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Tag: fines

Guilford County Animal Control office warns tetherers, $500 fines are coming soon

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Residents of Greensboro who tie up their dogs and leave them unattended can expect to start receiving warnings this week, and $500 fines by September, as Guilford County’s anti-tethering ordinance comes closer to being fully phased in.

The ordinance, approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in 2013, prohibits the tethering or chaining of a dog without the owner present, or the use of any tether or chain less than 10 feet long.

To the uninformed, it might seem odd — an agency called “Animal Control” telling people to un-tether their dogs — but it’s another example of how, amid a new sensibility about dogs, the duties of such agencies have outgrown their name, and have (rightly) become more about helping animals than controlling them, and therefore should be called something else, something less archaic, something like the office of Animal Protection.

We tried to make that case last week, arguing that a new name could also go a long way toward improving the image of  those offices, and pushing those that are still living in the past into modern times.

Animal protection, we think, is a better description of their modern day duties, or at least what their modern day duties should be.

Responding to complaints about chained dogs, and helping to free them, is a perfect example of that.

Guilford County Animal Control officers will be investigating complaints about tethered dogs and issuing written warnings to the owners until Sept. 1, when fines will go into effect. Until then officials will continue to educate residents about the new ordinance.

“We’ve done good about getting the word out and handing out fliers, posters and brochures to let people know it’s coming and it’s going,” Logan Rustan, the manager of Guilford County Animal Control, told the Greensboro News & Record. “But believe it or not, a lot of people just still have no clue.”

The ordinance took effect last March but is being phased in gradually to give residents time to comply.

It was welcomed by animal activists, and particularly by Unchain Guilford, a nonprofit organization that helps dog owners construct fences as an alternative to tying up their dogs.

Tethered dogs left unattended can easily injure themselves, and often develop behavioral problems.

“If you’re chained to a small area your entire life, you’re going to have issues interacting with other people — whether you’re a dog or a human,” said Ellen Metzger, a committee member for the group.

Many dogs who spend their lives tethered outside can easily make the transition to inside dogs, with a little training.

Greensboro resident Jennifer Thompson found that out when, shortly after the county passed the ordinance, she contacted Unchain Guilford for help.

Her 10-year-old pitbull-chow mix, Spike, had spent most of his life tethered in her yard.

“He was so big and was at the point where he would jump all over,” Thompson said. “I was kind of fearful of him.”

In Thompson’s case, volunteers also taught her training techniques to help Spike behave better. Spike lives inside the house now.

“I didn’t know this dog is so lovable,” she said. “e sat outside all these years, and he just wants somebody to love him. He’s such a sweet dog. I would not keep another dog outside, knowing what I know now.”

(Photo: Jennifer Thompson and her dog Spike; by JERRY WOLFORD / Greensboro News & Record)

Lotsa bark, little bite: Chicago crackdown on unlicensed dogs fizzles out

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Was all that talk about a crackdown on unlicensed dogs in the Windy City just bluster?

Chicago’s much publicized threat to conduct sweeps at dogs parks and beaches, track down scofflaws and issue tickets carrying fines of up to $200 — all in effort to get more of the estimated 653,000 canines living there registered — never really got rolling.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza said Tuesday that, despite publicity, free rabies clinics, contests and other citywide events aimed at encouraging dog registrations, licenses  rose only from about 30,000 to 40,000 this year.

Mendoza , who testified this week at City Council budget hearings, said her office followed through on creating incentives for dog owners to get licenses, but the city’s Commission on Animal Care and Control ”dropped the ball” when it came to the enforcement side of the campaign.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that was likely  “either because it is inundated and understaffed or because Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed executive directors just when a ticket blitz was supposed to begin with stings at dog parks and beaches.”

For years, dog owners who failed to purchase dog licenses were all but ignored by the city.

That changed in 2005, when software was put in place allowing a county list of dogs who had received rabies shot to be compared to a much shorter list of licensed dogs in the city.

Warning letters were mailed to those whose names appeared on the county’s list, but not the city’s.

Those produced only a small surge in registrations. Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed the planned crackdown — with fines for violators — but that produced only another small surge, and the stiffer enforcement that was promised never took place.

Licenses are $5-a-year for spayed and neutered dogs, $50 for those that are not, and $2.50 for dog owners who are senior citizens. Fines for unregistered dogs run from $30 to $200. (You can learn more about registering your dog in Chicago here.)

Mendoza estimated Chicago’s dog population at more that 500,000 but others say it exceeds 653,000.

Despite the “tremendous job” her department did, Mendoza said, the crackdown “was really predicated on a strong enforcement effort, which we’re not responsible for . . . I have not seen a crackdown that I would feel comfortable with in terms of really getting people to license their dogs. I’m very disappointed in it.”

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

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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)

Much ado about poo in Spain

There might not be any town as intent — you might even say obsessed — with wiping out dog poop as Brunete, Spain.

First, officials in the town on the outskirts of Madrid launched a social awareness campaign, aimed at encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs.

Part of it included a remote control pile of poop on wheels, which approached citizens bearing the message “Don’t leave me, pick me up!”

“The amount of dog poo on our streets dropped considerably as a result,” a town spokesman is quoted as saying in this article.

When “volume” started rising again, the town opted for a sneakier approach — though it, too, has an in-your-face element.

In February of this year, officials in the town of 10,100 assigned 20 volunteers to patrol the streets in search of dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs.

Upon seeing an offense, the undercover volunteers approach the owners and strike up a casual conversation — not mentioning the poop, just feigning interest in the dog and asking about its name and breed.

Once the dog walker departs, the volunteer would pick up the dog poop and put it in a box. Then, using the town’s database of registered dogs, they find out the address of the dog walker. Then they’d deliver the surprise package by hand to the pet owner’s home, along with an official warning.

If that weren’t embarassing enough, they film the reunions between dog owners and their dog’s poop.

Brunete Town Hall estimates the program has reduced the amount of unpicked up dog waste by 70 percent.

Officials aren’t sure whether it’s the threat of the fine, receiving a package of poop, or getting humiliated on camera that’s doing the trick, but they say the program seems to be working.

Iran looks at making dog-owning a crime

Lawmakers in Iran have proposed a bill to criminalize dog ownership.

Traditionally frowned upon and grudgingly tolerated by Islamic leaders, having a dog would become a crime if the bill is passed by Parliament, punishable by fines and confiscation of dogs.

According to a Time magazine report, backers of the bill warn that dogs pose health hazards, and their increasing popularity as pets is “a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West.”

Those caught walking and keeping ”impure and dangerous animals” would have their dogs confiscated and face fines of $100 to $500.

What would become of confiscated dogs isn’t spelled out.

Dog ownership has become more popular in Iran with the rise of an urban middle class, and Time reports that “these days, lap dogs rival designer sunglasses as the upper-middle-class Iranian’s accessory of choice.”

A senior Iranian cleric last year decreed dogs are “unclean” and issued a fatwa ordering they not be kept as pets.

“Dog” returned, 76 years later

Seventy-six years after he checked it out, Mark McKee has returned “A Dog of Flanders” to a Michigan library.

No late fees will be charged.

In 1934, McKee, then a 13-year-old, checked out “A Dog of Flanders” by English author Marie Louise de la Ramee, from the Mount Clemens Public Library in Michigan.

Seventy-six years later, he found it among his possesions and mailed it back, according to an Associated Press report.

McKee, now 89, said in a letter to the library that  he was initially “entranced by the book and kept it with my prized possession.”  Later, it got lost in the shuffle of life until he recently discovered it.

“My conscience took over,” wrote McKee, who is former publisher of The Macomb Daily in Michigan, and now a winter resident of Chandler, Arizona.

“A Dog of Flanders,” an 1872 novel published under the pseudonym “Ouida,” is about a Flemish orphan named Nello who befriends an abused dog named Patrasche.

Library Director Donald Worrell Jr. said he was thrilled to get the book back.

In his letter, McKee said he estimated the fine on a book overdue for 76 years could total thousands of dollars. But Worrell said there won’t be a fine.

“We figure the story is better than the money,” Worrell said.

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.