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Tag: dogs and the homeless

City of Eugene ends downtown dog ban

ban1KEZI

City councilors in Eugene have opted to let lapse a ban on dogs in part of downtown — but at the same time many of them are saying the ban “worked,” that it was never intended to be permanent, and that it may be back someday.

Yes, they are all over the place, those councilors. But as of Nov. 1 dogs can return to the center city area bounded by Lincoln Street to the west, Eighth Avenue to the north, Pearl Street to the east and 10th/11th Avenue to the south.

The ban did not apply to owning a dog within the boundaries, just to those visitors who brought their dogs along to walk the streets or dine in restaurants.

Critics maintained the ban, approved by the city council in April, was actually aimed at homeless people and their dogs and encourage them to — if they wanted to keep their dogs — relocate elsewhere.

The ban was one of several initiatives the city launched over the summer to try to make the area safer and more welcoming, such as an increased police presence downtown, more programs and events in public spaces within the area and “expanded outreach” to chronic offenders on the streets.

Some councilors, and the organization that pushed for the dog ban to be enacted — The Downtown Stakeholders Group, made up of downtown business and property owners — say they could still seek to get it reinstated.

The ban was passed with the understanding that it would expire in six months if the council didn’t vote to extend it.

eugeneweeklyNow, the council has opted, after the ban met with much protest, to let it expire.

After it does, on Nov. 1, reinstating would require the council to hold a public hearing and two public votes.

Councilors say that, taken together, the initiatives improved the atmosphere downtown and attracted more people to public spaces. But they say measuring which particular initiatives were most responsible for that is difficult.

The city has yet to compile information on how many citations were issued for dog ban violations, or whether they were more often issued to the homeless, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

During a council meeting last Monday, three people encouraged councilors to let the ban lapse, and one compared it to racism.

Eugene resident Mel Hite accused police officers of stopping and ticketing dogs controlled by the homeless and ignoring dogs controlled by “housed owners … It appears this is doggy racism based on the class of the person holding the leash,” she said.

(Photos of Eugene protests, from KEZI (top) and Eugene Weekly)

Homeless Charlotte man fights to keep dog

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Most homeless people push shopping carts. Alan Lord pushes a dog crate.

Inside that crate on wheels, more often than not, is Levi, his four year old Lab mix.

And that has led to some concerns among those who see them on the streets of Charlotte, and a controversy that the Charlotte Observer reports has pitted do-gooder against do-gooder.

Some dog lovers are urging the Mecklenburg County Animal Care and Control to take the dog, saying the dog spends too much time in the crate and that Lord has turned down most offers of help.

Lord, the animal control office and others say taking that action might be harsh and unfair, that Levi is virtually all Lord has since becoming homeless a year ago, and that while Lord probably could get into a homeless shelter, none in the city allow dogs.

lord2Lord, 43, is not willing to consider that last option.

He’s a former bank employee who lost his job, got divorced and lost his home — all recently — and separating from his 80 pound, 4-year-old dog is unacceptable to him.

“Levi – he’s all I have,” Lord told an Observer reporter last week as he sat in a Bojangles’ parking lot. “He’s my best friend and always will be.”

Ideally, he said, he’d like to move to Hawaii and live with his brother, but he hasn’t been able to pull that off. Lord admits his own back problems have limited the amount of tie Levi spends out of the crate.

Nevertheless, some dog advocates, several of whom have made efforts to help Lord, say the time has come to take his dog away.

“It’s an animal caught in the middle,” said Dina Castanas, who recently organized a community meeting where animal control officials heard from about 25 neighbors who want Levi out of the crate. “Levi has no voice and no choice in the matter.”

Terri McConnell and her husband estimate they have spent about $3,500 trying to help Lord and Levi — on hotel rooms, camping equipment and food.

“We didn’t mind. But then there comes a point where you’re like ‘We’re throwing good money after bad’ … He’s refusing help,” McConnell told the Observer. “The more paranoid he gets about someone trying to take that dog, the worse it’s getting.”

lord3Advocates for the homeless say Lord’s rights should be respected, that his refusal to separate from his dog isn’t unusual, and that — until a homeless shelter in Charlotte starts allowing pets — no one should be insisting that he go into one.

Josh Fisher, director of Animal Care and Control, says the dog is not being neglected or abused and doesn’t seem to be suffering — despite repeated complaints from citizens who say Levi is being kept too long in a too-small crate.

“Suffering is very much in the eyes of the beholder,” he said.

Fisher said his department’s officers have visited the dog almost daily in response to complaints. Levi is up-to-date on his vaccinations, in good health and has a good disposition, he said.

He said officials are working on a permanent housing solution that will allow Lord and Levi to stay together.

(Photos: Diedra Laird / Charlotte Observer)