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Tag: penalties

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)

“Dog” returned, 76 years later

Seventy-six years after he checked it out, Mark McKee has returned “A Dog of Flanders” to a Michigan library.

No late fees will be charged.

In 1934, McKee, then a 13-year-old, checked out “A Dog of Flanders” by English author Marie Louise de la Ramee, from the Mount Clemens Public Library in Michigan.

Seventy-six years later, he found it among his possesions and mailed it back, according to an Associated Press report.

McKee, now 89, said in a letter to the library that  he was initially “entranced by the book and kept it with my prized possession.”  Later, it got lost in the shuffle of life until he recently discovered it.

“My conscience took over,” wrote McKee, who is former publisher of The Macomb Daily in Michigan, and now a winter resident of Chandler, Arizona.

“A Dog of Flanders,” an 1872 novel published under the pseudonym “Ouida,” is about a Flemish orphan named Nello who befriends an abused dog named Patrasche.

Library Director Donald Worrell Jr. said he was thrilled to get the book back.

In his letter, McKee said he estimated the fine on a book overdue for 76 years could total thousands of dollars. But Worrell said there won’t be a fine.

“We figure the story is better than the money,” Worrell said.

Los Angeles tales: Barkers beware

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance creating fines for pet owners whose dogs violate leash laws (by being off them) and noise laws (by barking too much and too loudly).

The “administrative citations” would fine pet owners, possibly as little as $25, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Owners whose barking dogs have racked up complaints from neighbors will still face the possibility of being called to a Department of Animal Services hearing. But under administrative citation law, they also could be fined immediately.

“It’s a great enforcement tool for our animal control officers on the streets,” said Kathy Davis, the interim general manager of the city’s Department of Animal Services.

It’s also a great way for the city to bring in some needed money.

Although city officials have yet to decide on a fee structure, Davis said last year that other jurisdictions assess fines of 100 to $300. Considering the nearly 20,000 “notices to comply” the city sent dog owners last year, that could have amounted to more than $2 million for Los Angeles if fines had been in place.

The city’s Department of Animal Services is facing a proposed $1.8 million in cuts to its budget — nearly that same amount.

What a coincidence.

But the city says cracking down on dog owners isn’t financially motivated; instead, it’s for protecting everyone’s peace and safety.

“The object is to make people understand how serious the issue is they’re getting cited for,” Davis said.  Unleashed dogs, she said, “could go into the street and get killed, they could cause an accident. They could bite someone … there are lots of good reasons to keep that dog on a leash.”

Jury wants 10-year sentence for dogfighter

A jury in Richmond has found Richard E. Robinson guilty and recommended a 10-year prison sentence — the longest prison term in Virginia’s history for a dogfighting conviction.

The jury deliberated two hours yesterday to reach its verdict, only 40 more minutes before coming back with a recommendation of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Robinson, 32, was found guilty of three felonies and one misdemeanor related to a dogfighting operation at his South Richmond home.

Richmond prosecutors and animal-control authorities said they are unaware of any dogfighting sentences in Virginia longer than four years. The 10-year sentence, if upheld by Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals, would be twice as long as any handed down in the state, and more than five times longer than Michael Vick’s federal sentence. Formal sentencing is scheduled for March 5.

The conviction and sentence recommendation came after prosecutor Alex Taylor introduced evidence from the property where Robinson lived with his mother, including heavy chains that had been tied around the necks of dogs to help them build strength.

One of the chains weighed 52 pounds — more than the dog to whom it was attached. The prosecutors brought the chain to court in a red plastic bucket, and while arguing for a lengthy sentence, Taylor carried the pail over to the jury box and dropped it with a thud.

“This,” he said, “is no way to treat man’s best friend.”

Read more »

Anti-animal abuse panel hears from public

About 75 people showed up for the first public meeting of Baltimore’s newly appointed Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force tonight, with many calling for improved education, harsher penalties for animal cruelty and creative measures to instill empathy for animals among young people.

Others ideas included bringing pets into schools; recruiting local celebrities, such as Ravens players, to become role models on how to treat animals; hiring an investigator trained in animal abuse cases for the police force, beefing up the 16-member staff of the city’s Animal Control Office; and mandatory spay/neuter laws to cut down on the number of homeless animals that often become targets for animal abuse.

The task force was appointed this summer after a pit bull puppy, later named Phoenix, was doused with gasoline and set on fire. The dog’s injuries were so severe he had to be euthanized a few days later. Since then, several cats have been discovered tortured, burned and abused.

The panel is expected to make recommendations to Mayor Sheila Dixon next July.

City Council votes to lower leash law fine

Baltimore’s City Council tonight approved lowering the fine for leash law violations from $1,000 to $200 for a first offense.

Subsequent offenses would carry fines of $400 and $600.

A city council committee recommended the changes after a hearing held last week.

The council also voted to lower the fine for failing to clean up dog waste from $1,000 to $200.

Councilman James Kraft said he would try to get Mayor Sheila Dixon to sign the legislation tomorrow.

The higher penalties went into effect in February. Though they were approved by the city council, several members say they voted for them inadvertently while approving broad changes in the city’s dog law.

Complaints about the higher fines surfaced after animal control officers began handing out $1,000 citations in March. At least 35 were issued, but city officials say those citations will revert to the lower fine.

The council also approved giving the Recreation and Parks Department authority to designate leash-free areas and hours at city parks.

Say Chow (or ciao) to those $1,000 fines

 

Baltimore’s $1,000 fine for letting a dog of its leash is, effectively, a thing of the past — if even that.

A city council committee yesterday — saying the amended penalty was passed by mistake — approved lowering the fine to $200 on a first offense, and promised that, for all 35 of the $1,000 tickets issued between the beginning of April and May 8, violators will have to pay no more than $200.

The new three-tiered fine — $200 for first offense, $400 for a second, $600 for a third — still requires approval by the full council, but little opposition is expected.

In opening the hearing, at which more than a dozen dog owners testified, Council Member James Kraft said, “This fine, very frankly … was a mistake. We were amending provisions of the law that were dealing with cruelty to animals and we increased penalties because some of these penalties were very old penalties. They weren’t acting as deterrents.

“Inadvertently, because that section had a lot of other provisions in it, that thousand dollar fine went across a much broader spectrum than we knew.”

Upon learning of what they had done, Kraft said, the council took steps to ask that the fine not be levied against violators.

Nevertheless, 35 $1,000 citations were handed out by the city’s office of Animal Control, with support from the police department — 23 of them since April 28.

“For those who have said that maybe this was a fundraising measure on behalf of the city, please be advised it clearly was not,” Kraft said.

Read more »

Leash law hearing is tomorrow

Reminder: A Baltimore City Council committee takes up the subject of leash laws at a 9 a.m. meeting in City Hall tomorrow (Tuesday).

The hearing, before the council’s Judiciary & Legislative Investigations Committee, was originally scheduled for April 28, but was postponed after a water main break forced City Hall to be emptied.

The council is reconsidering the $1,000 fine it approved for unleashed dogs earlier this year, leading to an outcry by some dog owners who say it’s excessive, especially in a city with only one small dog park. (A second, and the first the city has helped fund, is expected to open by fall.) Also to be presented at the hearing, before the council’s Judiciary & Legislative Investigations Committee, is an amendment to allow the city’s director of Recreation and Parks to enact off-leash hours at city parks. The meeting is in the City Council Chambers on the 4th floor of City Hall. (A picture ID required for admission to City Hall.)

As of this weekend, an online petition calling for a reduction of the fine had more than 1,500 signatures.

Airedale airs her views in letter to editor

Finally, the Baltimore Sun is giving dogs some say. Either that, or it has laid off so many people it has to turn to dogs to provide content. In any case, the once-great newspaper printed a letter to the editor today from an Airedale, who may or may not have been assisted by her owner, Tom McCracken.

Apparently provoked by the new $1,000 penalty for unleashed dogs, the dog unleashed some opinions of her own in the letter, which was directed to Baltimore’s City Council. Here are some excerpts:

City Council Members: Please do not be surprised to get an e-mail from a dog …  My name is Maggie Mae, and I am a very lucky dog. My people live along a wonderful park …  A lot of my friends and I get to meet in this park almost daily for socialization and exercise, and any dog will tell you that a happy dog is a much better citizen than a frustrated one.

The park itself gets a tremendous amount of use. Why just tonight at 3 a.m., I was awakened by Loyola College students having a party there …  Well, that got me thinking about all of the people who do share the park and ways that they do or don’t take care of it. The college students will leave their empty beer cans scattered about. My owner often crushes them and carries them home in a poop bag because there are no trash cans there. Speaking of poop bags, we should all hope that The Baltimore Sun doesn’t go out of business, because that would be the end of poop bags as I understand it…

Another problem in the park is trail erosion. Every afternoon a hundred or so young humans come running through the park. They are wearing shirts that say Friends, Gilman, RPCS, Bryn Mawr, Hopkins and Loyola. They wear shoes with lugged soles that destroy the grass and cause mud puddles. I think it would be smart if the City Council asked them to wear collars with annual $10 ID tags, and maybe keep them all in a tight pack with a leash…

My purpose in writing this morning is to lodge my concern about the new $1,000 leash-law fines … I like my owner’s leash. It is important to get me safely across streets and past urban areas heavily populated with humans. It keeps a good dog honest. Conversely, a leash is a detriment in safe wooded park areas like mine.

If it is necessary to crack down on real dog threats, the dog police need to be given discretionary authority, to focus on those parts of the city where humans are being irresponsible … Barring that, the city should create and maintain fenced parks, for dogs only, where there would not be drunken college kids, high school runners, bicycles, and flowing sewage. There was a time when blacks and women could not vote. Council people, there will come a time, thanks to the Internet, when dogs will.

Thank you for your careful consideration on this matter.

Maggie Mae Airedale

Steiner show to discuss city’s leash law issue

Mark Steiner will dedicate an hour of his radio program tomorrow (Tuesday) to the controversy over Baltimore’s leash law, new fines and the lack — at least I hope he sees it as a lack — of dog parks in the city.

The Steiner Show airs from 5 to 7 p.m. on WEAA (88.9 on your radio dial).

Among those on hand to discuss the issue wll be Judith Kunst, a Hampden dog owner; a representative of the city Recreation and Parks Department; and City Councilman Bill Cole, sponsor of an amendment to reduce the newly imposed $1,000 off-leash fine and a proposal to allow parks to establish off leash hours. Also scheduled to appear is Rob Joyce, a local attorney who has offered to represent anyone cited under the new penalty.

To comment on the show, call 410-319-8888, or email questions to steinershow@gmail.com.

A City Council subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on revisions to the leash law May 12 at 9 a.m. in City Hall.

Steiner, a fixture at radio station WYPR for 15 years, started a show on WEAA, Morgan State University’s radio station, last summer.

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