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Tag: leash law

Dashboard cam captures officer’s fatal shooting of an Idaho family’s dog

As a family in southern Idaho celebrated their son’s 9th birthday inside, a police officer pulled in front of their house, warned two unleashed and barking dogs to get away, then shot one of them, fearing it was going to attack him – all as his dashboard cam recorded the scene.

Warning: The video is disturbing and contains some profanity.

As the police car’s windshield wipers slap away, the officer can be heard telling the dogs to “get back … move!” as he gets out of his car. He can be seen kicking at one dog, then pointing his gun at him — as if a dog would understand that warning.

Then, almost casually it appears, he shoots the dog in the front yard before heading to the family’s front door, while telling dispatchers over the radio, in case they received reports of shots being fired, that it was him: ”I just shot the dog.”

In the four minutes that follow he can be heard, but not seen, informing the dog’s owner what happened — mostly by screaming at him:

“Is this your dog? … I just shot your dog because it tried to bite me. Okay? I come here for a f—ing call and it tried to bite me.”

It happened Saturday, when Filer police officer Tarek Hassani arrived to check on a complaint of dogs running at large. The dashboard video was obtained Monday by the Times-News in southern Idaho.

Rick Clubb said his son’s birthday party was wrapping up about 5:30 p.m. when the 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Hooch, was shot outside his home.

Clubb said he suffers Parkinson’s disease, and Hooch, who did not survive, was his trained service animal.

Clubb was he plans to fight the ticket Hassani issued him for an unleashed dog. He added, “He didn’t have to pull out his .45 and shoot my dog. It was right outside my son’s bedroom. What if it had ricocheted through the window?”

Filer Police Chief Tim Reeves said Hassani said that the officer had no choice but to shoot the Lab because it was behaving aggressively.

Clearly, Filer police could use some training on how to deal with dogs, other than using lethal force.

Judging from the one-sided conversation Hassani had with Clubb, they could use some training in being civil as well.

“It’s aggressing me. its’ growling at me,” Hassani can be heard telling Clubb minutes after the shooting. ” … I’m not going to get bit. The last time I got bit I ended up in the ER and I ended up with stitches in my hand … Your dog aggresses me … all of it’s teeth are showing, aggressing me, what am I supposed to think? I yelled at it, I even kicked it a couple of times to get it away from me. It kept charging toward me so I shot it … I love dogs, but I’m not going to be bit again.”

“Is he dead?” Clubb finally asks.

“I think so, yes,” Hassani says.

Los Angeles tales: Barkers beware

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance creating fines for pet owners whose dogs violate leash laws (by being off them) and noise laws (by barking too much and too loudly).

The “administrative citations” would fine pet owners, possibly as little as $25, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Owners whose barking dogs have racked up complaints from neighbors will still face the possibility of being called to a Department of Animal Services hearing. But under administrative citation law, they also could be fined immediately.

“It’s a great enforcement tool for our animal control officers on the streets,” said Kathy Davis, the interim general manager of the city’s Department of Animal Services.

It’s also a great way for the city to bring in some needed money.

Although city officials have yet to decide on a fee structure, Davis said last year that other jurisdictions assess fines of 100 to $300. Considering the nearly 20,000 “notices to comply” the city sent dog owners last year, that could have amounted to more than $2 million for Los Angeles if fines had been in place.

The city’s Department of Animal Services is facing a proposed $1.8 million in cuts to its budget — nearly that same amount.

What a coincidence.

But the city says cracking down on dog owners isn’t financially motivated; instead, it’s for protecting everyone’s peace and safety.

“The object is to make people understand how serious the issue is they’re getting cited for,” Davis said.  Unleashed dogs, she said, “could go into the street and get killed, they could cause an accident. They could bite someone … there are lots of good reasons to keep that dog on a leash.”

Michigan county nixes barking ordinance

We like this little story out of Van Buren County, Michigan.

The county board has rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed ticketing of dog owners if their pets barked, yelped or cried for more than 15 minutes straight between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The ordinance, which also required that dogs be on leashes while outdoors, had been debated for more than two years, with critics calling it an intrusion on their rights. Hunters objected, as did those who use guard dogs. Only one member of the county board voted for it.

But the real reason we like it is for its dateline, for the vote was taken in the county seat – a little town called Paw Paw.

(The town is named after the Paw Paw River, which was named by Native Americans after the paw paw fruit that grew abundantly along the river’s banks.)

Robert E. Lee Park will rise again

releemastoffBaltimore County plans to spend $6 million in local and state funds to begin the first phase of improvements to Robert E. Lee Park — one of which is to establish a dog park within the park’s 415 acres.

Long a popular, but unsanctioned spot for dogs to run off-leash, the park — owned by Baltimore City but located within the county — remains officially closed. The footbridge leading to it was condemned as unsafe and recently demolished. The county will soon sign a long-term lease and take over management of the park.

While there is pressure from some groups to declare parts of the park off limits to dogs, plans call for a fenced-in area where dogs can run unleashed, and have access to the water. In all other areas of the park, dogs will have to remain on leash — a rule that will be enforced by park rangers.DSC02802

Work on a new bridge, estimated to cost about $2.8 million, is to begin in March and take about six months to complete. Construction of a fenced dog park and trails will start in late spring, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Plans call for the park to include a nature center, hiking and biking trails, fountains, benches, restrooms and improved access to Lake Roland.DSC02811

I took these photos at the park last year, while it was still open, but a little down at the heels. I’m fairly certain dogs, leashed or unleashed, didn’t vandalize the signs — more likely unleashed humans.

Animal Control: Stuck in the mud

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Here’s a nutty, and muddy,  little story — one we’ll tell in pictures and words.

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All the pictures were taken Sunday, at Riverside Park in Baltimore, where after three straight days of rain, sunny skies had finally prevailed, along with temperatures so toasty that the squirrels took a break from hoarding their nuts to eat some, and the homeless guys — usually homelessguy1up and gone by mid-morning — slept in.

It was really more like a spring day, except for  the turning leaves, hitting their peak of redness on some trees, burning bright orange on others. Those already brown and fallen, after three days soggy, were starting to regain their crunch under the warming sun.

Football and softball games were getting underway on the sports fields — never mind the puddles. Parents and children filled the swings and slides in the fenced-in play area. 

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And dog walkers were out in abundance — some with their pets on leash, some of whom had let them off, which, in this particular park, as of now, is against the law.

Nevertheless, a lot of us do it — keeping an eye out for the white animal control van while we let our dogs enjoy a little freedom, exercise and squirrel chasing.

It was one of those free and easy, good to be alive, laid back Sunday mornings — quiet but for the happy squeals of children, the chirping of squirrels and that thwickety thwickety noise of dogs charging through piles of leaves — when what should appear but …

DSC07382The white animal control van. Usually the animal control van keeps to the paved paths, stopping to warn those with their dogs off leash to hook them up, sometimes writing citations, which carry a $200 fine.

This animal control van was — for reasons unknown — driving through the grass, which, in addition to not being good for the grass, could prove problematic for homeless guys sleeping thereon, not to mention children playing, families picnicking, or squirrels a scurrying.

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Anyway, the animal control officer pulled his van to a halt in the grass, apparently to confront some lawbreakers, and when the time came to leave, he couldn’t. The van’s back wheels became mired in the mud, sinking deeper the more they spun.

stuckvanThe officer called for a tow truck and, about an hour later, one arrived. Its operator attached a chain to the animal control van’s axle and hoisted it out of the muck.

While his van was being saved, the animal control officer found the time to take some photos of off-leash dogs running in the distance. That’s what his camera was pointed at, at least. Then again, maybe he was just shooting the foliage.

acphotoOnce freed, the van departed the park, leaving some big muddy ruts behind.

It’s unknown if the animal control officer issued any citations Sunday morning — and if so, whether the revenue those bring in will be enough to cover the towing fee and other damages left in the wake of his morning patrol.

After freeing the bogged down animal control van, the tow truck operator acccidentally hit a bolted-to-the-ground trash can, which he then used his truck to bend back into an upright position before pulling off.

garbagecanMaybe sending animal control officers to hunt for unleashed dogs walking in parks with their owners — as opposed to cracking down on abuse, neglect and dogfighting — is a legitimate use of their time. Maybe citing the owners of dogs who are bothering no one, and who no one has, specifically, complained about, makes the city a safer place. Maybe it’s not just a heavy-handed, wheel-spinning waste of tax dollars.

But the only visible marks left by yesterday’s patrol were these:

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(Photos by John Woestendiek/ohmidog!)

Dogs often scapegoats in gentrification wars

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It’s a familiar chain of events in many a city — a particular neighborhood, usually by virtue of its location, emerges as desirable. Young and affluent people move in. Real estate prices rise and, with them, taxes. The old neighborhood bars get upscaled. Mom and pop shops close down. Oldtimers start leaving. A Whole Foods opens. Then you step in dog poop.

The fancy word for it is gentrification — and while dogs are, for the most part, innocent bystanders (byrunners? bypoopers?) they often seem to surface as the issue around which gentrifications wars play out.

I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between a recent story out of Venice, California, appearing in the Santa Monica Daily Press, and our situation right here in South Baltimore.

The  story looked at a growing conflict between long-time black and Latino members of a Venice neighborhood and affluent newcomers and their dogs. Long-time residents are complaining about the presence of off-leash dogs in the park.

“When families in the neighborhood see the blatant disregard for the law and there is signage throughout the park, it sends a message that they’re above the law and privileged,” said Lydia Ponce, who serves on the Oakwood Park Advisory Board, “It sets up a cultural divide.”

Dog owners, meanwhile, say they are simply seeking a place for their dogs to run — an activity that, properly monitored, impinges on no one’s rights or space. “We’re law-abiding citizens and we don’t want to get tickets for exercising dogs in the morning,” said Dr. Douglas Stockel, who has lived in Venice for five years.

Read more »

City Council votes to lower leash law fine

Baltimore’s City Council tonight approved lowering the fine for leash law violations from $1,000 to $200 for a first offense.

Subsequent offenses would carry fines of $400 and $600.

A city council committee recommended the changes after a hearing held last week.

The council also voted to lower the fine for failing to clean up dog waste from $1,000 to $200.

Councilman James Kraft said he would try to get Mayor Sheila Dixon to sign the legislation tomorrow.

The higher penalties went into effect in February. Though they were approved by the city council, several members say they voted for them inadvertently while approving broad changes in the city’s dog law.

Complaints about the higher fines surfaced after animal control officers began handing out $1,000 citations in March. At least 35 were issued, but city officials say those citations will revert to the lower fine.

The council also approved giving the Recreation and Parks Department authority to designate leash-free areas and hours at city parks.

Wearing your dog out — inside

Every dog owner knows that a tired dog is a good dog.

But between busy schedules, foul weather and the recent rise in leash law fears here in Baltimore, wearing your dog out with a good romp can be difficult.

My spring schedule involves farmers markets, trips to see family and friends, graduations, cook outs, baseball games, and weekend journeys – all of which starts to eat into my time to exercise my border collie.

It has been made much worse lately by the monsoon season we have been experiencing — great for the crops, terrible for dog owners.

The soon-to-be-corrected hike in leash law fines to $1,000 really cut into the number of people taking their dogs to Baltimore parks, too, with many who once let their dog play off leash, turning instead to settling for a quick on-leash walk.

It’s harder to raise a dog in the city, harder yet when the weather doesn’t cooperate. A dog owner in an urban area has no choice. Assuming you don’t have a pricey doggie treadmill, you, like the proverbial mailperson,  have no choice but to be out there – rain, sleet or snow. And even if you do have a yard, you still have to deal with snow covered fur, wet dog smells, and muddy paws. This April, soggy as it was, reminded me how important it is to have a variety of ways to exercise your dog in your own home.

So, I thought I would share a few:

1) Spend a couple minutes a day training your dog. If you have taken an obedience class or even watched Victoria Stilwell, you have some basic idea of how to teach sit. Running through a couple minutes a day with your dog on behaviors they already know, or things you want them to learn, will keep them out of trouble.

2) Play ball in the house. This is only an option if you aren’t an antique collector, and it won’t work for large dogs unless you live in a warehouse. But roll a ball across the room to your dog. Let him/her bring it back. Repeat. Keep repeating until one of you grows bored.

3) Present new or new-again toys. If your dog has toys that have fallen out of rotation, or that are no longer fun, take them away. Wash them, and hide them in a closet. When you have a rainy boring day, or a 10th rainy boring day, you might be surprised how excited your dog becomes for any kind of distraction. Other ways to make toys fun, even if they weren’t before, include burying the toys in kibble for a day to get it smelling like food, and inserting replacement squeakers because, as we all know, it’s all about the squeak.

4) Take a class. This is great in the dead of winter and in the sweltering days of summer. Sign up for an obedience class. The spaces are climate controlled and you will be amazed how tired your dog is after an hour of using their brain. It also helps you have options for training sessions in the house.

5) Mental Puzzles are another great option. You could buy a commercially available dog puzzle, such as the ones here. You could serve dinner in a food dispensing Kong. Even dumping kibble on the kitchen floor, putting it in a stuffed animal that has already been gutted, or turning dinner into a game of fetch will buy you some exercise credits.

6) Set up a play date. If you have friends with dogs that get along with your dog, set up a play date. Move the fragile stuff out of the room, and let them play. Better yet, find a friend with a garage and get a couple dogs together. Even an hour of romping and wrestling will wear your dog out. Some of the daycares and training spaces in Baltimore are available for rent in 15 minute increments during off times. We rent out our training space for play dates or practice sessions any day of the week.

The key to surviving rough weather with a pet that requires exercise is to find ways to entertain them. If none of the above seem to be enough, I can recommend a great place to buy rain boots.

Scary, smelly, germy: The scourge of joggers

I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.

But after a little opinion piece that appeared yesterday in a Baltimore Sun feature called Second Opinion – one that opined all dogs should always be on leashes because some of them interfere with joggers — I have no choice.

I’m coming out against joggers.

The Sun editorial blurb begins this way: “The city is fining people who let their dogs roam off-leash $1,000. I say good.

“I’m a runner, and I can’t count the number of times dogs have snapped, lurched and barked at me as I went past. Perhaps even more galling than the canine response in these situations is the human one. Almost without fail the dog’s owner will look at me with wonder and bewilderment, as if I must have done something wrong to elicit such a mysterious reaction. You may think your furry friend is cute and harmless, but I’ve got news for you: He or she is almost never quite so well behaved as you think … I object to many dog advocates’ apparent belief that leash laws should merely be a suggestion.”

Typical jogger logic, or lack thereof. The consistent jarring of the brain that occurs while jogging is the culprit, leading joggers to think they have dominion, not just over animals, but over non-jogging man, not to mention motor vehicle and bicyclist.

Joggers annoy me. Joggers scare me. Joggers get in my way and, more often, make me feel I am in their’s. They leave foul scents in their wake, and often fling off little sweat particles, which assuredly contain swine flu or other germs, as they churn their arms and pant, interfering with my God-given (but city taken away) right to enjoy tobacco products. Worse yet, they make me feel fat, lazy and unhealthy, which, even though I am, there’s no reason to so relentlessly pound that point in.

Joggers tend to eat only healthy and fibrous food, and as a result have no sense of humor.

Most irksome though, they think they are above everyone else. They — though I must admit some dog people fit this one too — often come across as holier than thou, or at least skinnier than thou.

Joggers like everything to be predictable. Dogs are not. That’s what makes them more interesting than joggers. True, humans are more intelligent, meaning they should have the brains to maybe adjust their path or swerve out of the way when nearing dogs. But joggers don’t, because they don’t want to vary their monotonous route and run the risk of seeing something new.

They are a hazard, traveling at an unsafe speed, often while tuning everything out except the music pumping through their ear buds, thus endangering small children, and the elderly.

On the sidewalks, they get impatient if someone is so crass as to be walking in front of them at a normal rate of speed, forcing them to slow their all-important pace. If they run up against a traffic signal, they tend to either violate the law and jayrun, or, far more annoying yet, do that little running in place thing they do while they wait for the signal to change.

There is, I’m told, something called a runner’s high. While I would not interfere with a joggers’ right to achieve this state of euphoria, I think it should be done in the privacy of their homes, or in a stinky gym on a treadmill – not out in public, and certainly not, in their intoxicated state, on the roadways and sidewalks.

It doesn’t seem right that dogs are taking all the heat when it comes to park issues — least of all from joggers. There are far more annoying things at the park — any park — on any given day. Joggers, as I believe I’ve mentioned, but also operators of little remote control cars that make an awful whiny noise, annoying to both humans and dogs. Also people who drop the f-bomb every third or fourth word, often with their children alongside them. Also skateboarders. Also drug dealers. Also spitters. Also people playing music louder than any dog could ever bark. I could go on, but the point is, should we criminalize all of them?

Of course not.

Only the joggers.

Leash law hearing is tomorrow

Reminder: A Baltimore City Council committee takes up the subject of leash laws at a 9 a.m. meeting in City Hall tomorrow (Tuesday).

The hearing, before the council’s Judiciary & Legislative Investigations Committee, was originally scheduled for April 28, but was postponed after a water main break forced City Hall to be emptied.

The council is reconsidering the $1,000 fine it approved for unleashed dogs earlier this year, leading to an outcry by some dog owners who say it’s excessive, especially in a city with only one small dog park. (A second, and the first the city has helped fund, is expected to open by fall.) Also to be presented at the hearing, before the council’s Judiciary & Legislative Investigations Committee, is an amendment to allow the city’s director of Recreation and Parks to enact off-leash hours at city parks. The meeting is in the City Council Chambers on the 4th floor of City Hall. (A picture ID required for admission to City Hall.)

As of this weekend, an online petition calling for a reduction of the fine had more than 1,500 signatures.

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