The Virginia city of Suffolk has approved a ban on dog-tethering, effective the first of September.
After months of wrangling over details and considering compromises, the city council voted 6-2 to enact an outright ban on dog-tethering, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
Suffolk joins a growing number of Virginia cities that have taken steps to ban or limit tethering dogs outside. Hampton forbids it, and Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach limit tethering to a maximum of three hours a day.
Suffolk City Councilman Mike Duman, who had proposed a 10-hour a day limit, said he was pleased with the outcome.
Police Chief Thomas Bennett told the council an outright ban would be easier to enforce than restricting tethering to a certain number of hours a day.
The ordinance makes tethering a Class Four misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine.
(Photo: A tethered dog photographed in the Pleasant Hill area of Suffolk; by Jason Hirschfeld / The Virginian-Pilot)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, banned, bans, city council, dog, dogs, fine, hampton, law, misdemeanor, norfolk, outside, pets, portsmouth, restrictions, suffolk, tethering, tying, virginia, virginia beach
To hear Fox 2 in St. Louis tell it, a massive round up of pit bulls was underway last week in the small town of Sikeston, Missouri.
According to the Fox report (above), animal control officers were seizing pit bulls from homes around town — so many that the Sikeston shelter had to send 20 dogs to St. Louis to make room for all the pit bulls they were rounding up.
Other TV news operations, and the Standard Democrat in Sikeston, were quick to report that the Fox News account was a little off the mark.
Sikeston, which does have pit bull restrictions, picked up three dogs it said were not in compliance with the rules — but no roundup took place.
Wednesday’s Fox News report by Chris Hayes that Sikeston held a “pit bull round up day” led to dozens of calls to the newspaper, and a flurry of online alerts and notifications.
Hayes reported that he “found out about the program after learning about a sudden influx of dogs coming to the St. Louis area” and that it was “to make room for seized pit bulls.”
Sikeston City Manager Doug Friend said allegations that the city held a “pit bull round up day” weren’t true.
There are 32 pit bulls registered in Sikeston, according to Friend, and the city audits those on an annual basis.
“It’s not a big process,” he said. “We just basically drive by, verify that somebody that had a registered pit bull still lives at a registered address. Our plan was to just do our annual look.”
During that recent audit, three pit bulls were taken into custody for non-compliance with the city code. It requires that the owners of pit bulls and some other breeds register those pets with the city, carry liability insurance, and keep their dogs in a fully enclosed pen if they are outside.
KFVS also reported that the Fox report was misleading.
According to KFVS, about 30 dogs were shipped from the Sikeston shelter to no-kill shelters across the country, including one near St. Louis.
Friend told KFVS that the transfers, the seizures, and the TV report added up to fear quickly spreading among pit bull advocates, in Sikeston and around the country.
“To suggest and sensationalize the way that the news reporter did is … I’m at a loss for words” Friend said. “I mean, we’re a rural town of 18,000. We try to serve the public to the best of our ability. Everything we do is tailored to the health and safety of our citizens after extensive public comment.”
Of course, none of that is to suggest pit bull bans and restrictions make sense. They don’t.
But for a news organization to suggest, based on a couple of unconnected facts, that a round-up of all pit bulls is underway is a similar sort of fear-mongering — and one that’s neither fair nor balanced.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animals, bans, breed, breed-specific, dogs, fox 2, fox news, laws, media, missouri, news, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, restrictions, sikeston, st. louis, towns
In Wausau, that’s two dogs too many.
While the town is letting them keep the children (it hasn’t sought to limit those), it’s insisting the Leckers get rid of two of their dogs, or get out of town.
James, 29, a website developer for Midwest Communications, and Melissa, 32, who works in social services, moved to Wausau from Stevens Point for job reasons in January, and bought a house.
They were unaware that local law prohibits residents from having more than two dogs — and they didn’t learn that was the case until a police officer mistakenly stopped at their house while investigating another matter.
They’ve requested an exception from the city and been told there’s no chance of that.
So now they’ll be leaving, even though they expect to lose $15,000 on their home.
“I couldn’t sleep for a week. I’m not eating; there’s just so much stress,” Melissa Lecker told the Green Bay Press Gazette. “I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I either have to get rid of two family members or lose $15,000, and either way it’s stressful.”
City officials say the ordinance was passed in 1989 to curb animal nuisance complaints, and there seems little interest on their part in either changing the law, or granting exceptions. The law also limits pet owners to three three cats, three rabbits or three gerbils.
(We can only guess that’s to cut down on nuisance gerbil complaints.)
Jim Brezinski, the city council member whose district includes the Leckers’ home, said he doesn’t plan to intervene and that the issue should “go through the appropriate channels.”
But there aren’t really any channels to go through.
“Our current ordinance doesn’t allow for a variance,” Wausau city attorney Anne Jacobson told WAOW.com.
Lisa Rasmussen, chairwoman of Public Health and Safety, said she opposes increasing the number of allowable dogs, Fox News reported.
“I hope we can work something out,” Melissa Lecker said. “But they are just being so mean. My dogs didn’t bother anyone.”
A petition on Change.org, supporting an exception for the Leckers, says the family went before Wausau’s Public Health and Safety Committee to request a one-time variance that would allow them to keep all four of their dogs long enough for the two eldest ones to die, but that the committee denied the Lecker’s request.
“Now, because the Leckers innocently opened their door to accommodate a police officer who stopped by the family’s property accidentally, they are in danger of having to pay a $300 fine for each day that all of their dogs, their family members, remain in their home … a daily fine that could add up to more than $9,000 in a given month … fines they will face simply because they love their pets, or, as Wausau sees it, too many of their pets,” the petition says.
(Photo: Green Bay Press Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, city, council, dog, dogs, fines, four dogs, government, james lecker, law, liberty, limits, melissa lecker, move, moved, officials, ownership, pet, pets, restrictions, two dog limit, two dogs, wausau, wisconsin
Ohio Gov. John Kasich yesterday signed a bill that repeals the 25-year-old state law that automatically declared pit bulls vicious.
Once the new law takes effect, in 90 days, shelters will be able to allow them to be adopted, owners will no longer be required to buy additional liability insurance and pit bulls will be free of the restrictions imposed when the state declared them, based on their looks, a public enemy.
House Bill 14 was overwhelmingly approved 67-30 by the state House on Feb. 8.
In addition to dropping any reference to specific breeds, the new law redefines what makes a dog “vicious.”
The old law defined a vicious dog as one that, without provocation, has seriously injured a person, killed another dog, or belongs to the general breed of pit bull.
Dogs so labeled required additional liability insurance, restraints and were subject to other restrictions.
The new law revises the definitions for vicious, as well as the categories of “dangerous” or “nuisance” dogs. It also requires a dog warden to provide proof of why a dog deserves such a classification, and creates a process for dog owners to appeal law enforcement’s labeling of their dogs.
“A well-meaning but poorly conceived law is no more, and it represents a victory for Ohio dogs and their people,” said Gregory Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based organization that opposes laws that discriminate against certain breeds of dog.
“It ends the practice of causing undue hardship to thousands of responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, well-socialized pets,” he added.
Best Friends said it hopes that the Florida’s legislature follows suit, and votes to change a similarly archaic law in Miami-Dade County, the only county in Florida where pit bulls are banned.
“The change in Ohio law truly signals a new day for dogs that for years have been discriminated against just because of their looks — the same type of discrimination that’s been going on in Miami-Dade County for years,” said Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends.
Legislation that would repeal the Miami pit bull ban is under consideration in Florida, and recently passed through two more committees.
Florida outlawed canine profiling in 1990, but Miami-Dade County’s 1989 pit bull ban was grandfathered in. Hundreds of dogs and puppies are seized and killed in Miami-Dade every year because of their appearance, Best Friends says.
Ohio was the only state in the country to declare a type of dog vicious, based solely on appearance with no consideration of behavior.
(Photo: A smiling pit bull, from the website Three Little Pitties)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, automatic, bans, best friends, breed, breed based, breed-specific, breeds, dade county, dangerous, definition, discrimination, dog, dogs, governor, inherent, insurance, john kasich, law, legislation, liability, miami, nuisance, ohio, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, profiling, redefine, repeal, restraints, restrictions, signed, vicious
A vigil is being held in New York Saturday in honor of Nick Santino, the soap opera actor who took his own life after putting his dog down.
Santino, according to friends and family, was distraught and feeling guilty after having his pit bull Rocco euthanized — a step acquaintances say he took after his condo board instituted rules against pit bulls and other restrictions against dogs.
“Rocco trusted me and I failed him,” Santino wrote in a suicide note. “He didn’t deserve this.”
Santino was allowed to keep his dog under a grandfather clause, but according to friends, he was being harassed about his dog by the board and fellow residents.
In response to the incident, the Animal Farm Foundation, in conjunction with the National Canine Research Council, had scheduled a press conference on on the social, financial, and legal challenges and discrimination facing pet owners in New York City, but canceled it in the wake of a police officer’s death in the city.
Instead, it’s coordinating a vigil that starts at 4 p.m. Saturday, outside of One Lincoln Plaza, 20 West 64th St.
“The recent death of Nick Santino and his dog Rocco highlight the important role pets play in American lives, but it also illustrates the social, financial, and legal challenges facing pet owners, especially in urban areas like New York City,” the foundation said in a press release.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, bans, breed, breed-specific, city, condo, discrimination, dogs, euthanized, manhattan, national canine research council, new york, nick santino, pets, pit bull, pitbull, restrictions, rocco, rules, suicide, vigil
A state appeals court in Washington has declared Pierce County’s dangerous-dog ordinance unconstitutional — specifically, the part of it that requires $250, or more, to get a hearing.
“You shouldn’t have to purchase justice,” said Bellingham attorney Adam Karp, who represented a Pierce County woman who challenged the law.
The case stems from an April 2009 incident in which a 7-pound Pomeranian named Kayla was allegedly attacked by a Great Pyrenees mix named Blizzard. The Pomeranian was so badly hurt it had to be put down.
A Pierce County animal control officer declared Blizzard dangerous, which meant her owner, Heidi Downey, had to meet a number of stringent requirements if she wanted to keep the dog.
Under county law, animal control officers can deem a dog dangerous without holding a hearing. To get one, dog owners were required to pay $125 for an initial hearing, and another $250 to get a hearing with a member of the Auditor’s Office.
Downey paid for an initial hearing and lost. She paid more for a formal hearing with testimony from witnesses. She lost that one too. Downey appealed to Superior Court, lost again, and then took her case to the Court of Appeals.
In arguments earlier this summer, her attorney, in addition to presenting his client’s side of the story — that Blizzard had been wrongly identified as the perpetrator — argued the fees were unfair.
Last week, a Court of Appeals panel ruled the fees unconstitutional because they deprive people who can’t afford them of the right to challenge the county’s declaration of their dogs as dangerous.
The panel also ruled the county does not have a rigorous enough process for deeming an animal dangerous.
County Auditor Julie Anderson said, pending a planned appeal, she has suspended the practice of collecting fees from people seeking a hearing. The county will also will refund fees to those people who have paid but not yet had their hearing.
“This is a temporary measure until we can settle the law,” she told The News Tribune in Tacoma in an email.
Karp said the ruling could have repercussions for other governments that charge fees for dangerous dog hearings, including Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup and Bonney Lake.
Attorneys for the county argued that the policy allows dog owners a choice: They can get a $250 permit and take out a $250,000 insurance policy that allows them to keep a dangerous dog, or they can pay the fees to challenge the designation.
As one justice noted, though, the policy makes dogs guilty until proven innocent — and unable to have their innocence proven without paying up front.
And what about Blizzard? The appeals court ruled there had not been enough evidence presented to declare the dog dangerous. They ordered the designation reversed.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adam karp, appeals court, attack, auditor, blizzard, charges, court of appeals, dangerous, declaration, dog, due process, examiner, fees, for sale, great pyrenees, guilt, hearing fees, hearings, heidi downey, innocence, insurance, justice, kayla, ordinance, permits, pierce county, pomeranian, pyrenees, refund, restrictions, unconstitutional, washington
Since June of this year, four large scale dog breeding operations in North Carolina have been busted and more than 500 dogs seized as a result.
While that may sound like the state is making some gains in the fight against puppy mills, it raises another possibility as well.
Are tough new puppy mill laws in surrounding states leading unscrupulous breeders to move their operations to North Carolina, where the laws are more lax?
A recent investigation by NBC 17 asked that question — even if it didn’t entirely nail down the answer.
Since June 1, the report says, puppy mill busts have taken place in Hertford, where 86 dogs were seized; in Zebulon (25 dogs seized); Lincoln County (about 135 dogs); and in Caldwell County (276 dogs).
And while no documentation is provided that those breeders had fled to North Carolina from other states, Kim Alboum, the Humane Society’s state director, says it is happening.
“There are approximately 19 states that now have some level of regulations for commercial dog breeders, whether it’s licensing or standards,” she said. “And around North Carolina, we now have Virginia [that] has passed regulation. So we are seeing some breeders coming down to North Carolina from Virginia.”
Alboum says she has also seen breeders migrate from Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
She blames current North Carolina laws that fail to set high enough standards for breeding operations. So does Pricey Harrison, a state representative who tried to get puppy mill legislation passed last year.
“Apparently our neighboring states have pretty decent laws in place to prevent animal cruelty and protect animal purchasers from these puppy mills,” Harrison said. “We don’t, so we’re apparently a magnet for these dog breeders.”
Harrison sponsored a puppy mill bill in the 2009-10 legislative session that passed the House but died in the Senate. She said the bill was opposed by the Pork Council, the Farm Bureau, the American Kennel Club and the NRA.
“Every time we have animal cruelty legislation, it’s the same players that arise in opposition. It’s a combination of campaign money and membership pressure.”
Senate President Pro-Temp Phil Berger, who voted against the bill, says the wording of the proposed puppy mill law was too vague, and that it could have had unintended consequences on other industries.
No new puppy mill bills have been introduced, although the state did act to allow local governments to pass breeding regulation laws, such as one recently adopted in Guilford County.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, attracting, breeders, breeding, busts, caldwell county, conditions, dog, dogs, hertford, humane society, kim alboum, laws, lax, legislation, legislature, lincoln county, magnet, moving, north carolina, pets, pricey harrison, puppy mills, raids, regulations, restrictions, seized, states, surrounding, zebulon
In the Davidson County town of Lexington, it’s now against the law to bring your dog to a city-sponsored function, even on a leash, or to keep your dog in your front yard, even if it’s fenced.
The Lexington City Council unanimously approved stricter controls on dogs at its Monday night meeting, all of which are effective immediately.
The measures include giving the police department the power to determine what dogs are dangerous and seize them; prohibiting dogs from attending city-sponsored public events; and requiring areas where dogs are fenced be only in backyards, 50 feet from neighboring structures and 20 feet from sidewalks.
The stricter measures stemmed from complaints from residents and an incident last year, in which an unleashed dog described as a pit bull killed a resident’s Yorkshire terrier, according to The Dispatch in Davidson County.
The new ordinance does not prohibit tethering — as long as it is in the back yard, is done without a heavy chain, and does not prevent an animal from reaching food, water or shelter.
“We require chains and tethering devices to be of a reasonable weight and length for the size of the animal to treat those animals humanely,” Lexington Police Department Capt. Mark Sink said.
Beyond that, and the fact that the city council didn’t ban any specific breeds, it’s hard to find much humanity in the new regulations.
But then again, Lexington is in Davidson County, whose commissioners last month — despite hundreds of residents showing up to encourage a much needed change — voted to continue it’s preferred method of euthanizing dogs: A gas chamber.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animal shelter, animals, back yard, cats, city council, controls, county commissioners, dangerous dogs, davidson county, death, dogs, euthanasia, gas chamber, gassing, humane, inhumane, law, lethal injection, lexington, north carolina, pets, ralph houser, restrictions, sheriff, strict, tethering
The airline Monday banned the brachycephalic breeds from air travel because of the risks of breathing problems and overheating.
The ban covers pugs, bulldogs and boxers, and several breeds of cats, including Himalayan, Persian and exotic short-hair cats, CNN’s Business 360 blog reports.
Cathay Pacific’s ban follows similar moves by Singapore Airlines and several American carriers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation released figures last year showing about half of all in flight deaths in the previous five years were short-snouted breeds, with English bulldogs accounting for nearly a quarter of those deaths.
“The ban is to bring Cathay Pacific into line with industry practice because it has been found that there is quite a bit of danger,” said Thomas Lau, Cathay Pacific’s assistant manager of public affairs.
Hong Kong’s Society for the Protection of Animals (SPCA) believes that the ban is an over-reaction.
“… There are cases when air travel is unavoidable, especially when owners need to emigrate,” said Rebecca Ngan, communications manager of SPCA Hong Kong. “If owners cannot send them in the cabin they may have to abandon them or put them to sleep.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, air travel, airlines, american airlines, bans, brachycephalic, breathing, breeds, cathay pacific, cats, dogs, english bulldogs, flat-faced, himalayan, hong kong, overheating, persian, pets, restrictions, short, singapore airlines, snouts, spca, travel, traveling with dogs, traveling with pets
The proposed law is currently in the state House and, if it passes there, would still need to be approved by the Senate, according to a Fox News report.
The proposal comes on the heels of two Ohio cities — Cleveland and Toledo — rewriting local ordinances to require restrictions be imposed on troublesome dogs based on behavior, instead of breed.
Under Ohio’s current, breed-specific state law, pit bull owners are required to have $100,000 worth of insurance, and a specific containment area for their pet.
“You could have the sweetest pit bull in the world and you would have those restrictions I could have the meanest chihuahua in the world and there would be no restrictions,” said John Dinon of the Toledo Area Humane Society.
Toledo changed its dog rule last year, and Cleveland recently followed suit.
Dinon believes labeling a dog based on its behavior will help keep more citizens in Ohio safe: “It protects people a lot better because right now if you have a dangerous dog that isn’t a pit bull likely nothing’s going to happen.”
The changes in Cleveland were sparked by a pit bull owning councilman, according to the Toledo Blade.
“It just seemed fundamentally wrong to say that a certain breed is bad. That’s like me saying that all people that come from northwest Ohio aren’t good people,” said Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone, who introduced the legislation. “In today’s day and age to really determine and know what a breed is [is] virtually impossible with all of the cross-breeding that goes on.”
Under the changes in Cleveland, authorities can classify any type of dog as a “Level 1” threat to public safety if it attempts to cause harm to a person or domestic animal, and as a “Level 2” threat if it bites or otherwise injures a person or animal.
Owners of these dogs must abide by strict regulations that include keeping the animal in a secure enclosure, muzzling the dog while out in public, and obtaining a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance. Those who violate the rules can be fined up to $1,000.
The rules are similar to those laid out in Toledo’s vicious dogs ordinance, and, as with Toledo’s, they don’t set forth restrictions based on breed alone.
“I was really proud as a policy maker and as a dog owner to see the foresight and vision on the [Toledo City] council’s part to examine this based on fact, not fear,” Zone said. “Too often you get council people who will try to make policies based on fear or peer pressure that they’re hearing from the community.”
Despite the local changes, “pit bull” owners continue to face requirements for additional restraint, muzzling, and liability insurance under state law.
The Ohio General Assembly is expected to vote before the end of this month on whether to remove the pit bull-specific language from the law.
Cleveland council member Zone said he rescued a pit bull puppy hit by a truck outside his office three years ago. When an animal control officer told him the dog would be automatically destroyed because it was a pit bull, Zone took it home. Since then, Gordon has become a much-loved member of his family.
“It just goes to show that when you show love and care to an animal they give it back tenfold,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, behavior, bill, breed, breed specific legislation, bsl, city council, cleveland, council, dangerous, dogs, gordon, house, insurance, john dinon, labeling, labels, law, laws, matt zone, ohio, ordinances, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, proposal, rescue, restrictions, senate, shelter, toledo, toledo area humane society, vicious