House Bill 956 would create a new “aggressive dog” classification for pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, chows, Presa Canarios, wolf hybrids and any dogs “that are predominantly” a mix of those, WRAL reports.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg, said of those breeds, ”I don’t want to say those were the ones with the most incidents, but they were the most prevalent by the feedback that I’ve gotten.”
In other words, the proposed legislation doesn’t let facts get in the way.
Under the bill, prospective “aggressive breed” owners would have to undergo a criminal background check, apply and pay for a special state permit, notify their property insurer, and take a 4-hour education course before adopting, buying, or “otherwise taking possession of” one of the dogs.
Moore said the idea was brought to him by a concerned constituent.
“There needs to be some kind of accountability,” Moore said. “A lot of people breed them the wrong way. You have very harsh incidents of these dogs maiming children, maiming older folks, and sometimes even turning on their owner.”
The bill calls for county sheriff’s to provide the criminal background checks and report the findings to the state Department of Insurance. It would have the authority to deny a permit to anyone whose background check “is not suitable for the ownership of a dog belonging to an aggressive dog breed.”
The “aggressive dog permit” could cost as much as $25. Under the bill, the Department of Insurance could require additional insurance coverage be taken out by owners of the dogs.
“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about it, saying I’m trying to blacklist these dogs, and that’s not the intent,” Moore said. “It’s just to let people take responsibility for owning those breeds.”
The representative’s email address is Rodney.Moore@ncleg.net
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressive, animals, background checks, bill, breeds, charlotte, chow, dog, dogs, fee, hb 956, house bill 956, insurance, law, legislature, mastiff, mixes, north carolina, ownership, permit, pets, pit bull, presa canario, proposal, representative, restrict, rodney moore, rottweiler, wolf hybrid
The Maryland Court of Appeals opinion declaring all pit bulls — and conceivably any dog with any pit bull in it — “inherently dangerous” shouldn’t be interpreted as outlawing the breed.
It applies only to litigation, and law-abiding pit bulls and their owners should have nothing to fear, those who see reason in the opinion will point out.
But there’s a lot to fear. Even though the opinion directly affects only those who get sued, it indirectly affects everyone — in the form of pets being abandoned, overcrowded shelters, difficulty finding rental property and giving Maryland a reputation as a state where beings are judged, discriminated against and persecuted, all based on looks.
It’s definitely a step in the wrong direction, fraught with connotations of racism, or its canine equivalent; and, like most exhibits of intolerance, it shouldn’t be tolerated.
B-More Dog, a group that’s been fighting on behalf of pit bulls for a few years now, is among the organizations offering advice to pit bull owners, aimed at better understanding the opinion, undoing the damage it did and dealing with its after-effects.
The same case that led to the court opinion played a role in B-More dog forming. In 2007, 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was bitten by a pit bull that escaped from its yard. Not long after that, a Baltimore County councilman introduced legislation that would have required pit bulls to be muzzled in public, among other restrictions.
At a rally to protest the proposed law, the founding members of the organization met, went on to fight the legislation and formed B-More Dog to promote responsible dog ownership.
The Solesky family, meanwhile, filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against the owners of the pit bull and their landlord. In 2009, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County ruled that the landlord, could not be held (monetarily) responsible for the dog bite because there was no way she could have known that the dog was “dangerous”.
The Solesky family appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals which found in favor of the Solesky family. Then, the landlord’s insurance company asked the Maryland Court of Appeals to hear the case. Its opinion last week, saying in, effect, that all pit bulls are dangerous and owners and landlords should know that, is the one that has sent some pit bull owners into states of near panic.
“B-More Dog has been in touch the best and the brightest people, both locally and nationally, who fight breed discrimination,” the organization said in a newsletter this week. “We remain confident that breed discrimination laws will be defeated in Maryland and we are preparing for the marathon battle ahead.”
B-more Dog isn’t the only organization that’s working to inform pit bill owners of the court opinion’s implications.
The Animal Farm Foundation put together information for pit bull owners that you can find it here. The Humane Society of the United States has some advice for renters and others that you can find here.
Those organziations and others are also looking at legal options, including the possibility of the Maryland General Assembly passing a law to undo the court decision. More information on this possibility can be found on this HSUS Facebook Page.
B-More Dog is planning a “Rally to Support Dog Owners Across Maryland,” and has scheduled some other events as well.
They’ll be on hand May 12, handing out stickers and more at the Baltimore Humane Society’s Paws on Parade event this Saturday (May 12).
Next Saturday (May 19), they’ll be holding ”Pins for Pits, a family-friendly bowling fundraiser at Country Club Lanes, 9020 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore, from 5-7 p.m.
And on Sunday (May 20), they’ll be holding their regular “Pit Bulls on Parade”
walk at Rash Field at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, starting at 11 a.m.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animal farm foundation, animals, b-more dog, breed-specific, breeds, court, court of appeals, discrimination, dogs, events, general assembly, help, hsus, implications, inherently dangerous, law, litigation, maryland, mixes, opinion, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
Well, maybe some of them aren’t, but for the sake of ease, and without regard to fact, let’s just lump them all together and proclaim them stupid.
That’s what they did, with pit bulls.
A troubling 4-3 decision by the state’s highest court last week deemed pit bulls and pit bull mixes inherently dangerous — a ruling that, on top of being ill-informed, could lead to trouble for pit bull owners everywhere.
One judge who went against the majority, Clayton Greene Jr., noted that how harmless a pit bull might be is no longer relevant when it comes to determining liability — a troublesome precedent, in his view.
“Now, it appears, the issue of whether a dog is harmless, or the owner or landlord has any reason to know that the dog is dangerous, is irrelevant to the standard of strict liability,” Judge Greene wrote.
The majority decision singles out pit bulls and declares them all dangerous. It implies that owners of them, and the landlords who rent to those owners, should ignorantly assume, as the judges did, that they are lethal and unpredictable beasts. And it makes suing their owners much easier.
Under previous case law, a victim intending to file a lawsuit after a dog attack had to prove that a dog’s owner, or landlord, knew it had a history of being dangerous. Now, under this new precedent, they can merely show that the owner knew their dog was all or part pit bull. That would be sufficient basis for a claim.
In other words, it’s no longer necessary to prove that a particular pit bull is dangerous, only that it’s a pit bull, or part of it is.
The ruling last Thursday came in the case of a 2007 attack on a child in Towson. According to the Baltimore Sun, 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bill and his family sued the dog owner’s landlord, Dorothy M. Tracey.
The Circuit Court judge threw out the claim, ruling there was no evidence that Tracey had been negligent. The Court of Special Appeals overturned the judge’s decision, and the Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling Thursday. The case will now head back to trial.
At a time when many jurisdictions are becoming more enlightened about pit bulls, the Maryland Court of Appeals decision assures that, in at least one area, they will be treated differently from all other dogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeal court, attack, breed, court of appeals, dangerous, discrimination, dog, dogs, dominic solesky, judges, laws, lawsuits, liability, maryland, mixed, mixes, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, ruling, specific, towson
While there’s an old one hanging on my wall, and while I served as a juror once, I have little to say these days about Pulitzer Prizes.
The Pawlitzer Prizes are another matter, though, and, since they don’t really exist, I hereby bestow one on the Toledo Blade.
The newspaper’s report Sunday, asking and answering the question of how many dogs are put down at the local shelter under the mistaken belief they are pit bulls, is the kind of probing, hard-hitting doggie journalism we need more of — as opposed to celebrity dogs, costumed dogs, ugly dogs and cute dogs.
(It’s also the kind of journalism we need more of, in these times of fading newspapers and diminishing depth.)
The story raises some serious questions about how many supposed pit bulls have been and are being euthanized at the Lucas County Animal Shelter, where the decision of who’s a pit bull — as at most shelters — is based on an educated guess, or often an uneducated one, reached solely on the basis of looks.
The story shows that looks can be deceiving.
Written by Tanya Irwin, it’s a piece that should be required reading at every animal shelter. It starts like this:
Lucas is lucky to be alive.
The dog, owned by Laurie and George Hughes of Rossford, was one of the first “pit bull” puppies spared by the Lucas County dog warden in January, 2010, after the county commissioners changed a long-standing policy under which all “pit bulls,” no matter their age or temperament, were automatically destroyed.
The irony is that Lucas, who was transferred to the Toledo Area Humane Society, isn’t a “pit bull.”
As the story points out, recent changes in local and state law mean dogs designated as pit bulls will no longer get an automatic death sentence when they arrive at a county shelter. In practice, though, and somewhat less automatically, they still are often euthanized, due to factors like an overabundance of their kind at shelters.
The newspaper conducted DNA tests on six dogs that were originally labeled as pit bulls by the Lucas County dog warden. Using the Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel Insights DNA test, it determined only one was predominantly American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier. Two had some “pit,” and three of the dogs had no “pit bull” breed in them at all
“We really don’t care what breed he is, he’s a good dog and we love him,” said Hughes. “I think it’s awful what people say about ‘pit bulls’ or dogs that look like ‘pit bulls.’ It’s like racism, except against dogs.”
Two other dogs, despite their labels, were pit-free: Carly, who turned out to be an American bulldog -American Eskimo mix, and Bandit, whose breeds were boxer, Scottish terrier, Chinook, Doberman pinscher, black Russian terrier, Irish setter, Glen of Imaal terrier, and dogue de Bordeaux.
Based on factors like a large head or broad chest, dogs are being mislabeled as pit bulls – a subjective judgment that, in the case of Toledo and Lucas County, and many other jurisdictions, can determine whether a dog lives or dies. It often also determines, in communities across America, whether you can rent, the cost of your insurance, and even whether you’re allowed into town in the first place.
Then you have the “pit bull mix,” an equally dangerous designation, also used to unfairly ban, restrict or single out dogs. Is it based on having a majority of pit bull blood, a small percentage (as my dog does, according to our own experiences with DNA testing), or any at all? No. It’s also most often a guess, based on looks, that allows even more dogs to be discriminated against.
Former Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, who departed the office amid complaints over its high kill rate and his insistence that all dogs he deemed pit bulls must be killed, said he never considered the DNA tests to be reliable, and therefore made no use of them.
Dr. Angela Hughes, a veterinarian and the veterinary genetics research manager at Mars Veterinary, told the newspaper that the reliability of the tests has increased over the past four years, and now stands at about 80 to 85 percent in the case of the cheek-swab tests.
That’s a far better record than many an animal shelter probably has. At most of them, classifying a dog’s breed is a guessing game. Dogs shouldn’t be put to death based on a guess. In Lucas County, the article notes, thousands may have been.
“It’s impossible to know how many dogs Mr. Skeldon killed claiming they were pit bulls when they weren’t, but based on the kill rate during his more than 20 years as warden, the fact that close to half the dogs at the pound traditionally have been labeled pit bulls, and the DNA tests The Blade performed, easily thousands of dogs could have been killed because they were mislabeled pit bull.”
The Lucas County dog warden’s office continues to euthanize perceived pit bulls because it is “at capacity for ‘pit bull-type’ dogs.” Dog Warden Julie Lyle told the newspaper that — despite Ohio having recently revamped a law that labeled all pit bulls dangerous – the shelter has yet to begin adopting out pit bulls.
The state’s new dangerous dog law, which brings an end to pit bulls being automatically designated as dangerous, goes into effect May 21. But even then, pit bulls, due to their numbers, will likely remain the type of dog most often euthanized.
Dr. Amy Marder, director for the Center for Shelter Dogs, has proposed that dogs adopted from shelters in the United States simply be identified as “American shelter dogs.”
The North Shore Animal League in New York has done away with the pit bull label, in part because it’s not actually a breed, anyway. Instead the league refers to dogs who have “the look” as terrier mixes.
Lucas County dog warden Lyle thinks that approach is deceptive.
“When people think of terriers, they think of small, cuddly dogs, not large dogs,” Lyle said.
She said that, unless a breed is mentioned by people surrendering a dog, she and her deputies designate what breed a dog is. Currently about 40 percent of the dogs the pound takes in are designated as pit bulls.
Lyle said she was not surprised that there were cases they had gotten wrong. Overall, she said, she thinks she and her staff have done a good job deciding who is a pit bull and who is not. She said she doesn’t see any reason for the pound to change how it identifies a dog’s breed.
I can think of three: Lucas, Carly and Bandit.
(Graphic from the Toledo Blade; photo by Lori King / Toledo Blade)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american shelter dogs, american staffordshire terrier, animals, appearance, breed testing, breeds, bully, dangerous, dna, dna testing, dog, dog warden, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, guessing, investigation, killed, labeled, looks, lucas county, mislabeled, mixes, mutts, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, shelter dogs, shelters, staffordshire bull terrier, terriers, testing, toledo, toledo blade, warden, wrongly
A 22-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy were arrested in Chicago after torturing five puppies and posting videos of it on YouTube, police said.
Joshua Moore, the adult, told police he did it because he was bored, and that he thought “it was not a big deal.”
The videos showed dogs — both the pups and their parents — having duct tape put on their testicles and ripped off, being suspended and spun in a harness, being forced to drink lemon juice and eat their own feces, and being thrown into air, choked and shaken.
The grown dogs were a Chihuahua and a terrier; the pups were mixes of the two, police said.
Moore and the boy were arrested Thursday and charged with animal torture and animal cruelty — all felonies. Moore was ordered held on $150,000 bail today.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the torture came to light when a tipster contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA reported the cruelty to the Fort Wayne, Ind., Animal Care and Control officials on Sunday, after learning that Moore was from Chicago but living in Fort Wayne.
The dogs were seized Thursday from a home in the Austin neighborhood and placed in the care of Chicago’s animal care and cruelty department.
The videos were removed from YouTube before the arrest, but PETA had made copies of them by then.
(Top photo: By John J. Kim / Chicago Sun-Times
Middle photo: Screen grab from videos, courtesy of PETA
Bottom photo: Chicago Police Department)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 13-year-old, abuse, animal cruelty, animals, arrest, bored, chicago, chihuahua, choked, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, feces, genitals, harness, joshua moore, mixes, no big deal, peta, pets, police, posted, puppies, ripped, shaken, spun, tape, terrier, testicles, thrown, torn, torture, tortured, video, youtube
I believe there is an interior decorator within all of us.
I would like the one within me to leave now.
That’s because he’s an annoying little twit who’s spending too much of my time and money in his attempt to make everything “just so,” insisting on “color schemes” and “balance” and “flow,” and of course “bold accessories that really make things pop.”
I like to think that I’ve always had some taste, that I’m a notch above those uncivilized brutes who – having never watched HGTV, having kept the interior decorator within them buried — are content with soft reclining seating (built-in cupholder optional), a wall-mounted flat screen TV the size of your average billboard, and nothing in between to obstruct the view.
For one, Ace and I have just completed a year on the road, most of which was spent hopping from pet-friendly motel room to pet-friendly motel room every day or two. Remember the Motel 6 bedspread? We do. In those places we stayed longer – a friend’s sailboat, a trailer in the desert, an empty house and the basement of a mansion – we weren’t afforded much opportunity to make them “our own.” After all that flitting about, I think I developed a zest to nest.
For another, while staying in the basement of a mansion in North Carolina for the past month (with free cable TV provided), I became briefly addicted to Home & Garden Television (HGTV) – and all those shows that showed people moving to new homes, or renovating and redecorating their old ones. I despised many of those househunters and homeowners – because they were whiny and spoiled – but I also, for reasons I can’t pinpoint, or don’t want to, envied them.
On top of all that, the place we’ve moved into is special – to me at least. It’s the very apartment unit my parents lived in when I was born and, while dozens of people and families have moved in and out of it since then, I hoped to make it mine again, tip my hat to its heritage and make it presentable.
So join me now for the reveal, keeping in mind that — unlike those HGTV programs — we had virtually no budget to work with. Nevertheless, I’d appreciate it if you say “ohmigod!” a lot on our walk-through, because that’s what they do on all those home makeover shows.
We’ll start in the living room.
Among its featured pieces are my mother’s old couch, an old family desk, an old rocking chair, a wingback chair that once belonged to my father’s parents, my cousin’s coffee table and my mother’s old footstool featuring the needlepoint of great aunt Tan, seen here (in the lower right corner) before I stripped off the old cover and discovered the prize beneath.
I chose copper-colored faux silk drapes from Target for the living room — one of my first, and one of my few, purchases. I just thought they looked cool, and that I could build my color scheme around them.
That gave me copper, burgundy and gold (in the big chair) and blue (the couch). Fortunately, I found a cheap area rug at Wal Mart that bespoke them all, and which, in my non-expert opinion, really ties thing together. I describe my color palette — yes, palette — as being based on elements of the earth: copper, silver, gold, water, wine (I consider wine an element) and silver.
While the living room, through its furniture, bows to tradition, its more modern artworks, I think, make for an eclectic mix – eclectic mixes, such as my dog Ace, being the best kind.
At first I had some concerns that the piece — its inspiration, Lance says, being a silver, Airstream-like trailer — would disappear on my grey walls. To the contrary, I think it works well … subtly, as if to say, yes, I am here, but I am not going to shout about it, even though I am silver.
You can learn more about Lance and his art — his father played major league baseball, and younger Lance once bartended at Baltimore’s Idle Hour, a bar in which Ace spent his formative years — at his website.
But back to my place. On the living room’s opposite wall, I – believing there is an artist in all of us, too — have commissioned myself to paint my own piece of modern art, of copper and blue and maybe some red, further establishing our color scheme.
The goals I was trying to achieve in the living room were comfort, simplicity and a rustic elegance that says “come in, sit a spell, OK you can leave now.”
Moving on to the dining room, I found some discounted copper-ish drapes with swirly things on them to echo, somewhat, those in the living room. The dining table was a Craigslist find and the featured artwork is a portrait of Ace resting by a waterfall in Montana, painted by my friend Tamara Granger, Ace’s godmother.
Again, I was striving for simplicity, making sure not to use too much or too-large furniture, since that prohibits Ace from easily navigating the house.
Decorating around your dog (don’t laugh, a lot of people do it) is crucial, especially when he’s 130 pounds. That’s probably why he doesn’t — as much as he’d like to – go in the kitchen, which, in terms of floor space, measures about the same size as his crate.
In it, one can accomplish all kitchen duties without walking — a simple pivot step is all that is required, or permitted. The kitchen features another of Tamara’s artworks, a big black bird, hung over the stove, where it echoes the greys and silvers elsewhere.
Behind the kitchen and dining room is an added on room — not part of the house when I first lived in it — that will serve as a laundry area, once I figure out where to put all the junk now stored there and get a washer and dryer.
In my sole bathroom, I have put up a shower curtain of turquoise, and hung towels to match. So it is white and turquoise. I think it needs another color.
My bedroom is simply decorated with a box spring and mattress that sit on the floor, the better for Ace, until his back problems improve, to climb in. There are two end tables, and a dresser whose origins I don’t remember, and another TV. With cable television starting at $60-something a month, I have opted for the far cheaper, totally undependable and highly unsightly digital TV antenna.
As we enter the guest room/home office, we pass two old editorial cartoons in the hallway — a preview of a bigger collection ahead which pays homage, if you will, to those talented and artistic souls who were once able — and in some cases still are able – to make a career at newspapers out of hoisting the rich and powerful on their own petards.
Amazingly, they were able to do this even though hardly anybody knew what a petard is. While, in modern day slang, some use it as a derogatory term for members of PETA, a petard is actually an explosive device. The phrase ”hoist by one’s own petard” means to be undone by one’s own devices.
Editorial cartoonists are becoming an endangered species, but I was always a huge admirer of them — for they were people whose jobs seemed more like playtime, who were allowed to be goofy, and who had the power to makes us laugh, think and feel, sometimes all at once.
They could, and some still do, bring attenton to an injustice, afflict the overly comfortable, and point out that the emperor isn’t wearing anything — all with just a sketch and a punchline. It’s a shame many newspapers have opted not to have their own, anymore, because I think we have more naked emperors walking around on earth than ever before.
My collection — mostly from the 1950s and 1960s — includes the original works of Tom Darcy, Burges Green, Sandy Huffaker, Bill Sanders, Cliff Rogerson, Edmund Duffy, D.R. Fitzpatrick and C.P. Houston.
I lined their works up in two rows above my futon, AKA Ace’s bed, the arms of which still bear the scars of his gnawing on them as a pup.
They, too — those gnaw marks that angered me when I discovered them but now view as Ace’s childhood art – are part of the decor now, another little piece of history, or at least his history. I wouldn’t cover them up for anything.
Rounding out the home office furnishings are my old library table, two dinged up file cabinets, an office chair, an actual bed made for dogs, and four newly purchased, less than stalwart Wal Mart bookshelves, ordered over Internet.
What’s now the home office was 57 years ago my bedroom. From birth to the age of one, I shared it with my older sister.
The futon — long Ace’s favorite place to rest, and from which he watched me write my book — is one of five soft sleeping areas he now has to choose from. He also sleeps on my bed, the living room sofa, actually a loveseat, the actual dog bed, passed down from his Baltimore friend Fanny, and the Wal Mart rug that bespeaks the colors of my decor, and, come to think of it, of Ace as well.
This is where we’ll end our reveal, and we apologize if it was overly revealing.
(Next week: A look at the family that lived in the house that’s gone from being my crib to being my crib.)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animal, apartment, art, artist, baltimore, birthplace, cable, cartoonists, cartoons, color scheme, copper, crib, decorating, dogs, eclectic, editorial cartoons, end of the road, furnishings, furniture, hgtv, hoisted, home, house, idle hour, journalism, lance rauthzan, mixes, nest, nesting, newspapers, north carolina, petard, pets, reveal, revealing, road trip, settled, settling, silver, tamara granger, target, television, travel, travels with ace, walmart, winston-salem
But you don’t see one representing the dog.
Katie Barnett, for one, doesn’t think that’s right.
A third-year law student at Kansas University, she’s establishing an animal cruelty prosecution clinic at the school — one she says is the first of its kind.
Barnett, 30, will work with animal control, animal cruelty investigators at the Humane Society, police and prosecutors to ensure that justice is served in cases of animal abuse.
“This is the chance for me to give the animals a voice and a place in the justice system,” Barnett told the Lawrence Journal-World.
Barnett started researching how to put together the clinic two years ago, after some high-profile animal cruelty cases in Lawrence. She did ride-alongs with the police and animal cruelty investigators and followed cases through the court system.
This spring, Barnett will develop a protocol for how future students can assist in the prosecution of such cases.
“I’m doing a trial run to see how everything works,” she said. “I’m getting out all the kinks and really tailoring the position so everyone knows what to do. There’s never been a person to collect everything.”
The program will begin taking in students in the fall 2011.
Barnett was one of three law students awarded The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships last year for their outstanding work in the growing field of animal law.
A graduate of Missouri State University, she has two pit bull mix dogs, including a three-legged rescue named Leonidas. Both are both Delta Society therapy dogs who visit schools, hospitals, and participate in community outreach programs.
Barnett and her husband, Anthony, also run Game Dog Guardian, a local organization that rehabilitates pit bulls and helps find them adoptive homes.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal control, animal cruelty, animals, attorney, clinic, court, delta society, dogs, game dog guardian, humane society, investigations, investigators, justice, kansas, kansas university, katie barnett, law, law school, law student, lawrence, lawyer, legal, mixes, pets, pit bulls, prosecution, students, therapy dogs