Bad Dog Registries Are Sorely Needed

There is no way to see how many bad dogs live in a neighborhood (without encountering them, unpleasantly, yourself). There are no online “crime blotters” or maps showing the locations of dog bite incidents and irresponsible dog owners. The time has come to make this information available to the public. That’s why some cities are posting “bad dog registries.” See States Contemplate Dangerous Dog Registries for Accountability and Public Safety by Jordan Elder for Ch. 4 Fox News, March 29, 2024.

San Antonio, Texas, is one example of a city that is struggling with creating a useful registry for its residents. But there is controversy about the information they are including in the registry — or rather, leaving out. As of this writing, the address of the dog and the name of its owner are not provided. Users see only the name of the dog and its photo. See San Antonio’s Dog Registry Criticized for Lacking Owner Details, Ch. 4 Fox News, March 15, 2024, updated April 16, 2024.

In both of the articles referenced above, I am quoted as saying that San Antonio and cities like it are leaving out the information that would keep people safe. If you’re a parent, for example, you need to know if the house where your kids are planning a sleepover has a dangerous dog, but how would only the name of the dog and its photo help you? You have never been to the home of your children’s friend or seen their dog, but you do have the name of the family and their address. So if a registry is going to make a difference, it should provide the name of the dog owner, the address of the dog owner, a photo of the dangerous dog, and the name of the dog.

I also would like to know what the dog did that makes it a dangerous dog, the date it did that thing, and what the injuries were. All these details are useful. The time has come for transparency and more protection from dangerous dogs.