On Pink Poodles and Pet Ownership

March 12, 2008 at 3:13 am 8 comments

Joy Douglas, a hairdresser in Denver, Colorado decided to dye her poodle Cici pink to generate awareness for breast cancer.  Being a considerate owner, she used organic beet juice to dye the dog.


According to Douglas, “Cici is a conversation piece. Customers come in and ask why the dog is pink. So we tell them about breast-cancer awareness, about the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and then we ask for a donation.”This sounded like a noble cause to us, but apparently not all of Douglas’ customers appreciated the idea.  One of them called animal control and reported her. 

Douglas was ticketed on March 1, 2008 for violating a Boulder ordinance that designed to discourage people from dying chicks and bunnies at Easter.  She’s now facing a fine of up to $1,000 and has retained legal council.

Lisa Pedersen, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and the city’s Animal Control and Care, said officers received “several calls about the animal” before they wrote the ticket.  “There were lots of people concerned about the dog,” Pedersen said Monday. “And we have given more than one verbal warning, so we thought it would just be best to write the ticket and let it resolve itself in the court system.”

Apparently not much in the way of lost dogs, treed kittens or animal abuse occurs in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.  If officials of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (who use the term ‘guardian’ quite liberally on their website) have nothing better to do than post thousand dollar citations for the illegal use of beet juice – there’s either very little going on or (gasp!) somebody is advancing a personal agenda.

In a recent interview on Slate.com Jon Katz wrote:

The guardian campaign is a vivid example of the growing tendency to blur the boundaries between us and our pets. Many Americans have already stopped seeing their dogs and cats as animals. They’re family members, emotional support systems, metaphors for issues from our own pasts, aids for healing and growth, children with fur.

Seeing them the way we see ourselves—as having human thoughts and needs, human rights—is another kind of abuse and exploitation.

He goes on to say:

Dogs are not “people” of another species. They are another species. To train and care for them properly, to show them how to live in our complex world, requires first and foremost that we understand that. I owe my dogs much—more than I can say—but they are not my “companions”—as if we voluntarily chose to hang out together but none of us has authority over the others. I bought and/or acquired them. I own them. I am profoundly responsible for their care and well being.

Guardianship, a word always applied to human beings, implies equality—the highest and perhaps most noble of all goals in this democratic nation. Ownership implies responsibility. Americans who own dogs need to be more responsible for them, literally and emotionally—not more equal to them.

So….  Is Joy Douglas a caring, responsible pet owner being unfairly punished by animal rights activists or is she the guardian of a poodle-person and therefore subject to intervention by outside agencies with self-proclaimed interests or expertise who are willing to use the court system to force her to make the decision they think is “best” for Cici?

Entry filed under: animals, dog, dogs, pet, pets. Tags: , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marjorie  |  March 12, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I would only add that I also use the term “guardian” and “owner” as being relatively interchangeable. I understad the theories about the meaning of the term “guardian” but I’ve not seen any guardian laws that actually have the net effect of making dogs virtually equal, in rights, to humans. (I, for the record, wouldn’t be opposed to that, though.)

    Having worked in canine legislative issues for years, many of the dog-related problems that have occurred involve people who don’t actually own the dog in question, but were responsible for its care at the time of some incident. The owner then claims he/she had no knowledge of the situation, thus nothing can be done, since most municipal by-laws only refer to “owners” and their potential liability.

    The laws really should refer to “guardian” (or any other ‘caregiver’ moniker) so that when, for example, Joe’s mother is the one looking after his aggressive dog and she allows it to run at-large and menace people, she can actually be punished in some kind of meaningful way.

    In most cases of this sort, nothing will happen to Joe for failing to ensure his dog was properly contained because he can prove the dog wasn’t in his care at the time of the incident, and nothing will happen to his mother, because she’s not the dog’s owner. (The dog will surely be punished for the negligence of the humans, though.)

    Only guardian-type laws allow authorities to hold responsible the person who was supposed to be in control of the dog at the time, no matter who actually owns the dog. It closes a loophole some owners have abused.

  • 2. Caveat  |  March 13, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I don’t think the solution to the situation described can be addressed through using the term ‘guardian rather than owner and the term guardian opens up a huge can of worms that is best left shut, in my opinion.

    For example, being a guardian implies more responsibility than being an owner. The AR crew loves ‘guardian’ because it means that all kinds of intrusive regulations (most based on junk science) can be applied to pet owners and more ways of seizing pets can be devised. In Canada, since we have no property rights, unlike in the US, guardianship might actually benefit us, depending on who lobbies for and sits in on the writing of the regulations.

    In the US it would degrade dog owners’ rights, which is why it is more strongly opposed in the US than in Canada.

    If I lend my car to someone and they get a ticket, it is issued to them even though I own the property. One exception is failure to stop for a school bus with flashing signals, in which case the licence plate number is recorded and the owner of the car gets the citation.

    I see no reason why a similar situation can’t be used in dog cases. The person having care and control of the dog at the time gets the citation. And fat too many dogs are killed for just being dogs, imo but that’s another issue.

    In fact, I’m not sure that doesn’t actually happen, ie, that the person in control of the dog is blamed. I’d have to look into it.

  • 3. Caveat  |  March 13, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I’d certainly not dye my dog pink or any other colour. Some unscrupulous conformation people dye their dogs too, it’s pretty obvious once pointed out by an expert.

    If the dog was dyed with beet juice, what possible business is it of anyone elses? It’s harmless, it will wear off and the dog doesn’t care. Is it dopey? No doubt. Is it an animal welfare issue? Hardly.

    What’s next? You give your kid a bad haircut and get a fine? You wear white after Labour Day and find yourself in the clink?

    Priorities seem to be getting out of whack on this continent.

  • 4. Marjorie  |  March 13, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    As far as the colour issue goes, I’ve been long-known to attest that although the likelihood of my ever acquiring a Poodle is about as remote as it gets, should I do so, and the Poodle was white, I would keep it show-clipped and dye it various colours, from time to time. Seriously. I’m not kidding. I would do it.

    So, I looked-up the Boulder code, just out of curiosity, and it reads like this:

    6-1-14 Dyeing Fowl and Rabbits Prohibited; Selling Dogs, Cats, and Fowl Limited.

    (a) No person shall dye or color live fowl, rabbits, or any other animals or have in possession, display, sell, or give away such dyed or colored animals.

    Unfortunately for Ms. Douglas, that’s pretty black and white.

    Good thing I don’t own a white Poodle and live in Boulder…

  • 5. Caveat  |  March 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Ah, but beet juice isn’t technically a dye. It’s just vegetable juice. So, if a can of beet juice were accidentally spilled on a dog, are you dyeing the dog?

    I’d fight it. But I’ll pretty much fight anything LOL

    I imagine they put that in because of the silly practice of long ago where bunnies and chicks/ducklings were dyed at Easter and probably not with harmless vegetable juice.

  • 6. Marjorie  |  March 14, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I think it’s remarkable that the city of Boulder considers dying a dog’s hair with perfectly harmless vegetable juice worse than tail docking, ear cropping, chaining, and any number of other potentially painful or injurious practices that are perfectly legal. Talk about skewed priorities.

    Someone should really keep a list of odd dog laws. Here, I’ll get ya’ started with some of these silly/bizarre, outdated laws apparently still on the books:


    – Violators can be fined, arrested or jailed for making ugly faces at a dog.
    – Dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property.

    North Carolina:
    – In Barber, fights between cats and dogs are prohibited.

    – In Denver, a dogcatcher must notify the dog of their intentions, three days before they capture them.

    – It is illegal for anyone to give lighted cigars to dogs, cats, and other domesticated animal kept as pets.
    – In Chicago, it is illegal to give a dog whiskey.
    – In Galesburg, no person shall keep a smelly dog.

    – It is illegal to kill a dog using a decompression chamber. (WTF?)

    British Columbia:
    – In Burnaby, all dogs must be under control by 10 pm or the owners will be penalized.

    – In International Falls, it is against the law for a dog to chase a cat up a telegraph pole. (“telegraph” huh?)

    – In Marysville, it is illegal for a dog to urinate on a parking meter.
    – In Paulding, a policeman may bite a dog to quiet him.

  • 7. Craaz  |  March 14, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Joy Douglas did not use beet juice. She uses Manic Panic among other semi/demi-permanent haircolors for humans. As it being to raise breast cancer awareness. Complete lie. She had a donation jar on the counter that she would take money from to buy herself food, booze and drugs. Coming from people that know her, former employees and former clients.

  • 8. Caveat  |  March 15, 2008 at 12:27 am

    LOL! Sounds as though you’re off to a good start, Marjorie!

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