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Tag: licensing

Clifford, that big red dog, coming back to TV


Clifford the Big Red Dog has found his way back to television.

Scholastic Entertainment announced yesterday that the new series, inspired by the books of Norman Bridwell, will run concurrently on Amazon Prime and PBS Kids, starting in the fall of 2019.

The rebooted show will have a strong emphasis on social-emotional skills such as empathy, along with a curriculum designed to boost early literacy and encourage imaginative play, Scholastic said.

“There is something enduring in Clifford’s gentle, loyal spirit that touches fans even after they become adults,” Iole Lucchese, the executive producer of the series, said in a statement. “We see it in tributes on social media and in fan art, and of course, in every parent who grew up with Clifford and now shares their love of him with their preschoolers.”

The Clifford books began being published in the 1960’s, relating the story of the loveable red dog who grew from a small pup to larger than a house.

The original version of the series debuted on PBS in 2000 and ran for three seasons, airing in 110 countries and picking up several Daytime Emmy nominations. John Ritter provided the voice of Clifford until his death in 2003. He was posthumously nominated for an Emmy in 2004.

A spinoff series, “Clifford’s Puppy Days,” starring Lara Jill Miller and Henry Winkler, ran from 2003 to 2006.

The new series will offer fresh and colorful new locations, as well as introduce all-new designs for main characters Clifford and Emily Elizabeth, according to Scholastic.

To accompany the series, Scholastic Entertainment will launch a global publishing, broadcast, merchandise and licensing program.

Scholastic published the first “Clifford The Big Red Dog” title in 1963. There are dozens of titles and more than 133 million Clifford books in print in 16 different languages.

Bridwell was a freelance artist who found little success with children’s book publishers until one suggested he make his own story to accompany one of the sketches.

(Image: Courtesy of Scholastic)

USDA considers closer regulation of rescues


A Washington Post investigation that revealed 86 rescue and dog-advocacy groups and shelters nationwide have spent $2.68 million buying dogs from breeders at auctions has prompted the U.S. Agriculture Department to issue a bulletin stating that those groups may need to be licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Traditionally, they are not, and thereby operate independently of any federal regulations — even though they are, in effect, buying and selling dogs all while characterizing that work as “rescuing” and finding dogs adoptive homes.

“Our job is to ensure the humane treatment of the animals we regulate,” Deputy Administrator Bernadette Juarez, who leads the department’s animal-care program, said in the bulletin, which cited “dog acquisitions from an auction for resale (including adoption) as pets” as a reason that individuals or groups may require federal regulation.

SONY DSCThe USDA announcement came just days after the Washington Post investigation was published, triggering a public response that the Post reported on yesterday.

The initial report cited cases of bidders aligned with rescue organizations paying more than $1,000 per dog, in one case $8,000.

Altogether, the 86 rescue and advocacy groups and shelters that have registered to participate in the two government-regulated auctions, both in Missouri, have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies from breeders since 2009.

Most rescuers then offered the dogs for adoption as “rescued” or “saved,” and charge “adoption fees” that range from $50 to $1,000.

National animal welfare groups reacted to the report with differing levels of concern.

The Humane Society of the United States — which in March sued the USDA, claiming it has failed to release breeding-kennel inspection reports in violation of open-records law — said the agency should instead do a better job of regulating breeders.

“BREAKING: the USDA is planning to scrutinize pet rescue groups and require many of them to become licensed — even as it fails to crack down on puppy mills and covers up their inspection reports,” the Humane Society posted on the Facebook page of its Puppy Mills Campaign.

“This is not rescue; this is enabling abuse,” wrote Julie Castle, chief development, marketing and communications officer for the Best Friends Animal Society. “Buying puppies from puppy mill breeders and selling them to the public is not rescue. It’s the pet trade and it needs to be exposed.”

PETA said some rescuers are “propping up the dog-breeding industry. Handing thousands of dollars to the very people who are exacerbating the animal-homelessness crisis allows them to keep profiting from animals’ suffering.”

Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, urged a USDA investigation of the practice: “Federal regulators should require all organizations that operate as pet dealers under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) be licensed as such.”

While some in the breeding community cheered the USDA’s bulletin and said regulation of rescuers by the USDA was long overdue, others voicing an opinion said the federal government should leave rescuers alone and instead focus on what they call “puppy mills.”

“I will never donate to a rescue that buys dogs from an auction,” said one. “That article was an eye opener. I have never heard of such a thing, but will definitely check out the rescue I support to see if they do this. The rescues who do this should be closed down. The money spent to buy the dogs was astronomical and insane.”

Other animal lovers say rescuers are well-intentioned and above reproach:

“Why you would go out of your way to bash people for trying to help innocent animals is disgusting and idiotic!”

The Post’s investigation detailed the little-known business practice in which some rescue groups — mostly those dedicated to rescuing certain purebred breeds — buy dogs from breeders at auctions, then charge “adoption fees” to place them in new homes.

The rescue groups say buying auction dogs is necessary to remove them from the commercial breeding industry, while others said the practice just feeds money to the very breeders that rescuers often decry as puppy mills.

Nathan Winograd, founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center, which pushes for shelter overhauls, urged all sides to step out of what he called their ‘ideological straitjackets’ and instead take a reasoned approach to considering the facts.

Wrote one commenter, “I’m an executive director of a fairly large humane society in the South. . . . The premise of this story is that people are buying dogs at auction from breeders in an effort to ‘rescue’ them. This highlights the emotional problems you see in the rescue community, that blinds them to rational thought, or good judgment. If you think you are ‘rescuing’ dogs by buying them, in any way shape or form, you are in complete denial.”

The 86 rescue organizations named in the auction records reviewed by the Post are a tiny minority of the thousands of such organization in the U.S and Canada.

As one person commented on the Post article, “There are still a lot of dogs that need help, and a lot of good organizations trying to help them.”

NY council member calls for Wag probe

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Wag, an Uber-like app that pairs dogs with walkers, is getting more heat in New York, with city council members calling for an investigation into its dismal safety record.

Lawmakers and animal-rights advocates say Wag walkers have lost as least seven New York dogs since 2015 — four in the last two months.

“I have reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs to investigate Wag immediately,” Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), a former animal-welfare advocate. “I feel absolutely terrible for these animal lovers and what they’ve been through. Clearly, Wag’s vetting process is a joke. Maybe this kind of thing flies in West Hollywood but it doesn’t fly here in New York City.”

According to the New York Post, dogs who escaped from Wag walkers in February included an Upper East Side Chihuahua named Norman, who slipped out of his harness and is still missing, and a goldendoodle named Simba who darted from his walker and was hit by a car.

New York City requires dogsitters to be licensed, but there are no rules governing walkers.

“There aren’t any regulations and there should be,” said Manhattan animal-rights lawyer Susan Chana Lask. “You can’t be the ‘Uber for Dogs’ without some kind of licensing — we already know what happened with Uber.”

Wag says its walkers must pass a background check, complete a rigorous online dog-safety and dog-knowledge test and attend an in-person orientation.

The Post reported that their are rumblings among state lawmakers as well that Wag might be worthy of some scrutiny.

“There’s a good possibility we may need some extra regulations and guidelines,” said state Sen. James Tedisco, who represents Schenectady.

(Photo: Teddy, a dog that went temporarily missing while under the care of Wag in December 2017; Facebook)

Lotsa bark, little bite: Chicago crackdown on unlicensed dogs fizzles out

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Was all that talk about a crackdown on unlicensed dogs in the Windy City just bluster?

Chicago’s much publicized threat to conduct sweeps at dogs parks and beaches, track down scofflaws and issue tickets carrying fines of up to $200 — all in effort to get more of the estimated 653,000 canines living there registered — never really got rolling.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza said Tuesday that, despite publicity, free rabies clinics, contests and other citywide events aimed at encouraging dog registrations, licenses  rose only from about 30,000 to 40,000 this year.

Mendoza , who testified this week at City Council budget hearings, said her office followed through on creating incentives for dog owners to get licenses, but the city’s Commission on Animal Care and Control “dropped the ball” when it came to the enforcement side of the campaign.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that was likely  “either because it is inundated and understaffed or because Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed executive directors just when a ticket blitz was supposed to begin with stings at dog parks and beaches.”

For years, dog owners who failed to purchase dog licenses were all but ignored by the city.

That changed in 2005, when software was put in place allowing a county list of dogs who had received rabies shot to be compared to a much shorter list of licensed dogs in the city.

Warning letters were mailed to those whose names appeared on the county’s list, but not the city’s.

Those produced only a small surge in registrations. Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed the planned crackdown — with fines for violators — but that produced only another small surge, and the stiffer enforcement that was promised never took place.

Licenses are $5-a-year for spayed and neutered dogs, $50 for those that are not, and $2.50 for dog owners who are senior citizens. Fines for unregistered dogs run from $30 to $200. (You can learn more about registering your dog in Chicago here.)

Mendoza estimated Chicago’s dog population at more that 500,000 but others say it exceeds 653,000.

Despite the “tremendous job” her department did, Mendoza said, the crackdown “was really predicated on a strong enforcement effort, which we’re not responsible for . . . I have not seen a crackdown that I would feel comfortable with in terms of really getting people to license their dogs. I’m very disappointed in it.”

School crossing guards to help count dogs

The city of Schenectady is trying to get a handle on how many unlicensed dogs live there, and it’s calling on school crossing guards to help with the counting.

Crossing guards and code enforcement officers, who’ll be sweeping through neighborhoods this summer, anyway, looking for housing code violations, will be conducting Schenectady’s doggy census — aimed at getting a count of how many dogs are in the city.

The next step is making sure their owners have licensed them.

The city, in which only 1,400 dogs are licensed, suspects there could be ten times more that are unlicensed — as many as 15,000. With licenses costing up to $20, the sweep will easily pay for itself down the road.

The problem was getting the city council’s approval for spending $22,000 to hire people to go door to door, inquiring if homeowners have dogs, according to the Albany Times Union.

A surplus in the overtime budget for code enforcement officers and school crossing guards provided a way around that, allowing the city — without the council having to approve new spending — to turn interested crossing guards and code enforcement officers into temporary canine census takers.

City Clerk Chuck Thorne said the census, to be spread out over several summers, could easily lead to a doubling of dog licenses, which would bring in $36,000 to $40,000 in revenue, and that’s not even counting fines.

Licenses are $13.50 for a neutered or spayed dog and $20.50 for an unfixed dog. For seniors, rates are $3.50 for neutered dogs and $10.50 for unneutered. A valid rabies vaccination certificate is needed for a license.

The census takers will determine through interviews if a homeowner has dogs, how many, and whether they are licensed. If a person is not home and there are indications a dog is in the house — such as barking, or a yard strewn with rawhide chews — the census taker will leave a letter stating the person has 21 days to get a license or face a possible ticket.

(Photo: Mayor Gary McCarthy announcing plans to reduce crime, get homes up to code and crack down on unlicensed dogs in Schenectady; by Skip Dickstein / Times Union)

Rounding up unlicensed dogs in Ohio

The dog warden’s office in Allen County, Ohio, is living up to its antiquated name and conducting a sweep to ensure all dogs are licensed.

Almost 100 pets have been seized since the sweep began a few days ago, Examiner.com reports. Impounded dogs that go unclaimed after three days can be euthanized under Ohio law.

The dog warden’s office let pet owners know about the impending action last Thursday — or at least those that are Facebook friends.

“Hi all of our Facebook friends. Just wanted to let you all know why we haven’t posted adoptable dogs….. we don’t have any right now! Rescue groups have been able to take our adoptable dogs and we are very grateful they have the room because we have started our tag compliance check,” the office posted.

The post continues: “Every year we print a list of people that haven’t renewed their dog license, then we try to call as many as we can to see if they still have their dog. If they do we encourage them to get it within a given time. If they choose not to, then they can receive a citation or have their dog impounded or both. While out doing our compliance checks we are checking surrounding houses as well…”

In answer to a question on its Facebook page, the office said,  “…so far most have claimed their dogs the same or next day, which is great. If unlicensed dogs are not claimed after the legal holding time of 3 days the healthy, friendly adoptable dogs are offered to rescues … Yes, we do euthanize.”

Under Ohio law, dog owners must buy a license annually.

Owners of unlicensed dogs are subject to fines, in addition to having to pay double the price for a new license. They are also held responsible, if their pet is picked up, for covering the cost of boarding it at the pound. Law requires unlicensed dogs to be held for 3 days, and licensed dogs for 14 days, before they are turned over to a rescue or euthanized.

According to the Examiner article, pit bulls seized during the sweep might never make it back home.

Even though Ohio legislators removed pit bulls from the vicious dog list last year, cities may still enforce breed specific restrictions. The city of Lima, which is the Allen County seat, is one of those that still has a pit bull restriction in place.

“Allen County dog owners be warned,” the Examiner article says. “If your dog happens to be a pit bull, or one of the other dogs that Lima ordinance lists as vicious, your dog will not make it out of the Allen County Dog Pound alive.”

(Photo: One of the dogs seized in Allen County, Ohio / Examiner.com)