Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders about human laws

Doris Muller, and some of her canine companions. (Not pictured: Rage.)

Sometimes, Poodle Bitch is confused by human laws. Case in point: This story, about a woman called Doris Muller in a state called Illinois. Ms. Muller likes companion animals. She likes companion animals a lot.
Muller, 67, love pets. She writes often to this newspaper about her views on animal welfare.

She also is something of a soft touch. A couple of dogs (one is 17 now) came from neighbors who didn't want them anymore. Three more arrived after her daughter's marriage split up.

"They became divorce casualties," she says with a chuckle.

After an adult niece died, Muller took in her two cats. And she also rescued a rabbit no longer wanted by an acquaintance.

Poodle Bitch applauds Ms. Muller's dedication to helping animals that might otherwise be left to roam alone, or victimized by the state. So far, the story is a heartwarming one. Poodle Bitch likes to hear about such things. Unfortunately, the story of Ms. Muller and her animal companions takes a strange and frustrating turn:
Two don't get along: Rage, a 75-pound Treeing Walker Coonhound; and Rusty, a 55-pound mutt. So Miller keeps them away from each other.

Recently, though, she made a mistake: She accidentally let the pair of pooches in the same area. And they started to go after each other.

"That was stupid of me," she says. " ... That wasn't the dogs' fault."

Muller - 5-foot-3, 140 pounds - got them apart right away. So there wasn't much of a fight. She says neither sustained a puncture wound.

As for Muller, she got a sprained wrist from pulling the two apart. And Rage's teeth left a scratch on her wrist.

"It was no big deal," she says.

When Ms. Muller went to the hospital to have her scratch checked, she was told that the incident would have to be reported to local animal control. In the eyes of the law, it seems, a "scratch" is the same as a "bite." And a "bite" is a "bite," whether it's the human companion of said animal, or a complete stranger.
A county animal-control officer arrived at her home with quarantine notice for Rage, the wrist-scratching hound. After a bite, if a domestic animal has not been vaccinated for rabies, it must be kept at a vet or animal shelter for 10 days, says Lauren Malmberg, the county's animal-control director. But a pet with a rabies tag can be kept at home, then taken to a vet for inspection after 10 days.

"Basically, if it's alive it doesn't have rabies, because (with rabies) they'll die in three or four days," Malmberg says.

Muller did as directed with Rage, and her vet pronounced the dog rabies-free - as expected. That cost Muller $45.

Poodle Bitch notes that, because Ms. Muller has at least eight companion animals, she must register herself with the state, which charges her $10 per year for renewal. Presumably, this renewal process includes proof of the companion animals' updated vaccinations.

Perhaps if the "scratch" had been inflicted upon a stranger, said stranger might want to be certain that the animal's vaccinations are up to date. But the human companion of the animal should know. Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the state was "forced" to act in this way.

Poodle Bitch wonders at the ways in which humans enforce their laws. There was absolutely no way the state could bend in its enforcement of this particular law, and yet, humans are given so much leeway in enforcing other, presumably more pressing and important laws.

Perhaps if Ms. Muller and her canine companion, Rage (and what a loaded name that is!), were more politically connected, there would have been no problem?

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