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Pit BULL: “No place for them in our society”

Boston’s six-year-old ban on pit bulls has proven to be “all bark and no bite,” according to a review by the Boston Herald.

While the city has issued tickets in more than 518 cases since the law went into effect in 2004 — all to owners who failed to register or muzzle their pit bulls, as the law requires – the vast majority of them (four of every five)  have refused to pay their $100  fines.

Instead, many of them have opted to turn their dogs over to the city, meaning that, in addition to not collecting the fine money, the city’s burdened with the expense of caring for dogs whose owners have deemed the expendable.

“It’s a disposable commodity, and they don’t care. They’re not good dog owners,” said Sgt. Charles Rudack, director of Boston Animal Control, which has no authority to force scofflaws to pay the $140,000 in unpaid fines.

Rudack said about 1,000 violators have chosen to turn over their pit bulls to Animal Control rather than pay the fine.

Pit bulls under the care of Animal Control are put up for adoption. Those that aren’t adopted or taken in by other rescues are euthanized.

City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who co-sponsored the pit bull ordinance — it requires pit bulls to be registered, muzzled in public and for their owners to display “beware of dog sign” at their homes — defended the law.

“We never said this ordinance was going to be a magic wand that would make the problem go away. What we did say is that this would be a new tool that animal control and police could use to get a better handle on what I see is a problem with pit bulls.”

State data shows pit bull and pit bull breed attacks in Boston increased between 2006 and 2008, from 25 to 46. But that trend reversed last year, when the city recorded just 30 attacks from pit bull and pit bull breeds.

Still, people like Donna Fitzgerald, whose Shiba Inu “Rocky” was attacked by an unleashed pit bull in South Boston in 2004, say banning the breed seems to be the only solution.

“I’m a dog lover and I don’t mean to sound cruel about a certain breed, but there’s just no place for them in our society,” said Fitzgerald, who now lives in Florida.

(Photo by John Woestendiek)

Los Angeles seeks out unlicensed dogs

By taking steps to register the estimated two-thirds of dogs in Los Angeles who aren’t licensed, the city stands to gain $3.6 million.

So, being in dire of of revenue, that’s exactly what it’s doing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

About 120,000 dogs are licensed in the city, as required by law; it’s estimated that there are twice that many whose owners are not following the rules.

The task of locating unlicensed dogs falls to eight full-time canvassers for the Department of Animal Services, who roam the city looking for canines with no licenses or expired licenses and handing out information on spaying and neutering.

But they’ll soon be getting some help. On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a motion to have the Department of Animal Services coordinate with the Department of Water and Power, which keeps a  database from its meter readers of residences with dogs.

Registries proposed for animal abusers

Public registries for convicted animal abusers — much like those that monitor and publish the whereabouts of sexual offenders – have been proposed in California and are being encouraged in other states in a campaign by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Those convicted of felonies in cases involving torture, mutilation, intentional killing, dogfighting, neglect and hoarding would be listed on state registries under the proposal, announced yesterday in an Animal Legal Defense Fund press release.

The ALDF says such registries would help protect animals, pet guardians and communities by preventing repeat offenses from anyone with an established history of abusing animals.

Through its campaign, www.ExposeAnimalAbusers.org, the animal protection organization is promoting model legislation that state legislatures could enact.

Bills to establish registries have been introduced in Rhode Island, Colorado, and Tennessee, but the first-ever bill for a statewide registry in California was announced yesterday by its sponsor, Sen. Dean Florez.

The ALDF cited several cases that show the need for such registries:

In 2004, Robert Rydzewski, a 29-year-old man living in upstate New York shot his neighbor’s dog in the face twice. Two months later, he killed another neighbor’s Welsh Corgi with an ax. Rydzewski was convicted of “torturing or injuring” an animal, and he has since been arrested for assaulting people and resisting arrest. His whereabouts are unknown.

In 1999 Shon Rahrig, while living in Ohio, allegedly adopted several cats and a puppy from local shelters and tortured them sadistically. He poked out the eyes of a cat named Misty, broke her legs and jaw, cut off her paws, and left her bleeding in a laundry basket. His girlfriend turned him in, and he took a plea bargain that admitted abuse of only one animal. Rahrig was forbidden to own an animal for five years, but he was subsequently seen at an adoption event in California.

Since 1982, Vikki Kittles has been run out of four states for hoarding animals. Time and again, she has been caught housing dozens of sick, neglected animals in squalid conditions. An Oregon prosecutor convicted Kittles in 1993 after finding 115 sick and dying dogs crammed into a school bus, but she has gone on to hoard animals again in Oregon and other states several times since.

“Animal abuse is not only a danger to our cats, dogs, horses, and other animals, but also to people, said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Many animal abusers have a history of domestic violence or other criminal activity, and there is a disturbing trend of animal abuse among our country’s most notorious serial killers.”

The ALDF pointed out that Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz (“The Son of Sam”), Albert DeSalvo (“The Boston Strangler”) and Dennis Rader (Kansas’ “BTK killer”) all abused animals before their other crimes, as did many of the teenagers who went on shooting rampages at high schools in Columbine, Colorado, Pearl, Mississippi, and Springfield, Oregon.

“But it’s not just about how animal abusers end up also hurting or killing humans,” said Wells. “It should be motivation enough to protect our animals from repeat offenders – and any abuse of any kind.”

To sign a petition calling for the establishment of such a registry in your area, click here.

DNA testing saves dog from execution

petdnaIt took a DNA test to prove it, but Angie Cartwright — who lives in a town that bans pit bulls — has certified that her dog Lucey is only 12 percent bully breeds, and now she has her back.

Lucey had never bitten anyone; nor had she ever acted aggressively, according to the Salina Journal in Kansas. But she was scooped up by animal control officers.

The officers explained that they were taking Lucey to a veterinarian for a breed check — a professional opinion (meaning veterinarian’s guess) to determine Lucey’s breed.

Since 2005, Salina has had a ban on owning unregistered pit bulls and mixed breeds that are predominantly pit bull.

Cartwright got approval to have her vet conduct DNA breed analysis test, ther results of which led to the return of her dog.

The blood test found that a minor amount of Lucey’s DNA came from Staffordshire bull terrier genes — just over 12 percent.

“Maybe this can save someone’s animal, hopefully,” Cartwright said. Read more »

Violating the dog limit, she finds loophole

Margaret Bucher, the Wheeling, Illinois woman who was instructed to get rid of one of her five dogs because she was over the local dog limit, has wheedled her way out of the requirement.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled Monday that she can keep her fifth dog, the suburban Chicago Daily Herald reports.

We first told you about Bucher back in early April, when she appeared before the village board, trying to get an exemption from the rule by bringing a letter of support from her mail carrier, and a letter ”written” by her dogs: “Please let us stay in our home. We are house dogs and live in a clean home. We have to depend on our owner to fight for us. She loves us very, very much.”

The emotional plea fell flat, so Bucher found a technicality.

Bucher was issued two citations, after the meeting, for violating the village’s four-pets-only rule and for not registering all of her dogs. She was facing daily fines of between $50 and $500.

Appearing in court for that, and representing herself, Bucher argued the village ordinance did not specify four pets per household, but instead four pets per person. In that case, she said, since she lives with her 43-year-old daughter, they should be able to keep all five dogs – a Pomeranian, two Maltese, a Shih Tzu, and a Maltese/shih tzu mix — or, for that matter, as many as eight.

After 35 minutes of hearing arguments from both sides, the judge sided with Bucher and advised village officials to rewrite the ordinance if it wants to limit households to four pets.

Bucher, 63, broke out into tears at the ruling. “I just screamed and I just ran and hugged everybody I could find to hug.”

Village officials, meanwhile are considering an appeal, or a rewrite. They’re also considering lowering the limit on pets to three per home in multifamily residential complexes, meaning it would impose a different standard on those who dwell in apartments, condominiums or townhouses.

A relieved Bucher was on her way Monday afternoon to to register her fifth dog, Gizmo, in her daughter’s name. “Gizzy is going to be so excited,” Bucher said. “We’re going to order a pizza. My dogs love cheese pizza.”

Register early for the March for the Animals

Walkers wishing to pregister for next Sunday’s March for the Animals can do so this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Maryland SPCA Headquarters House, at 3300 Falls Road in Baltimoe.

The march is Sunday, April 19, at Druid Hill Park.

By registering earlier, walkers can avoid the lines the day of the event, and get their t-shirt, doggie bandana and goody bag.

For those walking in packs, a designated pack member should bring donations and pledge sheets and pick up the t-shirts, goody bags and doggie bandanas for everyone in  their pack. Pack shirts will not be available the day of the event.

Donations for all walkers will be accepted up to and including the day of the event. 

The March for the Animals is the annual 1.5-mile walk-a-thon benefiting The Maryland SPCA. Nearly 6,000 people and their pets attend the March last year.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. and the walk will kick-off at 10:00 a.m., with Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes” cutting the ribbon at the starting line.

More information about forming a pack can be found here. For directions to the event, click here. For the schedule of events, click here.

When dogs rule the world

   Memorandum

From: Department of Human Control

April 1, 2116

In light of numerous complaints, Rex, director of the city office of Human Control, is reminding canine citizens of local regulations regarding the care and treatment of humans.

1. All humans must be registered and, when in public, must wear the official city tag and be up to date on their shots. While we do not require humans be leashed, owners are expected to be in reasonable control of their humans at all times.

2. Please be sure your humans use the public restroom facilities designated for them, and that they are using them appropriately – especially males of the species. Missing the urinal spreads germs, and is punishable by a 10-biscuit fine. While some members of the council have proposed a 1,000-biscuit fine, we consider that amount exorbitant.

3. Peoplefighting is a felony, whether it is spontaneous or organized, as in the case of what, during the era in which humans ruled the world, was formerly known as war.

4. Constant yelling is not pleasant for anyone, including your neighbors. If your human is unnecessarily loud, please take appropriate steps to modify the behavior. For instance, if your human’s loud behavior is triggered by sporting events, or alcoholic beverage, remove them from his or her environment.

5. While we don’t feel it necessary, as some have contended, to establish segregated areas in our parks for humans, we do ask that you practice common sense and courtesy. Some humans are unexplainedly aggressive. Not everyone likes humans. And some young dogs are frightened by them. Remember, the park belongs to everyone.

6. While humans may in fact be walking two-legged germ factories, they are allowed to enter bars, restaurants and any business establishment that permits them. Guide humans, therapy humans and assistance humans cannot be barred from any establishment or office.

7. As entertaining as they are, humans are not here for our entertainment. Publicly displaying humans, incorporating them into circus acts or holding them up to ridicule is not allowed, unless said human has chosen to be a celebrity. Humans cannot be forced to take part in human racing, or to pull sleds in sporting events of a length of more than 100 miles.

8. If, due to your negligence, your human ends up at the human pound, you will be required to pay a 25-biscuit fee to reclaim him or her and attend a mandatory human training program. Humans will be kept until claimed. In the event a human goes unclaimed, he or she will be put up for adoption.

9. All humans are created equal; discriminating against humans because of their size, shape, sex, age, color, religion, breeding, or how much they drool will not be tolerated.

10. Cruelty to humans is a serious offense, punishable by kennel time. Abusing, neglecting and euthanizing humans is prohibited.

(Inspiration: Hungarian Academy of Sciences study)

(Photo: Mosaic by Jill Beninato, Sitstaysmile.com)

(Photo: Cap from dogsrulegearstore.com)