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Tag: breed bans

To be or not to be — a pit bull


Whether Diggy is to be or not to be a pit bull will be decided by a judge.

The dog whose smiling face went viral — and led local officials to label him a pit bull and order him to leave town — is going to get his day in court.

Since we last reported on the case, Diggy has been proclaimed an American bulldog by a local veterinarian, but Waterford Township officials apparently didn’t buy the vet’s pronouncement.

Diggy is a pit bull, they say, based on how he looks — and those are banned in the Michigan township, under its dangerous dog ordinance.

Because Diggy’s owner, Dan Tillery, was cited by local authorities for having a pit bull, the final disposition of the case will be left up to the court.

It’s all a tremendous waste of time — first and foremost because pit bull bans are ill-conceived and just don’t work. On top of that, pit bull isn’t a breed at all. On top of that, a judge is likely to be even worse at determining breed than animal control officials, police, shelters, rescues and even veterinarians are, which is pretty bad to begin with.

And on top of all those things, does either side really want to know?

If they did, you’d think they’d have conducted a DNA test by now.

diggy4Tillery, a musician, adopted the dog from Harper Woods-based Detroit Dog Rescue earlier this month and posted a photo of Diggy and himself that went viral and was shared by news outlets nationwide.

The media coverage led the Waterford Police Department to drop by a few days later, take a look at Diggy, proclaim him a pit bull, and tell his owner that he had three days to get the dog out of town.

The dog had been listed as an American bulldog when he was in Detroit’s city animal shelter. He was pulled from there by Detroit Dog Rescue, which, in at least one Facebook post, labeled him an American bulldog-pit bull mix. On the official adoption papers, though, Detroit Dog Rescue listed him as American bulldog.

After the police department’s ultimatum, Tillery had the dog assessed by a local veterinarian who judged him to be American bulldog — though he apparently did so without conducting a DNA test.

That wasn’t good enough for local authorities, who, though they relaxed that three days to get out of town part, are still insisting Diggy is a pit bull and must leave.

Tillery met Monday with Waterford Township officials, and posted on his Facebook page that the prosecutor was sticking to the decision to have Diggy removed from the community.

A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. in Waterford’s 51st District Court.

“My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family,” Tillery said in the post. “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”

diggyWaterford Township Prosecutor Margaret Scott said that the township will now simply wait to allow the court to determine whether Diggy falls within the ban.

“We’re not going in and removing the dog, we’re not destroying the dog — it is a pending violation,” she told the Oakland Press.

Tillery and his dog have seen an outpouring of support from dog lovers and those opposed to Waterford’s breed-specific legislation. More than 50 supporters showed up at a Waterford Board of Trustees meeting to ask officials to remove the dangerous dog ordinance from its books.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the town to lift the ban.

Strangely, amid all the debate and national news coverage, DNA testing hasn’t been mentioned. If Tillery has pursued it, he’s staying quiet about it.

While some of the companies offering DNA tests — via blood samples or cheek swabs — skip around the pit bull question, a few of the tests do identify the breeds commonly associated with pit bulls.

certOne even offers a “pit bull exemption certificate” in cases where a dog is determined to be made up of 87 percent or more of non-pit bull breeds.

That may or not impress Waterford officials, or the judge, as such tests aren’t conclusive.

It’s still a possibility — that one side, or the other, or the judge, could pursue having the test done.

It would at least add some factual material to all the guesswork going on, at least a little foundation for the strident and unending Internet debate that is mostly — much like pit bull bans themselves — sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(Photos of Diggy by Dan Tillery)

And now, the downside of doggy DNA tests


The board of a ritzy Manhattan co-op is requiring some residents undergo testing of their blood and spit to determine if they are pure enough — and of the proper type — to live there.

As of last month, dog owners living in the luxury tower at 170 West End Avenue must have their veterinarian sign off on the canine’s pedigree and, if the pet is a mix, detail the percentage of each breed, according to DNAInfo.com

The policy is designed to purge the building of any pedigrees the board deems troublesome.

And the board deems many breeds troublesome — 27 in all, including the Pomeranian and the Maltese.

Residents were informed of the new policy a few months ago.

The board policy says the 27 breeeds were chosen based on “documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness.”

In the case of mixed breed dogs, the co-op board is requiring owners to have their pet undergo a DNA test. If the test shows a dog to be made up of more than 50 percent of one of the outlawed breeds, it will have to leave the building.

Initially, they wanted to require mandatory DNA testing of all dogs, but they amended the policy to require the testing “at the board’s discretion.”

The latest version of the policy, issued on May 26, says that if a dog’s breed is unknown “the board at its sole discretion may require a resident to perform DNA testing.”

The 484-unit, 42-story cooperative is one of eight buildings that comprise Lincoln Towers, a 20-acre property near Lincoln Center managed by FirstService Residential. Each building has its own co-op board and makes its own policies.

The board policy also requires that residents register their dog and provide a mugshot of the canine.

The list of banned breeds includes St. Bernards and German shepherds, pit bulls, basset hounds — and even the tiny shih tzu.

“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one resident said of the new policy. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”

(Photo: From NYcurbed.com)

Amendment would bar breed bans in Md.

Delegate Cheryl Glenn will introduce an amendment to the state’s proposed dangerous dog law this week that would prohibit municipalities from banning or regulating dogs based on their breed.

Pushed by the Maryland Dog Federation, the proposed amendment to House Bill 1314, aimed at strengthening the state’s dangerous dog law,  reads:

“Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to prevent a municipality from adopting or enforcing its own more stringent program for the control of dangerous dogs provided, however, that no such program shall ban, regulate or address dogs in a manner which is specific as to breed.”

The federation says the amendment will prohibit laws thats discriminate against particular breeds of dogs. Similar measures have been passed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and eight other states.

If approved the proposed amendment would void the current breed ban in Prince George’s County, where about 900 pit bulls and pit bull mixes are euthanized a year, according to the federation.

“The seizing of innocent family pets simply because of their appearance is unconscionable. Responsible dog guardians should be allowed to own whatever breed they want. Reckless owners should be prohibited from owning any dog,” the federation said.

The federation is encouraging those who support the amendment to write Delegate Cheryl Glenn (cheryl.glenn@house.state.md.us); and to attend the March 18 hearing of the Judiciary Committee (at 1 p.m. in Room 100 of the House Office Building in Annapolis).

Does Denver know a pit bull when it sees one?

pitornotThe city of Denver’s faulty logic just got proven even faultier.

As if  the city’s ban on pit bulls, which has led to hundreds of dogs being put to death, weren’t ill-advised enough, there’s this: Apparently even experts can’t correctly identify a pit bull visually.

Denver Post columnist Bill Johnson took part in experiment this week , along with about two dozen animal-shelter directors, volunteers, dog trainers and others. They viewed 20 dogs on videotape and were asked to identify each one — whether it was purebred or mixed and, if the latter, what it was a mixture of.

Johnson got the breed correct one time, and the professionals didn’t fare much better.

The breed identification study was administered by Victoria L. Voith, a professor of animal behavior in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University in Pomona in California.

Shelter workers, she explained, are generally 75 percent wrong when they guess the breed of a dog — and most do just guess. The only sure-fire way of knowing, she said, is DNA testing, which most shelters don’t use.

“Visual identification simply is not in high agreement with DNA analysis,” Voith said. “Dogs in Denver may be dying needlessly,” she said.

Marine Corps institutes blanket breed ban

Rottweiler-Puppy-PhotosThe U.S. Marine Corps –which had outlawed pit bulls, wolf hybrids, Rottweilers and any other dog with “dominant traits of aggression” at several of its bases — has now instituted a blanket, worldwide breed ban for all of its bases.

Stars and Stripes reports that the policy was approved in August.

The policy allows Marines and families currently living in base housing to keep their pets if they apply for a waiver by Oct. 10 and if their dogs pass a behavior test. That waiver will last only as long as the family remains at the same base or until Sept. 30, 2012.

By that date, under the policy, all Marine housing and Marine-controlled housing should be free of any full or mixed breeds considered pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids.

Daisy Okas, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club in New York, told Stars and Stripes that the policy comes as more local governments and public housing facilities are instituting similar bans.

 “We’re seeing breed-specific bans pretty regularly,” she said. “We’re very against it. We look at how a dog behaves. It’s a frustrating topic.”

Tests may save dogs from Marine breed ban

Marine and Army bases that have banned pit bulls, Rottweilers and other “dangerous dogs” — and with all due respect, sir, we’d suggest they review the previous post about Ella — are in some cases permitting owners of those breeds to apply for waivers allowing their pets to continue living on base.

The Marines Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island in South Carolina has agreed to allow animal behavior experts from the ASPCA to give temperament tests next week to more than 100 dogs. Dogs who pass get a waiver to stay on base until 2012.

The assessment includes testing the dog’s comfort level around strangers and children and how it behaves around its food and toys, according to an ASPCA press release.

Read more »

NYC bans pits, large dogs from public housing

New York’s Housing Authority has managed to discriminate against dogs and poor people — all in one vast, over-reaching swoop.

Effective today, pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers are banned from all city housing projects. 

“Finally someone is realizing that these potentially dangerous animals have no place in a confined urban space,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens), who has unsuccessfully lobbied state legislators to ban the dogs.

The new Housing Authority regulations also bar residents from owning any dog over 25 pounds; previously the limit was 40 pounds. (Housing Authority residents who already have the breeds will be able to keep them as long as they register by today.)

City housing officials said residents urged them to ban the dogs because they are vicious and threatening, the New York Daily News reports. But dog lovers who have pit bulls and the other targeted pooches are upset.

“He’s my baby,” Jose Hernandez, 32, who lives in the Lillian Wald Houses on the lower East Side, said of his 6-year-old pit bull, Chopper. “These are not bad dogs.”

The ASPCA and other groups opposed to the ban have been working with the city housing agency to ease some of the restrictions. “We are opposed to breed-specific bans,” said Michelle Villagomez, ASPCA senior manager of advocacy and campaigns. “And we find the weight restriction is too oppressive.”