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Tag: reform

Changes vowed at Baltimore County shelter


Some long called for changes may be coming at Baltimore County’s animal shelter.

After more than a year of pressure by animal advocates for improvements, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced yesterday that  the shelter in Baldwin, Md., will be shifting from the “narrow view” of it being a place for dangerous animals and focusing more on caring for animals and getting them adopted.

That’s exactly the sort of change we called for in yesterday’s ohmidog! post — the one suggesting local governments ditch their use of the term “animal control” and become animal protection departments.

Baltimore County hasn’t announced any formal plans to do that (maybe it’s not too late to work that in), but the county executive did outline future steps to add more employees, expand low-cost spaying and neutering services, cooperate with a program aimed at neutering feral cats and increase the shelter’s focus on getting animals adopted.

Kevin KamenetzKamenetz said he’ll hire a volunteer coordinator and a foster care coordinator at the shelter – two areas animal advocates have been critical of. He also announced that  a new Facebook page will be set up devoted to promoting adoptable animals, and that the shelter will be receiving guidance from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, commonly known as BARCS.

The changes will be included in his next budget for Animal Services — a division of the county health department — and would go into effect at the start of the next budget year on July 1, the Baltimore Sun reported.

“We think we’re moving in the proper direction in a deliberative manner,” Kamenetz said.

Animal advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland complained to the county last fall that shelter volunteers were banned from taking pictures, in violation of their First Amendment rights. The county has been working with the ACLU on training shelter employees on the rights of volunteers.

Earlier this month, the County Council passed a bill creating an animal services advisory commission to review the shelter’s operations. The 11-member commission has yet to be appointed.

In a statement released by the county executive’s office, Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins praised the proposals as “bold steps to upgrade animal services in Baltimore County.”

The county already is building a new shelter on its current site,  scheduled to open in August.

Our hope would be — in accordance with the proposal we put forth yesterday, and in accordance with the new focus Kamenetz spoke of — that the sign in front of it reads Animal Protection, or Animal Services …  anything but Animal Control.

(Photos: Protest sign from WJZ; Kamenetz from Baltimore Sun)

Highway Haiku: Secure the Borders?

“Secure the Borders?”

You’re lucky, white man

That the Navajo Nation

Shares its vast beauty

(Highway Haiku is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. “Dog’s Country” can be found exclusively on ohmidog! To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

Puppy mill measure moves to Pa. senate

Governor Edward G. Rendell today urged Pennsylvania’s Senate to swiftly pass two bills — already approved in the house — to protect kennel dogs and consumers.

Rendell praised the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for voting to pass House Bills 2525 and 2532, and called upon the Senate to help rid Pennsylvania of its reputation as “Puppy Mill Capital of the East.”

“The bills that passed in the House today with overwhelming, bi-partisan support will go a long way to protecting dogs kept in kennels with poor but currently legal conditions,” the Governor said. “I applaud the House of Representatives for defeating the many amendments to House Bill 2525 filed on behalf of special interest groups and aimed at weakening the bill. The House has delivered strong legislation that reflects not only the needs of dogs, but the will of the public in improving the minimum standards in the worst of Pennsylvania’s kennels.”

Rendell said current state laws allows dogs to receive minimal care and live their entire lives in cramped, stacked cages.

“These conditions lead to dogs with physical and behavioral problems. Pennsylvania must ensure that the standards of care are raised for the sake of dogs and the families that will eventually own them.”

Governor Rendell said widespread public support could help move the legislation through the Senate, and urged Pennsylvanians to let their senator know their thoughts on the issue.

Read more »

Pa. Governor urges reforms of state dog law

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell today said the killing of 80 dogs by two breeders — and the fact that it was entirely legal — has “shocked and disgusted citizens all over the commonwealth,” and he called on legislators to approve proposed reforms to the state dog law.

“These violent killings were totally unnecessary, particularly considering that there are rescue societies that would have taken all of the dogs, regardless of their ages or conditions,” Rendell said.

Two weeks ago, kennel owners Elmer and Ammon Zimmerman of Berks County shot 80 dogs and closed their kennels after dog wardens ordered kennel repairs and veterinary checks for 39 dogs suffering flea and fly bites. Pennsylvania’s current dog law does not prohibit kennel owners from euthanizing their dogs with firearms, even if the dogs are healthy

“Clearly, the time has come to enact legislation that would make this practice illegal and raise the standards under which the state’s commercial breeding kennel industry operates. There is simply no excuse for continued inaction,” the governor said.

The governor made his appeal during a news conference at the Schuylkill River Dog Park, accompanied by Maggie, one of his family’s two golden retrievers. Maggie and Ginger are former breeding dogs who were rescued and adopted by the Rendells.

Under legislation pending in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, only veterinarians would be authorized to euthanize dogs in commercial breeding kennels.

The bill also doubles the minimum floor space for cages at commercial breeding kennels,  prohibits stacking cages, ensures dogs get outdoor exercise (currently not required) and requires kennel cages to have solid floors.

In addition breeders would be required to hav dogs checked by a veterinarian annually or during each pregnancy. Many dogs now never see a vet throughout their entire lives.