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
A proposal to alter dog bite liability law in Maryland looks to be unraveling, the Washington Post reports.
Last month, the House of Delegates passed a bill to address a Maryland Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and holding their owners — unlike owners of any other dogs — automatically liable if their dog bit someone.
The House passed a bill that didn’t single out any breeds, but shifted the burden of proof in dog-bite cases — proving that a dog was known or should have been known to be dangerous — from the victim to the dog’s owner.
With negotations having taken place beforehand between members of the House and Senate, with its seeming bipartisan support, with it having passed the House unanimously, it appeared smooth sailing was ahead for the bill.
That hasn’t been the case.
The Senate has come up with an amended version of the bill that — while it doesn’t single out pit bulls — makes it “virtually imposible” for a defendant in a dog-bite case to prevail, according to the delegate who negotiated the bill through the House.
Del. Luiz Simmons (D- Montgomery) says his Senate counterpart had assured him the bill, as approved by the House, would have no problem: “He told me he agreed with the compromise, he told me not to worry about it. We had a deal.”
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), who negotiated the bill for the Senate and is chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said that events had taken an unforeseen turn, leaving him in an “awkward position.”
The new provision — it requires owners to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that their dog was not dangerous before an attack — was proposed last week by Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Montgomery) and approved by a majority of Frosh’s committee.
Frosh voted against it, but says he doesn’t think the amendment hurts the bill.
After the bill arrived on the Senate floor Tuesday, there were attempts to delete Zirkin’s provision, but Zirkin fought them: “I love dogs but if my dog bites a little kid, I should be responsible,” he said.
The feuding could threaten the legislation’s chances of getting passed this session.
Members of the General Assembly failed to pass a similar bill during a special summer session, leaving the appeals court decision that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” intact.
That court, ruling in a case involving the mauling of a 10-year-old Towson boy mauled by a pit bull in 2007, declared owners of pit bulls (and “third parties,” including landlords) automatically liable in the event that their dog bites or injures someone.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bill, compromise, court of appeals, delegates, dog bites, general assembly, house, inherently dangerous, law, liability, maryland, negotiations, pit bulls, pitbulls, proposal, senate, senators
A Maryland dog who was adopted by a member of the U.S. Senate — and who went on to become a familiar and soothing presence in that chamber’s hallowed and often contentious halls — has died.
Dakota, a bichon frise, was adopted by former North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad and his wife, Lucy, in the spring of 2009 from a rescue shelter in Maryland
Conrad confirmed Sunday that Dakota died last week, due to complications from lymphoma, Inforum.com reported.
During Conrad’s time on Capitol Hill, Dakota was popular among lawmakers, staffers and reporters, and he was once dubbed the “101st senator” by NBC’s Brian Williams.
“He went to work with me every day,” Conrad said. “People just took to him. To have an animal in that setting, it warmed people up. It made them feel more at home.”
Conrad said the dog’s calm disposition had the power to soothe seething lawmakers.
“In some of our (budget) negotiations, colleagues would call and ask if I could bring Dakota. He calmed everyone down.”
Dakota was diagnosed with the lymphoma in September 2011, and had fought the disease for a year and a half.
In the past eight months, Conrad and Dakota had flown four times to Houston, where the dog was participating in a T-cell cancer research project at the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
“He was part of experiments that are very important, that they think could help save many people’s lives,” Conrad said.
While his prognosis was promising, the cancer returned and last week Conrad was informed that Dakota probably only had a few days left.
“He was such a jaunty, confident and happy little dog,” Conrad said. “And he was cute – he just put a smile on people’s faces. And so that’s how I’ll remember him.
“He improved people’s days. He certainly improved mine.”
(Photo: Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, bichon frise, calm, cancer, dakota, death, dies, dog, dogs, kent conrad, lymphoma, maryland, north dakota, pets, politics, rescued, senate, senator, soothing, washington
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
Police in Baltimore shot and killed a family’s pit bull when the dog ran out of his home as police were chasing a suspect.
“He wasn’t just our dog. He was our family,” Stacey Fields said of the family’s dog, Kincaid. “It’s a horrible thing seeing your dog that you love laying on the ground dead and bloody.”
Fields said a suspect being chased down an alley ran into their basement stairwell, with police in pursuit.
Kincaid ran out of his home during the commotion, and Baltimore police say he charged at the officers.
WJZ reported the dog was shot three times, twice in the head
“He was just barking like ‘Hey, what are doing in my yard? Who are you?’” Fields said.
“If it was a Cockapoo or a Chihuahua it probably wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “If he had pulled his mace, Kincaid would still be here.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baltimore, breeds, charged, chase, city, dogs, killed, maryland, officers, pets, pit bull, pitbull, police, pursuit, shot, stacey fields, suspect
Evy and Ted Inoue had a most gracious idea for a website — one that would allow people to share their thanks with good Samaritans and others who deserved a pat on the back.
To promote their new business, the New Hope, Pa., couple had their van made over to resemble their dog, Kudos, a basset hound-cocker spaniel mix whose bubbly personality had been the inspiration for it. It was named after him, too — OurKudos.com.
“That was supposed to be our promotional vehicle,” Evy told Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Daniel Rubin in an interview, as the vehicle named Waggin Wheels sat in the driveway. It is brown and white, with big soft eyes, furry black ears that droop over the rear doors, and a red tongue that sticks out of the grill.
“By giving it the look and personality of our dog, we hoped it would spread happiness wherever it went,” said Evy, a children’s book author who writes under the pen name Kimiko Kajikawa. “We’d go to events and honor all sorts of heroes. We’d be giving out kudos.”
While the van got 26 miles per gallon, highway, the Inoue’s business was guzzling their time, and not exactly taking off in the manner they hoped. Building a site allowing the grateful to buy gifts for the objects of their gratitude – candy and flowers and such — proved time consuming, and it was hard to be heard over the din that is the Internet. The yet to fully rebound economy didn’t help, either.
But what really caused the Inoues to lose faith in their plan — and sent Waggin Wheels into retirement — was Kudos, himself. He was diagnosed with Lyme disease in March 2011 and died a year ago Monday at age 3.
After that, the idea of using the van was just too painful. So was the idea of selling it.
For months, Rubin reports, it sat in the garage. Then Evy started looking for a charity that might be able to use the pupped-out vehicle.
Out of the blue, she ended up calling Joyce Darrell and Mike Dickerson, founders of Pets With Disabilities, based in Prince Frederick, Md.
“I thought she was pulling my chain,” Joyce said of the call from Evy a month ago.
Pets With Disabilities rescues and fosters disabled dogs, and has been doing so for 10 years, squeezing their dogs into a 1996 Saturn station wagon when the time comes — as it does pretty often – for trips to the vets.
Right now, they have 25 blind, deaf and three-legged dogs, many of whom have spinal injuries that require special wheelchairs for them to get around.
At the Inoue’s invitation, Mike Dickerson drove up to see the Ford van, bringing along Megan, one of the blind dogs.
Long story short, Waggin Wheels will soon have a new home, Pets With Disabilities couldn’t be more grateful, and the Inoue’s managed to dispense some of the good karma their former business was all about.
“We’re being touched by angels,” Joyce said. “They could have sold that van and got their money back. They deserve kudos, too.”
(Photo: Dan Rubin / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, basset hound, blind, cocker spaniel, deaf, disabilities, dog, dogs, evy inoue, ford, handicapped, joyce darrell, kimiko kajikawa, kudos, maryland, mike dickerson, mix, new hope, our kudos, ourkudos, pennsylvania, pets, pets with disabilities, prince frederick, rescue, ted inoue, van, vehicle, website
You’ll probably see a few familiar faces in this, the newest public service announcement in Baltimore’s “Show Your Soft Side” campaign.
The campaign made its debut in Baltimore last year after several instances of animal abuse in the city, some commited by children. The ads showcase athletes and celebrities cuddling the pets they love and the tagline, “Only a punk would hurt a cat or dog.”
The new announcement is a compilation of some old softies and some new ones — among them Baltimore police officer Dan Waskiewicz, who became part of the campaign this month after saving and adopting a pit bull being teased by children.
Others who have been featured include fighter John Rallo, the Ravens’ Jarret Johnson, Adam Jones of the Orioles and Tommy Lee, legendary rocker and founding member of Motley Crue.
The campaign — a project of the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Committee – makes use of billboards around town, and posters hanging in juvenile justice centers and other locations where young people are likely to see them.
Tommy Lee was the first celebrity featured from outside of Baltimore, and was snagged thanks to two connections. Rallo used to be Lee’s bodyguard. And a staff member who has worked on the campaign at 98 Rock, which is helping sponsor it, also is friends with Lee.
The newest announcement features photography by Leo Howard Lubow, Amanda Safford (Dizzy Grant) Jonesy Edwards (Henry Rollins) and Myriam Santos (Tommy Lee). The video was shot and directed by Janet Mockard.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, adam jones, advisory committee, animal, animal welfare, anti-abuse, athletes, baltimore, billboards, campaign, cats, celebrities, compassion, dan waskiewicz, dog, dogs, influencing, jarret johnson, john rallo, maryland, mayor's, officer, only a punk, pets, police, posters, role models, show your soft side, Tommy Lee, video, youth
The Maryland General Assembly failed to pass emergency legislation that would have overruled a widely criticized court decision that labeled pit bulls as “inherently dangerous.”
Both the House and Senate, in a special summer session, approved versions of a bill that would have ended singling out pit bulls, but the differences were too “stark” to be worked out before the session ended, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“It will be difficult to come up with a compromise on dogs,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. Miller said the Senate would neither concur with the House changes nor go to a conference committee.
The attempt at new legislation came after the state’s highest court ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, upholding a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that imposed a higher liability standard on pit bulls than other dogs.
That stemmed from a 2007 dog bite case in which a 10-year-old boy’s family sued the dog owner’s landlord. The trial court judge threw out the lawsuit, ruling the landlord hadn’t been proven negligent. The Court of Appeals reviewed the case and decided no proof of negligence is necessary in the case of pit bulls.
Protests from pit bull lovers and animal welfare organizations led the General Assembly to take up the matter — along with gambling — in a special summer session.
Many say the court rulings have already led to landlords kicking out pit bull-owning tenants, or forcing them to surrender their dogs to animal shelters.
The Senate crafted legislation that required all dogs to be treated the same when it comes to determining liability in civil suits — but rather than mandating pit bulls be held to the same standard as other dogs, its proposal held all other dogs to the same standard as pit bulls. The Senate-passed law did away with the common law standard in Maryland that in effect allows a dog “one free bite.”
The House version maintained the “one free bite” rule, applying the stricter standard only in cases where dogs are running loose.
The Humane Society of the United States said it was disappointed the General Assembly failed to pass a bill before the special session adjourned.
“Due to their inaction, thousands of Maryland families may be forced to choose either their dogs or their homes in the next four months, until the General Assembly comes back in January,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The HSUS.
The HSUS said the court ruling has ”forced many Maryland residents to choose between their homes and their beloved pets, and has forced landlords and property managers to try to determine whether dogs are pit bulls or not. With the General Assembly’s inaction, these impacts are expected to multiply.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bill, breed-specific, breeds, dangerous, dogs, emergency, failed, fails, general assembly, house, hsus, humane society of the united states, inherently dangerous, insurance, laws, legislation, liability, limbo, maryland, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, renters, senate, session, shelters, solesky, special, standards, tami santelli, tenants, types, versions