so they know what to do in your absence.
I wonder if anybody's ever done a New Zealand edition of this one...