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Tag: health department

Attacking dogs weren’t pit bulls, after all

 

After its news reports blamed two pit bulls for the mauling Saturday of a 7-year-old girl, ABC2 News in Baltimore took steps to correct the error.

But take a look at the news report (above) and see if you agree with me – that they only compounded it in this story touted as “the real truth about dangerous dogs.”

Rather than clear the name of pit bulls, they besmirch that of American bulldogs, lumping them in with pit bulls and saying they share the same “aggressive” traits and legendary jaw power – or “muscles of mastication” as one vet calls it.

“They have muscles of mastication. They have muscles in their jaws that are so strong they have 500 pounds of pressure. They can snap a broom just like that,” Dr. Kim Hammond, of Falls Road Animal Hospital, says in the report. “They’re a predator if you’re lower on the food chain and they’re good at their job, and they’re going to win.”

Those remarks – inaccurate and irresponsible as they might be in reference to pit bulls or American bulldogs – were apparently being made about pit bulls, which he also compared to “a loaded gun.”

My guess is that ABC2 sent a reporter out to do the knee-jerk, misconception-spreading, how dangerous-pit-bulls-are story, then learned it was two American bulldogs that were actually involved in the attack on Amanda Mitchell, who remains hospitalized with severe facial injuries.

For the sake of expediency, it appears, the report portrays pit bulls and Ameridcan bulldogs as peas in a pod, which wouldn’t be so bad if the pod wasn’t 99 percent wrongful stereotype and 1 percent fact.

Mitchell was playing outside when the dogs escaped from a neighbor’s yard in Dundalk Saturday. Both dogs were later seized by Baltimore County Animal Control and, with the consent of their owner, euthanized.

On Monday, the Baltimore County Health Department issued a correction – identifying the dogs involved as American bulldogs – and, after more than a few complaints from vigilant Internet commenters, ABC2 corrected the story, pointing out that police had provided the misinformation.

In all fairness, the breed of the dogs was also misreported by other media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun.

Even though most news outlets have corrected their reports, the misinformation remains – not just in the public consciousness, but on Google, where search result summaries of news reports since corrected still describe the dogs as pit bulls.

Tragic as it is, the story goes a long way in helping to understand how pit bulls have gotten, and continue to get, a bad rap – based largely on police mistakenly identifying dogs, “experts” who may not know what they’re talking about and the news media’s dutiful reporting of such misinformation.

What gets lost amid all the assumptions and jumping to conclusions is this: Any breed or type of dog has members who can turn violent or aggressive – be it pit bull, bulldog or Chihuahua.

Chasing the blues away at The Dog Bar … Where everybody knows your (dog’s) name

 

And here is my idea of paradise.

It exists, after all, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where five years ago two dog lovers got together and opened a bar that takes “dog-friendly” to new and unfettered bounds.

This is not a bar you have to sneak your dog into, not a bar where you and your dog must sit prim and proper-like outside, not a bar where your dog must remain on his or her leash.

At The Dog Bar in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, it’s not uncommon to see a dog behind the bar, a dog on top of the bar, a dog on top of a dog on top of the bar. Here dogs can be dogs. They can romp, run, drool and even — as Ace and that German shepherd appear to be doing in the slideshow above — flirt a little bit.

This, for dogs, and for me and my continuing quest for true dog-friendliness, was the promised land — a place so joyous, so non-uptight, so calmly chaotic that I could only sit back and take it all in for a bit before getting to my questions.

And my biggest question — being from Baltimore, where the health department considers ice “food,” and as a result bans dogs from the inside of bars — was how the heck did they get away with it?

Actually, it was pretty simple. The two women who opened The Dog Bar, J.P. Brewer and Audra Hartness, say they faced no insurmountable hassles when they made plans to hang up their bone-shaped shingle and open for business

“The city kind of scratched its head, like, ‘OK, I guess.” said Hartness, who was tending bar when we dropped in this week.

Initially, the health department’s only concerns — since the bar doesn’t serve food — were the bar’s glassware and the temperature of the water used to wash it. When, about a month after opening, the bar did away with glassware entirely — opting for plastic cups and beer served only in aluminum cans — those concerns went out the window.

Though the bar doesn’t serve food, you can still eat there. There’s a plethora of interesting restaurants right there in the neighborhood, most of which offer takeout and/or delivery.

The operators say they’ve heard of only one or two bars in the country that allow dogs such access.

The bar was Brewer’s idea, and, as you might guess, it started with a dog.

Brewer adopted Foster, a Weimaraner, after his owner passed away from cancer. When she decided the doggie day care she dropped him off at was not providing a loving enough environment, she started one of her own — Club K-9, also located in  NoDa.

There, the visiting dogs had a good time. The dog owners would show up, socialize, then head home with their pooches. Brewer thought there should be a place where both dogs and owners can socialize, enjoy both inter- and intra-species interactions, and have some fun.

She formed a partnership with Hartness, one of her doggie daycare customers who had a background in running bars and restaurants. And in October, 2005, they opend the bar.

On a typical night, there might be 15 dogs in the joint, on Fridays even more.

We dropped in on a Sunday. Ace and a black Great Dane named Dungy (after the football coach) were the first to arrive. Dungy was ready to play. Ace, not quite sure what to make of a dog bigger than himself, mostly kept his distance. Soon more dogs arrived — a boxer named Dempsey (after the boxer, Jack); two more Great Danes, one blind, one deaf; and Zero, a first-time visitor.

“This place is fantastic,” Zero’s owner remarked the second she and her dog came through the double gates entrance. “It really is a dog bar!”

The bar charges a $10 lifetime membership fee, and requires proof of rabies vaccination, and that dogs over a year be spayed or neutered. There are no breed restrictions.

“As long  as the dog is friendly off leash, there’s no problem,” Hartness said.

The bar has a fenced outdoor area — complete with plastic palm trees and beach umbrellas — where dogs can run, play and sip from troughs of water. Sometimes, when the crowd gets too big, they fence off the parking lot as well. Inside the bar, which has windows opening onto the patio, one wall is covered with black and white photographs, taken by Brewer, of her dogs and many of the regular canine customers.

Non dog-lovers don’t always get it, Brewer told the Charlotte Observer in an interview a couple of years after The Dog Bar opened.

“You see people walk past here and they do a double-take,” she said. Once, two  elderly ladies drove up in the parking lot and asked, “What kinds of hot dogs do you sell?” 

But dog-lovers do. Hartness says dog owners know to bring only well-socialized dogs, and she advises those who appear to have trepidations about their dogs to come back when their pets are better socialized. Most, though, know their dogs limits.

The presence of dogs — four-legged icebreakers that they are — means conversations start and flow easily at The Dog Bar. If there are any awkward silences, a dog generally drops by to help fill them. There were no real altercations on the night I was there — human or dog — and the only damage done I could see/feel resulted from the tendency of Great Dane’s whip-like tails to be exactly at human groin level. When they get happy, watch out.

Other than that, the night was sheer joy, in the kind of place I’ve only dreamed about — where dogs and humans can enjoy each other and be themselves.

Here’s to a happy future for The Dog Bar.

Cheers.

While The Dog Bar is, beyond doubt, the dog friendliest establishment in Charlotte, there are many more dog-friendly locales.  Keep reading for the list.

Read more »

Friends work to reunite dog, homeless man

Those who know him say a homeless man named Tim — despite his living conditions — took good care of his chocolate Lab, Pudge.

“No matter if it was five degrees below zero or if it was really hot, he had water for the dog and he took care of that dog before he took care of himself,” said Cheryl Munro.

For reasons unexplained, a Detroit police officer notified Animal Control and Pudge was picked up, according to a report by Fox 2 News in Detroit. She spent a week in the a nimal shelter because Tim lacked the money to pay for the license and vaccinations needed to get his dog back.

It looked like things were headed for a cruel end when those familiar with Tim and Pudge learned what had happened and began raising money.

“My co-workers and I, we work at Detroit Edison, and we went around and collected some money… to get this dog out of the pound for him,” Munro said.

Even the city Health Department, of which Animal Control is a division, helped pave the way for Tim to get his dog back.

“That’s his only companion. That’s his friend for life, and when you’re out here in the cold, you need some comfort,” said Detroit Health Department Spokesperson Mike McElrath. “We understand that at the Health Department, and what we’ve done, at this point, is we’re trying to reunite them. But because the gentleman is homeless, we know there has to be a legal residency, and so, we’re going to transfer it over to a friend.”

While the friends are having trouble locating Tim, one, Sharon Maceri, offered to take Pudge in until he can be found.

“I can’t imagine what this dog is going through with not being with Tim right now,” she said.

21 dogs removed from Anne Arundel home

aadogsTwenty-one malnourished dogs were removed from a home in Anne Arundel County Friday and are now in the custody of the county animal control office in Millersville.

Police and animal control officers removed the dogs from an Orchard Beach home they said was filled with animal feces. Nineteen dogs were found inside the home and two dogs were taken from a trailer on the property, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun.

No charges were filed, but authorities were still investigating.

Authorities did not identify the home’s occupants, but neighbors and property records showed it was Janet E. Taylor, according to the Sun. Neighbors said Taylor lives there with an adult son.

A neighbor said she had called the county Health Department and Animal Control for several months to report the odor and howling dogs, but no action was taken until Friday morning.

After about 15 minutes of knocking, a shirtless and shoeless man answered the door of the home, saying, “All right, all right. You can come in. But you’re not going to like what you’ll see.”

The man signed over his rights to the dogs to Animal Control, where they are being evaluated.

Fear the turtle

turtlessalmonella_r255pxBaltimore City Police have cited two street vendors for illegally selling red-eared slider turtles — a species health officials warn can carry salmonella and transmit it to humans.

“The risk of acquiring salmonella infection by handling turtles should be taken very seriously,” says Interim Commissioner Olivia Farrow. “People who have serious health problems, pregnant women and parents of children younger than age 5 should consult a physician before purchasing turtles and reptiles as pets.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says salmonella occurs naturally in turtles and does not usually make the animals sick. Harmful bacteria can easily be passed from turtle to person.

How Jane lost her Angel

When Jane Guardascione, a 94-year-old Queens grandmother, lost her pet collie and constant companion, Angel, her granddaughter got on the phone, placing several calls to Animal Control and Care to see if the dog turned up in the city’s shelter system.

Angel wasn’t there, the agency repeatedly told her Friday.

On Saturday, though, she was told the 13-year-old dog had been euthanized at Animal Control and Care’s Manhattan shelter — the same day she arrived.

Shelter officials said Angel had collapsed at the shelter, had no identification and fit no description of any dogs reported lost. Because of her age and deteriorating condition, a veterinarian at the facility decided to euthanize Angel in an effort to prevent any additional suffering, the New York Daily News reports.

In a statement, the agency expressed ”deepest sympathies” to the family. “It is our goal to avoid euthanasia unless we deem it absolutely necessary,” the statement read.

Family members say, while Angel suffered from arthritis, she was able to get around just fine —  and was probably frozen with fear in the shelter. Jane’s daughter, Carole Miller, a collie breeder, gave her mother the dog when Angel was just over a year old. The dog was her constant companion, she said.

AC&C, which operates city shelters under a contract with the Health Department, is required to hold lost and stray animals for at least 72 hours before putting them up for adoption or euthanizing them. Exceptions are made if an animal is critically injured or gravely ill.

Outraged animal rescue groups said such mistakes are not unusual at AC&C and charged the nonprofit organization is plagued by mismanagement. In January, the Daily News reported that one rescue group sued the city because it was breaking its own law by not providing animal shelters in all five boroughs. The suit charged that facilities are overcrowded and disease-ridden and that animals are being euthanized in “unconscionable numbers” because there is no space.

Where those $1,000 fines came from

While they may seem to dog owners to have come out of nowhere, the changes in the city’s animal control law that led to $1,000 fines for off-leash dogs and unscooped poop have a history.

And here it is:

Feb. 25, 2008: The revised law was introduced to the city council, with the following sponsors listed: James B. Kraft, Bill Henry, William H. Cole, IV, Robert W. Curran, Sharon Green Middleton, Edward L. Reisinger, Warren Branch.

It was then sent for review to the following committees and offices:

  • The Public Safety and Health Committee, which completed its review ten months later, gave it a thumbs up.
  • The City Solicitor’s office deemed it legal, which also took ten months.
  • The Health Department, meanwhile, okayed it in three days. Also signing off on it were the city’s Office of Animal Control, Department of Finance and Environmental Control Board.

Dec. 2, 2008: The Public Safety and Health Committee held a public hearing on it.

Dec. 4, 2008: The revised law had its second reading before the city council and was approved.

Jan. 14, 2009: Signed by Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Feb 14, 2009 — Law went into effect.

What little official information can be found about the new law — though it’s not a shining example of clarity — can be found here.

Under the new law, the penalty for letting your dog off his leash, or not picking up dog waste is the same as the penalty for dogfighting. In fact, penalties for more serious offenses were increased far less severely than run of the mill offenses.

For instance, these penalties all went up tenfold: Not having a rabies vaccination (from $50 to $500), not having a license (from $25 to $250), animal disturbing the peace, failure to pick up dog waste, and unleashed dogs (from $100 to $1,000).

Meanwhile, the penalties for dogfighting only doubled ($500 to $1,000), the penalty for abusing an animal went from $200 to $500, and the penalty for operating an unlicensed dog facility only went up from $100 to $250.

So today in Baltimore, thanks to the city council, abusing a dog is a less serious offense — fine-wise, at least — than letting one off his leash, or not picking up his poop.