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Tag: bills

He lost his wife, his home, and then his dog

thomasTwenty years ago, Miles D. Thomas was a successful stockbroker, and president of the school board in Harrisburg, Pa.

In the past two years, life has been less kind.

He lost his wife to Alzheimer’s in late 2007. Then, unable to pay the bills that had mounted for her care, he lost his house and turned to living in a series of cheap motels, or sleeping in his car.

Last month, authorities seized his dog, a 7-year-old collie named Baron, when Thomas left him in his car while getting a bite to eat. Because he’s homeless, apparently, he hasn’t been able to get him back since.

Hearing of Thomas’ plight, an attorney filed a suit in federal court on behalf of the  73-year-old former Harrisburg School Board president, seeking to get the dog back from the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc. The agency maintains that the dog is being held as part of a cruelty case but has declined to release details, and Thomas has not been charged with any offense.

“To me, he’s the greatest thing I have in the world,” Thomas said of his dog, the fourth in a line of collies the family has owned. “I love him so much, yet they try to keep me from him. I can’t understand that.”

Thomas says it was 76 degrees on the day he left Baron in the car, with the windows open, and that he was gone less than an hour.

When he returned, the dog was gone and an officer with the Humane Society  informed him his dog had been seized. 

Last week, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III issued a temporary restraining order barring the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area from destroying or transferring ownership of Baron. A hearing is scheduled Sept. 3.

“I couldn’t imagine letting this man go without his dog,” Attorney Andrew Ostrowski told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. “He cares deeply for the dog, and he’s seriously affected by this. In my view, it’s a federal, constitutional civil rights issue, and I won’t shrink from it.”

Ostrowski said he’s also pursuing a civil suit that seeks damages.

Amy Kaunas, Humane Society of Harrisburg Area executive director, said  that Thomas’ dog was seized as part of a cruelty investigation initiated by a referral from the Middletown police.

She declined to discuss specifics of the case, but said animal-cruelty statutes require that animals be provided with adequate shelter and access to food, water and veterinary care.

Thomas fell more than $100,000 in debt after his wife spent three years in a nursing home, the Harrisburg newspaper reported. But he insisted he always took care of his dog. “I took better care of him than I did myself,” he said.

Since early August, Thomas has been living with Stephen Conklin, a friend of attonrey Ostrowski’s, who took Thomas in at his farm in York County.

Now that Thomas has a stable home situation, Conklin said the thinks the Humane Society should return the dog to him.

Ostrowski, contends that the animal agency pressured Thomas into signing over his rights to Baron two days after the dog was taken by the agency’s canine officer, threatening him with a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail unless he turned over the dog. 

(Photo: CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News)

Pet care tax deduction drawing mostly laughs

1040A new bill in the U.S. House that would allow pet owners to deduct up to $3,500 for “qualified pet-care expenses,” including vet bills, is drawing little attention and lots of laughs.

Given it’s considered a bit of an underdog, we’re all for it.

Called the HAPPY (Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years) Act, the bill is designed to make it more affordable for people to provide the care their pets need, and less likely that pet owners pinched by the recession will abandon their pets.

Congressman Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., introduced House Resolution 3501, on July 31. It seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a deduction for pet care expenses, and would allow an individual to deduct a maximum of $3,500 for “qualified pet care expenses” for any “qualified pet.”

The congressman, who is not a pet owner, says he sponsored the bill to help families care for their pets during tough economic times.opinion sig

“Families have raised concerns about how the recession has impacted them and their pets, which should come as no surprise since more than sixty percent of United States households own a pet,” Congressman McCotter wrote in an email to Paw Nation.

“Unfortunately, according to the Humane Society, the current recession has led to a noticeable increase in the number of animals at shelters and a decrease in the number of animals being adopted. We must help prevent children and families from losing their beloved pets or seeing animals destroyed due to an economic recession.”

Under the proposal, one could not deduct the cost of buying or adopting a pet.

McCotter has been taking some heat from bloggers and colleagues for the proposal, but the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council supports the bill, and so do we.

If you see it as something more than a joke, or perhaps even feel strongly about it, you can sign a petition here.

“Kids, get the colander!”

Times are as hard for Kelley Davis as they are for everybody else, so when Augie, her family’s Swiss mountain dog gobbled up $400 in cash she was going to put in the bank — three $100’s and five $20’s — she started keeping a close eye on Augie’s doggie droppings.

The Apex, N.C. mother took the dog for a long walk on Saturday and that’s when Augie made a deposit that included her deposit. Or at least, once rinsed and pieced back together, $160 of it.

Davis, 42, a physical therapist, had left the money on her bedroom dresser, the Charlotte Observer reports. Augie, who is 2, helped himself.

When she saw pieces of the money in Augie’s droppings Saturday, Davis grabbed a garden hose and yelled, “Kids, get the colander!” she said.

By Monday night, Davis had the remnants of $160. She’s hoping to reclaim the full amount eventually.

Puppy mill measure moves to Pa. senate

Governor Edward G. Rendell today urged Pennsylvania’s Senate to swiftly pass two bills — already approved in the house — to protect kennel dogs and consumers.

Rendell praised the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for voting to pass House Bills 2525 and 2532, and called upon the Senate to help rid Pennsylvania of its reputation as “Puppy Mill Capital of the East.”

“The bills that passed in the House today with overwhelming, bi-partisan support will go a long way to protecting dogs kept in kennels with poor but currently legal conditions,” the Governor said. “I applaud the House of Representatives for defeating the many amendments to House Bill 2525 filed on behalf of special interest groups and aimed at weakening the bill. The House has delivered strong legislation that reflects not only the needs of dogs, but the will of the public in improving the minimum standards in the worst of Pennsylvania’s kennels.”

Rendell said current state laws allows dogs to receive minimal care and live their entire lives in cramped, stacked cages.

“These conditions lead to dogs with physical and behavioral problems. Pennsylvania must ensure that the standards of care are raised for the sake of dogs and the families that will eventually own them.”

Governor Rendell said widespread public support could help move the legislation through the Senate, and urged Pennsylvanians to let their senator know their thoughts on the issue.

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