Poodle-dyer nabbed by animal welfare cops

by Walter Olson on March 13, 2008

In Boulder, Colorado, hair salon owner Joy Douglas “received a $1,000 ticket from an animal-control officer for coloring her white poodle, Cici, pink by using organic beet juice.” Everyone seems to agree that the dye job is not physically harmful to the pooch, who is well cared for in other ways, but Boulder has a town ordinance against animal-dyeing, aimed at Easter-season tormentors of bunnies and chicks, and several residents ratted Douglas out. She says the idea of the pink fur was to raise awareness for breast cancer. (“Boulder’s pink poodle owner preps for legal fight”, Denver Post, Mar. 11).

{ 11 comments }

1 Paul 03.13.08 at 2:41 am

She got several warnings in the weeks leading up to the ticket. I’m more upset that she got the continuance because she just now got around to finding a lawyer to represent her for the law she already knew she was breaking. She could have saved fellow citizens a lot of money by getting this resolved with city officials before this ruckus.

2 gitarcarver 03.13.08 at 1:58 pm

She could have saved fellow citizens a lot of money by getting this resolved with city officials before this ruckus.

The opposite holds true as well. The city could have saved its citizens a lot of money by realizing the intent and spirit of the law did not apply to this woman or the dog.

3 Bumper 03.13.08 at 8:26 pm

There is a reason why South Park is set in Colorado and this sort of falderal is it.

What cracks me up about this story is how every article, and there have been way too many, make a point of how she used “organic beet juice” as if somehow this would merit a pass on the law.

4 Todd Rogers 03.13.08 at 9:26 pm

Bumper. First, nice use of falderal

Second, nice observation on organic beet juice. Were it of the non-organic variety, would it get a mention, given the well-established innocuousness of the beet, in general?

5 kimsch 03.13.08 at 11:57 pm

Organic beet juice mixed with egg whites as the protein aides in the staining of the poodle hair.

As opposed to the chemicals that she uses on her human clients.

6 Paul 03.14.08 at 2:50 pm

Gitar, the city enacted this law very recently. I’m sure they’re not only well-aware of the spirit of the law they enacted, just as well as I am also sure that once you have an official nice enough to warn you ahead of time that you are in violation of a law they intend to enforce, then the right thing to do is try to get the law changed, not continue to violate it and only THEN go look for a lawyer.

The law says it’s illegal to “color” a dog. I think that rather than expecting the city would change its mind about what it meant when it wrote that, and thus being arbitrary about when they enforce the law (which I think is bad), getting them to change the law is the right thing to do. Ignoring the law (and in the face of prior warning then “flaunting” the law) and expecting the city to ignore the plain language of the law they enacted is the “stupid” thing to do.

7 gitarcarver 03.14.08 at 3:09 pm

Ignoring the law (and in the face of prior warning then “flaunting” the law) and expecting the city to ignore the plain language of the law they enacted is the “stupid” thing to do.

Paul, with all due respect, I know that it a habit in internet debates to ratchet the hyperbole up. My next comment is not trying to do that, but rather to give an illustration of a fallacy in that the thought you present here.

By your logic, Rosa Parks should have just accepted sitting in the back of the bus, especially since 3 nice city employees warned her of the consequences.

There are times when a law needs to be broken to show how bad it is.

This may be such a case. In this a dog was not being harmed (which would be the reason for the law as human hair dyes can and do harm animals). Far from being harmed, the dog was well cared for. The color of the dog was drawing attention to a cause – both social and political – that its owner supported. This is what some would call free speech or freedom of expression.

I have severe problems with a government making a law preventing an action where no harm is being done to anyone or anything, and then saying that the populace chould follow that law blindly and without question – no matter haw “nice” the governmental agents are.

8 Paul 03.14.08 at 8:19 pm

Your point about hyperbole notwithstanding, Rosa Parks is not an appropriate illustration, as she was NOT in violation of the segregated seating law in place at the time. (Rosa Parks DID NOT sit in the front of the bus, she sat in the front of the “colored” [but not pink-stained] section. The law as written specifically exempted people from having to switch seats. Rosa violated custom, not law.) It’s also a completely different situation. This dog-coloring thing is law just a few years old, not something that people have had to labor under for 55 unfair years. (385 in dog years!)

I am not asking that the woman sit idly by and not fight the loss of her inalienable right to stain her dog a ridiculous color. I am asking that people either exhaust other options readily available to them first, or retain counsel in advance of being cited.

You have a severe problem with this legislation? I have a severe problem with people who pick and choose what laws they are and are not going to follow based on nothing more than their gut feeling about what they want to be able to get away with. I am a layperson, sure. But obviously there was a problem that caused this city to enact that law with those words. You claim they are in violation of the “spirit” of the law, and I say that the law should be applied as written.

Also, because I am a layperson, I also do not expect the local hairdresser to be the arbiter of what is or is not safe for animals. For all I know this law was specifically enacted because of rampant organic-beet-juice abuse, due to the increased cancer incidence among pink animals.

I agree the city could probably have spent its time on better law. I also think that she could have contacted the people she elected to pass legislation many times before this. I also think she could have filed suit to get the law was unconstitutional. I think there are a lot of avenues she could have taken that might have helped her secure her Constitutional right to stained poodle advertising. I think that she has chosen the wrong path. The law says “dye or color” and she clearly violated it. If she already had counsel ahead of time I could at least believe she had pulled this stunt for a better argument on standing but since she didn’t, I just know she’s one of those people who wasn’t trying to change the law, just trying to say the law shouldn’t apply to her because she thinks she knows better.

9 rose 03.14.08 at 8:24 pm

Even though she received several warnings in the weeks leading up to the ticket. Once she made the dog pink it would remain that color until the color grew out. If she had to shave the colored hair off the dog woluld she get a ticket for being inhumane? Isn’t it a little cold to make a dog bald just so he could be white again to satisfy the law?

10 gitarcarver 03.15.08 at 12:04 am

as she was NOT in violation of the segregated seating law in place at the time.

Yet she was charged and found guilty under the law.

I am asking that people either exhaust other options readily available to them first, or retain counsel in advance of being cited.

Retain counsel in advance of being cited? Why should someone that has not done anything wrong need counsel?

I also do not expect the local hairdresser to be the arbiter of what is or is not safe for animals.

I would have a great deal more faith in in the knowledge of someone who has been trained in the use of dyes on hair than I would in some politician making a law.

But obviously there was a problem that caused this city to enact that law with those words.

And what makes you think that? What makes you think that there was a problem with red beet dyed poodles? If the dog is well taken care of, well fed, loved, and is not being harmed, what “problem” is there? Is it your position that the government has the right to intrude into people’s lives when there is no harm being done to anyone or anything? Furthermore, do you really believe that every law written is perfect? I am not talking about Constitutionally “perfect,” but whether a ;law can have unintended consequences. Do you think that every law written will never have un-intended consequences?

I also think she could have filed suit to get the law was unconstitutional.

Under what basis? What standing would she have had to challange this until the law was enacted? Or do you think that a hair dresser should be challanging laws that aren’t applied to her? Furthermore, why should someone challange a law that was on the books since the 1980’s (according to the Humane Society of Boulder) and was not enforced?

(This also begs the question why is the Humane Society the one to issue this citation? If you read the statements of the Humane Society, they are just disposing of the complaints they received about the dog, and don’t really believe that there is harm being done to the animal. Frustrated, they issued the citation to “let the courts handle the matter.” Clearly THEY are not sure that the intent of the law is being served by prosecuting this woman.)

The law says “dye or color” and she clearly violated it.

And the Constitution says something about “no law….. abridging the freedom of speech.” If the dog is found to be an expression of speech, then your arguement would be with the legislature rather than the hair dresser, right?

If she already had counsel ahead of time I could at least believe she had pulled this stunt for a better argument on standing …

Once again, why should she have a lawyer if she had not been charged? Or are you saying that we all need lawyers to protect us from the government at all times?

just trying to say the law shouldn’t apply to her because she thinks she knows better.

Maybe she does know better. Maybe she is more concerned about working and promoting awareness for breast cancer than she is about some legislature making a law that shouldn’t apply to her.

There are consequences to violating a law. There is no doubt about that. But there are also laws that are morally wrong, or contrary to the Constitution. Your stance seems to be “if the legislature made the law, we have to abide by it.”

I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that we are slaves to the state, but that the state works for us.

I just hope that the next time you are out on the interstate doing 5 or 10 miles above the speed limit that you remember that you feel that you know better than the legislature as to what the safe speed on that road is.

11 cecil 03.15.08 at 3:22 pm

*sigh* One brief point that I think should have been the first and most obvious post…. Since when has property rights meant that property has rights?

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