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Tag: referendum

Voters to decide whether dogs can use beach


Whether dogs should get a couple of hours access a day to Willard Beach in Maine will be decided by voters.

South Portland city councilors voted unanimously Monday night to put the issue of dogs on the Nov. 3 ballot as a referendum question, TV station WMTW reports.

The issue has been debated for close to 20 years, and recent changes, after a push by dog owners, opened the beach up to dogs from 7 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

After that, those opposed to dogs on the beach in the summer gathered more than 1,000 signatures, enough to present the issue to city council.

Town dogs activist after leash law change


The man who spearheaded a change in the leash law in Ogunquit, Maine, allowing dogs to be off-leash if they are under voice conrol, has gotten two more tickets — for letting his dogs off their leashes.

Voters approved a change in the town’s leash law, allowing dogs to be off their leash in certain public areas. But John Mixon, who circulated the petitions that led to the referendum, says not only has the town not implemented the new law, they are targeting him because of it.

Mixon has run with his dogs in Ogunquit for thirty years — without ever receiving a citation. He says he decided to change the law so he would no longer be breaking it. The new law passed by more than one hundred votes. But three days later he was ticketed for having a dog off leash. He has since been issued two more.

He wrote ohmidog! after receiving the second one: “I have been running with my dogs here for 25 years without ever being bothered. Then when you try to legally change the law this is what you get– TICKETS.”

Since then, TV station WCSH reports, he’s received a third. (Click the small play button at the bottom of the video to make it work.)

Mixon says the people have spoken and the town needs to listen.

“This isn’t just about a dog and a leash, this is about democracy. When we vote on an issue it should be implemented. The board of selectmen, the town manager, the police department and the animal control officer don’t seem to get that.”

The town says they have been working on procedures and protocols to allow dog owners to have their dogs off leash, but that it has taken time to create the authorization.

Unleashed desires in the state of Maine

Residents of Ogunquit, Maine, voted this month to allow dog owners to let their pets off leash in public areas — as long as those residents can prove to animal control officials that said animals are under voice control.

The change in the dog law was the work of dog owner John Mixon (Go, John!), who gathered enough signatures on petitions to have a rewording in the town’s leash law — one that added the words “or under voice control” — put on the ballot. Voters passed it.

Then, a few days after the election, Mixon was nabbed and charged for having his dogs off their leashes.

Now, things have escalated to the point where Mixon has complained to the Maine Secretary of State that his civil rights have been violated, according to Seacoastonline.

It seems town officials are refusing to honor the change, and debating its wording, saying it — the change, not the leash law — is vague and unenforceable.

Mixon was issued a ticket by Ogunquit Police Department on Nov. 8 for walking his dogs without a leash, despite his claim that they were under voice control.

Town Manager Phil Clark said ensuring that a dog can always be under someone’s voice control is next to impossible. “There are no criteria of what to make the dog do,” he said. “The Animal Control Officer said there’s nothing he can take to certify that he can judge that. You just open yourself up to liability.”

(Photo: Lobster collar and leash from agathaandlouise.com)

Greyhound groups racing to find homes

Between the shaky economy and track closings, greyhound rescue organizations are hard-pressed to find enough homes for the growing number of dogs exiting the racing industry.

The weakened economy has led some prospective owners to back out of their adoption plans, and led some who have adopted greyhounds to return them.

“There have been a lot of stress-related returns with people losing their houses or their jobs and more adoption groups are reporting new adoptions are down,” said Michael McCann, president of The Greyhound Project Inc., a Boston-based nonprofit that provides support and information to greyhound adoption organizations and the public.

McCann blamed the economy primarily, but the Massachusetts ban on greyhound racing — voters approved a referendum that will lead to the closing of two tracks there by Jan. 1, 2010 — is a big factor, too.

“With some tracks having several hundred dogs, they have to go somewhere,” McCann said. “Some of them can go to other tracks, but many of them are ending up needing to be adopted.”

Many of the estimated 300 adoption groups nationwide are seeing increases in returns of adopted greyhounds and declines in new adoptions, according to an Associated Press report.

The problem is compounded by more racetracks closing — at least seasonally — in the face of increased competition from casino gambling and the general economic slowdown, McCann said.

McCann said the problem is not confined to the continental United States. The recent closure of a racetrack in Guam left about 150 dogs needing homes, and animal rescue officials have been contacting U.S. groups for help.

“They may have to be destroyed if there is no place else to go,” McCann said.

Greyhound Rescue, Inc. places greyhounds in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington D.C.

Other greyhound rescue groups include the Greyhound Project Inc,Triangle Greyhound Society, Queen City Greyhounds, or Greyhound Friends Inc.

(Photo: Courtesy of Greyhound Rescue, Inc.)

Massachusetts voters ban greyhound racing

Massachusetts voters yesterday approved a measure that will ban greyhound racing in the state by 2010.

“This is a victory for everyone in Massachusetts who cares about dogs,” said Christine Dorchak, co-chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Dogs.

The ban, which takes effect in 2010, passed 56 percent to 44 percent, with more than two-thirds of the precincts reporting, according to the Boston Globe:

“The contentious ballot question passed amid emotional ad campaigns by both sides. Proponents used images of sad-eyed greyhounds that they say are caged inhumanely and raced to injury, while opponents put the spotlight on the employees who would be out of work if the ballot passed.”

A similar ballot question was narrowly defeated in 2000, but this time around voters strongly supported the measure, despite track owners’ arguments that the ban would cost jobs at a time of economic hardship.

“We did it. We did it for the dogs,” a victorious Carey Thiel, executive director of Grey2K USA, said at a postelection party of some 60 supporters at Jillian’s Billiards Club. “For 75 years, greyhounds in our state have endured terrible confinement and suffered serious injuries. We’re better than that.”

The Committee to Protect Dogs used data kept by the State Racing Commission since mid-2002 showing injuries to more than 800 greyhounds.

Formed by Grey2K USA, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Medical Center, the committee spent nearly $500,000 through Oct. 15, campaign finance reports show, and received about $144,000 in in-kind contributions.

Mass. hysteria: Greyhound racing vote nears

In addition to helping pick the next president, Massachusetts voters tomorrow will be deciding the future of greyhound racing in the state.

Voters will weigh in on a hotly debated ballot measure that, if approved, would make Massachusetts the eighth state to ban live greyhound racing. (Idaho, Maine, North Carolina, Nevada, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington are the others.)

The Boston Globe reported Saturday, in a story that oozed objectivity, that conditions in which greyhounds live — a key factor in the argument to ban the sport — are, well, in the eye of the beholder …

“To one eye, the dogs look cheerful and comfortable. To another, the place might seem like a warehouse. One greyhound appears to stoop his head to fit in the cage; the others seem to have plenty of room to spare.

“The kennel’s owners welcomed a reporter, but no photographer, fearing how the cages might appear in pictures…”

I’m guessing that the cages might appear as they actually are — cameras being devices that record reality and all.

Supporters of the ban say greyhounds spent at least 20 hours a day in their cages.

The Globe article points out that “Like every assertion made in the debate over the ballot question, that contention is feverishly disputed by the other side. Trainers say their dogs get plenty of time outside, though they do have a hard time putting a number to it.”

Backers of the ballot measure believe greyhound racing constitutes animal abuse because of the industry’s excessive breeding practices, the cruel methods by which unwanted dogs are destroyed, the conditions in which many are forced to live and the number of injuries racing leads to.

The Humane Society of the United States believes no amount of reform could make the industry acceptable.

“The racing industry is inherently cruel. Greyhound racing is a form of gaming in which the amount of money a dog generates determines his or her expendability,” it says. “The answer for greyhounds is neither regulation nor adoption of “retired” dogs, but the elimination of the greyhound racing industry.”