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Archive for May 12th, 2009

Say Chow (or ciao) to those $1,000 fines


Baltimore’s $1,000 fine for letting a dog of its leash is, effectively, a thing of the past — if even that.

A city council committee yesterday — saying the amended penalty was passed by mistake — approved lowering the fine to $200 on a first offense, and promised that, for all 35 of the $1,000 tickets issued between the beginning of April and May 8, violators will have to pay no more than $200.

The new three-tiered fine — $200 for first offense, $400 for a second, $600 for a third — still requires approval by the full council, but little opposition is expected.

In opening the hearing, at which more than a dozen dog owners testified, Council Member James Kraft said, “This fine, very frankly … was a mistake. We were amending provisions of the law that were dealing with cruelty to animals and we increased penalties because some of these penalties were very old penalties. They weren’t acting as deterrents.

“Inadvertently, because that section had a lot of other provisions in it, that thousand dollar fine went across a much broader spectrum than we knew.”

Upon learning of what they had done, Kraft said, the council took steps to ask that the fine not be levied against violators.

Nevertheless, 35 $1,000 citations were handed out by the city’s office of Animal Control, with support from the police department — 23 of them since April 28.

“For those who have said that maybe this was a fundraising measure on behalf of the city, please be advised it clearly was not,” Kraft said.

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Brother, can you spare a bone?

Call it a two-sided sign of the times, one that reflects the increasing regard in which we hold our dogs, and the increasingly hard times the economy is creating for us: food pantries for dogs.

Part of a movement to keep pets with their families, and out of overloaded animal shelters, pet food pantries are popping up across the country, according to ZooToo Pet News

“There are so many things that pet owners have to consider, like spay/neuter, boarding, and other types of vet care, but we are seeing that food is the primary concern,” said Ellen Gillmore, Best Friends Animal Society campaign coordinator. “There is such an immediate need for it that it jumps to the top of our list.”

Best Friend’s new program, First Home, Forever Home, which is aimed at helping families keep their pets, recently gave 1,215 bags of dog food and snacks to two food banks in the Atlanta area.

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Pyrenees credited with keeping toddler alive

A three-year-old boy lost for two days in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest may have been kept warm enough to survive by the family’s giant white fluffy dog.

Joshua Childers wandered away from his home last week and into the forest, spending two nights in temperatures that dropped to 40 degrees, according to KSPR in Springfield.

“One of our initial concerns was how could a 35-pound child could stay alive in forty degree weather in the rain for two nights and three days,” said Steven Crawford, Childer’s doctor. “That may be the answer, and he was telling about being with the dog at night.”

The family dog is a Great Pyrenees, and weighs about 125 pounds.

“The fact that the child survived the exposure to begin with, it’s miraculous as far as I’m concerned,” Crawford said. Crawford said the child told him he drank stream water and that he didn’t sleep much. The child was released from the hospital this weekend after being treated for hypothermia, scratches and bug bites.

The family’s dog disappeared around the time Joshua did and reappeared at the family’s home right after he was found. The doctor thinks the dog was with Joshua the whole time, although, when the child was found, two other dogs were with him. The family thinks those dogs may have scared the family pet away.

Another dog and guardian die a day apart

Yesterday, we told you about Natt Nevins, and how her beloved dachsund, Nikkie, died the day after Nevins passed.

Now comes news out of Orlando of Becky Carter and her Doberman pinscher, Tasha, who enjoyed life together, fought cancer together and comforted each other through chemotherapy. Over the weekend, they also died within a day of each other — in this case, Tasha first, on Saturday, and Carter on Sunday.

We’ve all heard, and maybe even put a little credence in, those tales of married couples who have grown so close to each other that, when one dies, the other quickly follows. Might we be getting so close to dogs that the same holds true, or at least has anecdotal support?

“This dog and Becky were so close. It’s kind of like they were tired of fighting,” Becky’s husband, Kenny Carter told the Orlando Sentinel.

At the time of her death, Becky hadn’t been told of Tasha’s demise, which came as the Doberman was chasing squirrels. Tasha was 7. Funeral services were held yesterday for Carter, who was buried with Tasha’s ashes.

Carter, who was 62, found Tasha through an ad in the paper when the dog was a puppy.

In 2005, Carter was diagnosed with lung cancer and began chemotherapy treatments, Tasha would lay by her owner’s bed or at her feet. Two years later, as Carter’s cancer went into remission, Tasha was diagnosed with lymphoma and given three to five months to live. The couple started the dog on chemotherapy to buy a little more time. A month ago, veterinarians, detecting an abnormal heart rhythm, decided against another round of chemotherapy for the dog.

Her husband said he thinks Tasha died first so she would be there to welcome his wife into heaven.