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Tag: city council

Idaho dog shooting leads to recall drive

If you think dogs don’t play a role in politics, consider Hooch.

Shot and killed by a police officer in February in the tiny town of Filer, Idaho, the seven-year-old black Lab is the force behind a petition to recall the town’s mayor and all four members of its city council.

Residents — and more than a few outsiders — are still angry over Officer Tarek Hassani’s shooting of the dog, recorded by his patrol car’s dashboard cam and since seen, thanks to the Internet, around the world.

In the video, he can be seen arriving to investigate a report of a dog on the loose, yelling and kicking at the barking animal, shooting it, and then confronting the dog’s owner in a belligerent (and that’s putting it nicely) manner.

An “outside” investigation found no wrongdoing on his part, and Hassani, on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, returned to regular duty this past Saturday.

recallOn Tuesday, the effort to recall the mayor and council started, the Twin Falls Times-News reported.

After the shooting, there were demonstrations, and officials in the city of just over 2,500 people held public hearings that led to some changes, including scheduling training sessions for officers on how to deal with dogs.

“I think they’re going to do their best to make the recall work,” said Mayor Rick Dunn. “They only needed 20 (signatures) to start the process, and they’ve gotten that far.”

Gathering 20 signatures for each city leader’s recall petition is only a first step. Organizers now have 75 days to gather 201 signatures for each official — 10 percent of the number of voters registered in the last city election – to bring about a recall election.

filerhearingAn investigation by the Nampa Police Department, about 150 miles northwest of Filer, found the shooting was justified, but it did question why the officer didn’t stay in his vehicle, call the owner of the dogs or call for backup.

Town officials have scheduled a mandatory eight-hour training session on how to deal with aggressive dogs for Filer’s police officers on May 3.

Mayor Dunn said fallout from the shooting has placed the town in a bad light.

“I hate to see that,” he said. “Filer is a nice town: We have good staff, good people here. Give Filer a little more credit than this.”

(Photos: Top, Mike Preston and his wife, Brenda, sign a recall petition, by Ashley Smith / Times-News; bottom, citizens who, because of the size of the crowd, couldn’t get into a town hearing on the case in February, by Drew Nash / Times-News)

Alabama town bans pit bulls after sheriff shoots what he thinks might have been one

claycouncil

Citywide pit bull bans are often knee jerk reactions — maybe even more so when a county sheriff”s knees are involved.

One week after Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale was approached in his yard by four dogs “acting aggressive and looking like pit bull breeds” — and fired a shotgun at them, grazing one — the Alabama city of Clay passed a “vicious dog” ordinance banning pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

sheriffhaleThe sheriff, according to a spokesman, fired a warning shot into the ground, then another round of ”bird shot” in the direction of the dogs, leading them to turn away. Animal control arrived to round up the dogs, and their owner was charged with letting them run at large. The dog hit by Hale’s shot survived, AL.com reported.

That incident prompted the city council in Clay, with a speed seldom seen in government affairs, to pass an ordinance banning pit bulls and other “vicious” or “dangerous” dogs. 

The ordinance bans new pit bulls and mixes that include pit bull. Such dogs already kept in the city limits are grandfathered in but must be registered with the city in the next 60 days. The ordinance requires they be kept indoors and mandates owners post a prominently displayed ”beware of dog” sign. Owners are also required to have $50,000 in liability insurance. Violations can be punished with a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Having sought little public input before passing the law on June 3, the city council has gotten some since, AL.com reports.

A standing room only crowd filled Monday night’s meeting of the Clay City Council, with most citizens arguing the breed is not “inherently dangerous” and criticizing the law for unfairly penalizing responsible owners. Many, including a representative from the Birmingham Humane Society, urged the council to consider a non-breed specific dangerous dog law instead.

One speaker continued to voice his concerns after his turn to speak was over. When told he was interrupting, he continued his comments, leading Mayor Charles Webster — perhaps deeming him to be inherently dangerous — to ban him from the room.

“You are turning us all into criminals,” the man, identified as Mark Lawson, said as a deputy led him outside.

City Attorney Alan Summers said he would try to have a new or modified ordinance for the council to consider at its next meeting on July 1.

(Top photo by Jeremy Gray / AL.com)

New York City Council bans tethering

The New York City Council yesterday voted to make tethering a dog or other animal for more than three hours a crime, punishable by fines and, for repeat offenders, a possible jail sentence.

First-time violators would receive a written warning or a fine of up to $250, if the animal is injured. A repeat offender could face a $500 fine and up to three months in prison, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Tethering an animal for an extended period of time is cruel and unusual,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “This bill will not only prevent this type of unnecessary cruelty, but also increase public safety for pedestrians throughout the City.”

The council voted 47-1 in favor of the bill, which prohibits leaving an animal tied up for more than three consecutive hours in any continuous 12-hour period.

The council also approved an increase in the cost of  annual license for dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered, raising the fee to $34 from $11.50.

Revenue generated from the incnrease will be used to subsidize animal population control programs.

Cat to be evicted from Oregon library

Agatha Christie, a beloved — but apparently not by everybody — cat who has long called the Willamina Public Library home, must go, the city council voted last night.

The city council in Willamina, Oregon, voted 4-0 to evict the 14-year-old cat.

The council gave Head Librarian Melissa Hansen and Youth Services Librarian Denise Willms 10 days to find a new home for Agatha Christie.

It’s not the first time Agatha Christie has been on the verge of homelessness.

In the late fall of 2005, the council voted to ban all but guide animals from city-owned buildings. The community quickly rallied to the cat’s defense — and the council ended up making an exception for the cat, but not her hamster buddies, Hamlet and Othello.

Hamlet and Othello found new homes, and Agatha Christie remained in the library. (The controversy was also partially responsible an unsuccessful recall effort against then Mayor Rita Baller and two council members, according to Yamhill Valley News Register.)

Apparently, a local resident claims her two-year-old daughter was bitten and scratched by the declawed and mostly toothless old cat in late September. The cat was resting on a shelf in the library when the child approached and petted her.

“I’m not against animals, but I have a genuine concern,” one complaining resident said. “Animals get grouchy when they get older. I don’t think an animal should be roaming around a public building. The cat needs to live somewhere else. The library is a public building. I think there are allergy issues and sanitation issues. It’s not a good place for a cat to reside.”

Librarian Hansen was surprised by it all: ”She is the most laid back cat there is. She’s been declawed and she hardly has any teeth. She has to eat soft food … Anything a small child can do to an animal it’s been done to Agie. Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of things happen to her. She has never gone on the offensive. She just gets away and hides under my desk.”

Washington politician describes bear attack

The city council member in Washington who was attacked by a bear while walking his dogs described his ordeal yesterday in a news conference at a Seattle hospital.

John Chelminiak, a member of the Bellevue City Council, was attacked outside his family’s cabin on Lake Wenatchee on Sept. 17 while taking the family dogs out for their evening walk.

Chelminiak, 57, his dogs Boji and Peekaboo on their leashes, had barely gotten out of the drieway and crossed the road when he heard a rustle in the bushes, the Seattle Times reported.

A 150-pound bear pounced on Chelminiak, causing deep lacerations to his scalp and face, and injuries to his left eye that were so severe doctors had to remove it.

During the attack, Chelminiak said, he managed to get away, at which point the  bear rounded a corner and pounced on the dogs. Chelminiak said he pulled on the dog leashes, which were still in his hand, and yanked them out from beneath the bear.

Family members say neither dog was seriously injured, though one limped slightly after the attack.

Dogs banned from Concord cemeteries

The city council in Concord, New Hampshire, has voted to ban dogs — we’re talking live ones — from cemeteries.

Dogs are no longer permitted in the 13 cemeteries in Concord as a result of the vote, and those caught disturbing the deceased will face fines between $50 and $1,000, according to the Concord Monitor.

Councilor Steve Shurtleff proposed the measure, saying using cemeteries as dog parks is disrespectful — though it’s not clear whether anyone was actually doing that to any large extent.

What the councilors were aiming at, most agree, was preventing dogs from urinating or defecating in cemeteries.

What they passed was a blanket ban that fails to take into consideration that some families might want to bring their dog to visit a deceased family member — or bring a deceased family member’s dog to visit their master’s grave.

The council — apparently obsessed with dog waste, and apparently pandering to the uptight members of their constituency — neglected to factor in the comfort dogs can provide when families are coping with the death of a loved one.

So while we admire their effort to keep dead people covered with dirt — and the rocks set atop dead people covered with dirt — pristine, we’ll have to add this to our list of dumb dog laws.

Is Tango a pit bull? Decision expected today

tangoWhether an Australian couple’s half million dollar investment in keeping their $300 dog alive was successful is expected to be learned today.

Kylie Chivers and John Mokomoko have been locked in a six-year battle with the Gold Coast City Council in the Supreme Court over its identification of their dog Tango as an American pit bull, as opposed to an American staffordshire terrier.

The city’s ruling that Tango is a pit bull meant the dog was automatically deemed dangerous and would be required to be euthanized.

To avoid that, the family moved Tango to a kennel more than five years ago, where it could be registered as an American staffordshire terrier.

Today, a judge is to decide Tango’s fate in a decision which could have ramifications for thousands of dog owners, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports. The city is arguing the American pit bull and American staffordshire terrier are the same breed, which means it would fall under its breed ban.

“The fallout of the decision could be horrendous,” said Mokomoko, 47, who works as a Brisbane airport security officer.

The case prompted Mokomoko to work 98-hour weeks at his former security job at a desalination plant to pay the cost of the kennel, weekly travel, lawyers and documentation, including Freedom of Information requests, and video evidence.

Along with thousands of pages of documents, the couple also obtained DNA samples from Tango’s parents and submitted a breed identification test to the court, arguing the 22-point identification checklist was flawed.

The American staffordshire terrier clubs of Queensland, Victoria and Northern Territory have asked the city council to drop the case.

If the family wins, Mokomoko believes it will prompt litigation from other owners who may have had their dog wrongfully identified as pit bulls.

Hermosa Beach to ban pet sales in stores

Hermosa Beach does not have any pet stores that sell dogs or cats — and if the city council has its way, it never will.

City officials took the first step Tuesday night in banning the sale of dogs and cats in city pet stores – a move designed to raise awareness about animal welfare issues, discourage puppy mills and encourage pet adoptions. A final vote is planned April 13.

An ordinance prohibiting the practice – modeled after a recently enacted ban in West Hollywood – won unanimous support from the city council and will return for final adoption at the next meeting, the Daily Breeze in Torrance reported.

City Manager Steve Burrell says the ban would not extend to veterinary clinics arranging and assisting in dog and cat adoptions.

“This is thought to provide the beginning of the emphasis on cutting down on the number of puppy mills and cat factories in various places,” Burrell said.

If it approves the ordinance, Hermosa Beach would join West Hollywood and South Lake Tahoe in outlawing the sales of dogs and cats in pet stores.

Santa Cruz may reconsider downtown dog ban

santacruzNearly 35 years after it banned dogs from downtown, Santa Cruz is considering allowing them to return.

The coastal California city, plagued by strays that were being picked up at a clip of 200  a month in the 1970s, banned dogs in its central business district in 1976, at the urging of merchants.

More than three decades, merchants are again urging change — but this time it’s to allow dogs back into the business district, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Today, the Downtown Association, which represents business owners, will discuss recommending the council overturn the ordinance while strengthening leash laws and other safeguards.

An association poll shows a majority of merchants believe they are missing out on business from tourists and locals who would bring their dogs downtown for a stroll or dining at outside tables, much as they do in well-known dog-friendly towns like Carmel and Los Gatos.

In Santa Cruz, dogs are also banned from some local beaches and the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

“Forty years later, the council has the right to reconsider something,” said Mayor Mike Rotkin, who has served a total of 26 years on the council since 1979. “It’s a very different council and times are different.”

Former Councilwoman Carole De Palma, who voted for the 1976 ban, said the city should reconsider reversing the law because dog owners tend to be more responsible these days. De Palma, who owns a 7-year-old dachshund-Chihuahua mix named Pearl, said increasing safeguards could reduce problems that led to the ban.

Jackson, Miss. looks at pit bull ban

The city council in Jackson, Miss., plans to reconsider a proposal to ban pit bulls from the city after last month’s death of a five-year-old girl.

City Councilman Jeff Weill believes he has enough votes to ban pit bull terriers from the city, the Clarion-Ledger reports.

Weill, who has long pushed to ban pit bulls, had all but abandoned his idea. But the Feb. 12 attack that killed Anataisa Bingham in Terry has rekindled concerns.

The city considered outlawing pit bulls in 2006, but ban was removed from a proposed ordinance when pit bull owners and breeders complained.

Only two council members oppose banning the breed, one of whom, Tony Yarber, is a pit bull owner.

Weill said he plans to bring the ban up for a vote next week at a meeting of the council’s rules committee. If it passes, the ordinance would move to the full council for public hearings and a final vote.

Weill suggested the ban could be gradual, and said it might make exceptions for pit bulls that are already family pets.