A pit bull who was seized from a notorious dogfighting operation in Virginia, rehabilitated in Utah, and adopted by a couple in Texas helped make the case for a new law in Nevada that prohibits local governments from enacting and enforcing regulations that deem a dog dangerous based solely on its breed.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the anti-breed discrimination law this week, and it takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.
Assembly Bill 110, which was sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall and spearheaded Best Friends Animal Society, also got a push from our friend Mel, the former Michael Vick dog who now lives in Dallas. Richard Hunter, Mel’s new owner, testified before the Nevada Senate to show support.
“Best Friends is proud that Nevada has taken steps to prevent breed discrimination,” said Ledy VanKavage said, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends. “Every American who follows the right safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”
Nevada is the the 14th state to pass a law preventing breed discrimination, Best Friends said.
“Assembly Bill 110 bans breed discriminatory laws from being enacted anywhere in Nevada,” said Assemblyman Ohrenschall.
He added, “I’m confident that this law will benefit dogs, dog owners and animal lovers throughout our great state. It has always been bad public policy to enact ordinances that target a certain breed of dog without considering that individual dog’s actions. I’m proud of sponsoring this legislation because it will help keep our innocent friends from being killed needlessly and senselessly.”
Best Friends received and rehabilitated most of the dogs seized from the dogfighting operation at Michael Vick’s former estate in Virginia, including Mel, who was believed to have been used as a bait dog.
“Our fundamental goal is to achieve safe and humane communities. We want our communities to be protected against dangerous dogs – and we want abused dogs to be protected from irresponsible owners,” VanKavage said. “Because everyone benefits from a safe society – both people and pets.”
Studies done in countries with breed-discriminatory laws, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. Based on these studies, and concerns about due process and property rights infringement, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association don’t support breed discrimination, Best Friends said in a press release.
“They support laws that go after the real problem–the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the reckless owner.”
Through its national pit bull initiatives, Best Friends Animal Society encourages state and municipal governments to adopt breed-neutral “dangerous dog” laws that focus on the key causes of dog aggression—owners’ failure to spay or neuter, train and socialize dogs regardless of breed, or because they abuse or neglect dogs or force them to live on chains.
(Photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bait dog, best friends, breed discrimination, breed specific legislation, breeds, bsl, dangerous dogs, dogfighting, dogs, enact, enforce, governor, James Ohrenschall, law, legislation, mel, michael vick, nevada, owners, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, prohibits, rehabilitation, responsibility, richard hunter, seized, signed
The American Kennel Club is doing a much better job of protecting bad breeders than it is protecting dogs.
That’s the gist of this investigative report that aired yesterday on NBC’s “Today” show
The accusations aren’t exactly new, and weren’t exactly uncovered by NBC, but it’s good to see the issue getting some national attention.
The AKC, investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen notes, calls itself ”the dog’s champion …
“But critics say there’s an ugly reality you don’t see: Some AKC breeders raising diseased dogs, malnourished, living in their own filth. It’s so disturbing that now two of the country’s largest animal welfare groups, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, are condemning the AKC.”
The report included an interview with one dog owner, who purchased a Great Dane from a kennel only weeks after that kennel was inspected by the AKC and found in compliance. The puppy turned out to have intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect.
“Law enforcement went into the kennel just two months later, and rescued dozens of dogs,” Rossen reported.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is featured heavily in the report, and makes the point that the AKC should be working with animal welfare groups to protect dogs instead of protecting bad breeders and fighting laws that would crack down on them.
AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson, also interviewed for the report, says she would give the AKC an “A” for its inspection program.
But when the reporter asked how many breeders are producing AKC-registered dogs, she said, “That’s a great question. We don’t know.” And when asked what percentage of AKC registered breeders end up getting inspected, she wouldn’t offer a ball park figure.
“We do thousands of inspections annually,” Peterson said. “We’ve done 55,000 inspections since the year 2000.”
“But what percentage of breeders actually get inspected?”
“… I don’t have that figure,” Peterson said. “I’m sorry.”
Peterson said there are nine AKC inspectors in the U.S. Asked “Do you think that’s an adequate number?” she said, ”That’s the number that we have.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, aspca, breeders, breeding, club, conditions, dog, dogs, hsus, humane society, humane society of the united states, inspections, investigative, jeff rossen, kennel, laws, legislation, nbc, news, pets, report, today, today show, wayne pacelle
It may not be a model puppy mill law. It could even be described, and has been, as “watered down.” But after repeatedly failing to pass legislation regulating large commercial breeders, North Carolina lawmakers will again consider a measure to ensure dogs in such facilities are treated humanely.
House Bill 930, which made it through a first reading this week and is now before a committee, would require breeders with 10 or more breed-able females to provide their dogs with basic necessities, such as food, water, sunlight, exercise and veterinary care.
But it would not require breeders to register, be licensed or submit to regular inspections.
“We hope that all parties can be happy with it,” said Kim Alboum, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. “It’s been a four-year battle to get to this point of this compromise bill. We just hope that this bill will move forward this year.”
You can read the bill here.
The bill was introduced last week by Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican. Breeders found to be in violation of the requirements in the bill could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined from $25 to $1,000.
“This bill protects both dogs and consumers,” Saine said. “Our citizens have made it clear that they are no longer willing to tolerate animal cruelty in the dog breeding industry, and neither am I or my colleagues who support this bill. This legislation will help protect dogs in North Carolina commercial dog breeding facilities by requiring operators to adhere to these basic standards of care.”
The HSUS estimates there are about 200 commercial dog breeding facilities in North Carolina, all operating without any oversight. Last August a raid at one in Brunswick County led to the rescue of about 160 dogs, including 70 puppies and their nursing mothers living in stacked cages in a structure with no working air conditioning.
That was one of 13 large-scale breeding operations in North Carolina that, in the past 18 months, the HSUS has and law enforcement officials have removed dogs from, due to illnesses, injuries and lack of humane care, Saine said.
From 2 to 4 million puppy mill puppies are sold each year in the United States — commonly in pet stores and online — while 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year for lack of homes, the Humane Society estimates.
Saine said the bill gives law enforcement the tools to go after those who abuse dogs by spelling out what is required of large-scale commercial breeders.
The bill requires dogs have access to food, water, clean bedding, sunlight, and exercise on a daily basis. It mandates the health of dogs be monitored, veterinary care be provided, and that any euthanizations be performed humanely. It specifies that cages be at least big enough for dogs to stand up and turn around in. It doesn’t ban wire flooring, but requires it to be solidly in place and of a type that doesn’t hurt dogs’ feet.
While the legislation under consideration this session doesn’t go as far as previous proposals, most animal welfare advocates in the state have gotten behind it, including North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare, Susie’s Law, the ASPCA, Humane Society of Charlotte, SPCA of Wake County, and United Animal Coalition.
Previous efforts to pass a puppy mill law ran into opposition from pig and poultry farmers and hunting dog owners, wary that the measures could extend to them. The new bill specifies that it does not apply to dogs used for hunting purposes.
A recent poll commissioned by the ASPCA showed 87 percent of North Carolina voters are in favor of the state legislature passing a law that would set standards of care for North Carolina’s commercial dog breeding facilities.
“Puppy mill operators want to keep their costs down and their profits up, and nothing short of a legal mandate will convince them that they must treat the animals in their care more humanely,” said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the ASPCA. “North Carolina voters care about this issue and expect a strong puppy mill bill to pass this year…”
(Photo: One of the dogs seized in the Brunswick County puppy mill raid, after being transferred to a shelter in Guilford County / DigTriad.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, bill, breeders, brunswick county, care, commercial, compromise, conditions, dog, dogs, hb 930, house bill 930, hsus, humane society of the united states, introduced, jason saine, large, large scale, law, legislation, legislature, north carolina, pets, proposal, puppy mills, raid, standards
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 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
Animal advocates in Maryland will probably recognize a familiar face or two in this public service announcement, scheduled to premier this week at Maryland Humane Lobby Day.
The PSA will officially premier on Thursday, Feb. 21st, during the Maryland Humane Lobby Day event at the Maryland Statehouse and Legislative Buildings in Annapolis.
The event will include awards, briefings, and an opportunity for people who care about animals to meet directly with their elected officials.
Thirty-four states have established funding mechanisms to support spay/neuter programs, leading to significant reductions in their euthanasia rates. New Jersey witnessed a 61 percent decrease and New Hampshire saw a 75 percent decrease after implementing state programs. In New Hampshire, statistics showed for every dollar invested, $3.15 was saved in reduced costs for shelter care and euthanasia.
The Save Maryland Pets Spay Awareness PSA, directed and produced by Dani Englander, features some of Maryland’s most dedicated animal advocates, workers, officers, and friends.
Appearances are made by Del. Barbara Frush, sponsor of the Maryland spay/neuter legislation, and Sen. John Astle and Del. Ron George, co-sponsors of the bills.
Among the other animal lovers and advocates who appear are Carolyn Kilborn, Tami Santelli, Matt Wieters, Valerie Leonard, Michelle Kownacki, Caroline Griffin, and Wendy Cozzone. The video was filmed in Annapolis and Baltimore.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoption, advocates, animals, annapolis, baltimore, bill, costs, dogs, funding, homeless, humane lobby day, legislation, lives, maryland, maryland votes for animals, neuter, pets, program, proposal, psa, public service announcement, save, save maryland pets, saving, spay, spay-neuter
Del. Barbara Frush and Sen. Joanne Benson introduced the bills, based on the recommendations of a task force appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to study animal euthanasia.
The bills would generate funding for the program from a surcharge on existing manufacturer pet food registration fees, a funding source recommended by the task force as reliable, sustainable and fair — and used for a similar program in Maine.
The task force found that 96,000 pets enter Maryland shelters yearly, and more than 45,000 homeless cats and dogs are euthanized each year at an estimated cost of $8 to $9 million taxpayer dollars — about $175-$200 per animal.
The task force also found that cost is a significant barrier for low-income pet owners in having their pets sterilized, and that reaching under-served populations is the most effective way to reduce intake and euthanasia rates in shelters.
“Over the last 18 months, our task force studied spay/neuter programs from around the country, and we have identified the model that will work best for the State of Maryland, said Del. Frush, D-Anne Arundel, who co-chaired the task force. “The Maryland spay/neuter program has the potential to be one of the best in the nation and I am thrilled to introduce H.B. 767 which will help save the lives of so many animals.”
“Increasing spay/neuter services in Maryland not only saves lives, it also saves money,” said Sen. Benson, D-Prince George County. “Municipal animal control agencies spend millions of dollars each year on intake, housing, and euthanizing cats and dogs. Marylanders want to see their taxpayer dollars used for programs that are humane and that work.”
The Humane Society of the United States praised the proposed legislation.
“States that have implemented comprehensive spay/neuter programs have seen a substantial decrease in the number of animals entering shelters and being euthanized,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland state director for The HSUS.
Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals, said, ”It is time for Maryland to replace the current antiquated system of mass euthanasia with a statewide fund to support spay/neuter services. This bill is crucial to reducing Maryland’s unacceptably high euthanasia rate.”
S.B. 820 has 14 sponsors in the Senate and H.B. 767 has 56 sponsors in the House of Delegates. The bills are supported by a broad coalition of animal shelters, animal control agencies, animal protection organizations, veterinarians, businesses and individuals.
To learn more, or sign a petition in support of the proposal, visit SaveMarylandPets.org.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bills, cats, dogs, euthanasia, general assembly, hsus, humane society of the united states, introduced, legislation, maryland, maryland votes for animals, neuter, overpopulation, pets, proposal, shelters, spay
California earned first place for the fourth year in a row, while South Dakota remained in last place in the Humane Society of the United States fourth annual “Humane State Ranking” report.
The HSUS graded all 50 states and Washington, D.C. on the strength of a wide range of animal protection laws, including public policies dealing with animal cruelty and fighting, pets, wildlife, equines, animals in research, and farm animals.
Ohio was the most improved state, leaping ahead in the ranks by passing laws regulating puppy mills and the private possession of dangerous wild animals.
You can find the complete rankings here.
“Members of The Humane Society of the United States want to know what their state lawmakers are doing to improve animal welfare. Our Humane State Ranking report demonstrates which states are falling behind important protections for animals, and which states are leading in the effort to create a more humane and civil society,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO.
California stayed on top for the fourth year in a row by passing a number of new laws, including banning the hound hunting of bears and bobcats. Other top states included Massachusetts (tied for second place), which passed laws allowing pets to be included in domestic violence protection orders, and banning gas chambers for euthanasia.
South Dakota earned the lowest score (51st place). Also in the bottom five were Idaho (50th place), Mississippi (49th place), North Dakota (48th place) and South Carolina (47th place).
South Dakota and North Dakota received especially low marks in part because they are the only two states in the country with no felony-level penalties for malicious acts of animal cruelty. North Dakota voters rejected a ballot measure to increase penalties for egregious acts of animal cruelty on the November 2012 ballot.
The rankings are based on 75 different animal protection issues in 10 major animal protection categories including: animal fighting; animal cruelty; wildlife abuse; exotic pets; companion animals; use of animals in research; farm animals; fur and trapping; puppy mills, and equine protection.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal welfare, animals, california, cruelty, dogs, euthanasia, farms, fighting, hsus, humane, humane society of the united states, Humane state ranking, hunting, laws, legislation, north dakota, penalties, pets, protection, puppy mills, rankings, south dakota, state, violence, wayne pacelle
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