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Tag: legislature

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)

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.)

Eating dog meat banned in Taiwan

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In a landmark piece of legislation, Taiwan has outlawed the consumption of dog and cat meat.

The island’s legislature yesterday passed an amendment to its animal protection laws, imposing longer prison sentences and stiffer fines for harming animals, and explicitly banning the slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs.

The island’s official Central News Agency (CNA) said the new law reflects the transition of Taiwan “from a society in which dog meat was regularly consumed” to one where “many people treat pet cats and dogs as valued members of their families.”

The amendment also bans “walking” pets on leashes pulled by cars and motorcycles.

The amendment comes after a series of animal abuse cases, and a strong push by animal lovers and the animal welfare movement.

Last year, a group of military personnel beat and strangled a dog and tossed its body into the ocean, an assault that was captured on video.

The amended act calls for fines between $1,640 to $8,200 for people who eat or sell dog meat, and up to $65,000 for deliberately harming an animal.

Violators of the new law may also see their names, photos and crimes publicized, Taiwan’s Central News Agency said.

Previously, the Animal Protection Act, passed in 2001, only covered the slaughter and sale of dog and cat meat, and not individual consumption.

The new law makes Taiwan the first Asian state to impose a full ban on both the marketing of dog meat and its consumption.

The amendment’s sponsor, Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-min, said that while some localities already had measures banning dog and cat meat consumption, national legislation was needed, according to the China Post.

China has long been criticized for its annual dog meat festival in Yulin, where as many as 10,000 dogs are slaughtered and served as meals.

Opposition to the consumption of dog is growing in China, and in South Korea, where some are pushing the government to impose restrictions on the dog meat trade before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Seoul.

New York to look at regulating dog trainers

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Spurred on by a viral video of a Long Island dog trainer viciously poking a crated pit bull with a broomstick, two New York legislators are calling for state regulation of dog trainers.

On Monday, Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman-elect Missy Miller and members of the Nassau County SPCA proposed a law that will require a license for dog obedience trainers.

The proposed legislation was announced at the home of Tommy Marrone, the Oceanside man who posted the video online.

(The video was removed from YouTube yesterday for violating its policy against “violent or graphic content.”)

“I am horrified by the animal abuse that has taken place in our backyard,” Kaminsky said. “… What happened in Oceanside can happen anywhere, and it is our job to protect consumers and their dogs from devious and abusive practices.

“When consumers send their pets to training school, they have no assurance of the trainer’s credentials or professional experience – and that’s simply unacceptable,” he added. “By creating streamlined licensing practices for dog obedience trainers, we are protecting our four-legged family members who cannot speak and shield themselves from abuse.”

The proposed legislation will deny licensing to any individual convicted of animal abuse and allows for enforcement of violations by police officers and professionals who specialize in detecting animal abuse, such as the SPCA.

“I treat my pets as members of my family. We simply cannot allow another animal to be abused and have a duty to protect innocent consumers,” said Assemblywoman-elect Miller, who intends to sponsor this legislation in the Assembly.

The call for regulation is in response to the furor created by the video of a man abusing a pit bull, according to LongIsland.com.

The man in the video is reported to be Brian De Martino, the owner of NY Dogworks. DeMartino runs the business out of his home.

The video was recorded by De Martino’s girlfriend, and was originally made public by Marrone, a former NY Dogworks customer.

“My dog was beat worse than that dog,” Marrone told PIX11 News. Marrone said that he’d posted the video online in an attempt to warn others.

On Monday afternoon, Nassau County police and building inspectors visited DeMartino’s home — just hours after DeMartino appeared in court on charges of assaulting the woman who recorded the video.

PIX11 News reports that De Martino is being investigated for illegal use of his home, operating without a permit, and possible animal abuse charges.

Dog racing in Arizona is a thing of the past

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Seventy-two years after it opened, Tucson Greyhound Park saw its final dog race Saturday night.

The track’s popularity had been declining for decades, but it wasn’t until Arizona’s legislature passed a bill earlier this year ending dog racing that its demise was sealed.

The park had been struggling since casinos opened in Arizona, offering gamblers a faster form of gratification.

“It’s no mystery,” said Michael Racy, a spokesman and lobbyist for the track for over 20 years. “As more casinos have opened, it’s gotten tougher and tougher.”

Phoenix closed its greyhound track more than seven years ago.

The owners of Tucson Greyhound Park, Joseph Zappala and Philip Robert Consolo Jr. of Florida, are still evaluating what to do with the property, Racy told the Arizona Daily Star.

The 60-acre facility will remain open for now, offering simulcast racing.

Even before the bill was passed, dogs began leaving the facility, most of them going to rescues.

Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption has taken in about 50 dogs since April, and Arizona Greyhound Rescue has taken in about 20.

Greyhound racing remains legal in five states.

(Photo: Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star)

Consider yourselves gagged, N.C. citizens

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For those businesses in North Carolina that have something to hide, hiding it became much easier this week.

Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that muzzles whistleblowers who call public attention to anything from agricultural atrocities to elder abuse.

Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces.

Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed brutal and abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

But House Bill 405 (click on the link to see its final version) could curb far more than that.

Nursing home employees might be discouraged from reporting possible abuse cases. Animal shelter staff could be dissuaded from reporting horrid conditions or cruelty to dogs and cats. Even journalists could be hauled into court for simply doing their jobs.

Only government agencies would be safe to shed light on criminal corporate behavior — whether it’s stomping on chickens at poultry farms or mistreating veterans in need of medical care.

Concerns that the bill reaches too far were behind Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of the bill.

The governor said he agreed with curbing the practice of people who get hired merely so they can film undercover or gather corporate documents, but he said the bill doesn’t protect those “honest employees who uncover criminal activity.”

The House voted 79-36 to override his veto, and the Senate quickly followed suit, voting 33-15 to override.

Among those against the bill were animal rights groups, journalism organizations, the Wounded Warrior Project and the AARP, which said the law could have a chilling effect on those who might come forward with evidence of elder abuse.

“To give one relevant example, allegations surfaced last year that employees at Veterans Affairs facilities in North Carolina had been retaliated against for whistleblowing,” wrote Steven Nardizzi, chief executive of the Wounded Warrior Project. “As an organization dedicated to honoring and empowering injured service members, we are concerned that this legislation might cause wrongdoing at hospitals and institutions to go unchecked.”

The sponsors of the house bill said critics were wrongly characterizing it, WRAL reported.

“It doesn’t stop good employees from reporting illegal activities to other authorities,” said Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland.

That much is true. All the bill does is make it easy for large companies and their lawyers to go after those honest employees and ensure that, when they open their mouths, they’ll be stomped on too.

Republican backers of the measure said it was important to protect businesses from bad actors.

As for who’s supposed to protect us from bad-acting businesses engaged in harmful practices, well, that’s not covered in the bill.

“Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply, said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals. “This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.”

(Photo: Inside a North Carolina poultry plant; by Bethany Hahn / Associated Press)

Going out to eat with your dog is close to becoming legal in New York

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Dogs in the state of New York could soon be joining their humans for dinner at restaurants — without it being against the law.

A bill passed by the New York Senate Wednesday — by a 60-0 vote — would change state health law to give restaurants the option of allowing pet owners to bring dogs into outdoor dining areas, the New York Times reported.

The State Assembly is now reviewing its version of the same bill.

Dogs, under the revised law, would have to be accompanied by a diner, and restaurants that decide to allow dog would have to provide an alternate entrance to their patios, so dogs don’t walk through indoor dining areas.

Dogs will have to be on leashes, and would not be allowed into outdoor areas where food is being prepared.

The bills specifically forbid communal water bowls, requiring dogs be served water in disposable containers.

And, in what is sure to be the toughest of the new law’s requirements, restaurant servers would be prohibited from playing with dogs.

The bill is similar to one passed in California last year. As with that one, restaurants remain free to ban dogs from their outside areas if they so choose.

“With a large percentage of New Yorkers being dog owners, many restaurants would like to accommodate their guests and permit canine companions to join them,” said Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau County), a sponsor of the Senate measure.

In the Assembly, Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is the sponsor of the similar bill.

“People consider dogs and other animals to be just another member of the family,” said Rosenthal. “When you sit down to dinner, it’s your husband, your partner, your wife, your kids and your dog.”

“An overwhelming number of New Yorkers who have dogs take them everywhere they go,” she added. “So this is just another option for them to take their animals with them when they dine out.”

(Photo: New York Daily News)