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Tag: firearms

Dog walks into a bar

acebar


Our forefathers may have overlooked listing it in the Constitution, but I’d rank it up there with free speech, religious freedom and the right to bear arms… maybe even above the right to bear arms:

It’s the right to get a beer at a bar with your dog — one of life’s true pleasures, assuming you love beer and love dogs (and assuming it’s cool with the bar owner).

SONY DSCI’ve always felt, and often written, that allowing dogs into a drinking establishment — especially one that doesn’t serve food — is a decision that should be left up to individual tavern operators.

Local health departments, often, don’t see it that way, as was recently the case in New York City, where The Gate, a tavern in Park Slope, was told it can no longer allow patrons to come in with their dogs.

The city Department of Health based their order on a law prohibiting any live animal from being in a food service establishment.

The Gate is not a restaurant, but, under the law, beer, wine, booze and ice are considered foods.

Silly? Yes.

Unconstitutional? Should be, I say, tongue not entirely in cheek.

All 50 states allow residents to carry concealed guns outside their homes. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio have laws specifically allowing guns in bars. Bar patrons in South Carolina and North Carolina also aren’t required to disarm when entering a bar.

Twenty states, including New York and New Jersey, do not address the question of guns in bars at all.

It makes me uncomfortable, living in a world (and a state) where guns have more rights, privileges and protections than dogs.

And it gives me pause (not paws, for that would be a pun), that local health departments can get so worked up about a hound sleeping on a bar floor when Ebola is at our doorstep. Don’t they have more important things to do?

But back to The Gate.

After the health department laid down the law at the corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, management posted a sign on the door of the tavern, saying, “with apologies to our furry friends,” dogs could no longer be allowed.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn pet owners have started a petition on the website Park Slope for Pets (see the upper right corner of that page) asking the Health Department to “allow dogs at The Gate” and reclassify bars that don’t serve food. As of this morning, nearly 600 signatures had been collected.

“We support The Gate’s dog-friendly status in the neighborhood as well as all other non-food drinking establishments that welcome dogs,” the petition’s sponsors say. “We are not looking for an exception for The Gate but rather a revision to the statute with regard to all non-food drinking establishments.”

SONY DSCI hold an even more radical stance. I’m for letting well-behaved dogs into places that do serve food, and even inside, as opposed to the patio (given it’s OK with the owner).

I’m more concerned with what’s going on unseen in the kitchen than the possibility of evil germs hopping off a dog and onto my plate of mozzarella sticks.

If its OK for service dogs to go inside restaurants, it should be OK for all well-socialized dogs — because all dogs, in a way, are service dogs.

My dog Ace, a one-time therapy dog who now counsels only me (and at a very reasonable fee) grew up spending some time (but not an inordinate amount of time) at a neighborhood bar in Baltimore I patronized.

I like to think he added to the bar’s character, and warmth, and friendliness, and vice versa. Admittedly, he also served as a social crutch for me, making conversations easier to start, making me more comfortable, keeping me from getting too tongue tied.

Just as dogs need to be socialized, so do we. And dogs and bars — independently and especially in combination — can help those of us who have difficulty in that area achieve that.

Dogs in bars lead to more social dogs, and more social people. (With the exception of those humans who are aghast by the prospect of a dog in a bar or restaurant and feel the need to file an official complaint, as opposed to just avoiding the establishment.)

“One of my favorite parts about going to The Gate was that I could enjoy a quiet night out without the lingering guilt of knowing my dog was waiting for me at home,” one dog owner told Park Slope Stoop. “… It’s disappointing that they are losing part of their character because of the DOH’s overreach in enforcing the Health Law.”

thegateWhile the city health department is barking out orders, the proprietor of The Gate, we’re pleased to read, isn’t just going to roll over.

The Gate’s owner, Bobby Gagnon, reportedly plans to fight the health department edict when he appears before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings on Nov. 18 — not so much to be granted an exception as to clarify the law.

Dog owners need to push back from time to time, as opposed to just letting themselves be pushed around. I think that happens because dog owners are generally calm, easy-going, reasonable, level-headed people (thanks, at least in part, to their dogs), and because they realize having a dog — whether it’s a right or not — is truly a privilege.

Maybe if dog owners got political, played dirty, sported bumper stickers and insisted on exercising the right to have a Bud with their bud, we could resolve the problem, short of a Constitutional amendment.

Maybe if dog owners could be as strident and overbearing as gun lobbyists, they could enjoy more freedoms with their dogs.

Maybe, when authorities come to take our dogs out of a bar in which he or she is otherwise welcome, we should say, “Sure, you can take my dog out of this establishment … when you pry the leash out of my cold dead fingers.”

Maybe someday the Supreme Court will address the burning questions: Is ice food? And even if so, do we have a right to walk into a bar with our dog?

I’m sure critics will say it’s frivolous of me to compare taking your terrier to a tavern with our right to tote firearms, or our Constitutionally granted freedoms of religion and speech.

But are they really that different?

My dog protects me, like a gun. My dog nourishes and consoles me, like a religion. And he frees up my speech better than the First Amendment ever did.

(Photos: Ace and his friend Stringer at a Recreation Billiards, a dog friendly bar in Winston-Salem, Ace at The Dog Bar in Charlotte, and a Great Dane at The Dog Bar, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; sign outside The Gate in New York, from Park Slope Stoop)

Reading, writing, arithmetic and gun safety

eeagleMuch like McGruff the Crime Dog, Eddie Eagle — aka a National Rifle Association representative in an eagle costume — has been showing up in school assemblies for more than 20 years.

But it appears the NRA mascot and his lessons on gun safety are destined to become mandatory in Virginia – at least in those school districts that choose to offer the curriculum.

The state has approved gun safety classes in elementary schools, and will structure the curriculum with help from the National Rifle Association.

The law allows local school divisions to offer gun-safety education to pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade. While each school board can decide whether to offer it, those that do must use the state curriculum — which will include rules used by the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.

Not all parents are thrilled with that.

“I personally don’t think firearm safety has a place in the schools,” Lori Haas, spokeswoman for the Virginia Center for Public Safety whose daughter is a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. 

“That’s up to the parents to teach that at home.” she told Fox News

NRA’s Eddie Eagle website says that the program’s goal “isn’t to teach whether guns are good or bad, but rather to promote the protection and safety of children.”

The Eddie Eagle mascot advises children: “If you see a gun: STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.” Eddie Eagle does not promote firearm ownership or use and firearms are never used in the program, the website says.

The website tells schools they can “add excitement to your assemblies with a safety mascot appearance. The use of the Eddie Eagle costume provides an entertaining way to enhance the program.”

The Eddie Eagle safety mascot costume is available for purchase by law enforcement agencies only, for $2,650.

Gun charges dropped in dog burning case

Gun and drug charges against the Baltimore twins accused of setting a dog on fire were dropped this week.

The two still face animal cruelty and mutilation charges in a separate case accusing them of setting fire to a pit bull puppy, named Phoenix after her rescue.

Police searching the twins’ home during the animal cruelty investigation said they found a gun and some marijuana, leading to drugs and weapons charges against twin brothers Tremayne and Travers Johnson and their father.

Because of difficulties proving who owned the gun, prosecutors decided to drop all those charges and focus on the animal cruelty case, WJZ reported.

Phoenix was found on fire by a city police officer, who extinguished the flames with her jacket. The dog survived several days, but had to be euthanized.

The animal cruelty trial for the twins is scheduled for June.

Twins, named in dog burning, face gun trial

phoenix4Jury selection begins today in the firearms possession trial of twin brothers accused of setting fire to a pit bull in May.

Travers and Tremayne Johnson, both 18, and their father, Charles Johnson, were charged in June with possession of firearms and marijuana.

Police say they found drugs and weapons in a raid conducted at the Johnsons’ South Pulaski Street home in connection with the investigation into the burning of a pit bull rescuers dubbed “Phoenix.”

Prosecutors opted to try the brothers and their 76-year-old father on the firearms case before the twins trial on animal cruelty charges.

The brothers were indicted by a Baltimore grand jury in November on aggravated animal abuse charges. They pleaded not guilty in December.

Phoenix had been doused with gasoline and set on fire when a police officer spotted the dog and put the fire out with her jacket. Phoenix had burns over more than 95 percent of her. She lived several days, but had to be euthanized due to complications resulting from her injuries.

The Crate Escape: 10 more years for inmate

manardyoungJohn Manard, who escaped from a Kansas prison by hiding inside a dog crate, was sentenced yesterday to another 10 years in federal prison on weapons charges, according to the Kansas City Star.

Manard was sprung from the Lansing Correctional Facility in 2006 by a prison volunteer, who used her dog van to drive him to freedom. Manard was hidden inside a cardboard box placed inside a dog crate.

The volunteer, Toby Young, was the founder of Safe Harbor, a program that rescued dogs from animal shelters and worked with inmates to train the pets and make them suitable for adoption. Married and a mother of two, she became romantically involved with the prisoner while working inside the Lansing Correctional Facility. You can read more about that saga — a Lifetime movie waiting to happen — here.

After leaving the Lansing prison, the two went to Young’s house where they took her husband’s two pistols.

Young, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for giving a firearm to a felon. Manard’s new conviction on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm comes on top of his escape conviction and a previous murder conviction, for which he was serving a life sentence.

NYC police shot 30 dogs last year

About one of every four times that New York city police officers fire their weapons, they are taking aim at dogs, according to The New York Times.

And when shooting at dogs, lawmen more often find their mark than when shooting at people.

Officers shot 30 dogs last year and have shot 15 so far this year, the report said.

Of the 126 times that officers fired their guns in 2006, they shot at dogs 30 times, said Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who has analyzed the data in the department’s annual firearms discharge reports. A year earlier, he said, 32 of 123 shootings involved dogs, compared to 26 of 114 in 2004.

In those three years, Dunn said, the shots hit the dogs 55 percent of the time. When shooting at people, the shots hit their mark only 23.4 percent of the time.

On Wednesday night, police killed a pit bull in the hallway of a housing project on the Upper East Side. The dog, named Baby, charged at a group of officers who were responding to an assault call.

Police said Thursday that three officers fired a total of seven shots. Fragments from the richocheting bullets hit three officers and the dog’s owner, Milagros Martinez, who had let the dog out. Six people, including Martinez, 42, were arrested after the shooting.

They were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance after officers found a pipe with crack cocaine residue inside the apartment, the police said.

The shooting will be investigated by a police internal review board. According to police guidelines on the use of deadly force, officers may not shoot at dogs “except to protect themselves or another person from physical injury and there is no other reasonable means to eliminate the threat.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the police had acted responsibly.

Twins charged in dog burning face new counts

Travers and Tremayne Johnson, the 17-year-old twin brothers accused of fatally burning a pit bull, have been arrested and are being held without bail after police said they found guns and marijuana inside their Southwest Baltimore rowhouse.

This time, the twins were charged as adults.

The twins, who were charged as juveniles in the animal cruelty case, face new charges of possession of firearms, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore police announced the arrest of the youths June 8 in connection with the case of Phoenix, a pit bull who had been doused with gasoline and set on fire. The dog, burned over 95 percent of her body, died several days later. The case led to calls for stiffer penalties in animal cruelty cases, and $26,000 was donated to a reward fund.

In that case, the brothers were released to the custody of their father.

According to the Sun, court document show police raided the house on June 16 and filed adult charges against the twins two days later. Authorities did not confirm the arrests until Thursday.

Newly filed court documents say that detectives have a witness “who positively identified both Travers Johnson and Tremayne Johnson as the individuals who were running out of the alley with the burning dog.” The documents also state that the “incident was captured” on police surveillance video.

Police said they they found three guns – a loaded .38-caliber Taurus handgun inside a rubber boot, a 20-gauge shotgun and a Marlin Firearms .30-.30-caliber rifle in the later search of the twins’ home. Police said they found a digital scale with a small amount of marijuana.