Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All Creatures Great and Small

Seattleites are known for their devotion to their pets. (In fact, one statistic says canine kids outnumber the human variety almost 3-to-1.) And two local news stories have brought municipal ordinances and pet owners' run-ins with the law into the spotlight.

Duke, the ne'er-do-well kitty discussed in this Seattle Times article had a penchant for pooping on his neighbor’s property. This unfortunate habit cost his owners $109 given that Duke's flouting of the law resulted in damage to the neighbor's property apparently sufficient to warrant court action.

Curious about which municipal ordinance could get a small cat into big trouble with the law? SMC 9.25.084 states

"It is unlawful for the owner to...[p]ermit any animal to damage public property or the private property of another."

The question at trial was whether Duke was the kitty offender in question and, unfortunately for Duke, Magistrate Adam Eisenberg ruled that a preponderance of the evidence indicated he was.

In other animal news, Amy, the adorable dog featured in this Seattle Times article fought the law and (presumably) the law won a few years back, with her owner ending up in court to contest the language of Seattle’s dog-scoop law, SMC 18.12.080:

"Any person with a dog or other pet in his or her possession or under his or her control in any park shall...carry equipment for removing feces...."

Amy’s owner argued that “equipment” had no definition and could really mean just about anything, particularly when a person is in a pinch when faced with a $54 ticket. It is unclear whether Amy’s owner prevailed, but the ordinance still stands as-is.

Down in the dumps about the plight of these animal owners? Do yourself a favor and bone up on pet-related municipal ordinances including those related to licensing and picking up after Fido. Gallagher Law Library also has a handy book you might consider, Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner by Mary Randolph (2007), KF390.5.D6 R36 2007 (in the Reference area of the library). And for more on the significance of municipal ordinances and the ways they could impact your daily life, read Mary Whisner’s article, Enact Locally, 102 Law Libr. J. 497 (2010).

Graphics: Microsoft clip art.

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