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No More Herps in Air Force Housing

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Posted by: EricWI at Tue Sep 20 00:05:32 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  

Force puts more bite in pet regulations

Brace the kids: The tarantula might have to go the next time you PCS. Maybe the chow, too.

They're now banned in base housing, and the commander at your next stop could order you to get rid of your hairy spider and even hairier canine.

The list of blacklisted critters is long under the Air Force's new pet policy: arachnids; reptiles; rodents, except hamsters and guinea pigs; ferrets; hedgehogs; pot-bellied pigs; monkeys; skunks, raccoons; squirrels; farm animals; and five kinds of dogs — pit bulls, Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, chows and wolf hybrids — as well as any dog that displays "aggressive or dominant behavior." Military dogs are allowed in base housing with the permission of the base commander.

If you have a pet not on the list, check with your base commander to see if it can stay. If you already own an animal on the list and your base commander hasn't issued an order to get rid of it, you're safe. The order, however, prohibits you from adopting any more of the creatures, and you risk getting kicked out of your home if you do.

The policy also lets base commanders decide the number of pets to allow in a house.

No incident prompted the update to Air Force Instruction 32-6001, according to the service.

The policy is simply meant "to improve the health, welfare, safety and security of persons living in and visiting military, government-managed and privatized family housing and provides a more uniform policy to assist families in decisions relative to pets," said Col. Frank Freeman, chief of Air Force Housing Division, in a Sept. 1 statement to Air Force Times.

Many cities nationwide have similar restrictions and every state prohibits exotic pets, Freeman said.

"Every state has exotic pet laws," he said, "although they differ on types and restrictions of ownership, so there can be differences in opinion on what constitutes an exotic animal. The Air Force policy has provided examples of exotic animals that may not be kept as pets."

Many municipalities have banned specific dog breeds, especially the pit bull, because of the animals' sometimes aggressive behavior.

The AFI states any dog can be banned from base housing if it bites, scratches, runs along the fence line or jumps the fence to chase after someone. Even snarling and growling too much can get a dog kicked out. The ban on ferrets is also because of their aggressive behavior, according to the Air Force.

Lt. Daniel Muggelberg thinks the policy is unfair. He and his wife have a 3-year-old Rottweiler and they have no qualms about it being around their baby boy.

"I dislike the new policy because to generalize a certain breed is unfair," Muggelberg said in an Air Force news story earlier this year. "There are numerous breeds that could simply be `bad dogs' if not trained properly."

But the Air Force does not agree, labeling the breeds as either aggressive or potentially aggressive.

The Muggleberg family, who live at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, won't have to give up their 3-year-old Rottweiler, though, unless it starts acting out, Freeman said.

"The policy provides that residents with pets prohibited by the policy could continue to board the pet until they terminate housing, unless the pet demonstrated a propensity for dominant or aggressive behavior," he said.

A top dog expert considers any ban on a dog breed tantamount to discrimination and said many states prohibit banning breeds.

"There are no bad dogs, there are bad dog owners," said Bob Yarnall Jr., president of the American Canine Association.

Yarnall, who has testified before state legislatures about dog breed bans, said the cocker spaniel is the breed that bites the most. Dalmatians are the next-worst offenders.

Yarnall acknowledged a Doberman will do more damage when it attacks than a cocker spaniel, but so will a Great Dane or English mastiff, and those breeds aren't banned by the Air Force.

Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., banned pit bulls, pinschers and Rottweilers after an airman's dog attacked another's dependent, according to an Air Force news release at the time.

"Banning these dog breeds is not meant as a punishment to their owners," said then-Col. Scott Vander Hamm, who was 28th Bomber Wing commander at the time. "Unfortunately, in the interest of safety, it is the best means of protecting those in our community who live in military housing from attacks of this nature."


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