Concerns over the Maryland Court of Appeals decision declaring that all pit bull-type dogs are ”inherently dangerous” continue to ripple through the state and beyond.
And rightly so.
Humane Society Legislative Fund President Michael Markarian sums it all up nicely in his ”Animals & Politics” blog:
“The misguided and overreaching ruling treats all pit bulls and pit bull mixes as a category, rather than individual animals. It could make owners, landlords, veterinarians, kennels, animal shelters, rescue groups, and anyone in custody of a dog automatically liable, regardless of whether they know a dog actually poses a threat.
“This is a major step backwards for the state of Maryland, and puts both dogs and people at risk. This sweeping decision is a case of canine profiling. It may force law-abiding citizens to face a painful and life-changing decision — move out of Maryland or give up their beloved dogs. It could increase the number of stray pit bull-type dogs on the streets and euthanized in shelters, turning back progress made by animal shelters and rescue groups over the past few decades.
“… Rather than protect public safety, the court’s fiat has the opposite effect: It has the potential to create packs of free-roaming pit bulls roaming Maryland neighborhoods, rather than living safely as beloved family pets. Taxpayers and municipal agencies will bear the financial burden of addressing public health and safety problems caused by feral dog packs.”
Breed alone is not predictive of whether a dog may pose a danger, Markarian notes. Far larger factors are the dog’s living conditions, whether he was properly socialized, owner behavior, and whether he’s chained.
On top of being misguided, the ruling fails to recognize that pit bulls aren’t a breed, but a fuzzy catch-all term, and proving a dog is a pit bull will likely be problematic.
“And who’s to decide whether a dog is a pit bull and therefore unwelcome with a cursory visual exam? According to a recent study by the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, which looked at a group of 120 dogs at four animal shelters, 55 of those dogs were identified as “pit bulls” by shelter staff, but only 25 were confirmed as pit bulls by DNA analysis. Additionally, the staff missed identifying 20 percent of the dogs who were pit bulls by DNA analysis, while only 8 percent of the “true” pit bulls were identified by all staff members … The National Canine Research Council has a clearinghouse of resources demonstrating that breed labels assigned to dogs of unknown origin are usually inaccurate.
Many dogs merely resembling the pit bull-type look will be swept up and punished by this ruling, and there may be expensive court battles over whether a dog is or isn’t a pit bull. With as many as 75 percent of shelter dogs being mixed breeds, this is not an anti-pit bull decision, but an anti-dog decision.
Markarian encourages readers to show how they feel about the ruling by submitting their favorite pit bull pictures to the “We Love Maryland Pit Bulls” photo album on the HSUS Maryland Facebook page, or by posting them on Twitter with the hashtag #LoveMDpitbulls.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, breed-specific, breeds, court of appeals, dangerous, decision, dogs, humane society legislative fund, image, inherently dangerous, landlords, law, lawsuits, maryland, michael markarian, opinion, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, reputation, roaming, ruling, shelters
When we hear about it, we like to pounce on big dog discrimination before it happens.
So let’s talk about Middletown, New York, where city officials think it would be a good idea to require all renters whose dogs tip the scales at more than 25 pounds to carry liability insurance.
This makes about as much sense as Wausau, Wisconsin’s two-dog limit, our topic Friday.
What fear-mongering, fact-ignoring, bandwagon-jumping city officials need to get through their heads, once and for all, is that it’s not the size of the dog, the breed of the dog, or even the number of dogs that cause dog problems — it’s the dog owner.
Be it “nuisance” or “danger” they are trying to protect us from, that’s who they need to be going after.
Not family’s like the Lecker’s in Wausau, who have four dogs, but bought a house not knowing the town limited households to two, and now face a choice between moving or ditching two dogs.
And not responsible dog-owning renters who, in the case of Middletown, might find themselves paying up to $300 a year to ensure any dog bigger than a breadbox.
Singling out breeds and setting arbitrary weight limits is doggie discrimination, pure and simple. (We’d argue the proposed Middletown law discriminates against renters as well.)
In Middletown, the Common Council is looking at a proposal that would require tenants to get at least $100,000 worth of liability insurance on dogs weighing over 25 pounds, according to the Times Herald-Record.
The proposed law is in response to a rising number of dog bites, city officials said. According to Mayor Joe DeStefano dog bites are covered under most homeowners’ policies, so the law would target only renters. The proposal doesn’t single out any breeds, but city officials have said they are concerned about the rising number of pit bulls in the city.
The city says there were 94 reported dog bites in Middletown over the past three years. Of them, 79 were from “large-breed” dogs, 37 of them from pit bulls or pit bull mixes. It also says two city employees have been attacked by pit bulls in recent months while on the job.
I wonder how many of those pit bulls were really pit bulls, as opposed to a convenient designation. I wonder, in the case of all those ”pit bull mixes,” why what else is in the mix isn’t mentioned. And I wonder, when it comes to those “large-breed” dogs doing the majority of the biting, if the city is referring to all dogs over 25 pounds.
But what I wonder most of all, since the requirement would do nothing to actually address the problem, is what purpose — beyond fattening up insurance companies — it would serve.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, big dogs, big dow owners, city, dangerous, discrimination, dogs, insurance, landlords, laws, liability, mandatory, middletown, new york, nuisance, pets, renters, required, requirement, tenants, wausau, wisconsin
The ruling, issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, pertained to a mutt named Kayla, who — though not a service dog or a certified therapy dog — provided emotional support to her owner.
The complaint was brought against the owners of the Brighton Gardens building by Richard M. Blake, who was diagnosed with HIV infection more than two decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.
After his diagnosis, Blake isolated himself and rarely left the house.
“He was depressed, basically lounging around the apartment all day long, and his weight rose and blood pressure got out of control,’’ said Denise McWilliams, general counsel for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.
Blake’s doctor recommended a dog to help lift Blake’s mood and improve his mental and physical health.
“She’s just given me sort of a routine in my life,’’ Blake said of the boxer mix he got in 2008. “She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood … Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped.’’
Blake said his landlord gave him permission to get the dog, but two months later tenants were notified that a no-pet policy in their leases would be enforced.
After unsuccessful attempts to get the landlords to make an exception, Blake filed a complaint with the state commission in December, 2008.
In its ruling, the commission said that evidence “supports a finding that requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aids, assistance, brighton gardens, commission, discrimination, dogs, emotional, health, hiv/aids, housing, kayla, landlords, massachusetts, richard blake, rules, service, support, tenants, therapy
Being a Rottweiller-mastiff mix, he — as you’d expect — quickly surpassed the 100-pound mark, well over the weight limit imposed at the Florida apartment complex where his owner, Denise Wilkinson, lived.
She started searching for a new home for him, but, unable to find one by the landlord’s deadline, dropped him off at Pinellas County Animal Services, with plans to pick him back up when she found one.
On its website, the county said dogs are kept seven days there. In person, they told her 48 hours. In reality, they euthanized him before a day had passed.
When Wilkinson, a day after dropping him off, went to pick up her dog, she found out Sunny had been euthanized — within hours of being dropped off.
“He wasn’t sick; he wasn’t old. He still had a long life ahead of him,” Wilkinson told Tampa Bay Online.
Senior Animal Control Officer John Hohenstern said Sunny was aggressive and caused concerns about the safety of shelter workers. “It was determined that because of the aggression in the dog it was not an adoption candidate,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything with the dog.”
Hohenstern said that, despite the wording on the website, Wilkinson had initialed a paper stating she understood that the surrender was is unconditional: “Pinellas County Animal Services makes no promise, actual or implied, regarding holding time, treatment, adoption or disposition of this animal.” Hohenstern said the document initialed by Wilkinson superseded the website.
The county, Tampa Bay Online reports, has since changed the language on the website.
Hohenstern said with more animals being surrendered, possibly because of the economy, the animal control office encourages people to consider other options before dropping a dog there. “We try to … let them know this is kind of their last resort,” Hohenstern said. “They don’t want to do this.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, animal control, animal services, animals, apartments, big dogs, denise wilkinson, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, florida, holding, landlords, limits, mastiff, pets, pinellas county, rentals, rescue, rottweiler, rules, shelter, size, sunny, surrender, weight limits
Diamond is a documented hero — credited with saving the lives of her California family and named one of the nation’s top ten “Valor Dogs” — but landlords only see her as trouble.
Her owner says that despite being named one of the nation’s top ten “Valor Dogs” by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), dozens of landlords are turning away “Diamond” because she’s a pit bull, WBIR-TV reports.
Darryl Steen, Diamond’s owner, says she woke him up when his apartment caught fire last October. He was able to get one of his daughters to safety by dropping her out of a window, but couldn’t reach the second child.
When firefighters finally got to her, Diamond was laying on top of the girl in an effort to protect her from the flames.
The dog suffered severe burns, but has recovered.
Steen says that several landlords have told them that pets are welcome, only to renege when they learn that Diamond is a pit bull.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, banned, california, darryl steen, diamond, discrimination, dogs, family, fire, hayward, hero, humane society, landlords, pets, pit bull, pitbull, rentals, saved, valor
Where I’d like to live and what I can afford are two different realms, two very different realms – a fact I bring up not because I’m the first person to experience that phenomenon, but because it is one of the reasons Ace and I are having difficulty settling down, even temporarily.
All I want is a small cabin or cottage — they being much more romantic than something called a house – away from the hubbub, with heat and electricity, perhaps on the water, with a view of said water, and maybe a porch, possibly a fireplace, and washer and dryer, either near a park or with a big backyard that Ace can romp in, for, say $700 a month.
I’m not set on that. I’d also settle for a huge artist’s loft, utilities included, under $800 a month, where I could spread out and tape notes to the walls and write brilliantly when I’m not at the neighboring dog park, or enjoying the downtown skyline of (insert city here) from my deck, or taking part in the thriving social scene and cultural activities within easy walking distance.
Am I asking too much?
Of course I am.
For those of you who haven’t been following the recent adventures of me and my dog Ace, allow me to summarize. Eight months ago, we hit the road to see some America — freeloading off friends and strangers, staying at cheap motels, spending a week on a boat, a month in a camper, a few nights in the car and in my tent. Part of the reason was to find ourselves, and find home. Part of it was to see if we could be vagabonds, roaming the country for the same amount we’d previously spent on rent and utilities at our rowhouse in Baltimore.
The trip gave me a deeper appreciation of my dog and my country; a better understanding of its faults (the country’s, Ace has none); and it confirmed my suspicion that most of the great places to live, scenic-beauty wise, have been co-opted by the rich. It also instilled in me — if it wasn’t already there — a thriftiness that, while mandated by my economic situation, borders on obsession.
I just can’t stand spending money on overpriced things, like gas, fancy restaurants, hotels, electricity and rent.
Arriving back in Baltimore, still unsure where home was, we were lucky enough to land in an empty house near the Inner Harbor that’s awaiting its new tenants — three soldiers returning from Afghanistan, expected to be back at end of February. It more than meets my needs and my budget, as it’s a friend’s house that’s costing me nothing. I, essentially, am squatting, with permission. But the clock is ticking.
So everyday, I visit Craigslist, most often “housing, sublets and temporary,” looking for a place to live for March, maybe April and May, maybe longer. I’m not limiting myself to the Baltimore area. I’ve also searched, on the Internet, the Eastern Shore, North Carolina, Delaware, Philadelphia and, on really cold days, Arizona.
My options are limited because I’m hesitant to sign up for a year’s lease and, of course, by my dog — but also by my cheapness. I will probably move to wherever I find the best deal.
For awhile, I thought I’d found it, in Wilmington, N.C. — a pet-friendly, two-bedroom home overlooking the woods on a quiet cul-de-sac close to Wrightsville Beach. At $695 a month.
I emailed about what sort of pet fees and restrictions might apply, and got a speedy response. The house was still available, and they allowed all dogs — except for for Rottweilers, Akitas, chows and pit bulls.
Ace — as some of you may know, and in answer to the question many of you have asked — is a mix of Rottweiler, Akita, chow and pit bull.
The next day I found affordable paradise again – a “cottage” in Ellicott City, Md., one that, from the pictures, looked just like what I was looking for. It was secluded, wooded, with two bedrooms and a porch, for only $700.
Again my inquiry was quickly answered:
“Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house..I am Banke Jur, the owner of the house you are making inquiry of. Actually I resided in the house with my family, my wife and my only daughter before and presently we have moved out due to my transfer from my work now in Warsaw,Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $700USD (rent already includes utilities). More so Now, i’m currently in the (West African) for an international Christian follower’s crusade …
“Await your urgent reply … please we are giving you all this based on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, you know that we have not seen yet and only putting everything into Gods hands, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this …
“The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish to. A Deposit of $500 (which happens to be the security deposit) is required before moving in. Arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you.”
Problem was, the same house was listed at $1,650 on a dozen other rental websites, including the Re/Max website, its official listing agency.
My findings thus far? What appears to be a dandy deal is often a sleazy scam. What appears too good to be true, generally is. And what I can afford seems to be a “sleeping room,” a roomate situation, or in a neighborhood that, while the house has been “rehabbed,” the neighbors, unfortunately, have not.
Searching Craigslist has given me some new pet peeves: ads that don’t include a price, address, or even neighborhood; ads for places that proclaim dog-friendliness, but limit that to dogs under 25 pounds; ads proclaiming dog-friendliness that turn out to charge an extra $100 a month for it (Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t “friendliness” you have to pay for generally called prostitution?); ads repeated so often as to make you scream; ads pretending to be offering a property that just funnel you into some other website, sucking up your time.
Not to mention they get no editing. There was one house whose owner boasted it was ”recently remolded.” Apparently the original mold wasn’t good enough.
Another ad on Baltimore’s Craigslist offered free rent for 2 months — on a farm, with pets and horses allowed — in exchange for “painting services that equal 40 hours/week.” I could do that. What I could not do, though, was pay the $3000 cash deposit they asked for.
I also came across this ”bachelor or bachelorette pad” at $875 a month, which features a built in bar, stripper pole, and, at least in the photos, what appear to be tools of restraint. I exercised some and didn’t seek more information.
There are plenty of ads for roomates. But at 57, I just can’t see moving in with a roomate, or two, or three. I thought some about this one in Canton, a shared rowhouse, for under $700 — three female roomates looking for a fourth of any gender. There were already some “mellow dogs” living there, according to the ad. Ace and I both fit into that category. While it did set me to humming the theme from “Three’s Company,” I didn’t make an inquiry — mainly because, as much as I’d try to be Jack Tripper, I’d come across as the token old coot. I am, come to think of it, a lot like Don Knotts/Mr. Furley on the inside, masked beneath the cool/sleepy exterior of Norman Fell/Mr. Roper. (Not that I actually watched that show.)
What all this is telling me is that humans, at least those on Craigslist, are not to be automatically trusted — that maybe newspaper classified ads, because people had to pay for them, were at least a bit more reliable, not to mention spam free.
It’s telling me too that that there should be a blacklist of landlords and insurers that unfairly blacklist entire breeds.
And, when I read between the lines, it’s telling me that maybe we’re not meant to settle down. Ace, I’m mostly convinced, wants to. Part of me does, too. But another part is saying that, if I invest in anything, it should be a home with wheels.
Maybe we should continue traveling the country, this time in an RV, Ace and me, perhaps with another zany sidekick – not Fran Drescher – simultaneously filming it for use as either reality show or sitcom.
You better hope I find a home, or you might have to watch it.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, akitas, animals, arizona, bachelor pad, bachelorette pad, baltimore, bans, breed restrictions, breeds, cabin, chows, cottage, craigslist, delaware, distrust, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eastern shore, economy, freeloading, frugality, home, house, househunting, housing, income, insurance, landlords, lease, north carolina, pet fees, pet friendly, pets, pit bulls, prostitution, recreational vehicle, rent, rental, renting, roomates, rottweilers, rv, scams, settling, sharing, shelter, squatting, sublets, temporary, threes company, thriftiness, travels with ace, trust
Landlords would be prohibited from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets under a bill approved this week by California lawmakers.
The state Assembly passed the bill by a 44-10 vote, sending it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, says it is unconscionable for landlords to require pet owners to subject their animals to permanent surgeries as a condition of tenancy.
Under the new law, landlords would be fined $1,000 for demanding those procedures in a lease agreement, according to the Associated Press.
Eight local governments in California banned the practice of cat declawing, according to The Paw Project, which lobbied for the statewide legislation and is urging supporters to contact the governor’s office urging its approval.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, arnold, california, cats, cruelty to animals, declaw, declawing, devocalization, dogs, governor, landlords, legislation, legislature, paw project, pets, schwarzenegger, tenants, the paw project
A study by Apartments.com has found that 80 percent of renters say a pet-friendly policy plays a major role in where they choose to live, and nearly one of every three seek out a home that is convenient to ameneties like dog parks and walking trails.
A whopping 90 percent of those responding to the survey said they had a pet, and half of the other 10 percent said they plan to get one within the next year.
While the majority of respondents experienced difficulty finding an apartment that allowed pets, 89 percent said they were not put in a position where they had to choose between their animal and a place to live.
For survey respondents who said they were forced to give up a pet, the two main causes were identified as not being able to find an apartment with a pet-friendly policy (65%) or not being able to afford the pet deposit (27%).
Apartments.com says more properties are welcoming pets. More than 11 million searches were conducted on the website in 2008 by people seeking pet-friendly apartments.
For tips on renting with pets, Apartments.com offers a special section on its website.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: apartments, apartments.com, contest, landlords, pet deposit, pet friendly, pets, policy, properties, rental, renters, roommate of the year, survey, tenants, tips, video