Citywide pit bull bans are often knee jerk reactions — maybe even more so when a county sheriff”s knees are involved.
One week after Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale was approached in his yard by four dogs “acting aggressive and looking like pit bull breeds” — and fired a shotgun at them, grazing one — the Alabama city of Clay passed a “vicious dog” ordinance banning pit bulls and pit bull mixes.
The sheriff, according to a spokesman, fired a warning shot into the ground, then another round of ”bird shot” in the direction of the dogs, leading them to turn away. Animal control arrived to round up the dogs, and their owner was charged with letting them run at large. The dog hit by Hale’s shot survived, AL.com reported.
That incident prompted the city council in Clay, with a speed seldom seen in government affairs, to pass an ordinance banning pit bulls and other “vicious” or “dangerous” dogs.
The ordinance bans new pit bulls and mixes that include pit bull. Such dogs already kept in the city limits are grandfathered in but must be registered with the city in the next 60 days. The ordinance requires they be kept indoors and mandates owners post a prominently displayed ”beware of dog” sign. Owners are also required to have $50,000 in liability insurance. Violations can be punished with a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Having sought little public input before passing the law on June 3, the city council has gotten some since, AL.com reports.
A standing room only crowd filled Monday night’s meeting of the Clay City Council, with most citizens arguing the breed is not “inherently dangerous” and criticizing the law for unfairly penalizing responsible owners. Many, including a representative from the Birmingham Humane Society, urged the council to consider a non-breed specific dangerous dog law instead.
One speaker continued to voice his concerns after his turn to speak was over. When told he was interrupting, he continued his comments, leading Mayor Charles Webster — perhaps deeming him to be inherently dangerous — to ban him from the room.
“You are turning us all into criminals,” the man, identified as Mark Lawson, said as a deputy led him outside.
City Attorney Alan Summers said he would try to have a new or modified ordinance for the council to consider at its next meeting on July 1.
(Top photo by Jeremy Gray / AL.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, ban, banned, breed-specific, breeds, charles webster, citizens, city council, clay, county, criticism, fines, insurance, jefferson, knee jerk, laws, legislation, mayor, meeting, mike hale, mixed, ordinance, pit bull, pit bull bans, pit bulls, pit mixes, pitbull, pitbulls, reactions, restrictions, review, sheriff, shooting, shot, signs
An Iraq War veteran says police were raiding the wrong apartment when they shot and killed his pit bull, Cindy.
Adam Arroyo was at work Monday when his apartment in Buffalo was searched by police, who shot and killed the dog he says he left tied up in the kitchen.
Arroyo rushed home when his landlord called to tell him police were searching his apartment.
“I got here as fast as I could and I saw the carnage. I saw what happened. My house was flipped upside down, my dog was gone,” he told News 4 (WIVB). He said he always tied Cindy up in the kitchen when he left for work because she tended to chew on his clothes and shoes.
Buffalo Police said officers were searching for drugs when they encountered the dog, who they said was aggressive and unchained. They believe they had the correct address, though no drugs were found in the search.
Arroyo says there are two upper apartments at his address. He showed the search warrant to News 4, and it described the suspect as black. Arroyo is Hispanic.
“They had no right, no evidence, because if that was the case they would have found stuff here and I would be in jail,” he said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said an investigation will be conducted by the Internal Affairs Division.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adam, arroyo, buffalo, cindy, dog, dogs, internal, investigation, iraq war, kill, law enforcment, officers, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, raid, search, shoot, veteran
A pit bull who was seized from a notorious dogfighting operation in Virginia, rehabilitated in Utah, and adopted by a couple in Texas helped make the case for a new law in Nevada that prohibits local governments from enacting and enforcing regulations that deem a dog dangerous based solely on its breed.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the anti-breed discrimination law this week, and it takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.
Assembly Bill 110, which was sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall and spearheaded Best Friends Animal Society, also got a push from our friend Mel, the former Michael Vick dog who now lives in Dallas. Richard Hunter, Mel’s new owner, testified before the Nevada Senate to show support.
“Best Friends is proud that Nevada has taken steps to prevent breed discrimination,” said Ledy VanKavage said, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends. “Every American who follows the right safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”
Nevada is the the 14th state to pass a law preventing breed discrimination, Best Friends said.
“Assembly Bill 110 bans breed discriminatory laws from being enacted anywhere in Nevada,” said Assemblyman Ohrenschall.
He added, “I’m confident that this law will benefit dogs, dog owners and animal lovers throughout our great state. It has always been bad public policy to enact ordinances that target a certain breed of dog without considering that individual dog’s actions. I’m proud of sponsoring this legislation because it will help keep our innocent friends from being killed needlessly and senselessly.”
Best Friends received and rehabilitated most of the dogs seized from the dogfighting operation at Michael Vick’s former estate in Virginia, including Mel, who was believed to have been used as a bait dog.
“Our fundamental goal is to achieve safe and humane communities. We want our communities to be protected against dangerous dogs – and we want abused dogs to be protected from irresponsible owners,” VanKavage said. “Because everyone benefits from a safe society – both people and pets.”
Studies done in countries with breed-discriminatory laws, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. Based on these studies, and concerns about due process and property rights infringement, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association don’t support breed discrimination, Best Friends said in a press release.
“They support laws that go after the real problem–the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the reckless owner.”
Through its national pit bull initiatives, Best Friends Animal Society encourages state and municipal governments to adopt breed-neutral “dangerous dog” laws that focus on the key causes of dog aggression—owners’ failure to spay or neuter, train and socialize dogs regardless of breed, or because they abuse or neglect dogs or force them to live on chains.
(Photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bait dog, best friends, breed discrimination, breed specific legislation, breeds, bsl, dangerous dogs, dogfighting, dogs, enact, enforce, governor, James Ohrenschall, law, legislation, mel, michael vick, nevada, owners, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, prohibits, rehabilitation, responsibility, richard hunter, seized, signed
Alex Jackson, 28, was arrested at his Littlerock home Thursday after DNA testing confirmed the presence of the victim’s blood on several of his dogs.
His bail is set at $1,050,000. If convicted, he faces life in prison, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said.
Six pit bulls and two mixed breeds — were recovered from his home, according to the Los Angeles Times. Four of the dogs were believed to be involved in the attack.
“We believe there was evidence that he was aware the dogs were vicious and they have attacked before and he knew of the danger they posed,” said Jane Robison, a district attorney’s spokeswoman.
Pamela Devitt, of Antelope Valley, was attacked by a pack of dogs on May 9 and died en route to the hospital. Coroner’s officials said the cause of death was blood loss, and that they found 150 to 200 puncture wounds on her body.
Since January, authorities had received at least three other reports of Jackson’s pit bulls attacking other people, according to the district attorney’s office.
Experts said the filing of murder charges in such cases is rare.
“When it comes to murder charges, there are very, very few over decades. But increasingly dog owners whose animals attack are facing criminal prosecution,” said Donald Cleary of the National Canine Research Council. Most dogs involved in such attacks aren’t family pets, and have usually been isolated, he added.
Cleary said he was aware of only two cases in the last 15 years in which dog owners have been charged with murder — one in San Francisco and one in Atlanta.
One of those was Marjorie Knoller, an attorney whose dogs mauled her neighbor to death in San Francisco. She is now serving 15 years to life in prison for the 2001 killing of lacrosse coach Dianne Whipple.
A jury convicted Knoller of second-degree murder. A judge later reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter, saying there was not enough evidence for Knoller to know her two 100-pound Presa Canarios would kill. The original jury verdict was later reinstated after an appeal.
(Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alex jackson, animals, attack, bites, california, charges, death, dianne whipple, dogs, donald cleary, fatal, littlerock, manslaughter, marjorie knoller, mauling, national canine research council, pack, pamela devitt, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, responsibility, victim
A deaf pit bull from North Carolina has a new home with a deaf woman in Niagara Falls.
Jessica Czamara read about Maggie on Facebook after the neglected dog was rescued from a backyard in North Carolina, where she’d been kept chained.
“She was very skinny and you could see her ribs and you could see where she sat all the time on the concrete, said Maria Sansone with Diamonds in the Ruff. “All the hair was worn off of the back of her legs.”
A friend of Czamara spotted the dog on the rescue organization’s Facebook page, and referred her to the post.
“I feel like I could relate to the dog because I’m deaf, and the dog is deaf,” Czamara told WGRZ in Buffalo. “There are some things that the dog does that we do in the deaf community.”
Czamara is teaching Maggie commands in sign language and says she’s responding well, and Maggie’s getting along fine with her other dog, Champ.
“It’s amazing,” said Kate Stephens with Educate-a-Bull, which assisted in getting Maggie relocated. “It’s absolutely amazing to see pictures of her intially and then bring her up on transport and take her out and meet her .. and to see her so well fitted to her new family, her home and her new brother.”
Stephens said the dog’s former owner had “all but forgotten her and left her out there and hadn’t bothered to name her because she was deaf.”
Now Maggie’s got a name, a home, and a human companion who probably understands her better than most.
“To get her attention, I have to pat her or wave to her,” Czamara said. “The same thing with deaf people you have to touch them on the shoulder or wave in their vision. And she’s funny and how she plays.”
“She’s just such a sweet dog. She gives lots of kisses,” Czamara said. “She’s a great addition to our family.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animals, chained, deaf, deaf woman, diamonds in the ruff, dog, dogs, educate-a-bull, jessica czamara, maggie, neglect, new home, new york, niagara falls, north carolina, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescue, rescued, transported
The only real piece of his previous life the homeless Florida man still had was his dog, a blue pit bull named Handover.
On the morning of May 8, he woke up — along U.S. 19 in Hudson — to find Handover was gone, too.
The dog was gift, five years ago, from his now ex-wife. She was holding the dog and asked Bryan what they should name him. Bryan said, “Hand him over.”
“He is my best friend. He’s my heart and soul,” Bryan told ABC Action News, which last week picked up on the story about the missing dog. “If anybody sees him, please bring him home.”
As word spread about the missing dog, Carolyn Texter, who knew Handover and Bryan from her work with animal rescues, decided to help.
Texter started a Facebook page to find Handover, and a reward fund established for his safe return grew to $1,000. Yesterday, Handover was found and, after a visit to a vet for a check-up and microchipping, reunited with Bryan.
Texter described him as “speechless” and thankful for all the help he’d received.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, carolyn texter, dog, dogs, dogs and homeless, facebook, florida, hand him over, handover, homeless, hudson, james bryan, pets, pit bull, pitbull, rescue, returned, reunion
Or it could have been the love.
Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.
She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.
Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.
But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.
“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.
When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.
She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, backyard, bacon, bait dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, foster, grill, lost, missing, misty, new jersey, new york, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescue, return, runaway, scent, second chance rescue, shelter, smell
A pit bull saved a woman from a fire in a Long Island home Friday, barking to alert her as flames began to engulf the house.
Then the woman returned the favor.
Jackie Bonasera said she was drying her hair in an upstairs bathroom of a home in East Norwich when she heard the dog barking. She ran downstairs and saw the flames on the side of her garage, according to NBC Channel 4 in New York
She ran out of the house, but then returned to save her dog, a pit bull named Cain.
“So I just put my robe over my face and I ran back in and I grabbed the dog and then I stood out here and I watched my house burn,” she said.
Bonasera believes she would have been trapped upstairs if the dog, named Cain, hadn’t alerted her to the fire. Her daughter, Alexus Stallworth, called Cain “the town hero.”
More than 70 firefighters fought the fire, the cause of which hasn’t been determined.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alerts, animals, barking, barks, burning, cain, dog, dogs, east norwich, fire, house, Jackie Bonasera, long island, new york, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescues, saves
The grieving owner of Baby Girl, the 2-year-old pit bull killed by police on Staten Island earlier this month, is suing the city and the officer who fired the shots.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was being filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, the New York Daily News reported.
Baby Girl’s owner, Patricia Ratz, took her and two other pit bulls for walk at Schmul Park on April 6. When the two other dogs — Bo and Missy — began snapping at each other, Ratz intervened and was bitten.
Police say she was screaming for help when an officer arrived.
The lawsuit says more than 10 shots were fired at the dogs, one of which hit Baby Girl, who was running away from the ruckus, in the back. She died five days later. Police say the officer, who is still on active duty, fired seven times when the dog charged her.
“We are seeking to fundamentally change the way the NYPD deals with pets,” he said. “When a dog is fleeing the scene, it’s because the doggie is afraid, not because the dog is concerned about getting arrested. That’s the reason people flee, not doggies.”
(Photos: A photo of Baby Girl posted at a memorial for her at Schmul Park in Staten Island; Patricia Ratz and fiancé Pat Guglielmo, along with their dog Bo; by Mark Bonifacio / New York Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baby girl, courts, dogs, killed, lawsuit, new york, officer, patricia ratz, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, schmul park, shot, staten island, suit
The movie based on the story of a dog whose mistreatment led to changes in North Carolina’s animal cruelty laws had its world premiere in Winston-Salem over the weekend.
“Susie’s Hope” kicked off the RiverRun International Film Festival Saturday, and if you missed that showing there are two more — Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre, and Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Main Theatre at UNC School of the Arts.
Susie, a pit bull mix, became a poster puppy for fighting animal abuse when she was found burned, beaten and close to death in Greensboro’s Greenfield Park in 2009.
The woman who adopted her, Donna Lawrence, was once a pit bull victim.
Lawrence began feeding a dog near her home in High Point whose owners had moved away. After several days, the dog attacked her, latching on to her left leg and going for her throat before she was able to push it away and seek help. The wound left her bone exposed, and she’d receive 45 stitches.
She didn’t blame the animal: “I blame the owners who turned their dog into what it was,” she writes on the movie’s website. “Their neglect and abuse made their dog fearful and territorial.”
The attack left Lawrence, a long-time dog lover, with a fear of dogs and nightmares, even after her physical recovery.
“Then one day I met Susie, and she changed my life forever,” Lawrence writes. “So now you can see Susie and I shared something in common: she was a pit bull mix that had been had been tortured by a human and I was viciously attacked by a pit bull just a few months before we met. Our similar experiences allowed us to go from being victims to living victorious lives. I forgave the dog for my wrongful attack, and Susie forgave the human for hers.”
She was found with second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of her body, a broken jaw, her teeth knocked out and her ears all but burned away. Her wounds were infested with maggots and she’d been surviving by eating sticks and drinking from mud puddles.
Lawrence and Susie would go on to foster awareness of animal abuse and push for increased penalties for the crime. Susie would become a therapy dog and a Canine Good Citizen.
In 2010, the state legislature passed Susie’s Law, which increased the penalty for anyone who “maliciously” kills an animal by “intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance, and raised the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. Susie’s abuser received a sentence of 4-6 months in jail for burning personal property and a 4-5 month suspended sentence for animal cruelty.
Susie — though a puppy portrays her in her younger years — plays herself in the movie.
Filmed locally, the movie has some actors you might recognize – Emmanuelle Vaugier, best known as Charlie’s ex-fiance Mia on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” plays Lawrence; Burgess Jenkins (“Remember the Titans”) plays Roy Lawrence; and, in our favorite bit of casting, Jon Provost (Timmy from the TV show “Lassie”) plays state Sen. Don Vaughan, who sponsored the bill that became Susie’s Law.
(Photo: Courtesy of Susieshope.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abused, animal cruelty, animal shelter, animals, attack, burned, dog, dogs, donna lawrence, Emmanuelle Vaugier, felony, film festival, fire, found, greensboro, guilford county, jon provost, lassie, law, movie, neglected, north carolina, park, pets, pit bull, pitbull, premiere, river run, riverrun, set on fire, susie, susie's law, susies hope, timmy, victim, winston-salem