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Tag: law

California takes bold step: As of 2019, pet stores can only sell rescues and shelter dogs

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California has become the first state to require that pet stores cease selling pets provided by breeders and sell only cats and dogs from nonprofit rescues and shelters.

The law is expected to hit the pet industry like an earthquake when it goes into effect at the beginning of 2019.

The mere discussion of it, in recent months, has been sending tremors through the ranks of breeders, pet store owners and American Kennel Club officials.

Despite the contention of those groups that the law would strip Californians of their rights, it does not prohibit people from buying dogs and cats directly from breeders.

Instead it’s aimed a puppy mills and stemming the flow of dogs bred in unacceptable conditions to consumers through pet stores.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 485 on Friday.

“This is a big win for our four-legged friends, of course. But also for California taxpayers who spend more than $250 million annually to house and euthanize animals in our shelters,” Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, the author of the bill, said in a statement Friday.

An estimated 35 cities across California have enacted similar laws, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but the passage of the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act marks the first time a state has adopted such protections.

Violators will face $500 in penalties.

“We are overjoyed that Governor Brown signed this historic piece of legislation into law,” said Judie Mancuso, president and founder of Social Compassion in Legislation.

(Photo: Pinterest)

Bring us your tired, your poor, your … On second thought, don’t bring us anybody

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The American Kennel Club apparently wants to keep dogs rescued from foreign countries out of America, saying they will bring disorder and disease to our pristine shores.

In voicing its opposition to a California bill that would prohibit the sale in pet stores of dogs sourced from professional breeders, the AKC says the law would create a “perverse incentive” to import “greater numbers of street dogs and dogs of unknown origins.”

Limiting the public’s access to purebreds, as the AKC maintains the proposed law would do, would result in the U.S. becoming “a magnet for the world’s strays and sick animals.”

jindolAKC Vice President Sheila Goffe, in a commentary piece published in the Orange County Register, singles out dogs rescued from abusive situations in foreign countries — as my dog was — and portrays them as unpredictable and diseased.

Dogs that come from rescues and shelters, or through rescues and shelters, aren’t as well-screened, as temperament-tested, and as disease-free as breeder-raised dogs purchased at pet stores, she says.

Those “facts” are questionable. That logic is wrong. That stance reeks of snobbery and flies in the face of those words on the plaque at the Statue of Liberty, and what many Americans still think America is all about.

And, as with the immigration debate when it comes to humans, it’s more than a bit ironic, considering all those purebred breeds the AKC celebrates, and makes money from, came from foreign countries.

Of course, the AKC isn’t saying America should ban German shepherds, or Irish setters, or Portuguese water dogs, or even Afghan hounds — or any of the many other breeds who proudly carry their country of origin in their breed names.

Those, assuming they are purebreds, and have their paperwork, and pay their AKC dues, are always welcome here.

The great unwashed masses, though? The dog saved from being turned into meat in Korea? The starving street dog in Afghanistan or some other war torn country? That mangy cur searching for sustenance in the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami or other far away natural disaster?

The AKC apparently believes they have no place here.

Reasonable people disagree when it comes to how much effort we as Americans should put into saving dogs from overseas. Legitimate arguments can be made on both sides.

Given the shrinking but still mind-boggling number of unwanted dogs that are euthanized in U.S. shelters, given the needs created by our own disasters at home, like Hurricane Harvey, there are those who feel American dogs should come first. Others feel our compassion for animals shouldn’t be limited by boundaries — that we should help dogs who need help, wherever they are.

There’s a place for that debate. But Assembly Bill 245 — still awaiting Senate approval — really isn’t that place.

AB 245 bans the pet store sale of dogs, cats and other pets raised by breeders, who, especially when it comes to puppy mills, aren’t always the rule-following, highly policed and regulated operations the AKC portrays them as.

DSC05635 (2)Saying the law will lead to an influx of unwanted and unsavory foreigners, as the AKC is doing, is the same kind of fear tactic that taints our country’s broader debate over human immigration.

Banning the sale of breeder raised dogs at pet stores will not lead to an influx of Mexican rapist dogs, or Muslim terrorist dogs.

What the bill would do is limit pet stores to dealing in dogs obtained through shelters and rescues — a direction many stores and some local governments have already embraced.

Having visited many humane societies and a few puppy mills, I can tell you that even if shelters face fewer government-imposed restrictions, their dogs are more likely to be temperament-tested, well-adjusted and healthy than those that go the puppy mill to pet store to consumer route.

And we don’t see rescuing mutts or purebreds, from any country, as “perverse.”

“Selling only shelter or rescue dogs creates a perverse incentive to import greater numbers of street dogs and dogs of unknown origins for U.S. retail rescues,” Goffe, who is the AKC’s vice president for government relations, wrote. “In fact, the U.S. already has become a dumping ground for foreign ‘puppy mill’ and rescue dogs, importing close to 1 million rescue dogs annually from Turkey, several countries in the Middle East and as far away as China and Korea, according to the National Animal Interest Alliance.”

(Don’t be too impressed by the reference to NAIA. It is mostly a front group for breeders and agribusiness and the AKC, and it was founded by an AKC board member and a biomedical researcher.)

“It’s a crap shoot whether these foreign street dogs Californians may be adopting are carrying serious diseases,” Goffe added. “That’s because while importation laws require all dogs to be examined by a licensed veterinarian, foreign paperwork is commonly invalid or forged … dogs from other countries are not subject to the health and welfare laws of professionally-bred U.S. dogs.”

The AKC says Californians would lose their freedom to have the kind of dog they want if the law passes, implying that pet stores are the only place one can find a purebred.

That’s not the case. You can generally find any breed of dog in a shelter or rescue — often even locally. And the proposed law would not prevent people from buying dogs directly from breeders.

So fear not, California (even though the AKC would like you to.) Your liberties are not about to be taken away. Your shores are not about to be inundated with sickly, mangy killer dogs who don’t speak English.

And if more dogs rescued from other countries end up in the U.S. — in hopes of saving their lives and making their lives better — chances are they, as with the human immigrants before them, will only enrich our culture, whether we’re talking California or Connecticut.

We’re not a nation of purebreds, no matter what the AKC says — not when it comes to dogs, and not when it comes to people.

(Photos: At top, dogs awaiting slaughter at an outdoor market in Seoul; Jinjja, the rescued Korean dog I adopted; Jinjja and me)

$1.26 million awarded to family of dog shot and killed by police officer in Maryland

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A jury has awarded $1.26 million to a Maryland family whose dog was shot and killed by police in 2014 — the largest award ever in the U.S. for such a case, according to the law firm that represented the family.

According to a press release from the Hansel Law firm in Baltimore, the verdict came after a three-day trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.

“The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well,” said Cary J. Hansel, the attorney for Michael Reeves of Glen Burnie.

Reeves’ four-year-old retriever, Vern, was shot by an officer responding to a burglary call in Reeves’ neighborhood.

Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price claimed he was attacked by Vern, but forensic evidence presented at the trial led the jury to conclude otherwise.

vern2Vern was a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The breed is the state dog of Maryland.

The officer encountered the dog in the family’s front yard, and the officer said the dog barked and ran toward him.

During the trial, the officer admitted that the dog did not bite or injure him before he fired his weapon. The officer also said no other steps were taken to deal with the dog before the dog was shot two times, the Capital Gazette reported.

A necropsy performed at the request of Anne Arundel County police showed that one bullet entered the dog’s sternum, and another bullet entered the dog’s side, at a time when the dog’s body was perpendicular to the gun.

Attorney Hansel said that evidence contradicted Price’s testimony regarding how the shooting occurred.

An internal investigation by the police department earlier determined the dog had behaved aggressively. Price remains with the police department.

The jury found that Price was not attacked by the dog, that the shooting violated Reeves’ constitutional rights, and that it was committed with gross negligence.

Reeves got Vern in 2009 and took a year off work to train him. He declined to comment after the verdict.

The $1.26 million verdict includes $500,000 in monetary damages and $760,000 in damages for the anguish caused by the shooting.

The firm says the award was the largest ever in a case of a dog shot and killed by a police officer.

The Department of Justice estimates that about 10,000 dogs are shot by law enforcement officers every year in the United States.

Rhode Island lawmaker introduces bill that would ban pet leasing

Calling the practice “alarming, cruel and absurd,” A Rhode Island lawmaker is introducing a bill to ban pet leasing companies.

Rep. Charlene Lima said she’ll be introducing legislation that prohibits any business or individual in the state “from renting, leasing, or in any other way offering a live animal for sale as a ‘forever pet’ other than by a full outright sale.”

The ban would be similar to the only other such law in the nation, in Massachusetts, which was passed nine years ago when one of the first dog leasing companies planned to open offices there.

lima“I think a lot of people didn’t have any idea that this was going on, and this practice must be stopped in Rhode Island. I found it absurd and cruel,” the lawmaker said. Lima said she learned about the practice from a television news report.

The NBC 10 I-Team reported earlier this week that such pet leasing programs are being offered at Family Pet Center in North Providence and The Perfect Puppy in Scituate and West Warwick.

The programs require consumers make monthly lease payments. At the end of the lease, consumers must buy out of the contract to keep their pet.

Lima’s proposed law would make leasing a pet an animal cruelty violation, punishable by fine or imprisonment, according to a press release posted to her Twitter account.

Pet stores offering such programs would be subject to losing their licenses, and the lending institutions that arrange the financing — usually at outrageously high interest rates — could be subject to fines.

Lima said the companies “prey on the emotions of the less affluent by inducing them to enter into high interest loans, the so called lease/rent pet agreements …

“If someone is induced into spending more on an expensive pet than they can afford by these ridiculous payday lender type pet rental or lease agreements, how can they hope to afford the medical, food and other costs associated with responsible pet ownership? Ultimately, if they are unable to keep up the payments the ‘forever pet’ is repossessed much like a used car.

“This is cruel to the animal and the pet owner. It must be stopped now.”

The NBC 10 I-Team report found several complaints about pet leasing programs on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

When it sent a producer into both stores undercover, employees discouraged her from applying to the lease programs, and one told her she should adopt.

Both Family Pet Center and The Perfect Puppy offered financing through a pet leasing company called Wags Lending. The Perfect Puppy also offers leasing through another company called Nextep Funding.

Including interest, the report said, a consumer could easily spend $2,000 on a $1,000 dog over the course of a two-year lease. Even after 24 monthly payments, the consumer still has to buy out the contract to keep their pet.

(Learn more about the shady history of pet leasing here.)

After a pit bull named Trump gets neutered, his owner doesn’t want him anymore

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A Brooklyn man surrendered his pit bull mix — not because the shelter renamed the dog Trump, but because animal control wouldn’t return the dog without neutering him first.

Peter Gorgenyi said his 95-pound pit bull mix — who went by the name Rocco — ran off and was picked up by animal control two weeks ago. At the shelter, staff gave him the name Trump.

After learning the dog was in the city’s care, Gorgenyi was contacted by animal control on April 20 and informed that, under city law, the dog had to be neutered before he could be returned.

roccoTo Gorgenyi, 38, that was unacceptable. His life plan involved moving to a wilderness area in Montana, where he expected the dog — in his intact condition — to bravely fend off bear attacks and other threats.

“He had to be a masculine, strong dog, not a confused neutered dog,” Gorgenyi told the New York Post. “Neutering changes a dog’s behavior.”

Gorgenyi, a software engineer who we’re guessing is a pretty macho guy, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court to stop the procedure, but by then it was too late. Trump was neutered Monday.

He has since informed animal control that he doesn’t want the 3-year-old dog back.

Gorgenyi says he rescued the dog last year from an abusive owner.

The Post story quotes Gorgenyi as saying animal control bestowed his dog with the name Trump, but apparently he offered no thoughts on that. Gorgenyi does have multiple photos of President Trump on his Facebook page, the article says.

There was no comment on the case from representatives for Animal Care and Control, the Post said.

(Photos: Provided by owner to New York Post)

It’s my gun show and I’ll cry if I want to

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Let’s all join together in a giant boo-hoo for Thomas Allman, who says his health was put at risk when a service dog entered his gun show over the weekend.

Allman kicked out the dog — and the Bronze Star-winning veteran the dog accompanied (that’s them above) — saying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) didn’t apply to them at his gun show. He explained his reasoning this way:

“It doesn’t apply because he’s not setting up at my gun show because we don’t allow dogs in my gun show,” he told Fox 14 News. (Click the link for video.)

The nerve of that veteran! Thinking he could just waltz into a gun show and put everyone else’s health at risk with a dog that helps him cope with injuries he received during his nearly 20 years of service in Iraq.

Did he give any thought that his actions could result in sneezes and stuffy noses among anyone who was allergic (like Allman) as they innocently shopped for new deadly weapons to add to their home arsenals?

Former U.S. Army Sergeant John Williams went to the Tri-State Gun Show at the armory in Evansville on Saturday as a vendor, but he was asked to leave because of his service dog, Winchester.

Williams, appropriately, raised a stink, and called the police, waiting outside for them to arrive and hear his complaint that his rights, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, were being violated.

Winchester was assigned to Williams by the Soldier Dogs for Independence group to help him with mobility.

The president of that group Michael Barrentine, was called to the gun show once he heard what was going on.

“There’s so much irony,” he said. “You have a 21 year veteran of the United States armed forces that’s disabled due to his military service that’s getting kicked out of the armory …”

Williams says he is still contemplating filing charges.

Thomas Allman stages several guns shows a year in Indiana (and whatever other two states comprise the “tri-state” area), allowing folks to show off, buy, sell and trade guns.

Something less than full scrutiny, apparently, is applied to those buying them: “They’ll ask them if they’re a felon or not and all we can do is take their word that they’re not,” Allman once said in a TV interview.

Allman is all for nurturing an environment in which guns can be freely sold and exchanged — something he says is necessary in today’s world.

“What would you do if ISIS came to your door today and you didn’t have any way of protecting yourself? They will come here. They’re coming folks so you better be prepared for them.”

So feel free to bring your guns to the show (unloaded please, he asks). Just don’t bring a dog.

Allman says dogs haven’t been allowed to sit at booths at his shows for the last 20 years. Apparently, he considers it OK for paid guests to bring service dogs, but not vendors (who pay a $50 registration fee).

“You want to come in the gun show and sell your guns, or walk around and look and trade guns with your service dog, we have no problem with that,” Allman said.

Under the ADA, “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Allman is allergic to dogs — “I can’t stand to be sick and be put in the hospital” — and apparently gets a little anxious when they are around, as he also does amid talk of laws restricting gun sales.

ftwaynegunshow“Just cause they don’t want one, what’s the right to take anybody else’s away from them?” Allman said in a 2015 interview. “That’s my problem with it and I can’t handle that… This is what we do for a living and have a hobby of doing it and love doing it. It’s freedom. We’re in the United States. It’s freedom.”

Apparently, as he sees it, he’s the one who gets to define freedom. So his shows don’t allow cameras or news media past the entrance, don’t allow service dogs, and insist you don’t enter with a loaded weapon.

(That didn’t stop a visitor, and a drunken one at that, from loading up his .45 caliber handgun after he entered, firing it and injuring a a 72-year-old man and 16-year-old boy during the 2011 show in Evansville.)

We’d suggest that if Allman can’t handle service dogs, he stop holding public gun shows, or hire a representative to oversee them, or take a Zyrtec, or conduct his arms dealing online.

(Photos: At top, Williams and his dog, Winchester, WFIE; at bottom a photo taken at a gun show in Ft. Wayne)

Forsyth County passes tethering ban

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Leaving dogs tied up for extended periods is now, with a few exceptions, flat out illegal in Forsyth County, N.C.

By a 4 to 3 vote, the county commissioners approved a ban on tethering this week, replacing an existing law many considered toothless and unenforceable.

Under the previous version of the ordinance, tethering per se was not illegal, but it could lead to additional penalties in cases of animal cruelty.

Under the new one, tethering is illegal except when it is being used for hunting, camping or other recreation where tethering is required.

Commission Chairman Dave Plyler, Everette Witherspoon, Walter Marshall and Ted Kaplan voted for the ban. Commissioners Richard Linville, Gloria Whisenhunt and Don Martin voted against it.

The vote was met with applause and cheers by animal welfare advocates attending the meeting.

Keith Murphy, Co-founder of Unchain Winston, said, “We’re really happy that it’s finally passed, we’ve been working on it for many many years.”

“When we started this in 2010 there were only 12 communities in North Carolina that had a tethering ban, now, luckily, Forsyth County has become the 26th in North Carolina to have a ban.”

“I started this the first time I was on the animal control advisory board 10 years ago,” said animal-welfare advocate Jennifer Teirney. “The people and animals of Forsyth County won this one. I’m glad to see us move forward in a progressive way.”

The old ordinance, adopted in 2011, didn’t go into effect until 2013, and many felt it didn’t go far enough.

The new ordinance allows for a grace period of one year.

If a resident violates the ordinance during the grace period, a warning ticket will be issued and the violator will receive information on the new ordinance and organizations such as Unchain Forsyth and Unchain Winston.

Those organizations build fences for families who need help unchaining their dogs.The organizations have built about 150 fences and 200 dog houses for residents.

(Photo: Fairfaxcounty.gov)