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New York City Council bans tethering

The New York City Council yesterday voted to make tethering a dog or other animal for more than three hours a crime, punishable by fines and, for repeat offenders, a possible jail sentence.

First-time violators would receive a written warning or a fine of up to $250, if the animal is injured. A repeat offender could face a $500 fine and up to three months in prison, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Tethering an animal for an extended period of time is cruel and unusual,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “This bill will not only prevent this type of unnecessary cruelty, but also increase public safety for pedestrians throughout the City.”

The council voted 47-1 in favor of the bill, which prohibits leaving an animal tied up for more than three consecutive hours in any continuous 12-hour period.

The council also approved an increase in the cost of  annual license for dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered, raising the fee to $34 from $11.50.

Revenue generated from the incnrease will be used to subsidize animal population control programs.

AKC offers tips on preventing dog theft

The American Kennel Club says dog thefts are on the rise.

The AKC says it has has tracked more than 115 missing pets via incidents reported by news media and customer reports through Nov. 30 of this year, compared to a total of 71 in 2008.

The AKC offers the following advice to lessen the chances of your dog being stolen:

– Don’t leave your dog off-leash or unattended in your yard. Keeping your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of thieves. Dogs left outdoors for long periods of time are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is visible from the street.

– Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it’s locked.

– Don’t tie your dog outside a store. If you need to go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave the dog at home.

– Protect your dog with microchip identification. Collars and tags can be removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip.

– If you suspect your dog has been stolen. Immediately call the police / animal control officer in the area your pet was last seen and file a police report.

- Don’t buy dogs from the internet, flea markets, or roadside vans. There is no way to verify where an animal purchased from any of these outlets came from.

Additional tips can be found on the American Kennel Club website.

Dogfighting sees big surge in England

dogfightA new wave of dogfighting is sweeping England, resulting in a 12-fold increase in dogfights since 2004.

And most practitioners — about two of every three — are youths, the Royal SPCA says.

A BBC report quotes RSPCA officials as saying a ban on four breeds, including pit bulls, has done little to slow the spread of dogfighting, or dogs biting people, and that a change in the law is needed.

The new wave of dog fighting, known as “chain fighting” or “rolling,” involves fights held in inner city public parks, on private estates and even in apartment elevators where  ”young people, often gangs of young people … put two dogs in a lift at the top of the block of flats and will press the button and let the dogs fight until they get to the bottom,” the RPSCA’s Claire Robinson told BBC News. Read more »

Shanghai fears being shanghaied — by dogs

Shanghai’s dog owners could find themselves facing stricter guidelines after the city’s lawmakers finish drafting new rules governing pet ownership.

Even small dogs may be forbidden on public transport and in shopping malls and supermarkets. Other provisions could restrict where dogs can be walked and make owners responsible for any messes they leave behind, according to Xinhua, the Chinese news agency.

Shanghai People’s Congress has started research on the issue and will work with the Public Security Bureau to develop comprehensive new dog ownership rules, local lawmakers said.

Shanghai’s current dog regulations were issued in 1993, and though amended in 1997 and 2002, they aren’t sufficiently detailed to cope with the city’s modern-day canine concerns, the security bureau said.

“If dog management is not strengthened, these pets may still bring pleasure to their owners but could pose trouble or even danger to the larger population,” said Deng Zixin, a member of Shanghai People’s Congress.

Economic prosperity has allowed more people to own pets in Shanghai, and the sight of dogs romping in parks and greenbelts has become increasingly common. Current regulations don’t specify what neighborhood committees can do to deal with those concerns, Deng said.

He said more than 10,000 Shanghai residents are bitten by dogs each year, and the new rules are expected to hold owners liable in such cases.

The new regulations might also order owners of “aggressive breeds” to keep their dogs out of the downtown area, reports said.

2 parks, 2 plans, 2 bars, 2night


From the shores (yeah, right) of Riverside to the uppermost reaches of Upper Fells Point, Baltimore dog lovers will be coming together tonight to push their plans to find a time or place for their dogs to run in a city that offers few such opportunities.

Sparked by the city’s move to increase the penalty for leash law violations to $1,000, two park-specific groups will hold meetings — at neighborhood bars, of course — to move forward with plans that, while different, share the same goal.

Those who have been trying for years to have a fenced-in dog park established within massive Patterson Park will be holding a 6:30 p.m. meeting at Three, a bar and restaurant located at the corner of E. Baltimore and S. Linwood.

Another group of concerned dog owners who frequent Riverside Park, in South Baltimore, will be meeting at 8 p.m., at Captain Larry’s, 601 E. Fort Ave., to discuss asking the city to set aside certain hours at the park during which well-behaved dogs are allowed to be off-leash.

The Riversiders were spurred into action by the city’s increased fine for violating the leash law, and apparent increased enforcement of the law so far this spring. The new fines also fired up Patterson Parkers to refocus on the their effort.

The city council, which approved the increased fine, is now reconsidering it, and a hearing on a proposal to lower it will be held Tuesday, April 28th, at 10 a.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

While the city has recognized a need for more dog parks — and plans to open the first city-funded one in Locust Point this year — other efforts to establish them have historically met with bureaucracy and delays.

In announcing that the city would fund the construction of the dog park in Locust Point, Mayor Sheila Dixon promised as many as eight dog parks in Baltimore. So far, no others have been announced.

With the higher fines, the lack of alternatives and the tight leash the city keeps on efforts to start dog parks, it seems that dog people, taking a lesson from their dogs, are ready to pick up the ball and run with it.

Fort Worth looks at revamping animal laws

Animal control officers in Fort Worth will be allowed to use tranquilizer darts to subdue dangerous dogs under a proposed rewrite of the city’s animal control rules.

That would mean a return to a practice ceased in 1995, after a dog nicknamed “Island Girl” was shot with a dart while trapped on a grassy island in a freeway interchange. The dart resulted in the dog becoming paralyzed.

The proposals aren’t final, and residents will be able to comment on them at meetings in May and June, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Fort Worth officials say the changes are needed because of a growing number of aggressive dogs found on Fort Worth’s streets — particularly pit bulls. Other proposed revisions include:

– Allowing the city to impose safety restriction on dogs before an attack happens — if a dog charges a fence, or is caught at large several times.

– Requiring higher and stronger fences, based on a dog’s size.

– Prohibiting dogs that are deemed dangerous in other cities from relocating to Fort Worth.

– Requiring all animals to be spayed or neutered, unless the owner pays an extra fee.

– Increasing the fee for loose dogs from $200 to $500 and the annual fee for a dangerous dog from $50 to $500.

Councilman to propose reducing leash fine

Baltimore City Councilman Jim Kraft plans to introduce a bill next week to reduce the recently raised fine for leash law violations from $1,000 to $250.

Kraft was one of the sponsors of the bill that included a ten-fold increase in fines for leash law violations and failure to pick up dog waste, both of which were $100 under the old law.

In a letter to a constitutent, Kraft wrote, “On April 20, I will be introducing a bill to reduce the fine for leash violations from $1,000 to $250. As you know, this fine amount was increased during the consideration of Council Bill 08-0050, which raised fines for a number of animal-related offenses, such as animal abuse, dogfights, and failure to report possible rabies exposure.

“Among those violations for which we raised the fine to $1,000 were those that fell under the subtitle devoted to ‘General Care and Control.’ This subtitle includes failure to provide food, shelter, sufficient space, or veterinary care needed to prevent suffering. I believe that most would agree that failure to provide these most basic elements of humane care warrants a steep fine. The leash law also falls under this subtitle.

“The bill I will be introducing creates a separate penalty for the leash requirement, and assigns a fine amount of $250 to any violation of this provision. This still represents an increase from the previous fine amount of $100, because it is important that the fine serves as an adequate deterrent.

“Unfortunately, in many parks throughout our neighborhoods, unleashed dogs are the norm. It is important that responsible dog owners recognize that the potential for negative consequences of this behavior go far beyond whatever fines are imposed — it creates a threat to the well-being and safety of both passersby and the dogs themselves.”

Another sponsor of the law revising the penalites, Council Ed Reisinger, will be meeting Thursday night at Riverside Park with dog owners concerned about the new fines.