Maryland lawmakers approved a spay-neuter program, and cracked down a little on dog-fighters, but once again they failed to reach agreement on a measure that would relieve pit bulls of the wrongful designation “inherently dangerous.”
So all in all, we give lawmakers — as they take a break from their lawmaking — a C minus when it comes to how they treated dogs this session.
And they passed ”Molly’s Law,” named after a nine-month-old pit bull mix who was used as a bait dog by dog-fighters and who died from her injuries. The “bait dog” law subjects those who use bait dogs to the same penalties that dog-fighting carries — a maximum of three years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
Maryland Votes For Animals praised the legislature for passing the two bills, but noted Maryland still ranks 43rd nationwide in the strength of dog-fighting laws.
What lawmakers weren’t able to do is reach a compromise on the dog bite liability law and overturn a precedent set by a Court of Appeals ruling last year that has had far-reaching implications.
The compromise died in the House of Delegates in the final hours of the 90-day session, which was also the case when the issue was being debated in a special summer session last year.
Under the new compromise, approved by the Senate, all dog owners — not just pit bull owners — would have been held to a standard of “strict liability” if their dog attacked a child 12 or younger. If a dog bite victim was 13 or older, the owner would have a chance to show their dog wasn’t known to be dangerous.
Without approval from the House, the compromise died, leaving the Appeals Court ruling intact.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, breed-specific, c minus, compromise, discrimination, dog, dog bit, dogfighting, dogs, grade, house of delegates, law, lawmakers, legislation, legislative, liability, maryland, neuter, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, senate, spay
A proposal to alter dog bite liability law in Maryland looks to be unraveling, the Washington Post reports.
Last month, the House of Delegates passed a bill to address a Maryland Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and holding their owners — unlike owners of any other dogs — automatically liable if their dog bit someone.
The House passed a bill that didn’t single out any breeds, but shifted the burden of proof in dog-bite cases — proving that a dog was known or should have been known to be dangerous — from the victim to the dog’s owner.
With negotations having taken place beforehand between members of the House and Senate, with its seeming bipartisan support, with it having passed the House unanimously, it appeared smooth sailing was ahead for the bill.
That hasn’t been the case.
The Senate has come up with an amended version of the bill that — while it doesn’t single out pit bulls — makes it “virtually imposible” for a defendant in a dog-bite case to prevail, according to the delegate who negotiated the bill through the House.
Del. Luiz Simmons (D- Montgomery) says his Senate counterpart had assured him the bill, as approved by the House, would have no problem: “He told me he agreed with the compromise, he told me not to worry about it. We had a deal.”
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), who negotiated the bill for the Senate and is chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said that events had taken an unforeseen turn, leaving him in an “awkward position.”
The new provision — it requires owners to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that their dog was not dangerous before an attack — was proposed last week by Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Montgomery) and approved by a majority of Frosh’s committee.
Frosh voted against it, but says he doesn’t think the amendment hurts the bill.
After the bill arrived on the Senate floor Tuesday, there were attempts to delete Zirkin’s provision, but Zirkin fought them: “I love dogs but if my dog bites a little kid, I should be responsible,” he said.
The feuding could threaten the legislation’s chances of getting passed this session.
Members of the General Assembly failed to pass a similar bill during a special summer session, leaving the appeals court decision that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” intact.
That court, ruling in a case involving the mauling of a 10-year-old Towson boy mauled by a pit bull in 2007, declared owners of pit bulls (and “third parties,” including landlords) automatically liable in the event that their dog bites or injures someone.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bill, compromise, court of appeals, delegates, dog bites, general assembly, house, inherently dangerous, law, liability, maryland, negotiations, pit bulls, pitbulls, proposal, senate, senators
A Maryland dog who was adopted by a member of the U.S. Senate — and who went on to become a familiar and soothing presence in that chamber’s hallowed and often contentious halls — has died.
Dakota, a bichon frise, was adopted by former North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad and his wife, Lucy, in the spring of 2009 from a rescue shelter in Maryland
Conrad confirmed Sunday that Dakota died last week, due to complications from lymphoma, Inforum.com reported.
During Conrad’s time on Capitol Hill, Dakota was popular among lawmakers, staffers and reporters, and he was once dubbed the “101st senator” by NBC’s Brian Williams.
“He went to work with me every day,” Conrad said. “People just took to him. To have an animal in that setting, it warmed people up. It made them feel more at home.”
Conrad said the dog’s calm disposition had the power to soothe seething lawmakers.
“In some of our (budget) negotiations, colleagues would call and ask if I could bring Dakota. He calmed everyone down.”
Dakota was diagnosed with the lymphoma in September 2011, and had fought the disease for a year and a half.
In the past eight months, Conrad and Dakota had flown four times to Houston, where the dog was participating in a T-cell cancer research project at the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
“He was part of experiments that are very important, that they think could help save many people’s lives,” Conrad said.
While his prognosis was promising, the cancer returned and last week Conrad was informed that Dakota probably only had a few days left.
“He was such a jaunty, confident and happy little dog,” Conrad said. “And he was cute – he just put a smile on people’s faces. And so that’s how I’ll remember him.
“He improved people’s days. He certainly improved mine.”
(Photo: Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, bichon frise, calm, cancer, dakota, death, dies, dog, dogs, kent conrad, lymphoma, maryland, north dakota, pets, politics, rescued, senate, senator, soothing, washington
The arrests of a couple accused of running a dogfighting operation in Chester County has led Pennsylvania congressmen to renew calls for tougher laws.
Rep. Jim Gerlach, of West Pikeland, and Rep. Pat Meehan, of Delaware County, both Republicans, urged passage of a bill that would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight.
“As former prosecutors we know how crucial it is for law enforcement to have all of the tools necessary to deprive the organizers of these horrific events from receiving the financial rewards they need to continue the criminal enterprises,” Meehan and Marino said in a joint statement.
“With passage of this bill, we can give federal prosecutors more ability to crack down on animal fighting and the criminal culture that typically surrounds animal fighting events.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, was passed by the Senate last week, but remains in the House Agriculture Committee.
Despite bipartisan support, the bill could die if no action is taken before the end of the year.
Called the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, the bill would also institute harsher penalties for bringing minors to animal fights.
Shane Santiago and his wife Laura Acampora, both 33, were arrested last week for allegedly operating a dogfighting ring out of the home they shared with five young children in West Brandywine.
Officials accused the couple of contributing to the death of at least 10 dogs and the maiming of many more that were forced to fight in an arena in the basement of the couple’s home. Two of the dogs were found in Chester County, left for dead at the side of the road. One survived.
Santiago and Acampora are charged with over 30 counts of animal cruelty and numerous other offenses. Both remain in Chester County Prison, according to the Pottstown Mercury.
(Photo: One of the dogs seized from the West Brandywine dogfighting operation)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal fighting, arena, basement, bill, chester county, congress, couple, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogfights, family, house, jim gerlach, laura acompora, law, legislation, pass, passage, pat meehan, pennsylvania, senate, shane santiago, spectator prohibition act
Five days before she made history in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren put down the golden retriever whose dignity and grace helped her cope with the often nasty senatorial campaign, and much more.
The emotional mix that the first female senator in Massachusetts was faced with in the final days of her campaign — seeing one’s political star rising while one’s dog is dying – was recounted last week in column by Brian McGrory in the Boston Globe.
Otis, Warren’s cancer-stricken golden retriever, was loyal, true, non-judgmental, honest, dignified and simple — in other words (and this is our opinion) everything politics is not.
Based on her description, quiet moments with her ailing dog brought her solace during the rough and tumble campaign.
“It’s the lack of complication,” Warren said. “I could spend time just running my hands through Otis’s coat, drawing circles in his short fur, and thumping him on the side, his big hollow chest, you know that sound. It’s possible to get lost in there. And that’s what I needed.”
Otis is described as an inseparable companion, who often accompanied Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, to their jobs at Harvard University.
“He was with Warren in fall 2011 when she declared her campaign for the Senate. He was there as controversies flared, as accusations were leveled, as attack ads filled the airwaves. Polls rose and fell, criticisms alternated with compliments, but always there was Otis, blinking excitedly as Warren came through the door at the end of the day and always ready for a walk.”
Otis was diagnosed with lymphoma in the spring. He was undergoing chemotherapy. The treatments, which at first appeared to be working, later lost their effectiveness.
On Halloween night, Otis watched trick or treaters come and go, too weak to get up off the floor. By the end of the night, Warren and Mann were convinced it was time to let Otis go.
“I called Warren after her victory to see if she wanted to talk about this quiet loss in the final days of a very public campaign. It hurt her to talk about, but in an hour-long phone call this week, one filled with her laughter and her tears, she did.
“She described ‘the white fur ball with big feet’ that arrived at her house 7½ years ago, the casual way he would approach his many admirers, how the ground used to all but shake from his heavy gait.”
On Oct. 28, Warren posted the photo above on Facebook. On Nov. 1, Otis was euthanized at Angell Memorial Hospital. On Nov. 6, Warren was elected as the first female senator from Massachusetts.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campaign, cancer, chemotherapy, death, died, dog, dogs, election, elizabeth warren, euthanasia, euthanized, female, first, golden retriever, lymphoma, massachusetts, otis, pets, politics, senate, senator
Webb shot and killed his neighbor’s black Labrador with a .357 magnum pistol in 1998, entered an Alford plea to charges of cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct and received two three-month sentences, both of which were deferred and later dismissed.
While the court case was sealed, it somehow became unsealed, got circulated on the Internet and was anonymously mailed earlier this week to The Billings Gazette.
“Fifteen years ago, I was attacked by a dog in my own front yard and I defended myself,” Webb, of Billings Heights, said Monday. “I have documentation, because I hired a private investigator at the time, that the dog had attacked a FedEx driver and UPS and the owner’s neighbor.”
Webb said he didn’t know who leaked the sealed documents. They initially appeared Sunday on a liberal political blog and on Twitter.
“I have no idea who is doing that. I have no idea,” said his opponent, Democrat Wanda Grinde.
According to The Billings Gazette, the documents state that Webb struck a neighbor’s black Lab with his pistol and then shot the the dog as it ran away. The bullet killed the dog and ricocheted into a second black Labrador.
Webb told the court that on the night of the incident, the two dogs charged down a hill toward him. He said he jumped in the bed of his pick-up truck until the dogs left. Then, he said, he went inside his house, got his pistol and headed up the hill to talk to their owner. He didn’t see the owner, though, and said the dogs confronted him again on his way home. He struck one of the dogs as it lunged at him and fired his gun.
The owner of the dogs, Lyla Mercer, said she heard the shot while she standing by their kennels, from which they had escaped.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1998, animal, animals, black lab, candidate, court case, cruelty, dog, dogs, election, killed, labrador, leak, leaked, leaks, montana, pets, politics, roger webb, sealed, self defense, senate, shot
The Maryland General Assembly failed to pass emergency legislation that would have overruled a widely criticized court decision that labeled pit bulls as “inherently dangerous.”
Both the House and Senate, in a special summer session, approved versions of a bill that would have ended singling out pit bulls, but the differences were too “stark” to be worked out before the session ended, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“It will be difficult to come up with a compromise on dogs,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. Miller said the Senate would neither concur with the House changes nor go to a conference committee.
The attempt at new legislation came after the state’s highest court ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, upholding a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that imposed a higher liability standard on pit bulls than other dogs.
That stemmed from a 2007 dog bite case in which a 10-year-old boy’s family sued the dog owner’s landlord. The trial court judge threw out the lawsuit, ruling the landlord hadn’t been proven negligent. The Court of Appeals reviewed the case and decided no proof of negligence is necessary in the case of pit bulls.
Protests from pit bull lovers and animal welfare organizations led the General Assembly to take up the matter — along with gambling — in a special summer session.
Many say the court rulings have already led to landlords kicking out pit bull-owning tenants, or forcing them to surrender their dogs to animal shelters.
The Senate crafted legislation that required all dogs to be treated the same when it comes to determining liability in civil suits — but rather than mandating pit bulls be held to the same standard as other dogs, its proposal held all other dogs to the same standard as pit bulls. The Senate-passed law did away with the common law standard in Maryland that in effect allows a dog “one free bite.”
The House version maintained the “one free bite” rule, applying the stricter standard only in cases where dogs are running loose.
The Humane Society of the United States said it was disappointed the General Assembly failed to pass a bill before the special session adjourned.
“Due to their inaction, thousands of Maryland families may be forced to choose either their dogs or their homes in the next four months, until the General Assembly comes back in January,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The HSUS.
The HSUS said the court ruling has ”forced many Maryland residents to choose between their homes and their beloved pets, and has forced landlords and property managers to try to determine whether dogs are pit bulls or not. With the General Assembly’s inaction, these impacts are expected to multiply.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bill, breed-specific, breeds, dangerous, dogs, emergency, failed, fails, general assembly, house, hsus, humane society of the united states, inherently dangerous, insurance, laws, legislation, liability, limbo, maryland, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, renters, senate, session, shelters, solesky, special, standards, tami santelli, tenants, types, versions
Reacting to protests that erupted after a court decision declaring all pit bull type dogs “inherently dangerous,” the Maryland Senate has approved a new dog bite law that holds all breeds — and their owners — to the same standard.
The bill, considered emergency legislation, now goes to House of Delegates. Once signed by the governor, it becomes law, overriding the state Supreme Court decision that singled out pit bulls as dangerous and ended the requirement that, in liability cases, they be shown to have a history of aggression.
That resulted in a different standard for pit bulls, or any dogs deemed pit bull mixes, at least when it came to civil suits. While all other breeds would still have to be proven dangerous, pit bulls would not because, as the judges saw it, they were that way by definition.
Pit bull owners and lovers saw the dangers inherent in that — from the difficulties it could pose for those who rent, to pit bulls being abandoned at shelters — and began campaigning to have elected officials do something about it.
“It’s definitely a win for pit bull owners,” Katie Flory of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) told WJZ in Baltimore. “We really do feel this is really the best way to go … It is very important that we look at the animal as an individual and not just the breed.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, aggressive, animals, bites, breed-specific, breeds, civil, courts, dangerous, decision, dogs, inherently dangerous, laws, legislation, maryland, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, senate, supreme court
Maryland consumers could save cash and avoid heartache with the passage of a bill that gives purchasers of puppies some basic information about where they came from.
House Bill 131 requires pet stores to disclose information about the origin of the puppies they sell, and provides remedies for people who purchase a sick puppy from a pet store.
Both Best Friends and Maryland Votes for Animals are backing the bill, and they’re urging Marylanders to do the same by letting legislators know that the time for a puppy lemon law is now.
Most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and oftentimes have diseases or congenital disorders that end up costing the new owner thousands of dollars in vet bills – not to mention the heartbreak of having purchased a sick dog, according to Maryland Votes for Animals.
“…Unsuspecting customers who fall in love with cute puppies in the store often end up getting more than they bargained for,” says Best Friends. “Maryland desperately needs a puppy lemon law, and now is the time to do it.”
“All too often, excited families bring home a new pet store puppy only to watch him or her come down with an illness. In many cases, puppies end up at an emergency clinic fighting for their lives — at an expense that often outweighs the purchase price.”
HB 131 would require pet stores that sell dogs to conspicuously post on each dog’s cage the state in which the breeder or dealer of the dog is located, as well as that breeder’s license number. Stores would have to maintain a written health record that contains specific information about each dog in the store. They’d also have to provide a written statement that the dog is healthy, and a warranty that allows for a full refund, exchange, or coverage of veterinary bills in cases of puppies who become ill.
HB 131 has already passed the House and its fate now rests with the Senate Finance Committee, which will hold a hearing tomorrow (Tuesday, March 27).
Posted by jwoestendiek March 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, best friends, breeders, dogs, finance committee, hb 131, house bill 131, law, legislation, lemon law, maryland votes for animals, pet stores, pets, proposal, proposed, puppies, puppy lemon law, puppy mills, senate
Pit bulls have come a step closer to being viewed like any other dog under Ohio law, with a state Senate vote to remove references that define them all as vicious.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 27-5 to change that definition by removing the reference that singles out pit bulls, WNWO reported.
State law currently defines vicious dogs as one that has seriously hurt or killed a person, one that has killed another dog, or one that is among that type commonly known as pit bulls.
The new bill would remove the pit bull reference from the law and would require evidence to prove a person’s pit bull is actually vicious.
The legislation now moves back to the Ohio House which recently passed a different version of the bill.
Ohio is the only state with a breed specific law.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, breed-specific, breeds, dangerous, definition, dogs, law, legislation, ohio, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, senate, state, vicious