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Tag: city

How to keep dogs out of tree wells — NOT!

treesidewalk

Here’s a handy tip to keep dogs from doing their business in those sidewalk tree wells — one that works better than bricks, better than fences, and is all but guaranteed to keep those disease-carrying beasts from tainting our otherwise pristine urban tree life:

Take cuttings from thorny plants, like rose bushes, and spread them around the tree.

It may sound like a tip from Satan’s Helpful Household Hints (not a real book, to our knowledge). But it’s actually the advice offered by a Baltimore neighborhood association bedeviled by dog poop that’s not getting picked up.

The advice came in the January newsletter of the Fells Prospect Community Association.

“… You can make it clear that you don’t want pets approaching by planting thorny plants (roses, bayberry), or covering your tree pit with pine cones or cuttings from thorny plants that are uncomfortable for dogs to walk on. A sign will also encourage some people to move their dog to the next house.”

Of course moving on to the next house isn’t really the answer — is it? — unless dog and walker keep doing so until they are outside the boundaries of Fells Prospect, a neighborhood near Fells Point and Butcher Hill. Even then, the problem isn’t over. It has just moved somewhere else.

Even if every single resident of Fells Prospect adopted a tree well, nurturing it and the tree it contained (be it a live one or a dead one),  even if they filled said well with thorns, lead paint chips, discarded hypodermic needles and perhaps a few strands of barbed wire, that’s all — other than some canine and human casualties — that would be achieved.

This is a hardly a new issue. In big and densely packed cities, there are few options when it comes to dogs relieving themselves. Everything is so paved over that a tiny patch of turf or dirt surrounding a tree is the only place for dogs to go. So dogs go there. Responsible dog owners, at least, pick it up. But some dog owners, like some community association officials, are thoughtless and uncaring.

So the tired old battle wages on — escalating to levels that could involve bloodshed — when, if everyone would just pick up their dog’s feces, it could finally shut the whiners up, or at least most of them.

Setting booby traps that puncture and maim is not the answer.

It’s generally accepted that the best route is education, perhaps along with some enforcement of the law that threatens $1,000 fines for unscooped poop.

It’s generally true that a tree well that is well-maintained, with a healthy tree, and some flowers around it, will be avoided, if not by the dog, at least by their walker. Ace and I always tried to steer around those when we lived in Baltimore.  Sure, we’d come across dog poop on the sidewalk from time to time — just as we’d come across rats, both dead and alive, dirty needles and used condoms, and once in my backyard, a buried handgun.

cutthecrapBaltimore has bigger problems than dog poop. That’s not to say unscooped dog poop shouldn’t be addressed, only that it makes sense to do so with some perspective, in a reasonable matter that doesn’t involve installing weapons of mass destruction.

Alisa Peters, owner of You Silly Dog, was one of those that expressed concern about the community association’s advice: “It’s going to be uncomfortable and/or painful for the dog,”  she told the Baltimore Sun. “Why are we punishing the dog? It’s not the dog’s fault.”

Veterinarian Gregory Burbelo, owner of the Boston Street Animal Hospital, which advertises in the newsletter, told The Sun he plans to ask the association to retract its comments.

“It’s sort of trickery,” he said. “It hurts the dog but doesn’t serve as a warning to the owner to keep the dog out.” While a dog may have a fair chance avoiding a thorny bush planted in a tree well, sharp clippings spread across the ground could go unseen and lead to injuries.

Officials of the Fells Prospect Community Association declined to comment to The Sun, including Phyllis Fung, who co-founded Cut the Crap Baltimore last year to combat dog waste in the neighborhood. She’s the association’s secretary.

Making the issue even more thorny is the fact that residents don’t own the sidewalks, or the tree wells within those sidewalks, so they lack the right to install booby traps in the first place.

Worse yet, any such traps could injure not just dogs whose owners are scofflaws, but those belonging to law-abiding, poop-scooping owners as well.

“We’re ignoring the fact that we’re attempting to punish 100 percent of the animals for the issues of 10 percent of owners who are irresponsible,” dog owner and neighborhood resident John Lam told the newspaper.

“I’m hoping people will ignore [the suggestions]. There are are a lot of homeowners who think they own their tree pits and don’t realize they’re in the public right-of-way. I have a big concern that people will start putting stuff in the tree pits to hurt dogs.”

(Top photo by Gail Langellotto; graphic from Cut the Crap Baltimore)

School crossing guards to help count dogs

The city of Schenectady is trying to get a handle on how many unlicensed dogs live there, and it’s calling on school crossing guards to help with the counting.

Crossing guards and code enforcement officers, who’ll be sweeping through neighborhoods this summer, anyway, looking for housing code violations, will be conducting Schenectady’s doggy census — aimed at getting a count of how many dogs are in the city.

The next step is making sure their owners have licensed them.

The city, in which only 1,400 dogs are licensed, suspects there could be ten times more that are unlicensed — as many as 15,000. With licenses costing up to $20, the sweep will easily pay for itself down the road.

The problem was getting the city council’s approval for spending $22,000 to hire people to go door to door, inquiring if homeowners have dogs, according to the Albany Times Union.

A surplus in the overtime budget for code enforcement officers and school crossing guards provided a way around that, allowing the city — without the council having to approve new spending — to turn interested crossing guards and code enforcement officers into temporary canine census takers.

City Clerk Chuck Thorne said the census, to be spread out over several summers, could easily lead to a doubling of dog licenses, which would bring in $36,000 to $40,000 in revenue, and that’s not even counting fines.

Licenses are $13.50 for a neutered or spayed dog and $20.50 for an unfixed dog. For seniors, rates are $3.50 for neutered dogs and $10.50 for unneutered. A valid rabies vaccination certificate is needed for a license.

The census takers will determine through interviews if a homeowner has dogs, how many, and whether they are licensed. If a person is not home and there are indications a dog is in the house — such as barking, or a yard strewn with rawhide chews — the census taker will leave a letter stating the person has 21 days to get a license or face a possible ticket.

(Photo: Mayor Gary McCarthy announcing plans to reduce crime, get homes up to code and crack down on unlicensed dogs in Schenectady; by Skip Dickstein / Times Union)

Vick turns down chance to see former dog

 

Richard Hunter, the adoptive parent of one of Michael Vick’s dogs, confronted the Eagles quarterback in Dallas after a ceremony Saturday in which Vick received the key to the city — and asked him if he wanted an opportunity to see one of his former dogs.

Instead of getting an answer, Hunter, a local radio personality who we met this summer in our Travels with Ace, got pushed out of the way by Vick’s entourage. He put together this video of the event afterwards.

Hunter and his wife, Sunny, VIP manager for a Dallas gentlemen’s club, adopted Mel about two years after he was seized from the Vick estate in Virginia. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah. He spent nearly two years there before trainers pronounced him adoptable.

Ace and I got to meet the whole family during out visit to Dallas, which included a car ride in which Ace shared the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s other dog, Pumpkin.

Michael Vick showed little interest in learning more about Mel, despite Hunter’s persistent offers, and at one point a member of Vick’s security team told him, “We don’t care about the dogs.”

In presenting the key to the city, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway told Vick, “You deserve it, you earned it.”

Hunter’s response to Vick getting presented the key? Maybe, he said, it’s time to change the locks.

Ace goes to school for a lesson in love

Ace made a big impression on pre-k and kindergarten students at Baltimore’s Lakewood Elementary School yesterday, dazzling them with tricks, soaking up their pats and hugs and swearing in two classrooms whose students took the “Oath of Kindness,” a pledge to be kind to animals.

How this latest stop in our continuing travels came to pass was actually pretty simple, and amazingly bureaucracy-free.

A teacher friend asked if we’d visit. We said yes. She got the necessary clearances and, before you know it, a 130-pound Rottweiler-Akita-chow-pit bull mix was being snuggled, stroked and hugged by a bunch of children half his size.

Karma Dogs, the therapy dog organization of which Ace is a member, came up with two more volunteers who visited the school along with Ace and me –  Janet Shepherd and her dog Tami, and Kathryn Corrigan and her dog Puddy.

Together, we covered six classrooms in just over an hour, administering the oath, passing along some basic dog safety tips and stressing the importance of treating animals kindly.

Karma Dogs developed the ”Oath of Kindness” after the death of Phoenix, a pit bull puppy who was set on fire by Baltimore teenagers in the summer of 2009 — not the first, or last, case of its type in the city.

The oath reads: “I … pledge always to be kind to animals. I promise never to hurt an animal, be it dog or cat, furry or fat. I promise to tell my friends to be kind to animals and if I see an animal that is being hurt I will tell an adult right away. Scaly or slimy, feathered or blue, to this promise I will be true.”

After reciting the pledge, the children receive a certificate,which is “pawtographed” by the dog, in this case, Ace. The hope is that children who have openly declared they will not be violent towards animals will remember that, tell their friends and inform adults when they see an animal being taunted or abused.

Of the students Ace and I appeared before, about a dozen raised their hands when I asked who was afraid of dogs. But only one declined a chance to pet Ace. Several more had some trepidations, but those seemed to melt away as they watched the other children interact with him.

They were eager to ask questions, and talk about their own pets. One girl spent three minutes talking about her Chihuahua, which she said had the same name she did. Not until the end of her dissertation did she reveal that her dog was a stuffed toy.

I cautioned them against  approaching stray dogs, told them to always to ask the owner before approaching a dog, showed them how to let dogs sniff their hands as an introduction and encouraged them to treat dogs as they’d like to be treated — calmly, kindly and lovingly.

Ace made an impression on the children in several ways, I think –through his size alone, his gentleness and his back story: a stray adopted from the shelter, like most of the other Karma Dogs, who went on to try and help humans.

He also made an impression with his pawprint, stamped on each of the certificates that was handed out.

The teacher behind the event (who also took these photos) was Marite Edwards, a longtime friend of Ace’s. When she took the idea to her principal, she learned that the school and district were looking at ways to add dog safety and kindness to animals to the curriculum.

That another case of animal abuse surfaced in Baltimore over the weekend — that of a cat set on fire by two teenagers — confirmed just how much those lessons are needed.

You can find more information about Karma Dogs at its website.

(Photos by Marite Edwards)

Bikinied “Lettuce Ladies” to dog Baltimore

PETA thinks Baltimore residents are too fat, and that a vegetarian diet could help them achieve a much-needed slimming down.

To that end, it is sending women clad in lettuce bikinis to the city to hand out veggie hot dogs.

Makes perfect sense.

Baltimore was recently ranked the eighth fattest city in the country, so PETA’s “Lettuce Ladies” are hitting the road to show Baltimore (and other fat cities, as well)  how healthy, compassionate, and delicious it is to be vegan.

The free veggie dogs will be handed out at noon this coming Friday at City Hall, 100 Holliday St.

PETA says meat consumption has been directly linked to obesity, and that adult vegans are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meat-eaters. On top of that, PETA says, foregoing meat also helps fight heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.

Swimming with the dogs

Baltimore dogs and their humans took to the water today at Riverside Park’s doggie swim — held after the pool’s last day of the season.

 

  

 For more photos, see my Facebook album.

Encore: Another dog swim at Riverside Park

Thanks to an extended pool season, dogs will once again have a chance to take a swim at Baltimore’s Riverside Park.

The pool will be open to dogs and their owners from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Labor Day, Monday September 6th.
  
Riverside Park has for the past three years allowed dogs to jump in the pool after the swim season ends. This summer, the end was supposed to come three weeks ago — and a doggie swim was held — but last minute donations from T. Rowe Price and an anonymous private individual allowed the city to keep the pools open longer. T. Rowe Price put up $117,000, and an unnamed individual donated $300,000.
The entry fee for Monday’s doggie swim is $5 a dog, and owners are welcome to swim with their dogs. 

Provincetown named dog-friendliest city

Dog Fancy magazine has named Provincetown, Massachusetts, America’s most dog-friendly city.

This year’s 2010 DogTown USA contest, sponsored by WAHL Clipper Corp., named the 40 dog-friendliest cities across the U.S. in honor of the magazine’s 40th anniversary.

The criteria used to select the winning city include dog-friendly open spaces and dog parks, events celebrating dogs and their owners, ample veterinary care, abundant pet supply and other services, and municipal laws that support and protect all pets.

“All dog owners know of a few local shops or restaurants that allow dogs, but it is remarkable to have an entire town where virtually every establishment opens its doors to dogs – even the bank,” says Ernie Slone, Dog Fancy editor.

“Where else can you take your dog along for a whale-watching or sunset cruise, walk miles of off-leash scenic beaches year-round and enjoy one of the nation’s finest dog parks? Provincetown nearly swept our major awards this year, with its Pilgrim Bark Park finishing at No. 2 in our national ratings of dog parks.”

Rounding out the top 10 cities, according to a press release, are:

•Carmel, Calif.
•Madison, Wis.
•Benicia, Calif.
•Fort Bragg, Calif.
•Lincoln City, Ore.
•San Diego, Calif.
•Virginia Beach, Va.
•Sioux Falls, S.D.
•Salem, Ore.

The complete list of all 40 cities is available in the September issue of Dog Fancy, on newsstands July 27, 2010.

Citizens push for off-leash hours in Denver

A citizens’ initiative in Denver would, if voters approved, allow dogs to be off leash in sections of almost all of the city’s parks from 5 to 9 a.m.

Proposed by Ronald “Byron” Williams, and still requiring the city’s approval, the initiative would go on the ballot in November if Williams is able to collect 4,000 signatures on petitions.

“We’re considered to be an extremely dog-friendly city, and we need to live up to that and do something about it,” Williams told the Denver Daily News.

Williams began work on the initiative after becoming frustrated with the lack of dog parks in Denver. He believes designated leash free hours would be a good compromise, allowing dogs some time romp off leash while not significantly impacting those using the parks for other reasons.

The city considered and scrapped a similar plan earlier after complaints from nearby neighborhood groups.

Denver is now working on a “dog park master plan,” a final version of which is expected to be approved this month.

“ The plan would implement a fee for existing dog parks, use that money to pay for additional park rangers who could write tickets for people who illegally have their dogs off-leash, and identify possible new areas that could be used for off-leash dog parks,” the Daily News reported.

At first glance, that seems more like plan to build revenue than to provide some running room for dogs.

Williams initiative, if approved, would likely lead to more immediate, and less expensive, results and make Denver — except for that nasty pit bull ban — a dog-friendlier city.

Future looks bleak for Baltimore’s animals

phoenixWhat is the city of Baltimore doing in light of an animal abuse task force study that showed animal welfare and animal control agencies were underequipped, understaffed and underfunded?

Underfunding them a little more.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed a preliminary 2011 budget that would reduce both the grant the city gives to Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter and funding to the city’s Bureau of Animal Control.

Despite the lip service the mayor’s predecessor, who created the task force, paid to stamping out animal abuse, the new mayor, faced with difficult choices and huge deficits, has proposed a budget that ensures few of the task force’s recommendations — at least those involving expenditures — will be met anytime soon.

So don’t be surprised to hear more stories like that of Phoenix (top), the pit bull who was doused with gasoline and set on fire a year ago, christy1[1]or Gabrielle, the 8-month-old cat set on fire twice by two boys last summer, or Christy, the pit bull pelted with bricks and rocks by a group of youths on Easter Sunday.

Don’t be surprised if the success BARCS has achieved in reducing the euthanasia rate since the former city shelter became a non-profit agency, starts regressing as well.

And don’t be surprised when the kind of senselessly violent behavior unleashed on animals — left ignored — escalates to violence against humans, as it almost always does.burnedcat

Under the proposed budget, BARCS would see its annual grant from the city cut by $120,000.  The Bureau of Animal Control, already woefully understaffed, would lose two positions.

“I don’t see how in God’s name they can cut Animal Control any more,”  Bob Anderson, who retired as director of the bureau late last year, told the City Paper . “How can they say ‘You’re woefully understaffed’ and then say ‘OK, we’ll cut you back.’”

As for BARCS, it is already “extremely understaffed,” according to Jennifer Mead-Brause, executive director. The shelter, which turned non-profit five years ago, has reduced its euthanasia rate by almost 60 percent since then.

About 40 percent of the 33 animals it takes in each day end up being euthanized, compared to as many as 98 percent in recent years. But, Mead-Brause noted, the budget cuts could mean the percentages will rise again.


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