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Tag: municipalities

Walking in support of Utah’s pit bulls

Dnews SLCStrutABulls

Pretty enough to be a postcard, this photo was taken Sunday during a group dog walk in Salt Lake City.

It was one of the regular bi-weekly walks staged by the organization, SLC StrutABulls, which seeks to improve the image of pit bulls by holding walks in various public locations.

Organizers chose the State Capitol this week to raise awareness about House Bill 97, which is headed to the state Senate for review, according to  KSL.com. The bill would prohibit municipalities from enacting or enforcing breed-specific rules, regulations, policies or laws.

About 10 Utah cities now outlaw pit bulls or pit bull mixes, according to Natalie Schun, with SLC StrutABulls.

About 60 dogs — mostly pit bulls or mixes — and their owners walked around the grounds of the Capitol on Sunday.

“The (bad) ones that you hear about are just (a few) out of who knows how many,” said event co-organizer Kelly Lawson. “Any dog can be mean if it doesn’t get the proper socialization, exercise and attention that it needs.

“We are out to show that these are good dogs and can be good dogs no matter what breed they are.”

(Photo: Scott G. Winterton./ Deseret News)

Amendment would bar breed bans in Md.

Delegate Cheryl Glenn will introduce an amendment to the state’s proposed dangerous dog law this week that would prohibit municipalities from banning or regulating dogs based on their breed.

Pushed by the Maryland Dog Federation, the proposed amendment to House Bill 1314, aimed at strengthening the state’s dangerous dog law,  reads:

“Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to prevent a municipality from adopting or enforcing its own more stringent program for the control of dangerous dogs provided, however, that no such program shall ban, regulate or address dogs in a manner which is specific as to breed.”

The federation says the amendment will prohibit laws thats discriminate against particular breeds of dogs. Similar measures have been passed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and eight other states.

If approved the proposed amendment would void the current breed ban in Prince George’s County, where about 900 pit bulls and pit bull mixes are euthanized a year, according to the federation.

“The seizing of innocent family pets simply because of their appearance is unconscionable. Responsible dog guardians should be allowed to own whatever breed they want. Reckless owners should be prohibited from owning any dog,” the federation said.

The federation is encouraging those who support the amendment to write Delegate Cheryl Glenn (cheryl.glenn@house.state.md.us); and to attend the March 18 hearing of the Judiciary Committee (at 1 p.m. in Room 100 of the House Office Building in Annapolis).

N.J. Township counts dogs door to door

dogcensusState law in New Jersey mandates that local governments count their canine residents, but John Fries, in suburban Haddon Township, is one of only a handful of local government employees doing it.

Under a law that dates to the 1950s, when rabies was a threat to household pets, New Jersey towns are required to conduct the census every two years. But as the rabies threat declined, so has the number of municipalities following the little-known regulation, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 1980, 91 percent of towns submitted canvases to the state; in 2008, only 32 percent did so, according to health department records.

Some towns say they have better things to do.

“Chesilhurst has so many other problems, the last thing we’re concerned about is a dog census,” Michael Blunt, the mayor of the community near the Pine Barrens said. “The minute you start giving people tickets, you bring hell on yourself.”

Under state rules, if a resident is found to have an unlicensed dog, the town can send out a bill for the license with the threat of a fine for nonpayment.

Fries, clipboard in hand, began his task in October, and expects to finish surveying Haddon Township homes by the end of January.

Requiring owners to license their dogs is the policy in most U.S. cities and towns. But the taking of a door-to-door “dog census” seems unique to New Jersey, the Inquirer reports. In the minority of towns that participate, the census has led to an increase in dog-licensing revenues.

(Philadelphia Inquirer photo by April Saul)

Poop, paint and the long arm of the law

In light of news that the fine for not picking up dog waste in Baltimore has gone up to a possible $1,000 per dropping, we scoured the Internet yesterday — ok, maybe we just scanned it — to get some idea of what fines other cities impose for unscooped poop.

We can report that (A) we’re confused, (B) there seems to be a wide variance, (C) one must sometimes wade through a lot of poop on the Internet to get facts, and (D) somebody in New York — likely either a vigilante or a graffiti artist with low self esteem — is going around spray painting unpicked-up poop.

We’re not sure what the penalty for spray painting poop in New York is, but the fine imposed on an owner who doesn’t pick it up is $250. It was increased last year from $100.

Since the $250 penalty was put in place Nov. 7, 2008, about 54 citations a month have been issued — about the same as under the old fine, according to the New York Post.

New York Sanitation Department spokesman Matt Lipani told the Post that the laws, and the penalities, seem to make no difference: “There is absolutely no correlation between the amount of canine-waste summonses the department writes, or the cost of the summonses, and whether or not dog owners pick up after their dogs.”

Moving on to Hoboken, N.J., we can report that the city raised it’s dog poop fines to a maximum of $2,000 in 2007, and also announced plans to publish offending dog owners’ names on the Internet. It’s not clear if either became common practice.

In San Francisco, a city looking into ways of converting poop into methane gas for fuel, the maximum fine for not picking up your dog’s waste is $319.

London hits offenders with fines as high as $700.

In Lafayette, Colorado, one of the few cities I could find that’s kind enough to make the information easy to locate on its website, the fines are $140 to $165 for the first offense, $240 for the second offense and from $340 to $1000 for the third offense.

What stood out most, though, in my foray into feces law, is how hard to find and little-publicized the local ordinances are. Considering their whole purpose is to create a deterrent effect, you’d think more effort would be made — in Baltimore and a lot of other cities — to get that information out.

Texas lawmaker seeks opinion on breed bans

A Texas lawmaker has asked the state attorney general to issue an opinion on whether local officials have the authority to pass laws banning or regulating specific breeds of dogs.

In a letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican state Rep. Tony Goolsby requested an opinion to clarify a state law that cities and counties have interpreted as preventing them from targeting breeds.

He wrote that confusion caused by “varying interpretations” of the law has stopped local governments wanting to pursue such measures, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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