NJ Supreme Court says your dog is public’s business (Opinion)
See if you find this as annoying as I do.
When you think of OPRA requests, you think of reporters digging deep with journalistic integrity trying to ferret out things the government might not want you to know, or trying to unearth serious information that could otherwise endanger the public.
Seldom do with think of an Open Public Records Act request as an attempt to sell your stuff.
But that’s exactly what’s happening with Ernest Bozzi. He’s a businessman from Burlington County who makes a buck selling invisible fences. And he’s made a habit of winning in court when his OPRA requests for licensed dog owners are challenged. He goes from town to town seeking the names and addresses of anyone who has a registered dog. Once he gets it he pitches them his product.
Jehovah Witnesses and solar panel salesmen and politicians on your doorstep weren’t enough? We need this crap?
The New Jersey State Supreme Court handed down a ruling Monday in his favor. They decided your dog is the public’s business.
In a 5-2 ruling here’s some of their logic.
“Owning a dog is, inherently, a public endeavor.”
“Owners -- and the dogs themselves -- are regularly exposed to the public during daily walks, grooming sessions, and veterinarian visits. Many owners celebrate their animals on social media or bumper stickers, inherently public platforms.”
So what? I can walk down the street alone without my dog but it’s still a public street. I can post things about myself on social media. Does that mean people should get my home address?
“Some people put up signs stating that there is a dog at the residence; others frequent certain parks or establishments specifically made for dogs and dog owners.”
“Some owners even enter their dogs into public shows, events, and competitions. Dog owners who continually expose their dogs to the public cannot claim that dog ownership is a private undertaking.”
I expose my kids to the public by taking them to playgrounds. Does that mean I have to have my address given out? This was a ridiculous majority decision. OPRA requests shouldn’t be used to pad the bank accounts of salesmen.
Judge Fabiana Pierre-Louis was one of two dissenting votes. Pierre-Louis wrote, “Certainly, people with dogs do not hide the fact of ownership when they go out in public with their pets. But dog owners appearing in public with their dogs do not do so while simultaneously advertising their full names and addresses.”
To put it into dog terms, this was a bone-headed opinion by the Supreme Court.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.