A simple directive has accomplished what North Carolina’s legislature, despite repeated efforts, couldn’t — and, as of the middle of February 2015, animal shelters in the state will be all but banned from killing unwanted dogs and cats in gas chambers.
For those who waged battles to do way with gas chambers in their home counties, and those who worked to pass statewide legislation ending their use, it’s a cause for celebration.
But it’s also a little confusing. If all it took to change things was a directive from the state Department of Agriculture — basically, a memo — why all the years of bickering, grandstanding and politics (both clean and dirty)?
If only the stroke of an administrator’s pen was needed to end such a cruel and callous process, why did it take so long?
The memo issued this month by the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s veterinary division gives shelters until Feb. 15 to switch to lethal injections. Gas chambers, which kill animals with carbon monoxide — sometimes one at a time, sometimes in groups — will only be permitted for “unusual and rare circumstances, such as natural disasters and large-scale disease outbreaks.”
Patricia Norris, the Agriculture Department’s new animal welfare director, said the directive was based on guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which in 2013 finally recommended against the use of gas chambers for “routine euthanasia.”
(We’d disagree with both of the words in that phrase. Ending the life of a dog simply because he’s unwanted or because a facility is overcrowded isn’t a mercy killing; it’s a money-saving killing. And common as the practice is, we hate seeing it called “routine” — which it certainly isn’t for the dog.)
While animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, have been saying the practice is inhumane for years, it wasn’t until the AVMA adjusted its stance that the state decided to take action.
The Humane Society of the United States hailed the change. “It’s going to lift that stigma that was associated with North Carolina animal shelters,” said Kim Alboum, the HSUS’s state director is quoted as saying in the Raleigh News & Observer. “The pound is gone, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”
Only four of North Carolina’s 197 approved shelters still use gas chambers.
According to the HSUS, North Carolina becomes the 25th state with a formal ban in place. (Many states yet to ban gas chambers are no longer using them.)
“To put an animal inside a gas chamber, their final moments are alone in a dark box,” Alboum said. “Sometimes they don’t die right away. If we have to euthanize animals, at least the animal is touched, at least the animal has some dignity and some human contact.”
Among those to recently cease the practice are Johnston County, which earlier this turned its gassing equipment into a work of art, designed to look like the tree of life. In Cleveland County, a fundraiser was held that allowed donors to “whack the chamber” with a sledgehammer.
Shutting down the gas chambers is a long overdue step in the right direction. Then again, lethal injection isn’t really something to celebrate. What is? The day we stop killing dogs. Period.
(Photo of the gas chamber in Franklin County, NC, by Takaaki Iwabu, from the Raleigh News & Observer; graphic courtesy of Humane Society of the United States)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal shelters, animals, counties, cruelty, directive, dogs, euthanasia, gas, gas chambers, kill, legislature, lethal injection, memo, no-kill, north carolina, pets, politics, shelters
The California mayor caught on video flinging a bag of dog poop into a neighbor’s yard has resigned.
Dennis Kneier’s resignation as mayor of San Marino — he’ll remain on the city council — came amid mounting criticism about his behavior in what some have dubbed “Poopgate.”
About 100 community members attended a June 11 city council meeting, where some residents called for Kneier’s resignation.
He offered it, effective immediately, yesterday.
The controversy began after Kneier’s neighbor Philip Lao discovered the small bag of dog poop outside his home.
He reviewed video from his home’s surveillance cameras, which showed Kneier tossing the bag.
San Marino police cited Kneier for littering that same day, and the video, which Lao shared publicly, went viral.
Lao — apparently not good buddies with Kneier — believes the mayor intentionally tossed the bag in retribution for putting a “No Poop Zone” sign outside his home and publicly opposing a proposed dog park, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Our take on all this? We think his honor behaved childishly, and less than honorably, but we also think — when it comes to the amounts of shit politicians routinely sling — Kneier’s poop-pitching was probably both less heinous and less harmful than much of what, historically, has been hurled.
In San Marino, Vice Mayor Eugene Sun will assume mayoral responsibilities through June 27 when the council is scheduled to meet and select a new mayor. Kneier will remain on the City Council until his term ends in November 2015.
In his letter of resignation, Kneier apologized, saying he suffered a moment of bad judgment.
“I thought it would be the very best thing for us to move forward and have a reorganization and have a new mayor,” he said in an interview with NBC in Los Angeles.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bag, california, city council, dennis kneier, dog, dog park, dog poop, dogs, littering, mayor, neighbor, no poop zone, pets, philip lao, politics, poop, resignation, resigned, resigns, san marino, surveillance, tossed, video, viral
And when we say climate, we mean the weather.
Garzon, in a letter to the Colombian president, said he was declining the job for personal and family reasons. He elaborated on those reasons in an interview with the magazine Semana.
Basically, it comes down to one family member – his German shepherd, Orion, who he said wouldn’t be comfortable in Brazil’s steamy climate, and who he refuses to live without.
“I have turned down the ambassador job because the dog you see on that picture is very hairy and the hot climate of Brasilia could harm its health,” Garzon, 67, told the magazine reporter as he showed her a photo of Orion.
“Wherever Angelino goes, it goes,” he said.
We find his reasons perfectly acceptable, even admirable (though calling his dog something other than “it” would be more to our liking).
Some, though, are scoffing at his excuse, including Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, according to the BBC.
She called Garzon’s rejection of the post “very embarrassing … When he mentioned personal problems, you would expect something deeper than that. It is as though he doesn’t realize the importance Brazil has,” she said.
We may have a duty to our country, but we have a duty to our dogs, too, and — whether or not “it’s too hot for the dog” is his real and total reason for declining the post — we think Garzon has every right to say no thanks for any reason he wants. We especially like this one though.
Garzon announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. He said he might consider running for mayor of Bogota or Cali. ”In local government, you can have a bigger impact in improving people’s lives than as vice-president,” he said.
(Photo: Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 20th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ambassador, ambassadorship, angelino garzon, animals, brazil, climate, colombia, country, declines, dog, dogs, german shepherd, hot, job, loyalty, orion, pets, politics, position, south america, vice president, weather
Backers of increased restrictions on dog breeders in North Carolina recorded a conversation with a state Senator who opposes the bill at a meeting earlier this month and, as a result, some Republican leaders say there will be no vote on a proposed puppy mill law this year.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca said Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, was recorded without his knowledge during a private meeting, and that those who taped him planned to use the recording to “force” senators into passing the bill.
“It is wrong to secretly record private conversations with members of the General Assembly and then threaten to expose those conversations to the media to force legislators to meet specific demands,” Apodaca said. “That is nothing short of political extortion and represents a new low in lobbying for legislative action. To dignify those actions by moving ahead on this issue would set a dangerous precedent while condoning and encouraging these unethical tactics.”
Janie Withers, the community activist who recorded the Jan. 16 meeting with Rabon, said the recording wasn’t a secret. She said she routinely tapes meetings, and that the tape recorder was sitting in plain view to all, including Rabon.
The bill passed the House last year, and has been pushed by both Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann.
In the recording, Rabon, using more than a few expletives, criticized the McCrorys for publicly supporting the bill.
“It was bullied out of committee by the executive branch,” Rabon (pictured at left) says in the tape recording, obtained by WRAL-TV . “The executive branch had absolutely, absolutely no business sticking its nose in the legislature on that sort of issue.”
He said Ann McCrory’s advocacy, including a visit to the House chamber to watch the May 9 vote, was “against all laws. … There is a strong line between opinion and lobbying. When you pick up the phone and you are in a position of power and call individual legislators and offer advice or praise or this or that, you are, under the law, lobbying, and you must be a registered lobbyist in this state to do that.”
Coming across as a bit of an Alpha dog, Rabon makes it clear that he is against the bill, and that it would be unable to pass without his support.
“That bill is not going to pass,” Rabon, a veterinarian, told the group. “Angels in heaven cannot make that bill pass.”
He said he planned to introduce a “stronger” bill that he said would not negatively impact on hunters and livestock owners: “ … When I do it, it will be done at the right time, and it will pass,” he said. “I’m in the top five members in power in the Senate. The best shot you folks have ever had, you’re talking to.”
Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann, have both pushed for the legislation, which is designed to set minimum standards for people who keep at least 10 female dogs primarily to breed and sell the offspring as pets. McCrory urged its passage again on Monday.
“Just because someone uses foolish tactics, there is no reason to stop good legislation which needs to be passed here in North Carolina,” McCrory said.
(Top photo: From a 2012 puppy mill raid in NC, courtesy of Humane Society)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, ann mccrory, apodaca, bill, bill rabon, breeders, breeding, dog, governor, humane, janie withers, law, legislation, meeting, north carolina, pat mccrory, pets, politics, proposal, puppy mill, rabon, recording, republican, restrictions, secret, senate, senator, tape recording, taped, wral
The Humane Society of the United States may not have Jerry Brown on a leash, but the organization’s state director takes the California governor’s dog out on one — nearly every day.
Jennifer Fearing is a regular dog walker for Sutter, the governor’s corgi, and gun rights groups are saying the free service she provides — on top of giving the lobbyist undue influence — may amount to an illegal contribution.
“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s ‘first dog,’ cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?” an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked.
Gun rights groups point out that all six pieces of animal rights-related legislation Fearing lobbied for in the most recent legislative session were approved and signed by Brown, including Assembly Bill 711, which, over the objection of hunters, banned the use of lead ammunition.
“The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor.”
Kerns said gun-rights and hunting groups are considering filing a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission
Critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she hasn’t reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution.
“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, said in a statement.
Fearing has been walking Sutter around the Capitol grounds since Brown took office in 2011, and their trysts have never exactly been a secret. The two toured the state together to campaign for the governor’s pet tax increase, which the Humane Society was in favor of. Last year, Sutter and Fearing joined the governor and animal rights activists to push for California’s Pet Lover’s license plate.
While it’s true the way to a governor’s heart is through his dog, Fearing and Brown (and we guess Sutter) are already of pretty like minds when it comes to animal welfare, so walking his dog isn’t likely changing the course of history. And as Fearing points out, the volunteer gig doesn’t give her direct access to the governor’s ears, just Sutter’s.
“I wouldn’t misuse that relationship,” Fearing told the Chronicle. “I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels,” she said.
Still, the arrangement provides gun groups with some ammunition, and their ethical concerns aren’t entirely off target.
Fearing says her love of dogs — not political gain — is what motivates her to walk Sutter.
“I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people’s dogs.”
(Photo: Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, with Gov. Brown’s dog, Sutter; by Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ammunition, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, california, corgi, director, dog, dog walker, dog walking, dogs, free california, governor, guns, humane society, humane society of the united states, jennifer fearing, jennifer kerns, jerry brown, laws, legislature, lobbying, lobbyist, pets, politics, sutter
Ann McCrory, who normally leaves the politics to her husband, released a statement Wednesday supporting House Bill 930.
“… Passing legislation to establish basic standards of care for large commercial dog breeding facilities is a very important issue to me, and to people across our state,” she wrote.
“ … I hope you and other members of the General Assembly will continue to advocate for this bill, and other legislation establishing higher standards for commercial breeders. These policies increase our quality of life in North Carolina and ensure better care for dogs across the state…”
The bill sets basic standards of care for operations that use more than 10 females for breeding.
Many say it is a watered-down version of previous attempts to pass a puppy mill law, but add that the compromise is better than nothing in a state some breeding operations have been relocating to in an attempt to avoid regulation.
“North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without puppy mill laws,” explained Caleb Scott, President of North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare told Fox 8 News. “We are a puppy mill destination in North Carolina because we have no laws on the books. Puppy millers gravitate to our state.”
The minimum standards required by the bill, as it has been amended, would notapply to breeders of hunting dogs, sporting dogs, field dogs, or show dogs.
It now heads to the Senate.
WRAL described Ann McCrory’s letter as her “first foray into public advocacy” since her husband took office.
The McCrory’s have a Labrador Retriever named Mo.
(Photo: Erin Hull / The Daily Tar Heel)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 930, animal welfare, animals, basic, breeders, care, conditions, dog breeders, dogs, exemptions, first lady, house bill 930, hunting dogs, law, north carolina, pat mccrory, pets, politics, proposal, proposed, puppy mills, requirements, show dogs, standards
There’s a rising star in the North Carolina legislature, and she has four legs.
A miniature Pomeranian named Diva comes to work every day at the General Assembly with her owners, Republican representative Nathan Ramsey and his wife, Robin Ramsey, a legislative assistant — and the fuzzy four-pound dog is said to be developing quite a following.
The Ramseys, who live on a farm in Fairview during the off-season, say they started bringing Diva to work in February, because they thought she’d be lonely staying at the condo they reside in while in Raleigh.
Since then, she’s shown herself to be a valuable asset, both a diplomat and a crowd-drawer.
“… In a short time, the taffy-colored rescue pup has arguably become the most chased after creature at the legislative building. Walk in on any given day and you’ll see a steady stream of bipartisan visitors knocking on the Ramseys’ office door,” North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC (91.5 FM) reported.
“It certainly opened the door to more visitors, which is good,” said Robin Ramsey.
On building tours for visiting schoolchildren, Diva’s office has become a regular stop — and, we’d guess, one of the more exciting ones.
“I make it a point to stop by,” said Democrat Rick Glazier of Fayetteville. “You can’t leave after playing with Diva and talking to the Ramseys unhappy or in a bad mood, and that is not always true around here.”
Ramsey, a former county commissioner, says Diva helps breaks the ice and cut through frosty exteriors. And he suspects she has helped him garner support for at least a couple of measures he has introduced.
“A lot of this is about relationships, and really, unless you’re a seat-mate with someone, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to reach across the aisle,” he said. “You don’t develop relationships by sitting in a committee meeting. You have to find out about other people’s lives and families and get to know them in more depth.”
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis recently stopped by Ramsey’s office with his boxer, Ike. A spokesman for the speaker reported the get-together was ”like many meetings in this building — more sniffing around than anything else.”
Back home on the family dairy farm, Diva likes to spend her time circling the baby calf pen.
She likes to round things up, Ramsey says, and those skills seem to have translated from barnyard to state house.
(Photo by Jessica Jones / WUNC)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, diva, dog, dogs, dogs and politics, fairview, fans, farm, general assembly, ice breaker, legislature, nathan ramsey, north carolina, pets, politics, pomeranian, raleigh, representative, republican, robin ramsey, state house, visitors, workplace