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Guilford County Animal Control office warns tetherers, $500 fines are coming soon

spikeuntethered

Residents of Greensboro who tie up their dogs and leave them unattended can expect to start receiving warnings this week, and $500 fines by September, as Guilford County’s anti-tethering ordinance comes closer to being fully phased in.

The ordinance, approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in 2013, prohibits the tethering or chaining of a dog without the owner present, or the use of any tether or chain less than 10 feet long.

To the uninformed, it might seem odd — an agency called “Animal Control” telling people to un-tether their dogs — but it’s another example of how, amid a new sensibility about dogs, the duties of such agencies have outgrown their name, and have (rightly) become more about helping animals than controlling them, and therefore should be called something else, something less archaic, something like the office of Animal Protection.

We tried to make that case last week, arguing that a new name could also go a long way toward improving the image of  those offices, and pushing those that are still living in the past into modern times.

Animal protection, we think, is a better description of their modern day duties, or at least what their modern day duties should be.

Responding to complaints about chained dogs, and helping to free them, is a perfect example of that.

Guilford County Animal Control officers will be investigating complaints about tethered dogs and issuing written warnings to the owners until Sept. 1, when fines will go into effect. Until then officials will continue to educate residents about the new ordinance.

“We’ve done good about getting the word out and handing out fliers, posters and brochures to let people know it’s coming and it’s going,” Logan Rustan, the manager of Guilford County Animal Control, told the Greensboro News & Record. “But believe it or not, a lot of people just still have no clue.”

The ordinance took effect last March but is being phased in gradually to give residents time to comply.

It was welcomed by animal activists, and particularly by Unchain Guilford, a nonprofit organization that helps dog owners construct fences as an alternative to tying up their dogs.

Tethered dogs left unattended can easily injure themselves, and often develop behavioral problems.

“If you’re chained to a small area your entire life, you’re going to have issues interacting with other people — whether you’re a dog or a human,” said Ellen Metzger, a committee member for the group.

Many dogs who spend their lives tethered outside can easily make the transition to inside dogs, with a little training.

Greensboro resident Jennifer Thompson found that out when, shortly after the county passed the ordinance, she contacted Unchain Guilford for help.

Her 10-year-old pitbull-chow mix, Spike, had spent most of his life tethered in her yard.

“He was so big and was at the point where he would jump all over,” Thompson said. “I was kind of fearful of him.”

In Thompson’s case, volunteers also taught her training techniques to help Spike behave better. Spike lives inside the house now.

“I didn’t know this dog is so lovable,” she said. “e sat outside all these years, and he just wants somebody to love him. He’s such a sweet dog. I would not keep another dog outside, knowing what I know now.”

(Photo: Jennifer Thompson and her dog Spike; by JERRY WOLFORD / Greensboro News & Record)

No more dogs in Ann Arbor bookstore

The Borders bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor is dog-friendly no more.

After years of allowing dogs, the bookstore has decided to enforce the chain’s company-wide policy prohibiting pets from entering.

“We prioritize the safety and happiness of our customers,” Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said. “We think that it’s important to put this particular store in line with our other stores, which currently only allow service dogs.”

AnnArbor.com reports that the store’s general manager said she had “received a number of complaints about the dogs, some of which she described as ‘nasty,'” (meaning the complaints, I’m pretty sure, and not the dogs).

Borders declined to specify the nature of the complaints. At least one was made to county health authorities, who pointed out the store, since it houses a coffee shop, is licensed as a food service establishment.

Some patrons expressed sadness about the new no-dog policy.

“My dog has never fought with another dog or eaten a book or a person,” said Marcia Polenberg, who was standing outside the store with her dog, Caravaggio. “I don’t know that this is a good policy. I will be much less inclined to shop here.”

Iditadrug: Of Mackey, mushing and marijuana

mackeyThree-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey may have to mush without marijuana in next year’s race.

Iditarod Trail Committee officials have announced plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March. Officials haven’t decided who will get tested, or when, where and how it will be done. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the committee.

Alaska law allows for personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, provided the use occurs at home. In addition, Mackey, as a throat cancer survivor, has a medical marijuana card that entitles him to use the drug legally for medical purposes.

Mackey admits marijuana has helped him stay awake and focused through the 1,100-mile race, but he insists it doesn’t give him an edge.

“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. “I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he said of the new policy. “It is a dog race, not a human race. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the race.”

While Iditarod dogs have long been tested for a lengthy list of prohibited substances, the humans they are pulling — despite the Iditarod having had an informal drug and alcohol policy since 1984 — never have.

Mackey doesn’t blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy, but he contends he is being targeted by other mushers jealous of his three straight Iditarod titles.

Despite his medical marijuana clearance, Mackey said he will not pursue a therapeutic use exemption; instead, he’ll just abstain for a while.

“I’m going to pee in their little cup,” he said. “And laugh in their face.”