July 18, 2024

Dog Walker Law Bites Volunteers

Austin’s city government is now requiring that volunteers at the city’s animal shelter submit to background checks and turn over private information such as social security numbers.

Under the new rules, each volunteer must give his or her legal name, date of birth and Social Security number for an annual background check. Fingerprinting is required if the volunteer has lived outside Texas in the past 10 years.

The rules went too far for some volunteers, who said they don’t trust the city to protect their information. Some said the requirement is overkill considering they’re volunteering to work with cats and dogs.

Tom Oliveri, a member of the city’s Animal Advisory Commission, quit volunteering at the shelter over the requirement.

"Don’t force me to give up confidential, private information (that) if somehow lost could cause great, great hardship," he said. "It is unfair to ask people to hold their nose and say, ‘I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me.’"

This is a trivial yet telling example of what happens when government exceeds its mandated purpose. 


City officials said the requirement, which was announced in September, is meant to protect children from predators. The checks are required for all city employees, contractors and volunteers who work in youth-oriented programs such as city libraries and parks.

That’s fine for youth-oriented programs.  But show a little judgment for crying out loud. 

Perhaps officials are trying to cut down on cases of cat molestation in Austin?  Stranger things have happened there…</sarc>


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

View all posts by marc →