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Tag: petitions

Idaho dog shooting leads to recall drive

If you think dogs don’t play a role in politics, consider Hooch.

Shot and killed by a police officer in February in the tiny town of Filer, Idaho, the seven-year-old black Lab is the force behind a petition to recall the town’s mayor and all four members of its city council.

Residents — and more than a few outsiders — are still angry over Officer Tarek Hassani’s shooting of the dog, recorded by his patrol car’s dashboard cam and since seen, thanks to the Internet, around the world.

In the video, he can be seen arriving to investigate a report of a dog on the loose, yelling and kicking at the barking animal, shooting it, and then confronting the dog’s owner in a belligerent (and that’s putting it nicely) manner.

An “outside” investigation found no wrongdoing on his part, and Hassani, on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, returned to regular duty this past Saturday.

recallOn Tuesday, the effort to recall the mayor and council started, the Twin Falls Times-News reported.

After the shooting, there were demonstrations, and officials in the city of just over 2,500 people held public hearings that led to some changes, including scheduling training sessions for officers on how to deal with dogs.

“I think they’re going to do their best to make the recall work,” said Mayor Rick Dunn. “They only needed 20 (signatures) to start the process, and they’ve gotten that far.”

Gathering 20 signatures for each city leader’s recall petition is only a first step. Organizers now have 75 days to gather 201 signatures for each official — 10 percent of the number of voters registered in the last city election – to bring about a recall election.

filerhearingAn investigation by the Nampa Police Department, about 150 miles northwest of Filer, found the shooting was justified, but it did question why the officer didn’t stay in his vehicle, call the owner of the dogs or call for backup.

Town officials have scheduled a mandatory eight-hour training session on how to deal with aggressive dogs for Filer’s police officers on May 3.

Mayor Dunn said fallout from the shooting has placed the town in a bad light.

“I hate to see that,” he said. “Filer is a nice town: We have good staff, good people here. Give Filer a little more credit than this.”

(Photos: Top, Mike Preston and his wife, Brenda, sign a recall petition, by Ashley Smith / Times-News; bottom, citizens who, because of the size of the crowd, couldn’t get into a town hearing on the case in February, by Drew Nash / Times-News)

Voters may get say on Missouri puppy mills

Nearly 200,000 signatures have been submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office in an attempt to get the proposed “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” on the November ballot.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, the group spearheading the citizen-backed initiative, gathered 190,127 signatures, nearly twice as many as required.

“This can only be considered a massive outpouring of public support for the idea of puppy mill reform,” said Barbara Schmitz, campaign manager.

Backers say the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will improve the lives of dogs by requiring large-scale breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing, and adequate space and exercise.

Lawmakers in Iowa enacted puppy mill legislation earlier this year, and a similar bill in Oklahoma now awaits the governor’s signature. After Missouri, they are the next largest dog breeding states in the nation. Last year, 10 states approved legislation to address puppy mill problems.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs is comprised of numerous individuals, veterinarians, and animal welfare organizations, including the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States.

“We’re tired of being known as the puppy mill capital of the country,” Schmitz said. “We’re tired of having dogs being treated in such a substandard and cruel way.”

Missouri has been estimated to have more than 4,000 shoddy and inhumane high-volume breeders, and state officials been cracking down on them, the Jefferson City News Tribune reports.

Under the ballot measure, dog-breeders could only have 50 breeding dogs and would be required to feed animals daily, provide annual veterinary care and not breed animals more than twice every 18 months. Breeders also would have to follow rules for the dogs’ living space and house animals indoors with unfettered access to an outdoor exercise yard.

It would apply to people with at least 10 female dogs for breeding. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Dog breeders and many Missouri farming groups have criticized the initiative and say it could lead to efforts to restrict livestock production in the state.

Will dog lovers give up on Baltimore?

Anne Madison, an ohmidog! friend and correspondent, provided us with a copy of a letter she has sent to her city councilman, James Kraft.

As it so articulately sums up the concerns and feelings of many dog owners — both in regards to the recent increases in fines and the city’s overall lack of dog-friendliness – we’re reprinting it here in its entirety:

(A City Council committee is holding a hearing on the fine for unleashed dogs today –10 a.m., on the fourth floor of City Hall — and is considering lowering the fine from $1,000 to $250 for a first offense.)

Dear Councilman Kraft:

I have been a resident of Baltimore for almost thirty years, and for the past twenty have resided in your district. My husband and I own a rescued purebred Beagle who was acquired by us as the direct result of two violent crimes–a burglary and a home invasion in which my then 80-year-old mother was seriously injured by criminals who robbed her. While not an “attack dog” by any means, the dog provides us with security and peace of mind by barking appropriately and alertly when anyone comes into our space. My husband works on the third shift, and our dog provides additional comfort and security for me because I do not need to feel I am alone at night. Frankly, after what happened to my mother, it was buy a dog or buy a gun. We chose the sane and non-violent alternative.

We are responsible dog owners. Our dog is exercised on leash in the neighborhood or off leash at the Canton Dog Park, which as you know was built through the efforts and fundraising of the dog-loving community members of Canton. Our dog is properly vaccinated for rabies and other canine diseases. He is microchipped. We acquire and pay for the correct license each year from the city. He is neutered.

I am appalled by the punitive animal control fines recently enacted by the City Government for various transgressions that are, to be blunt, fairly minor. I am stunned by the fact that one careless failure to “scoop the poop” or one lonely afternoon of dog “separation anxiety” can net a fine TWICE THE AMOUNT of that levied against someone running a dog fight or running an unlicensed boarding facility or (as it appears) hoarding animals or running a puppy mill.

What was the City Government thinking? It appears at first glance that you may have chronicled the impression that this was some sort of untapped revenue source there for the taking. It appears at first glance that you, the members of the City Council, care more about rolling in the bucks than you do about the welfare and well-being of either the city’s human or animal population. We’ve heard a great deal of hoopla about dog parks in various areas of the city–but there’s been little action. People in the Patterson Park area have been trying for seven years to get some small area of that vast expanse set aside for their use. Apparently giant balloon-like skating structures and asphalt tennis courts are “attractive” but a fenced dog park is “not attractive.” It appears that the “Friends of Patterson Park” aren’t actually friends to all.

You should be aware that average, working, tax-paying, bill-paying people regard dog ownership as a quality-of-life issue. When the quality of life gets too poor, or the cost of living in the city becomes too burdensome, people flee their city homes for the suburbs or the country. To be honest, we’re at the point where if a friend asked us whether to move to Baltimore City or one of the surrounding counties, we’d seriously advise that person not to come here.

While I am on the subject, I found it singularly unattractive that someone sent two Baltimore City police officers to make their presence felt at the recent MD SPCA March for the Animals at Druid Hill Park. Frankly, Mr. Kraft, it was bad PR. It had the appearance that they were looking out for tickets they could issue. I hope the event will be relocated to a county park next year.

I urge you and the other City Council members to reconsider these outrageous fines.There should be warnings and progressively larger tickets to weed out people who genuinely don’t care. And you should punish animal abusers just as severely or more severely. While you are at it, it is past time to make a move towards reasonable off-leash exercise areas in various parts of the city. Tomorrow’s hearing provides the City Council with a golden opportunity to set things right. Please do your part to see that they avail themselves of it.

Respectfully,

Anne Madison

(Photo by Anne Madison)

Ratchet leaves Iraq, headed for U.S.

Ratchet, a dog adopted by a U.S. soldier in Iraq, was put aboard a plane to Kuwait today and is expected to be flown to Washington tomorrow, CNN reported.

Operation Baghdad Pups, a project of SPCA International, said once a veterinarian determines the dog is healthy he will be flown to Minnesota — the home state of Sgt. Gwen Beberg, one of a group of soliders who saved Ratchet from a burning trash pile.

Beberg tried to have the dog flown home to the United States on October 1, but the military, which prohibits soldiers from adopting pets abroad and bringing them home, confiscated the dog on the way to the airport.

Operation Baghdad Pups returned to pick up Ratchet this weekend, after the military reconsidered and cleared Ratchet’s trip. More than 65,000 people signed two online petitions urging the military to let Ratchet go to the United States.

On Sunday, private security contractors took Ratchet from a base to the airport, where he was put on a charter flight to Kuwait. Northwest Airlines is donating the flights from Kuwait to Minnesota, SPCA  officials said.

Beberg’s deployment started in September 2007 and is scheduled to end in November.

“She was absolutely miserable in the war and was really struggling to keep going every day. Ratchet turned it around for her,” SPCA spokeswoman Stephanie Scroggs said last week.

Beberg’s mother, Patricia Beberg, in a statement released by the SPCA, said Ratchet “was the savior of her [daughter's] sanity” in Iraq.

Ratchet is coming home

A worldwide outcry by dog lovers has led the U.S. military to agree to release Ratchet, the Iraqi puppy they had confiscated from an Army sergeant who wanted to bring him home to Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

Fifty thousand signatures on online petitions, and some help from politicians, prompted the Army to make an exception (as it has before) to its ban on soldiers adopting and bringing home pets from Iraq.

Operation Baghdad Pups, a program of SPCA International, had hoped to get the pup on a flight Wednesday, but the Army moved slowly in releasing the dog, causing it to miss a scheduled flight.

Program officials will make a special trip back to Iraq on Sunday to try to retrieve him.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg, who adopted Ratchet as a 4-week-old pup after fellow soldiers in Baghdad rescued him from a pile of burning trash, sent her mother a short e-mail Wednesday when she heard the news: “I AM THRILLED THAT RATCHET IS GOING HOME.”

Her mother, Pat Beberg, said she hopes Ratchet’s case might get the military to reconsider its policy against pets. “I want to make sure that other soldiers do not encounter this,” Beberg said. “[Gwen] is using a puppy to handle stress. Isn’t that so much better than popping a handful of pills?” 

Operation Baghdad Pups was founded a year ago and relies on donations to rescue dogs and cats adopted by American military personnel in Iraq. It has flown more than 50 dogs and cats to the United States.

Gwen Beberg, whose saw her duty in Iraq extended, is supposed to return to the United States in the coming months. When she tried to get Ratchet to her parents’ home in Spring Lake Park, a superior officer confiscated the dog on the way to the airport.

The case, through coverage by the mainstream media and intrepid dog bloggers, prompted a “firestorm of interest” on the Internet, the Star-Tribune said. By Wednesday afternoon, petitions demanding clemency for the dog had been signed by more than 50,000 people around the world, and the pup’s story was posted on almost 27,000 websites.

In addition to the petitions, supporters called congressional offices and Army headquarters this week demanding that something be done to save the dog.

The offices of Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., also pushed for the dog’s release. Northwest Airlines has offered to fly Ratchet from Kuwait to Minneapolis.

(Photo courtesy SPCA International)


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