Friday, June 5, 2009

Your vet ain't no snitch!

On Thursday I, along with tens of thousands of residents, received a recorded call from the City of Springfield.
Our records indicate you have a dog or dogs that have not been registered for 2009. This information is coming from your Veterinarian. Please register as soon as possible to avoid a late fee of $5.00 per month. You may also be accessed a late registration fee of $50.00. If you register your dog or dogs on or before June 15, 2009 the late fees will be waived. If you fail to register by June 15, 2009 your name will be forwarded to the Animal Control and Police Department for enforcement actions and your name will be posted on the city website. You may register your dog or dogs at the Springfield City Clerk Office 36 Court Street Rm 123 Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
By yesterday morning a message had appeared on the the front page of the city's website.
June 5, 2009: Last night all City of Springfield residents received a message regarding dog licenses that contained misinformation. The message was sent in error and the City sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused. No further action is required on the part of those residents who received the message.

The City has investigated the cause of this error to ensure that it will not happen again. Any resident wishing to have their telephone number removed from the City’s broadcast system can call 3-1-1 or click the button below.
Notice that the apology does not identify exactly what the "misinformation" is.

Well, my vet happens to know my dog is dead and does not require a dog license this year, so I decided to give his office a call and Oh, boy, are they aware of the city's "misinformation." No, vets are not required to report information on your dog to the city in which you live.

Massachusetts vet are not even required to report suspected cases of animal abuse, although eleven other states do require it. In Massachusetts, however, veterinarians are given immunity from civil suits if they make a good faith report of suspected abuse. That's all good.

I couldn't find any reference on the city's website to the more punitive aspects of the city's stated policy, but dog licenses are required. Other ordinances regarding dogs can be found in the Good Neighbor Handbook put out by the the Springfield Community Policing Partnership.

So, if I have an unlicensed dog, my name will be posted on a city website and the police will come to my house? Sounds like a good example of the more laws you create, the more lawbreakers you will have.

Meanwhile, we're now up to eight murders in our fair city. I don't happen to believe that the police can prevent all murders-- the young man assaulted with a baseball bat who succumbed of his wounds yesterday could not have been anticipated by the police-- but the recent strip club murders might have been able to be prevented with a higher police presence in downtown.

Where are our priorities when it comes to using the city's scarce resources?

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