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Tag: legislature

Gun groups question Humane Society’s connection with governor’s dog

sutter

The Humane Society of the United States may not have Jerry Brown on a leash, but the organization’s state director takes the California governor’s dog out on one — nearly every day.

Jennifer Fearing is a regular dog walker for Sutter, the governor’s corgi, and gun rights groups are saying the free service she provides — on top of giving the lobbyist undue influence — may amount to an illegal contribution.

“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s ‘first dog,’ cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?” an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked.

Gun rights groups point out that all six pieces of animal rights-related legislation Fearing lobbied for in the most recent legislative session were approved and signed by Brown, including Assembly Bill 711, which, over the objection of hunters, banned the use of lead ammunition.

“The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor.”

Kerns said gun-rights and hunting groups are considering filing a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission

Critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she hasn’t reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution.

“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, said  in a statement.

Fearing has been walking Sutter around the Capitol grounds since Brown took office in 2011, and their trysts have never exactly been a secret. The two toured the state together to campaign for the governor’s pet tax increase, which the Humane Society was in favor of. Last year, Sutter and Fearing joined the governor and animal rights activists to push for California’s Pet Lover’s license plate.

While it’s true the way to a governor’s heart is through his dog, Fearing and Brown (and we guess Sutter) are already of pretty like minds when it comes to animal welfare, so walking his dog isn’t likely changing the course of history. And as Fearing points out, the volunteer gig doesn’t give her direct access to the governor’s ears, just Sutter’s.

“I wouldn’t misuse that relationship,” Fearing told the Chronicle. “I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels,” she said.

Still, the arrangement provides gun groups with some ammunition, and their ethical concerns aren’t entirely off target.

Fearing says her love of dogs — not political gain — is what motivates her to walk Sutter.

“I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people’s dogs.”

(Photo: Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, with Gov. Brown’s dog, Sutter; by Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee)

Does N.C. legislature have a new top dog?


There’s a rising star in the North Carolina legislature, and she has four legs.

A miniature Pomeranian named Diva comes to work every day at the General Assembly with her owners, Republican representative Nathan Ramsey and his wife, Robin Ramsey, a legislative assistant — and the fuzzy four-pound dog is said to be developing quite a following.

The Ramseys, who live on a farm in Fairview during the off-season, say they started bringing Diva to work in February, because they thought she’d be lonely staying at the condo they reside in while in Raleigh.

Since then, she’s shown herself to be a valuable asset, both a diplomat and a crowd-drawer.

“… In a short time, the taffy-colored rescue pup has arguably become the most chased after creature at the legislative building. Walk in on any given day and you’ll see a steady stream of bipartisan visitors knocking on the Ramseys’ office door,” North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC (91.5 FM) reported.

“It certainly opened the door to more visitors, which is good,” said Robin Ramsey.

On building tours for visiting schoolchildren, Diva’s office has become a regular stop — and, we’d guess, one of the more exciting ones.

“I make it a point to stop by,” said Democrat Rick Glazier of Fayetteville. “You can’t leave after playing with Diva and talking to the Ramseys unhappy or in a bad mood, and that is not always true around here.”

Ramsey, a former county commissioner, says Diva helps breaks the ice and cut through frosty exteriors. And he suspects she has helped him garner support for at least a couple of measures he has introduced.

“A lot of this is about relationships, and really, unless you’re a seat-mate with someone, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to reach across the aisle,” he said. “You don’t develop relationships by sitting in a committee meeting. You have to find out about other people’s lives and families and get to know them in more depth.”

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis recently stopped by Ramsey’s office with his boxer, Ike. A spokesman for the speaker reported the get-together was ”like many meetings in this building — more sniffing around than anything else.”

Back home on the family dairy farm, Diva likes to spend her time circling the baby calf pen.

She likes to round things up, Ramsey says, and those skills seem to have translated from barnyard to state house.

(Photo by Jessica Jones / WUNC)

Missouri reaches compromise on Proposition B; drops limit on size of breeding operations

First, voters passed Proposition B — aimed at more closely regulating the sort of big dog breeding operations that had earned Missouri the nickname of the puppy mill state.

Then, the state legislature took steps to gut it, caving in to the concerns of breeders and agricultural interests.

Now, in a move that could put an end to the bitter war that has ensued over Proposition B, Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he had brokered a compromise solution that will protect dogs as well and business people, according to the the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The agreement incorporates parts of the dog-breeding initiative passed by state voters last November and parts of a bill rewriting Proposition B, passed last week by the legislature, which apparently had no problem ignoring the will of voters.

The new agreement still requires larger cages with outdoor runs for breeding dogs, and annual exams, but it gives breeders additional time to meet new housing standards — and it no longer limits breeders to no more than 50 breeding dogs.

The agreement still needs approval by the Legislature before the mandatory May 13 adjournment of the legislative session.

“People with good minds and good will have come together to develop a Missouri solution to this Missouri issue, and together we have made significant progress,” Nixon said. “I look forward to continuing to work with these leaders as we move this proposal through the legislative process as swiftly and efficiently as possible.”

Animal welfare fares well in Maryland

At the end of the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, animal welfare advocates are celebrating passage of five major animal protection bills, and the defeat of two that they say would have had an adverse impact on animal welfare.

And to top it all off, as of July, dogs can legally dine in the outside seating areas of restaurants that opt to permit them.

“In the past animal protection laws in Maryland have been weaker than other states.  But now we are making huge progress to improve the treatment of Maryland’s animals,” said Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals.

Kilborn attributes the gains to animal welfare advocates being better organized and more outspoken.

The General Assembly passed the following bills during the 2011 session:

  • Senate Bill 839, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore City, which requires commercial dog breeders to be licensed by the county in which they operate, and requires counties to report basic information about these commercial breeders once a year to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  This bill will provide critical information to understand the impact of puppy mills in the state.  Companion legislation, HB 990, was sponsored by Del. Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery County.
  • Senate Bill 639, sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s County, which will set up a task force to study the need for funding of spay and neuter programs in Maryland.  An estimated 48,000 homeless dogs and cats are euthanized in Maryland shelters annually.  Affordable, accessible spay/neuter programs can help prevent this tragedy. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have a public funding mechanism to subsidize the cost of spay/neuter surgeries for those who cannot afford it.  The task force will be comprised of representatives from animal control, humane societies, non-profit spay/neuter organizations, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, the Department of Agriculture and others.  Companion legislation, HB 339, was sponsored by Del. Barbara Frush, D-Prince George’s County.  
  • House Bill 227 sponsored by Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery County, which will allow courts to prohibit someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals as a term of probation. This legislation had strong backing from organizations addressing the issue of domestic violence.  Companion legislation, SB 115, was co-sponsored by Sen. James Robey, D-Howard County.
  • Senate Bill 747 sponsored by Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County, which allows courts to include protections for pets in domestic violence protective orders.  Research has repeatedly shown a link between animal abuse and domestic violence.  Children and animals in the family are often threatened, or actually harmed, as a way to manipulate and coerce others in the family.  Victims of domestic violence often delay leaving abusive situations because they fear for the safety of their companion animals.  This legislation benefits both people and animals and had strong support for organizations which address the problem of domestic violence.  Companion legislation, HB 407, was sponsored by Del. Susan McComas, R-Harford County.
  • House Bill 897, sponsored by Del. Peter Murphy, D-Charles County, to require the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze.  Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in most major antifreeze brands, has an aroma and a sweet flavor which can tempt animals to drink the highly toxic substance.  Adding a bittering agent makes it less attractive to companion animals and wildlife.
  • House Bill 941, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim, D- Baltimore County, which permits restaurants to allow dogs in outdoor seating areas.

Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA) works to create an ever-growing voting bloc of animal advocates who will elect representatives willing to champion and vote for animal protection legislation.

Dining with dog? Maryland makes it legal

Maryland restaurants may allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas as of July 1 under a bill approved by the Senate yesterday and headed for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk for final approval.

O’Malley, whose family has two dogs, is expected to sign the bill, the Baltimore Sun reports on its Maryland Politics blog.

The bill permits restaurants with outdoor patios and tables to welcome dogs, if they want to.

Del. Dan Morhaim sponsored the legislation, and said it will provide a financial boost for restaurants and bars heading into the outdoor dining season.

The Dining Out Growth Act of 2011 permits restaurants statewide to have outdoor space for humans and dogs to eat together — as is already the case in Frederick County, for which similar legislation was passed last year.

Opponents of the bill said it could lead to more dog bites and other health hazards.

The wheels of justice: Chamberlin’s Law

A state senator in North Carolina has introduced legislation that would makes recklessly neglecting a pet a crime.

Sen. Don Vaughan, a Greensboro Democrat, filed what he dubbed “Chamberlin’s Law” on the opening day of the General Assembly session, according to the Greensboro News-Record.

The bill would allow criminal charges to be brought against pet owners who “recklessly” neglect their pets, as opposed to the current law, which allows just those accused of doing so “maliciously” or “intentionally” to be prosecuted.

“They’re living things,” Vaughan said of dogs. “And they’re different from having a desk or a chair. They’re actually living beings in God’s world, and we ought to take care of them at least to a minimum standard.”

The bill has been named after Chamberlin, a black and white pit bull mix who was severely neglected — left in a backyard in High Point among tall weeds along with another dog. The other dog, who had been tethered, became so sick it had to be euthanized. Chamberlin was in bad shape, as well.

“His front legs had fused together,” said Marsha Williams, executive director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter. He was unable to walk when he arrived at the shelter in December, but was still wagging his tail, she said.

Since then he has put on weight and in coming weeks he will be fitted with a wheelchair to support the weight of his front legs, which no longer function.

The dog’s care was paid for with donations, some of which came from a fund established in the name of Susie — a dog that was beaten and lit on fire. The judge refused to sentence the perpetrator in that case to jail time because it was his first offense. The public outcry that followed led to ”Susie’s Law,” which increased the penalties for animal cruelty and gave judges discretion to sentence even first-time offenders to active jail time in certain cases.

The owner of Chamberlin is facing charges in Guilford County court, but under current laws, prosecutors will have to prove the dog’s owners intentionally or maliciously let him waste away.

Chamberlin’s law would switch that standard to “recklessly,” which is easier to prove.

In addition to making cruelty cases easier to prosecute, the bill also would set minimum standards for the shelter that dogs must have if they are kept outside and give judges the power to seize animals and order psychiatric evaluations in animal neglect and cruelty cases.

Sen. Austin Allran, a Hickory Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee to which the measure has been assigned, said the bill could face an uphill battle. In the past, hunting and dog breeding groups have fought similar measures.

(Photo: Nelson Kepley / Greensboro News-Record)

Law would declaw landlords, not cats

Landlords would be prohibited from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets under a bill approved this week by California lawmakers.

The state Assembly passed the bill by a 44-10 vote, sending it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, says it is unconscionable for landlords to require pet owners to subject their animals to permanent surgeries as a condition of tenancy.

Under the new law, landlords would be fined $1,000 for demanding those procedures in a lease agreement, according to the Associated Press.

Eight local governments in California banned the practice of cat declawing, according to The Paw Project, which lobbied for the statewide legislation and is urging supporters to contact the governor’s office urging its approval.

Know your state dogs — the answers

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Chesapeake Bay retriever - Maryland

Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz (which you can find here) on state dogs.

Surely, if you live in Maryland, you got the first one right. Maryland designated the Chesapeake Bay retriever as the official state dog in 1964. The breed came to be after Newfoundlands rescued from a shipwreck off the Maryland coast were bred to local retrievers, including the English otter hound and flat and curly coated retrievers.

Boston terrier

Boston terrier - Massachusetts

The other one I’m betting most everyone got is the Boston terrier, recognized by the Massachusetts legislature as official state dog in 1979.

It’s actually a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier, and is considered by some to be the first “purebred” dog developed in America. It was originally developed, after the Civil War, as a fighting dog.

Plott hound

Plott hound - North Carolina

North Carolina designated the Plott hound as the official state dog in 1989. The breed was developed in the mountains by German immigrant Jonathan Plott around 1750 to help hunt wild boars.

It was recognized as a purebred breed by the American Kennel Club in 2006. If you own one, and it gains weight, you can say “the Plott thickens.”

Catahoula leopard dog

Catahoula leopard dog - Louisiana

Louisiana designated the Catahoula leopard dog as its official state dog in 1979. Leopard dogs are believed to be a cross between the Carolina dog, or American dingo, domesticated by native Americans, and a Spanish “war dog” that was brought into the U.S. in the early 1500′s.

They come in all colors but are best known for a blue-grey coat. Often their eyes are two different colors.

boykinspaniel

Boykin spaniel - South Carolina

South Carolina designated the Boykin spaniel as official state dog in 1985.

Known for their mild temperament and hunting abilities, the breed was developed in South Carolina in the early 1900s by L. Whitaker Boykin.

The breed, originally used to hunt wild turkeys, received AKC recognition this year.

Blue Lacy

Blue Lacy - Texas

The blue Lacy was designated the “official state dog breed of Texas” in 2005. Originating in Texas in the mid-1800′s, the blue Lacy was named after the Lacy Brothers of Burnet County (Frank, George, Edwin, and Harry Lacy).

The Lacy brothers noted the dog to be a coyote, greyhound and scenthound mixture.

Great Dane

Great Dane - Pennsylvania

The Great Dane was designated the official state dog of Pennsylvania in 1965. Why? Because the state’s founder, William Penn, had one. A portrait of Penn and his dog hangs in the governor’s reception room.

When a vote on naming the Great Dane state dog was called for, legislators responded with barks and yips, and the Speaker of the House declared, “The arfs have it.”

American foxhound

American foxhound - Virginia

Virginia designated the American foxhound as the official state dog in 1966. Known for their loyal disposition, and ceaseless energy, American foxhounds were developed in colonial times by landed gentry to help them hunt foxes.

George Washington, in addition to being the father of our country, is considered the father of the American Foxhound. He ran a breeding program and often referred to his hounds in his journals.

American water spaniel

American water spaniel - Wisc.

The American water spaniel was designated the official state dog of Wisconsin in 1985 — the only official state dog, I’m pretty sure, to be chosen by citizens.

An active and muscular breed, with a tightly curled or wavy coat, the American Water Spaniel was developed  in the Great Lakes region of the United States in the mid-1800’s. It’s a mix of Irish water spaniel and curly-coated retriever. A hunting dog, it was particularly valued for its ability to retrieve game from a boat.

chinook

Chinook - New Hampshire

And one more — not included in our original quiz:  The most recently proclaimed state dog is the Chinook in New Hampshire. The breed is said to have originated in New Hampshire. The bill was the idea of a group of seventh graders at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School in Bedford.

(Photo credits: American Water Spaniel by Norm and Mary Kangas, via Flickr; Blue Lacy by Brooke Shaw on Wikipedia; Catahoula leopard dog from PetsFact.com; Chesapeake Bay retriever by Mary Bloom, American Kennel Club;  Plott hound, Boykin Spaniel, American foxhound, courtesy of American Kennel Club, great Dane and Boston terrier by John Woestendiek, ohmidog!)

Know your state dogs — a quiz

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Boston terrier

Boston terrier

Plott hound

Plott hound

Catahoula leopard dog

Catahoula leopard dog

boykinspaniel

Boykin spaniel

Blue Lacy

Blue Lacy

Great Dane

Great Dane

American foxhound

American foxhound

American water spaniel

American water spaniel

Sure, you may know your state capitals, but do you know your state dogs?

With Missouri poised to name the Newfoundland its official state dog — possibly an attempt by what’s been called the puppy mill capital of the U.S. to gain some good doggie PR — there could soon be 10 states with their own state dogs.

Perhaps there’s some purpose to naming a state dog — other than as a favor to friends or supporters, other than providing a little fun for state legislators — but I don’t immediately see it. I do see an opportunity for a quiz, though. So here’s your challenge:

Match the nine breeds to the nine states that have designated them as their state dogs. The first two are no-brainers, but after that they get a little harder. If you get all nine right, you win …

My admiration.

For the answers, click here.

And if your wondering why a state like Missouri would opt to pick as its official  breed a dog most often associated with the icy northeast coast, think Lewis and Clark.

The explorers, on their expedition of the new territory acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase, were accompanied by Seaman, a Newfoundland.

wisconsin

louisiana

south_carolina

maryland

texas

north_carolina

massachusetts

virginia

pennsylvania

  

Update: New Hampshire declared the Chinook its state dog in Aug. 2009. A sled and work dog, the Chinook is the only breed to have originated in New Hampshire. The breed was started by Arthur Walden in Wonalancet NH in 1917. The bill designating the state dog was the idea of a group of seventh graders at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School in Bedford.

(Photo credits: American Water Spaniel by Norm and Mary Kangas, via Flickr; Blue Lacy by Brooke Shaw on Wikipedia; Catahoula Leopard dog from PetsFact.com; Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Mary Bloom, American Kennel Club;  Plott hound, Boykin Spaniel, American Foxhound, courtesy of American Kennel Club, Great Dane and Boston Terrier by John Woestendiek, ohmidog!)

 

Wisconsin passes puppy mill bill

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday signed a bill to regulate large-scale dog breeding facilities — a measure he hopes will bring an end to the state’s reputation as a magnet for puppy mills.

“Frankly, when it comes to regulating dog breeders, we have fallen short of many other states – until today,” Doyle said. “We can’t allow these bad actors to continue these practices here in Wisconsin.”

The bill passed the legislature unanimously in November and requires breeders who sell three litters or 25 or more dogs a year to get licensed by the state, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The law also sets regulations to ensure dogs get adequate food, water and exercise and are provided safe enclosures. The department will inspect the facilities and can revoke licenses and impose penalties on breeders.

“The puppy mills won’t disappear overnight simply because of the new law,” Eilene Ribbens, executive director of the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, said. “It will take years of work to clean up after a very cruel and abusive industry that flourished in Wisconsin during years with no regulation. We have much work ahead of us.”

The Humane Society of the United States said Wisconsin joins nine other states that passed new laws this year to protect both the dogs in puppy mills and the consumers who often unwittingly purchase sick puppies.

In addition to Wisconsin, bills to regulate puppy mills were enacted by the 2009 state legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington, according to a HSUS press release.

Sinking and soaring like a drunken man, man and theystarted him, and he saw, at a resolution of the default value.