Ill Conceived Pet Legislation – More, More, More

HSUS to the dog breeders of Delaware:  Weer in ur stayt, writin’ ur loz:

House Bill 95 – This bill adopts the recommendations of the Humane Society of the United States regarding restrictions on the large-scale for-profit dog breeding operations commonly known as “puppy mills.”

Bill includes dog limits, how often breeders must take their dogs to the Vet, age restrictions, Vet approval required to breed, no back-to-back litters and more.  

Individual judgement of the responsible, experienced breeder?  86 that.  We’re going with the HSUS!  True, they’re not dog breeders or even a veterinary organization but surely HSUS knows so much about ethical dog breeding (by magic!) that its recommendations should be made into law.

Additional reading:

The Monthly National Legislation Report (alphabetical listings by state)  – March 2009

American Sporting Dog Alliance – “179 Animal Rights Anti-Dog Bills Introduced In 34 States”
 

Treats on the Internets

The article is titled “Fighting birds didn’t have a chance” and describes the killing of gamecocks by authorities at a NC residence. One way to interpret the piece is that fighting Pitbulls are regularly saved (uh, no) but fighting birds are not:

When federal officers busted up former NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring, many of the pit bulls were saved by animal lovers patient enough to work with the abused and violent dogs.

No such salvation awaits fighting birds after a big-time bust. The morning the birds were discovered, three Moore County animal control officers worked for six hours, shooting each bird in the head with a .22-caliber pistol.

Was even a single phone call made to any rescue organization in an effort to save any of the birds? Cos it doesn’t sound like it. The reason the birds “didn’t have a chance” had nothing to do with lack of effort by animal lovers and everything to do with the immediate killing of the birds by police.

Also, which of Vick’s rescued dogs were “violent”? Obviously not all of them, but the statement could be taken that way.

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An otherwise nice story about a rescued Pitbull in Santa Barbara is marred by HSUS commentary on saving bust dogs:

Humane Society officials are wary of all the publicity generated by the Michael Vick pit bull matter. Yes, many of the dogs were turned around to live happy, normal lives, but the effort cost a lot of money. Most pit bulls taken from a fighting situation end up getting the needle.

“You don’t hear so much about the abused and neglected dogs that get euthanized,” said Adam Goldfarb, a pit bull expert with the Humane Society of the United States. “Not all dogs are able to recover from traumatic circumstances.”

Yeah they aren’t able to recover too well when the HSUS kills them either. (Note to journalists: Asking the HSUS for info on saving bust dogs is about as reasonable as asking Jim Jones for punch recipes.)

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A “spinning” technique for tick removal – I’m going to try it on the next unlucky tick that latches on to one of the dogs.

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When fire breaks out in family’s home, they sleep through smoke alarm so Pitbull gets on the job of waking the family up! 

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The Iditarod killed 5 dogs this year and people are talking about it.

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Sentry dogs on patrol at Idaho prison

Action Alert for SC Pet Owners

The SC Legislature is continuing to work on S0223 – a bill which amounts to extortion of pet owners accused (not convicted, mind you) of animal cruelty in the state. A few changes have been made to the language since I first blogged on it, but the substance remains the same:
Anyone charged with animal cruelty or dogfighting (Note – this latter is a presumption on my part. The bill states “Chapter 24 of Title 16″ but there is no such Chapter. Chapter 27 of Title 16 is the Animal Fighting and Baiting Act and since dogs are routinely seized in those cases, my guess is that “Chapter 24″ is a typo.) and whose pets have been seized can be charged a monthly fee by the organization housing the pets. Specifically:

The court shall set the amount of funds necessary for thirty days’ care after taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the need to care for and provide for the animal pending the disposition of the litigation, the recommendation of the custodian of the animal, the estimated cost of caring for and providing for the animal, and the defendant’s ability to pay.

For each 30 day period the case remains unresolved, the fees are automatically renewed. The defendant must pay the court determined fees every 30 days.

  • If the defendant can’t come up with the money each month, he loses rights of ownership to his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
  • If the defendant’s case eventually results in a not guilty determination, he still has to pay all the fees, current through the day he was cleared of charges. (If the custodian hasn’t withdrawn every last penny from the account, the defendant can get a refund of any leftover funds.) If he can’t come up with the money, he loses his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
  • And of course, if the defendant is ultimately found guilty and has been paying the monthly fees all along, he loses rights of ownership to his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.

Wait, there’s more! Now how much would you pay?

Any person violating the laws in relation to cruelty to animals may be arrested and held, without warrant, in the same manner as in the case of persons found breaking the peace.

And as a special bonus:

Individuals from humane type groups can be deputized with the power to arrest without warrant, seize animals and take custody of those animals. Then you gotta pay ‘em.

For an idea of what the courts deem a reasonable fee for seized dogs, we can look at the recent Wilkes Co, NC case where 127 Pitbulls were seized. In that case, the fee for 60 days worth of “care” for the dogs was $53,000.

I’m not sure where the bar has to be set these days in order to motivate pet owners to take action but this bar’s in the dirt. Contact your elected representatives and let them know, politely and respectfully, that this bill is wrong for South Carolina:

Members of the House

Members of the Senate

Sponsor:
Senator Lourie
601 Gressette Bldg.
Columbia, SC 29201

e-mail: JBL@scsenate.org
Phone: (803) 212-6116

Illinois Breeder Bill Gone Wild

Lawmakers in IL have proposed a bill to regulate dog breeders. Emphasis on regulate:

Under “Definitions”:


"Sanitized" means [...] Washing all soiled surfaces with appropriate detergent solutions or disinfectant products followed by a clean water rinse that removes all organic material and mineral buildup.

How do I know if I've removed all mineral buildup? How will the inspectors determine if I've removed all mineral buildup?


“Unaltered dog” means any dog that is not spaded or neutered.

Dude, really? SPADED? Before you attempt to write a law that will impact the lives of IL citizens, you might want to, oh I don’t know, figure out what the hell you’re talking about.

So who needs to apply for a license?


Any person who maintains 3 or more female dogs for the purpose of the sale of their offspring must be licensed under this Act.

OK that will include most all breeders. Way to not make anyone feel left out. What does the application for the license involve (besides the non-refundable fee, natch)?

The Department must require information from the applicant that, in its judgment, will enable the Department to determine the qualifications of the applicant for license. Such information must include the location of all facilities to be used, description of facilities to be used, present and previous business connections and experience, bank and professional references [...]


Wow - that's a lot of personal information for me to hand over to the state. I hope there isn't much more. I mean, I'm not a puppy mill, I just own 3 or more intact bitches and breed a litter once in awhile.

Applicants for licensure must have their fingerprints submitted to the Illinois State Police in an electronic format that complies with the form and manner for requesting and furnishing criminal history record information as prescribed by the Illinois State Police. These fingerprints must be checked against the most current Illinois State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history record databases. The Illinois State Police may charge applicants a fee for conducting the criminal history records check [...] The Department may require applicants to pay a separate fingerprinting fee [...]

ZOMG! This sounds kinda like I'm under arrest. And they're charging me for the privilege...


Every year the Department must conduct at least one unannounced inspection of the licensee. An inspection fee may be set by rule.

IL hearts fees.

There's lots more in this bill including how often you must take your dogs to the Vet, inability to use your own judgment on breeding (Vet's approval required, age limitations set) and provision for inspection even if you don't apply for the license but authorities say you should have applied. I interpret that to mean if animal control thinks you have 3 intact bitches, they can bust down your door and demand access to your "facility", records, dogs, etc.

Read the whole ill-begotten thing here.

IL residents can find contact info for members of the House and Senate and let them know their opinion of HB0198. The bill's primary sponsor is Rep. Fritchey and the complete list of sponsors can be found here.

County Fails to Convict Alleged Dogfighter, Goes After Property

In AZ, Pima County is trying to seize property belonging to Emily Dennis:

Dennis was arrested in February 2008 as part of a major investigation by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of the United States into a multi-state dog fighting ring. Officers raided four separate properties, seized hundreds of dogs and arrested six people, including Dennis.
But Dennis and her partner Mahlon Patrick were acquitted by Judge John Leonardo in November. 

Acquitted.  So what up with the land grab?

County officials said that just because Dennis was acquitted of the charges doesn’t mean she wasn’t breaking the law.

Deputy County Attorney Kevin Krejci said there is nothing unusual about pursuing civil forfeiture of assets, even when a defendant has been acquitted of criminal charges.

Now I didn’t go to law school but as I understand it, acquitted=not guilty.  If  county officials think someone is guilty of violating the law, there’s a remedy for that.  It’s called prosecution.  How it goes (on TV at least) is the county conducts an investigation, collects evidence, obtains an indictment, presents the case in court and asks the judge or jury to accept the case as having been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the prosecution fails to convince a judge or jury of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be acquitted.  

I appreciate there are two sides to every legal case and that one side will inevitably be unhappy with the outcome.  And I understand that a civil case is different from a criminal case.  But I am a strong supporter of individual property rights in our country and I  get concerned when government appears to be attempting to subvert our 4th Amendment rights.

The defendant response:

Thomas Higgins represents Emily Dennis.

[...]

According to court records, the Pima County Attorney’s office is pursuing a civil forfeiture case against two pieces of property. One of them is located in Picture Rocks, just west of Tucson.

[...]

These empty kennels are where the more than one hundred pitbulls taken last year used to live.

Note:  All but a handful of the dogs were killed before the owners had their day in court.  

Back to the attempted property seizure:

Thomas Higgins says the state will have a hard time proving the property has illegal ties. “I sent them an extensive packet of the money trail about where the money came from to buy it.”

I don’t like the idea of government failing to make its case legally and so pursuing property seizure in civil court.  It gives the appearance of our government attempting to use its resources (our resources) to pursue individual citizens whom they were unable to obtain legal convictions against and strip them of their property rights.  To my mind, if the government is conducting an investigation into criminal activity like dogfighting, they should take the time to do it right and present a solid, evidence based case in court.  I am all for convicting and punishing scumbag dogfighters to the full extent of the law.  

I’ve always held our government to the highest possible standards because we the people demand it.  I want to respect our government officials and to be treated with respect by them.  By necessity, that includes respect for our rights as property owners. 

Let’s Play Oddball

No, it’s not the start of a bad joke:

Police say a naked 14-year-old boy taking a walk with a large white poodle has assaulted a woman in Michigan.

If only he would have been walking into an adult drinking establishment…

Hero parrot gets award

Indonesian fruit picker killed by Komodo Dragons

China feeds abortion pills to plague of gerbils

Dog’s art pretty good akshully

Predator X – I want one for a pet, if only for the name

PETA’s Lucky 7

Seven pets somehow escaped PETA’s slaughterhouse alive in 2008. Good for them. Tragically, 2200+ pets were killed by PETA last year. More discussion on the topic:

Terrierman has an action alert

The Poodle and Dog Blog

Pet Connection

Foaming at the Mouth

Update on the dogs seized in a Washington, GA alleged dogfighting bust from Washington Police Department Lt. Joe Nelson:

“‘Was it scary?‘ Yes, yes, these dogs were vicious. These dogs were bred to kill. They were foaming at the mouth, they were ready to attack,“ says Lt. Nelson.

Police arrested Tavaris and Lawanda Ramsey and seized the pit bulls, drugs, and other valuables. But, authorities say this ring is far-reaching and expect to make more arrests.

Walking with us Monday, the lieutenant found a pregnant pit bull in the woods near the house and says if Animal Control hadn’t taken it, a litter of killer dogs was inevitable.

So they just fall out the birth canal snarling, snapping and ready to eat people?  By gosh by golly, that sounds skeery.

It’s a heart-wrenching situation for any animal lover, including those at Washington-Wilkes Animal Shelter where the dogs are being held. “Our efforts are put forth trying to save the dogs, do the best we can for them. But that’s the key, to do what’s best for the dog,“ says Gloria Wheatley.

The shelter says it’s looking for a sanctuary for the six puppies, in case they can be saved. They say the three adult pit bulls will have to be put down. As for the pregnant pit bull they took Monday, it was very skittish, but they say they’ll monitor it and decide what to do with the puppies forthcoming.

What about what to do with the dam?  Or is she doomed for death without qualified evaluation like the other adults?  Sorry but you people don’t sound too heart-wrenched.  Are you familiar at all with the term “animal shelter”?

And where are you HSUS?  Why is there no publicity for getting these dogs individual evaluations in accordance with your supposed “interim” policy on bust dogs?  I know it’s not a glamorous case like a chimp mauling someone or a circus elephant or chickens in cages but come on – even the unsexy cases should get a share of those donated funds.  It will cost money to provide these dogs with quality care while the legal case is sorted out and to bring in a trainer experienced with rehoming bust dogs to perform individual evaluations.  And the local authorities will need to be educated and influenced to do the right thing.  Legal action may be necessary to try to save these dogs.  HSUS can do all those things.  In fact, they’ve done those things in order to get bust dogs killed, like they did in Wilkes Co, NC.  Here’s an opportunity to put your money where your “interim” mouth is in Wilkes Co, GA and save these dogs from being killed without qualified evaluations.  

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Pitbull Bite in PA: The Wrong Debate

In Pennsylvania, a Pitbull dam who had just whelped a litter bit a 7 year old neighbor girl in the face:

Princess had recently delivered a litter of puppies when Dunn came over to visit Gasch’s Homestead duplex Thursday morning.
Gasch told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that while she was stuffing school supplies in her son’s backpack, Jenna — who has played with Princess often — went into the bedroom with Gasch’s son. According to her son, Jenna knelt down to play with one of the puppies, at which Princess became protective.”
Jenna asked me to see the puppies multiple times. I told her, no, she cannot see the puppies she cannot go in my room don’t go upstairs do not even play on my steps,” said Gasch.
But Dunn said Gasch’s son invited her upstairs to see Princess while his mother was sleeping.
Dunn’s family said the attack is enough to warrant the dog being put down.

The article discusses the debate over whether the dog deserves to be killed. To me, a more appropriate debate might include any of the following:

  • Is the dog’s owner well suited to have a dog? She has multiple violations for letting previous dogs roam loose, including one incident where her dog was shot by a neighbor.
  • Was the dog’s owner asleep or getting her son’s backpack ready for school when the incident occurred? How did the kids get into the room in either circumstance?
  • Were the 7 year old girl’s parents aware that “Princess” had just whelped a litter? If so, why did they allow her to visit the house unattended?

Kid left unsupervised with dogs=bad idea.
Kid left unsupervised with a neighbor’s dog=worse idea.
Kid left unsupervised with a neighbor’s dog who had just whelped a litter=*sounds buzzer* Sorry, thanks for playing.

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

I saw this couple’s story on Headline News this weekend and was very touched:

Weeki Wachee, Florida – During this recession, many people across Tampa Bay have been forced to give up their pets.

But despite losing his job, Ted Koran of Weeki Wachee vows he’ll keep his cast of critters, which includes two horses, three ducks, five dogs, two pot-bellied pigs, two parakeets and more.

Koran has always been an animal lover, but his love for pets has taken on a whole new meaning.

Koran believes some of his pets can predict and stop his wife’s seizures. Karen Koran is a severe epileptic and has been diagnosed with four types of epilepsy.

[...]

Because she’s epileptic, Karen can’t work. And since she’s never been able to work, she does not qualify for disability.

Even though Koran recently lost his job as a heavy equipment operator, the couple refuses to let their animals go.

It costs about $100 a week to feed all of their pets. Koran is now down to eating just one meal a day, so that he can afford the animal feed and pet food.

“We’re worried that things are going to get tight [and that] we’ll lose our home,” Koran choked out through tears. “It’ll break our hearts if we lose our animals.”

I contacted Mr. Koran to inquire if there is any way we in the pet community could give them a “hand up” to hold them over until they get back on their feet. He sent me a kind response and I have included part of it here:

Nothing will be wasted and WILL be accounted for. Our address is 10396 Snowbird Ave., Weeki Wachee, Fl. 34614. Our phone is 352-584-8724. Our local feed store is Ranch Hand Feed Depot in Brooksville, Fl. and their phone is (352) 796-4186 for feed, hay and pet food. These donations can go directly to our animals. Let me know and I can pick the feed up. Because of scams I have asked the reporter, Janie Porter, who did the story to keep track of everything we do with the donations. We don’t want people to think we are gold diggers.

I don’t think that Mr. Koran and I know you’d rather be working. Many of us are struggling in this economy and indeed pets do bring us a quality of life that you can’t put a price tag on. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing people to help. Those of us who can, will.

Donations can be mailed to:
Ted and Karen Koran
10396 Snowbird Ave.
Weeki Wachee, Fl. 34614

Feed, hay, and pet food can be purchased at:
Ranch Hand Feed Depot in Brooksville, Fl.
Phone: (352) 796-4186

If you aren’t in a position to make a donation at this time, please keep a good thought for the Korans and for all the pet owners struggling and sacrificing to keep their pets in these challenging times. We’ll all get through this, together.

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