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Tag: outdoor

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.

Killing 100 sled dogs gave him nightmares

About 100 dogs were gunned down execution-style in British Columbia when a company that offers sled dog tours apparently decided that, due to a downturn in business, it could no longer afford to maintain them.

The shocking revelation of the mass killing (the industry prefers the term “culling”) surfaced through the British Columbia Worker’s Compensation Board, where a company employee filed a claim saying that killing the dogs, on April 21 and 23 of last year, caused him post-traumatic stress disorder.

The SPCA in British Columbia has launched an investigation into the incident.

“Culling” – or thinning the “herd”  — is apparently not an uncommon practice among sled dog companies, according to the SPCA, either in the U.S. or Canada, where the sled dog tour industry is largely unregulated.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone engaged in the illegal killing of sled dogs in either country. 

The 100 dogs – used in sled dog tours operated by Outdoor Adventures — were gunned downed while tethered. The employee, acting under the orders of his boss, began shooting dogs as other dogs watched. Some of the dogs panicked and attacked him as he carried out the task, he said.

“By the end he was covered in blood,” the workmen’s compensation review board noted in its Jan. 25 decision, which ruled the employee did develop PTSD in connection with the incident. “When he finished he cleared up the mess, filled in the mass grave and tried to bury the memories as deeply as he could.”

The full report from the board was obtained by The Vancouver Sun.

In addition to sparking an SPCA investigation into allegations of animal cruelty, the report has led to a suspension by Tourism Whistler of reservations for dog sledding excursions by Outdoor Adventures.

Outdoors Adventures, which also offers snowmobiling, snowshoeing and horseback excursions in the Whistler area, said in a statement that there are now no firearms on site and all future euthanizations will be done in a vet’s office.

Marcie Moriarty, head of the British Columbia SPCA cruelty investigations division, said the employee, who was the general manager of Outdoor Adventures, could and should have denied to carry out the orders from his boss.

The employee said he has suffered panic attacks and nightmares since the culling.

“I’ve no doubt he has suffered post traumatic stress but there’s a thing called choice,” said Moriarty. “I absolutely would not have done this and he could have said no … I don’t feel sorry for this guy for one minute.”

“The way this employee describes it — it’s a massacre absolutely … These dogs were killed in front of the other dogs that were all tethered up on the compound.”

The order to kill the sled dogs came after a veterinarian declined to euthanize healthy animals, and some attempts were made to adopt out the dogs, the employee told the review board.

SPCA officials say the incident sheds some needed light on the industry.

“There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general,” Moriarty said. “People see these 20 sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think how great. But what they don’t see is the 200 dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel.”

N.C. restaurants get ok for outdoor dogs

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has ruled that restaurants may decide on their own whether to allow dogs in outdoor areas.

The new rule requires dogs to be restrained and prohibits them from entering indoor seating areas. It also makes a point of saying they can’t come in contact with food or servers.

But it’s a giant leap from the old rule, which assessed as much as a two-point health-inspection deduction for restaurants that allowed pets in outdoor eating areas.

The rule change became effective earlier this month.

Doggie dining gets closer for Frederick

dog-at-the-restaurantMaryland’s  House of Delegates has approved a proposal that would allow dogs in the outdoor dining areas of restaurants in Frederick County.

An identical measure passed the Senate, but one of the bills still has to be approved by the other chamber before landing on the governor’s desk.

The measure lets Frederick County Commissioners create an exception to silly state health regulations that ban dogs — except service dogs — from dining areas, both indoors and out.

Allowing dogs at restaurants has been touted as a way to increase tourism in downtown Frederick, especially at the Downtown Frederick Partnership’s event, Dog Days of Summer, according to the Frederick News-Post.

If the bill becomes law, county commissioners would need to enact an ordinance or regulation to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas.

The bill passed the House of Delegates 130-3 with delegates Charles Jenkins of Frederick County, Emmett Burns and Stephen Lafferty opposed.

Suburb of Sydney cracks down on dining dogs

mosmanBucking global fashion, the Australian suburb of Mosman, outside Sydney, is working to make restaurants with outdoor dining less dog friendly.

The town’s council has drafted a new policy, requiring cafe owners to set aside areas where dogs can be chained up like bicycles while their owners eat — in effect ruining the dining with dog experience, not to mention raising new questions about the safety and humaneness of leaving dogs tied.

Tying them up, the council reasons, will keep dogs far enough away from food to comply with law — and keep dog-loving restaurant patrons from taking their business elsewhere.

”It could be on the street, it might be at a bus seat or it might be a street pole,” said Anthony Fitzpatrick, the council’s manager of governance.

At The Avenue Cafe, Barbara Standen told the Sydney Morning Herald she could not understand why well-behaved dogs should not be allowed to sit at her feet while she has a coffee. ”In Europe they go into food shops and dress shops.”

(Photo: Barbara Standen outside The Avenue Cafe with her dog Molly and her friend’s labrador, Annie. By SAHLAN HAYES/Sydney Morning Herald)

Tennessee removes ban on dogs in restaurants

Effective tomorrow, dogs in Tennessee’s largest cities can legally join their owners for dinner in restaurants with outdoor dining areas — assuming, of course, the restaurants permit it.

Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen signed the measure into law on last Thursday. A previous state law had banned all but service dogs from restaurants.

The law is limited to cities with a population of at least 100,000 — and a handful of smaller jurisidictions which sought, through amendments, to be added.

Under the law, business owners still have the power to decide whether to allow dogs at their establishments.

The state house approved the bill, in a 64-21 vote, on June 11,according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Amendments adopted in the House would allow Blount, Sevier and Fentress counties to allow dogs in restaurants even though the counties do not meet the population requirements.

“Dog Days of Summer” turns into bummer

So many of the life-size dog statues set up as part of a community art fundraising project in Lafayette, Indiana, have been stolen and damaged that organizers of the “Dog Days of Summer” exhibit are moving most of the works inside.

“I’m disheartened by the lack of respect for creativity,” said Joanne Kuhn Titolo, who had two pieces in the outdoor exhibit. “Because of the increased thefts, our artwork isn’t safe. This is horrifying.”

A total of 41 dog statues were installed in Lafayette, West Lafayette and on Purdue University’s campus. Two, as we told you last month, were stolen before the exhibit even offically started.

Altogether, seven have been stolen or significantly damaged, with most of the problems coming at Purdue or in West Lafayette near the Wabash River, according to Channel 6 News in Indianapolis.

As of Friday, organizers had moved 18 of the dogs, including “St. Joan of Bark,” to the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette until suitable indoor homes can be found for the work. Some dogs in Lafayette will remain in their original spots.

The “Dog Days” event celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Purdue Veterinary Medicine Department and the 100th anniversary of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette.

(Photo: courtesy of Dog Days of Summer)

Introducing: an outdoor toilet for dogs

A Michigan man thinks he has come up with a way to flush away the dog poop problem.

Curt Fournier, of GreenDog LLC, is ready to start marketing the “PowerLoo,” an outdoor, flushable toilet for dog waste.

It lists at $1,000 a unit, which I’m assuming includes the required tie-in to your home’s water and sewer lines.

The PowerLoo works just like an indoor toilet. It sits mostly below ground level and taps into sewer lines that lead to waste treatment centers. An optional heating unit to prevent freezing is available for colder climates, according to the Detroit Free Press.

You can view a commercial for the product at the PowerLoo website.

Fournier and his fiancée and business partner, Victoria Januszewski, say their product provides a solution to the environmental and health problems associated with dog poop. It’s set to launch next month.

“Both the Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection Agency say pet waste should be flushed down a toilet, but up until this point, there was really no safe or convenient way to do so. Carrying dog poop into your house can be unsafe, and not to mention gross,” Januszewski said.

“Vicki and I were getting tired of cleaning up the mess left by our two dogs and thought that being able to flush it down a toilet in the backyard would make things easier,” Fournier said.

Of course — unless you train your dog to do it – you still have to pick up the poop, carry it to the PowerLoo, open it and flush (both of which can be done with your foot), but otherwise, the company literature boasts, disposal of dog waste is “hands-free.”

“There are 75 million dogs in the U.S., and each produces, on average, one pound of waste per day,” Fournier said. “Most of it is either left on the ground, where it is exposed to humans and has the potential to contaminate water sources, or it gets thrown away in a plastic bag and ends up taking up space in a landfill.”

GreenDog expects to produce 500 PowerLoos in 2009. In addition to homeowners, the company hopes to market the PowerLoo to dog breeders, doggy day care centers and pet-friendly apartment complexes.