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Archive for May 26th, 2009

Judge upholds shelter’s pit bull adoption ban

“Virginia may be for lovers, but Loudoun County isn’t the place for dog lovers.”

That’s the conclusion of an animal welfare legislative analyst in light of a Loudoun County judge’s ruling that the county can ban pit bull adoptions — despite a Virginia law to that ensures the right to own a pit bull.

“This is a dark day for shelter dogs in our nation,” said Ledy VanKavage, of Best Friends Animal Society.  “Throughout the land, cities and states are rejecting breed discriminatory laws and this decision embraces profiling.”

The judge’s May 21 ruling ended the nearly two-year battle over the county’s no-adopt policy on pit bulls.

In a 13-page opinion, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Burke F. McCahill sided with the county, ruling that banning the adoption of pit bulls does not break state or local laws, the Loudoun Times reports. The ruling came after a two-day trial May 5 and 6.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Loudoun resident Ronald Litz in 2007 after he tried to adopt a pit bull from the county animal shelter. He was told the shelter did not allow pit bull adoptions.

Of the judge’s May 21 decision, Litz said, “If the judge doesn’t want to enforce Virginia law, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Litz had argued that the county was denying him the right of ownership of a pit bull, which is against Virginia law.

McCahill disagreed, saying that while state law may give county residents the right to own pit bulls, there is no right to adopt one.

Effectively, the sentence is a death penalty for any pit bulls who end up in Loudoun’s animal shelter and go unclaimed by owners.

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Lhasa love: Lucky gets a makeover

Lucky, a 10-year-old Lhasa Apso, arrived at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego County as a textbook example of neglect.

Left alone in a back yard in Lancaster County, north of Los Angeles, his fur had grown so matted and full of burrs and stickers that he had difficulty walking, and even going to the bathroom. He was also found to have a heart murmur and a thyroid condition, both of which are now under control.

The center captured Lucky’s makeover on video, and reports that he is now available for adoption.

Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization in San Diego County that, for over 30 years, has been committed to the philosophy of people helping animals and animals helping people.

Located on 12 acres in Rancho Santa Fe, it was founded by Helen Whittier Woodward, who formed it in 1972 to provide services that benefit the community through educational and therapeutic programs for people, and humane care and adoption for animals.

Of spaniels and Spaniards

A new study says the English cocker spaniel is the most aggressive dog breed — at least in Spain.

They may look like floppy-eared bundles of sweetness, but, according to the study, the English cocker was responsible for the highest number of canine aggression cases brought to a veterinary teaching hospital from 1998 to 2006.

“In our country and according to our database, the English cocker spaniel is the breed that shows more aggression problems,” says lead author Marta Amat, a researcher in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

She and her colleagues analyzed 1,040 cases and found English cocker spaniels to be most often involved in aggression cases, followed by Rottweilers, boxers, Yorkshire terriers and German shepherds, according to Discovery News.

The study, published in the latest Journal of Veterinary Behavior, also reported that golden varieties of the breed were more likely to act aggressively, as were males.

Amat noted that “inadequate handling by the owners” is a contributing factor.

The English cocker is a different breed than the smaller, American cocker — though both breeds, like other Spaniels, originated in Spain.  The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America describes the breed as being “a homebody” that is “typically affectionate, loyal and reserved with strangers.”