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Archive for May 18th, 2009

City Council votes to lower leash law fine

Baltimore’s City Council tonight approved lowering the fine for leash law violations from $1,000 to $200 for a first offense.

Subsequent offenses would carry fines of $400 and $600.

A city council committee recommended the changes after a hearing held last week.

The council also voted to lower the fine for failing to clean up dog waste from $1,000 to $200.

Councilman James Kraft said he would try to get Mayor Sheila Dixon to sign the legislation tomorrow.

The higher penalties went into effect in February. Though they were approved by the city council, several members say they voted for them inadvertently while approving broad changes in the city’s dog law.

Complaints about the higher fines surfaced after animal control officers began handing out $1,000 citations in March. At least 35 were issued, but city officials say those citations will revert to the lower fine.

The council also approved giving the Recreation and Parks Department authority to designate leash-free areas and hours at city parks.

The art of peeing

Life sentence given in killing of police dog

A man who shot and killed a police dog was sentenced to life in prison last week — not so much because he killed a police dog, but because it was his third strike, according to a report in the Seattle Times.

Ronald J. Chenette, convicted six months ago of killing Dakota, a 5-year-old German shepherd owned by the Vancouver Police Department, was sentenced Friday in Clark County Superior Court in Vancouver, Washington — a state where conviction of a third violent crime mandates a life sentence.

The day Dakota was shot, Chenette “got his hands on a couple of beers and a handgun,” court-appointed defense attorney Jeff Barrar said. A friend of Chenette’s called 911 and said Chenette was threatening to kill police. SWAT officers were called out to a wooded area with a steep gully, which would have been difficult for the two-legged officers to navigate. So Dakota went in.

Soon, officers heard a gunshot. Chenette said he fought with Dakota for more than a minute before he fired. He said he thought Dakota was going for his throat and was going to kill him. “All I have to say is, I’m sorry about the dog that got shot,” Chenette said.

Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson said the sentence wasn’t “freakish or unfair or unconstitutional” since Chenette’s first two violent crimes were against humans.

Week aims to take a bite out of bites

What do children, the elderly and postal workers have in common?

They are the most frequent victims of the estimated 4.7 million dog bites that occur a year — about  386,000 of which require a trip to the emergency room, and 16 of which prove fatal.

If you haven’t already figured it out, it’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week — time to roll out the sobering statistics, and make the point that, with nothing more than education and common sense, those numbers could be reduced dramatically.

Perhaps the most effective way to do so is by educating children — or educating parents to educate their children — on how to behave around dogs.

“Approximately half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. And when a dog bites a child, the victim’s small size makes the bite more likely to result in a severe injury,” says Dr. James O. Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Statistically, children ages 5 to 9 years old are at the highest risk of being bitten followed by adult males.

While many people are under the impression that certain breeds are more likely to bite, the American Veterinary Medical Association says there’s little scientific evidence to support that claim.

Here are some tips on preventing dog bites, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog and scream.
  • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.