Maryland lawmakers approved a spay-neuter program, and cracked down a little on dog-fighters, but once again they failed to reach agreement on a measure that would relieve pit bulls of the wrongful designation “inherently dangerous.”
So all in all, we give lawmakers — as they take a break from their lawmaking — a C minus when it comes to how they treated dogs this session.
And they passed ”Molly’s Law,” named after a nine-month-old pit bull mix who was used as a bait dog by dog-fighters and who died from her injuries. The “bait dog” law subjects those who use bait dogs to the same penalties that dog-fighting carries — a maximum of three years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
Maryland Votes For Animals praised the legislature for passing the two bills, but noted Maryland still ranks 43rd nationwide in the strength of dog-fighting laws.
What lawmakers weren’t able to do is reach a compromise on the dog bite liability law and overturn a precedent set by a Court of Appeals ruling last year that has had far-reaching implications.
The compromise died in the House of Delegates in the final hours of the 90-day session, which was also the case when the issue was being debated in a special summer session last year.
Under the new compromise, approved by the Senate, all dog owners — not just pit bull owners — would have been held to a standard of “strict liability” if their dog attacked a child 12 or younger. If a dog bite victim was 13 or older, the owner would have a chance to show their dog wasn’t known to be dangerous.
Without approval from the House, the compromise died, leaving the Appeals Court ruling intact.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, breed-specific, c minus, compromise, discrimination, dog, dog bit, dogfighting, dogs, grade, house of delegates, law, lawmakers, legislation, legislative, liability, maryland, neuter, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, senate, spay
Anyone who follows dog news knows that (A) police departments are turning to dogs more than ever to help fight crime; and that (B) local police officers are shooting dogs more than ever; and that (C) those two trends don’t seem to add up.
You’d think that, as police departments become more dog savvy, reports of officers shooting dogs they feel threatened by would be declining.
Instead, nearly weekly, there’s news of another family pet being gunned down — often pit bulls, sometimes breeds not known for provoking fear, like retrievers.
It’s Arvada. All Arvada police officers are getting dog behavior training, ABC 7 in Denver reports — and they don’t have to go far to get it, considering the experts are often right in the same building.
Officers in the department’s K-9 unit are working with those who patrol the streets in an attempt to give them a better understanding of dog behavior.
“We can be a good resource for them and offer a different perspective,” said Jennie Whittle.
By working with and learning from the department’s K-9s and handlers, the program hopes to better equip officers on the street to deal with dogs, so that fear isn’t the first, and the dominant, reaction.
Often, all a dog that might appear aggressive needs is some time and space.
“Fido just came out here and he isn’t necessarily trying to attack me and if I just give that dog some space then we don’t have any further issue with that dog,” Ron Avila explained.
“Even our patrol officers are, I don’t want to say scared, but intimated at times when we go around our own canine police dogs,” said Arvada police officer Jason Ammons.
Ammons was on bike patrol when a pit bull ran after him and attempted to bite his leg. He used his Taser on the dog instead of his gun, which Arvada officers are being taught is the preferred option.
In light of recent shootings of dogs by officers in other towns, state Sen. David Balmer plans to introduce a bill that would make dog training mandatory for all police officers.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adams county, animals, arvada, behavior, canine, colorado, commerce city, david balmer, dog, dogs, K-9, k9, law, law enforcement, legislation, officer, patrol, pets, police, prevention, program, senator, shooting, shootings, training
The Virginia city of Suffolk has approved a ban on dog-tethering, effective the first of September.
After months of wrangling over details and considering compromises, the city council voted 6-2 to enact an outright ban on dog-tethering, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
Suffolk joins a growing number of Virginia cities that have taken steps to ban or limit tethering dogs outside. Hampton forbids it, and Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach limit tethering to a maximum of three hours a day.
Suffolk City Councilman Mike Duman, who had proposed a 10-hour a day limit, said he was pleased with the outcome.
Police Chief Thomas Bennett told the council an outright ban would be easier to enforce than restricting tethering to a certain number of hours a day.
The ordinance makes tethering a Class Four misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine.
(Photo: A tethered dog photographed in the Pleasant Hill area of Suffolk; by Jason Hirschfeld / The Virginian-Pilot)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, banned, bans, city council, dog, dogs, fine, hampton, law, misdemeanor, norfolk, outside, pets, portsmouth, restrictions, suffolk, tethering, tying, virginia, virginia beach
A proposal to alter dog bite liability law in Maryland looks to be unraveling, the Washington Post reports.
Last month, the House of Delegates passed a bill to address a Maryland Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and holding their owners — unlike owners of any other dogs — automatically liable if their dog bit someone.
The House passed a bill that didn’t single out any breeds, but shifted the burden of proof in dog-bite cases — proving that a dog was known or should have been known to be dangerous — from the victim to the dog’s owner.
With negotations having taken place beforehand between members of the House and Senate, with its seeming bipartisan support, with it having passed the House unanimously, it appeared smooth sailing was ahead for the bill.
That hasn’t been the case.
The Senate has come up with an amended version of the bill that — while it doesn’t single out pit bulls — makes it “virtually imposible” for a defendant in a dog-bite case to prevail, according to the delegate who negotiated the bill through the House.
Del. Luiz Simmons (D- Montgomery) says his Senate counterpart had assured him the bill, as approved by the House, would have no problem: “He told me he agreed with the compromise, he told me not to worry about it. We had a deal.”
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), who negotiated the bill for the Senate and is chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said that events had taken an unforeseen turn, leaving him in an “awkward position.”
The new provision — it requires owners to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that their dog was not dangerous before an attack — was proposed last week by Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Montgomery) and approved by a majority of Frosh’s committee.
Frosh voted against it, but says he doesn’t think the amendment hurts the bill.
After the bill arrived on the Senate floor Tuesday, there were attempts to delete Zirkin’s provision, but Zirkin fought them: “I love dogs but if my dog bites a little kid, I should be responsible,” he said.
The feuding could threaten the legislation’s chances of getting passed this session.
Members of the General Assembly failed to pass a similar bill during a special summer session, leaving the appeals court decision that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” intact.
That court, ruling in a case involving the mauling of a 10-year-old Towson boy mauled by a pit bull in 2007, declared owners of pit bulls (and “third parties,” including landlords) automatically liable in the event that their dog bites or injures someone.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bill, compromise, court of appeals, delegates, dog bites, general assembly, house, inherently dangerous, law, liability, maryland, negotiations, pit bulls, pitbulls, proposal, senate, senators
The Maryland House of Delegates yesterday approved a bill that would make it easier to hold all dog owners accountable for injuries caused by their pets — not just those who own pit bulls.
The Washington Post reports that the measure provides “a small measure of victory to pit bull owners,” whose dogs had been singled out by a Maryland court last spring as “inherently dangerous.”
The bill effectively overturns the Maryland Court of Appeals decision, Tracey v. Solesky, which stemmed from a 2007 incident in which a pit bull mauled a 10-year-old Towson boy.
The measure approved by the house Thursday would make it easier to hold all dog owners liable for injuries caused by their pets. In the past, plaintiffs suing the owners of dogs had to prove the dog was dangerous. Now it will be up to dog owners in liability cases to prove in court that their dog is not dangerous.
The 2012 court decision made owners of pit bulls, and their landlords, automatically liable in the event that their dog bit or injured someone.
Animal rights groups protested the appeals court decision, saying it was leading to dogs being euthanized and tenants being forced to surrender their dogs or move. The House bill does not contain breed-specific language.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breed-specific, burden of proof, courts, dangerous, dog bites, dogs, house of delegates, inherent, inherently dangerous, law, lawsuits, legislation, liability, maryland, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
Problem is, IT’S NOT.
Proving once again that words written in all caps should never be trusted.
As the New York Post reported yesterday, the signs, which show a human dutifully following his dog with a small shovel, are a bit off the mark.
Posted in at least a couple of locations, the signs not only have the maximum fine wrong, but the law they cite — Public Health Law 1316 — doesn’t exist.
The actual maximum fine for the offense is $250, and the law behind it is Public Health Law 1310.
Most signs in the city have it right, but apparently some rogue ones got fabricated and posted as well over the years, either due to poor research, or because the city wanted to scare the sheer bejeebers out of people.
The Post reported that “the city for years has posted signs in parks and promenades that threaten a $1,000 fine for dog-waste violations … Just one problem with the signs: They’re full of crap.”
When The Post asked city officials about one such posting on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, they admitted that “1316” was a typo — and that the actual fine is $250. A spokeswoman said for the Parks Department said the promenade sign was taken down after The Post’s inquiry.
The spokeswoman said the sign “appears to be an older sign that is no longer fabricated and no longer installed in parks. We make every effort to replace these signs when applicable.”
That would make sense if the signs were ever accurate, but they weren’t.
The Post found at least one more sign still standing – at Washington Market Park in TriBeCa.
All of which makes us wonder: Is there a fine for putting up false warning signs?
(Photo: Helayne Seidman / New York Post)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $1000, $250, 1310, 1316, animals, clean, dog, dogs, error, failure, feces, it's the law, law, maximum, new york city, new york post, one thousand dollars, parks, penalty, pets, poop, pooper, posted, public health law, scoop, scooper, shit, signs, typo, violations, warn, waste
The arrests of a couple accused of running a dogfighting operation in Chester County has led Pennsylvania congressmen to renew calls for tougher laws.
Rep. Jim Gerlach, of West Pikeland, and Rep. Pat Meehan, of Delaware County, both Republicans, urged passage of a bill that would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight.
“As former prosecutors we know how crucial it is for law enforcement to have all of the tools necessary to deprive the organizers of these horrific events from receiving the financial rewards they need to continue the criminal enterprises,” Meehan and Marino said in a joint statement.
“With passage of this bill, we can give federal prosecutors more ability to crack down on animal fighting and the criminal culture that typically surrounds animal fighting events.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, was passed by the Senate last week, but remains in the House Agriculture Committee.
Despite bipartisan support, the bill could die if no action is taken before the end of the year.
Called the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, the bill would also institute harsher penalties for bringing minors to animal fights.
Shane Santiago and his wife Laura Acampora, both 33, were arrested last week for allegedly operating a dogfighting ring out of the home they shared with five young children in West Brandywine.
Officials accused the couple of contributing to the death of at least 10 dogs and the maiming of many more that were forced to fight in an arena in the basement of the couple’s home. Two of the dogs were found in Chester County, left for dead at the side of the road. One survived.
Santiago and Acampora are charged with over 30 counts of animal cruelty and numerous other offenses. Both remain in Chester County Prison, according to the Pottstown Mercury.
(Photo: One of the dogs seized from the West Brandywine dogfighting operation)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal fighting, arena, basement, bill, chester county, congress, couple, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogfights, family, house, jim gerlach, laura acompora, law, legislation, pass, passage, pat meehan, pennsylvania, senate, shane santiago, spectator prohibition act
Last week, the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover investigation documenting the connections between pet stores and puppy mills (above) — and it threw a little praise Ohio’s way for passing new measures to curb abuses among high volume dog breeders.
“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Ohio lawmakers for working to pass this commonsense law to protect dogs and address the worst problems at puppy mills,” said Melanie Kahn, senior director of the HSUS “Stop Puppy Mills” campaign.
“No dog should be forced to spend a lifetime in a small wire cage with no human companionship or comfort,” she added.
Ohio’s new law requires the licensure and annual inspection of high volume breeders that sell 60 dogs or produce at least nine litters in a single calendar year.
It creates a Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board to assist the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture in developing standards, including rules on housing, nutrition, exercise, waste management, grooming, whelping.
It also prohibits anyone convicted of animal cruelty in the last 20 years from obtaining a license – a provision designed to stop the influx into Ohio of puppy mill operators who have been forced to close their operations in other states.
“For too many years, the state of Ohio has been known as a haven for low-quality, high-volume breeders that we call ‘puppy mills.’ This is kind of careless treatment of animals is not a reputation that should be attached to our state,” said Ohio Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus.
Ohio is home to 174 federally-licensed dog breeders and brokers – fifth most in the nation – and to at least another 1,000 additional high volume dog breeders, the HSUS says.
Puppy mills are commonly defined as breeding operations that mass-produce puppies for sale through pet stores, over the Internet and directly to the public. Dogs are often kept in crowded, filthy conditions where they receive little or no socialization, affection or exercise.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering applying minimum federal animal welfare standards to breeders who sell dogs directly to consumers. Such breeders are currently exempt.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, breeders, breeding, connection, department of agriculture, direct, dogs, hsus, humane society of the united states, internet, investigation, large scale, law, ohio, passed, pet stores, pets, puppy mills, regulations, sales, tougher
A week before Thanksgiving, a Plymouth District Court judge granted the dog — owned by a 38-year-old Marshfield woman — the protection of a restraining order from a violent ex-boyfriend.
We like this law, and suggest other states take a look at it, including Alabama.
In the Massachusetts case, the dog is now in foster care, while the woman and her two-year-old daughter are staying in a domestic violence shelter at an undisclosed, out-of-state location.
“(She) feared that her boyfriend might try to take the dog, and she stated that he had already kicked and dragged the dog in the past,” said Deni Michele Goldman, Marshfield’s animal control officer.
“This new law allows a judge to award the possession of an animal to the victim and to prohibit the accused from abusing, threatening or taking the pet,” Goldman told the Taunton Daily Gazette.
“I give her updates by phone. And once she gets settled into a safe place, she will have her dog again,” said Goldman, who is the spokeswoman for the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts.
The woman had filed for a restraining order in September just weeks after Gov. Deval Patrick signed an animal protection bill creating a safety net for pets caught up in domestic violence situations. The bill also instituted a statewide spay and neuter program and required training for animal control officers.
Goldman said that that more than 70 percent of abused women report that their batterers have threatened to hurt or kill their pets.
(Photo: Marshfield Animal Control)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, courts, custody, dogs, domestic violence, first, judge plymouth, labrador, law, marshfield, massachusetts, mix, panzer, pets, protection, rescues, restraining orders, shelters, state, violence
The outdated legal view of dogs as easily-replaceable “property” — worth no more than you paid for them — is slowly beginning to catch up with the times.
The latest indication of a change in judicial thinking came last week when California’s Second District Court of Appeals ruled that pets are fundamentally different than other forms of property.
“Given . . . the reality that animals are living creatures, the usual standard of recovery for damaged personal property — market value — is inadequate when applied to injured pets,” Justice Kathryn Doi Todd wrote in her opinion.
She added, “Animals are special, sentient beings, (and) unlike other forms of property, animals feel pain, suffer and die.”
The Court of Appeals ruling came in the consolidated cases of two pet owners — one whose dog was shot by a neighbor, and one whose dog was injured by veterinary negligence. Lower courts had ruled they were entitled to no more than the market value of their pets.
The appeals court decision reversed both cases. The new ruling permits owners of wrongfully injured pets to recover the “reasonable and necessary costs” of treating and caring for an injured animal, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), which had filed amicus briefs in the case.
The first case involved a German Shepherd named Gunner, who was shot by a neighbor and whose leg had to be amputated, costing his family more than $20,000. The second case involved a Golden Retriever named Katie, whose intestine was nicked during a surgical procedure. The vet also left a piece of gauze in her body. The errors led to the dog having to receive emergency surgery that cost Katie’s family more than $37,000.
In both cases, the trial court limited the plaintiffs’ recovery to a fraction of what they spent to nurse them back to health — namely, their dogs’ market value.
“This decision is a significant step forward for companion animals and their guardians,” said Matthew Liebman, ALDF senior attorney. “The legal system is finally starting to catch up with how the majority of people feel about the animals with whom they share their lives.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aldf, animal, animal legal defense fund, appeals, court, courts, dog, dogs, german shepherd, golden retriever, gunner, injuries, judicial, kathryn doi todd, katie, law, lawsuits, legal, market value, pets, property, ruling, value, view, wrongful