The (fictitious) Dangerous Pets Act 2016 provides local authorities with the power to require residents to obtain a licence in order to keep any category of household pet which an appropriately constituted council committee designates as “dangerous”. Licence holders must pay an annual fee of £200 and attend monthly training sessions on responsible animal ownership. Aurelia receives a letter from Seftonpool City Council, demanding that she obtain a licence for her pet budgie. Boris receives a similar letter demanding that he obtain a licence for his two pet goldfish. When Aurelia objects she is told that whilst there are no recorded incidents of dangerous behaviour by budgies, the Council Pet-Owners Safeguarding Committee concluded that it is only a matter of time before budgies begin to show their true colours, that it will be source of great civic pride to have been the first council anywhere in the world to recognise the impending danger, and that budgies have been designated as “dangerous” accordingly. When Boris objects, he is told that the Council Pet-Owners Safeguarding Committee was advised by Hugh, its veterinary adviser, that goldfish can be dangerous in certain, unlikely but real, circumstances. Some members of the committee were surprised by Hugh’s report, but their doubts were not discussed because the committee has a policy of systematically deferring to its expert advisers’ recommendations. Goldfish have been designated as “dangerous” accordingly. Boris is not satisfied with this explanation so he requests an appearance before the Committee and the chance to cross-examine Hugh. His request is refused.
Advise Aurelia and Boris.