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Security Gone Wild — Why Now?
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Security Gone Wild

Jack at People’s Republic of Seabrook wants to know When is enough too much?.

It is being reported that some Austin volunteer dog-walkers have quit over being required to put up with background checks. These are people who are giving up their personal time to help out at the dog pound by taking the “inmates” out for a walk, and now they are supposed to give up their personal information so a background check can be performed.

I performed background checks on people seeking employment in law enforcement. These investigations are not free. They take time and money to complete, and even with the power of the state behind you and all of the necessary releases signed, they are never simple, nor always complete.

Like Jack, I don’t see the need and would certainly resent being asked to provide the information. The job involves nothing of major value, no security issues, and the only skills are: pooper-scooping, holding a leash, and saying “good dog.” The Queen Mum did it with a pack of corgis from a golf cart well into her 90s, so you don’t even have to be able to walk. I don’t think even the Shrubbery could screw this one up too badly with a couple of months of training.

The dogs need the exercise and stimulation and the people are willing to do it. Why are these idiots throwing up road blocks?


1 Badtux { 10.02.07 at 2:51 pm }

Hmm, I wonder if Bill Frist (or, rather, his Austin equivalent) volunteered to be a “dog walker” and instead took the dog away and used it for medical experiments?

But agreed on the road blocks deal. Surely they would notice when Bill came back to the shelter without the dog, and not let him walk dogs again.

2 Bryan { 10.02.07 at 3:32 pm }

You don’t need to spend the time if you taking animals for nefarious purposes, as Frist knew, and you do have to be able to relate to dogs to walk them. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be a good Idea to keep Michael Vick from volunteering, but background checks are expensive and it’s hard enough getting the money to take care of stray animals as it is.

I have a horrible feeling they we are going to find out that this is somehow linked to Homeland Security money, like a lot of other stupid ideas.

3 fallenmonk { 10.02.07 at 3:37 pm }

Every time you think it cannot get any more stupid something pops up to smash your illusion. Where are they supposed to get the money to pay for these checks? Ass you say they are expensive. This is obviously some petty bureaucrat overly impressed with his or her job title and with too little else to do.

4 Bryan { 10.02.07 at 4:18 pm }

FM, I would love to see adequate funding for the minimal animal shelter we have in this county. Most animal welfare activities are funded by thrift shops. Hell, we should be doing background checks on politicians, but there’s no funding for that. There are constant reports of doctors with no medical training practicing in Florida, but there is no money for verifying their credentials.

Doing background checks for dog-walkers is world class stupidity.

5 hipparchia { 10.02.07 at 7:32 pm }

400?? their animal shelter has FOUR HUNDRED VOLUNTEERS?! the only way you’d get a turnout like that in most places i’ve lived is if you let all the animals loose in one big enclosure and staged a canned hunt. i realize austin is a big city, and reasonably liberal at that, but still… 400… i am envious beyond measure.

i thought of the dog fighters and the med schools and the animal experimenters too, and my first reaction was um, y’all are just going to kill all the surplus dogs anyways, so take a chance on finding the next michael vick.

but i see that the article says that all volunteers who work in youth-oriented programs have to undergo the background checks. one of the trends in animal shelters now is to get kids involved in stuff like dog walking, which is terrific. i’d hate to see that scuttled.

much as i like kids though, i like dogs better. can’t we just once in a while do less “for the children” and more for the dogs? instead of doing full background checks, they could just get a volunteer to look through some online sexual predator databases [don’t get me started on those] since that’s all they’re really worried about.

6 Bryan { 10.02.07 at 10:55 pm }

Hipparchia if they are going to involve kids, then check the people who are working with the kids. I wouldn’t involve kids in a regular animal shelter operation because of the liability if a kid got bitten. If they want to start a children’s program, then treat it like a children’s program, but don’t annoy your volunteers because of something you might do.

The talk about fingerprints is really absurd. Maybe they missed it, but the government just paid Brandon Mayfield $2 million after screwing up the fingerprint identification on the Madrid Bombing.

It took me 6 weeks to get anything back from the Feds on fingerprints, and these were criminal investigations. At one point the Feds told me my personal fingerprints weren’t on file, when in point of fact they were in the military file, the top secret security clearance file, the police academy graduate file, the New York concealed weapons permit file, as well as a couple of other places for various licenses, permits, etc. The damn system was awash with copies of my fingerprints and they couldn’t find any of them?!

You pay for these requests and they take forever. This is an excellent way to chase off volunteers while wasting a lot of money.

7 hipparchia { 10.03.07 at 12:29 am }

did they finally pay that guy? i hope so. i got to see a demo once of the the [a?] computer system that matches fingerprints, and i got to test myself against the computer. i beat it handily, and everything i know about fingerprints i learned from reading murder mysteries. scary thought.

we’ve got one of those computers at work that you can unlock by letting it read your fingerprint, instead of by typing in a password. fortunately it eventually relents and gives me the option of typing in a password, because it always fails to recognize me in the flesh, as it were. school lunches were bad enough when i was a kid, because i’d probably starve if i had to rely on that technology.

a number of government entities have my fingerprints on file too, but there’s at least one fewer than there used to be. i called up one of my former employers not too long ago, in the course of a job hunt, only to find out that all records of my existence got washed away by ivan. ordinarily i’d have cheered at that bit of news because i’ve heard way too much of this is going into your permanent record in my life, but it would have been useful to be able to prove that i’d held that particular job.

the one problem i can see with fingerprinting/checking only the volunteers that would be working with kids is that in a number of volunteer organizations, everyone wears several different hats, walk the dogs today, work with the kids tomorrow, answer the phones the next day, etceterblah etceterblah etceterblah .

8 Bryan { 10.03.07 at 1:04 am }

Ah, but that’s a management problem, not a security problem.

It may quickly resolve itself when they figure out they don’t enough volunteers left to deal with the dogs or the kids.