Pet insurance liability issue grows in Middleton
The Middletown Common Council chambers were filled to the limit on April 3, when, one after the next, individuals representing themselves or various organizations spoke up against a proposed law that would force renters to obtain insurance if they own a dog that weighs over 50 pounds.
The opposition to the proposal was very strong and brought up a number of different objections to it. Among them, for example, were that it would cause landlords to be less accepting of tenants who own dogs. Furthermore, they pointed out that it would penalize pet owners who care for their animals responsibly, while the irresponsible pet owners would ignore the regulation just as they fail to properly care for their dogs.
Additionally, it was explained that it could be cost prohibitive enough that it may force individuals to have to get rid of their dogs, as they will no longer be able to afford them. This will generate a larger number of strays and a skyrocketing population of large dogs in shelters.
According to a resident of Middletown named Don Wood, who owns a Great Pekingese that weighs approximately 100 pounds, “I don’t believe that you can judge a dog by its weight any more than you can judge a human being by its weight.”
Presiding over the room was Mayor Joe DeStefano, who took part in the often forceful and highly energetic discussion with the individuals as they took their turns. The proposal was originally made by DeStefano, who wanted the cutoff to be 25 pounds, though the council altered it to 50 pounds as they believed that a 25 pound limit was too low.
The Mayor explained that the proposed law was a response to the increase in the number of dog bites that have occurred within the city, often resulting from dogs of the Pit Bull breed, or those with Pit Bull as a part of their genetic background. DeStefano’s proposed law makes no mention of specific breeds, but he believes that this will help to place some control over individuals who use dogs of more aggressive breeds as intimidators or weapons, saying that “It’s obvious there’s a problem.”