The UK press reported yesterday that the state of Florida has enacted a law threatening dog owners with 60 days in prison if they “sneak” their pet into a restaurant, aeroplane or other public place by “pretending” that they are an assistant dog.
This is supposed to help people with “real” disabilities. This is the same state that threatened two pastors and a 90 year old with 60 days in prison for feeding the homeless in its attempt to “cleanse” its streets of homeless people. It seems that Florida considers that people with physical or mental disabilities are worth defending but not those that violate the most sacred law that “thou shalt be seen to be rich or not seen at all”.
So why are owners resorting to this action? Surely it is because they have been unreasonably denied access to public spaces when accompanied by their dog. The complaints do not seem to be about problem behaviour (of the dogs that is), so if access is allowed for assistance dogs, why not all (well-behaved) dogs? If some dogs are considered capable of travelling in an aircraft (or ferry) cabin or train carriage, why not all? Airlines could always impose a restriction on the number of dogs allowed in flight – surely not a problem on short flights?
I would have no problem producing proof that my dog is vaccinated and wormed as long as parents are obliged to do the same for their children. I really am not worried about catching toxicara in a cafe or, frankly, even the odd flea bite, although this is not an excuse not to rid your dog of parasites. Dogs also do not harbour or transmit the common cold. I am however always worried about catching chicken pox which I happen not to have had, and about any number of other diseases transmittable between humans that I might catch from unvaccinated children or expectorating adults.
Florida has some well-worded legislation regarding responsible dog ownership, not least its approach to dangerous dogs. What a pity it does not follow through by supporting well-behaved dogs in public places.