November is not yet two weeks old and already the American Dog Owners Association has numerous alerts posted on its site that warrant a closer look.
Bibb County, Ga., is in the midst of planning for a new animal shelter in the city of Macon, prompting city council member Nancy White to propose an ordinance requiring all cats and dogs over the age of 6 months to be spayed or neutered. White wants both the city and the county to pass the law.
The Telegraph reported on November 4 that several of White’s fellow council members, along with Bibb County animal welfare director Sarah Tenon, support the proposal. According to the Telegraph, police, search and rescue, herding and trained hunting dogs would be exempt from the requirement, as would “animals in a kennel for training or resale, and cats or dogs registered or kept for field and agility trials.” A license would be available for purchase that would allow residents to breed a dog or cat, but for no more than one litter per year. A $50 fine for first offenders was suggested by White, but Tenon said she would increase the fine to an amount “well above the cost of having a pet spayed or neutered, to make sure there’s incentive to have the procedure right from the start.”
The American Kennel Club has not yet issued an alert regarding this proposed law, but contact information for Macon city council members can be found here, and citizens who would be affected by the new law are urged to contact local officials with their input. AKC typically opposes legislation that requires animals to be altered at a certain age, as well as laws that require special licensing for citizens to breed their pets, particularly in cases such as this where the cost of the license is unspecified.
A similar ordinance was suggested for Macon by animal rights activists in June 2011, but Mayor Robert Reichert was not supportive because he “was unsure how it would be enforced.” However, a spokesman says that the mayor would “help promote” the proposed ordinance if the city council passes it.
ND Voters Reject Stronger Animal Cruelty Penalty
Last Tuesday night, while much of America waited to learn who the next commander-in-chief would be, North Dakotans monitored the results of the vote on a change to the state’s animal cruelty law that would have imposed a felony penalty for “malicious and intentional harm to a dog, cat or horse.” The measure was defeated, with 67 percent voting against it.
North Dakota and South Dakota remain the only two states without felony penalties available for perpetrators of animal cruelty.
The Examiner reported that this is the third year in a row that stronger penalties have failed to pass in North Dakota. However, a group called North Dakota Animal Stewards, which opposed Measure 5, has promised to have an amended draft of the bill prepared for the 2013 legislature.
North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty, a coalition of veterinarians, animal control personnel, animal shelters, rescue operations and other citizens in favor of Measure 5, says they will hold NDAS to its promise. The Examiner reported that the Humane Society of the United States has “been very influential and vocal in the fight to bring justice to animals.”
Voters in the state faced another ballot measure that grew out of HSUS pushing for new laws in North Dakota. Two years ago HSUS tried to have fenced hunting preserves abolished in the state, according to the Daily Republic, and that, coupled with HSUS activities in other states, brought farmers, ranchers and other concerned citizens together to support legislation that will “protect agricultural practices.” The amendment that passed on Tuesday “guarantees the right of farmers to engage in modern agriculture and bars any law limiting their right to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” While officials in the state admitted that “they aren’t sure what the new right really means,” Doyle Johannes, president of the state Farm Bureau, said, “That was the big thing, to beat these people back. We don’t need outsiders coming here and telling us how to do things.”
The NDAS website has a statement on its opening page that may explain the no vote on the felony penalty proposal. It says “North Dakotans should write North Dakota laws, not outside special interest groups.” NDAS is made up of many of the state’s farm and ranch organizations, including the Stockmen’s Association, the Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Pork Council, Lamb and Wool Producers Association, Rodeo Association, Dairy Coalition, Corn Growers Association and others.
In other news, the city council in Newark, Ohio, voted on Monday, November 5 against a proposal to eliminate the practice of automatically labeling pit bulls as vicious or dangerous dogs. According to the Newark Advocate, city councilman Jeff Rath (R) proposed that Newark follow recent action at the state level that “removed pit bulls from the vicious dog category,” relying instead on the behavior of individual dogs to categorize them. Rath’s proposal went further, also removing special insurance requirements for pit bull owners and a limit of one pit bull per household. The new measure would, however, have included restrictions on pit bulls, requiring them to be kept in a “kennel” with a secure cover, on a tether or behind a 6-foot fence.
A call to the clerk of council’s office confirmed that the measure was defeated, leaving in place current law, which automatically labels pit bulls as vicious dogs. The proposed changes were a result of requests from residents who asked that the city change its ordinance to match the new state law, which went into effect on May 22, 2012. The city council was divided on whether or not to adopt the proposed change. Councilman Bob Cost (D) said that although he did not support Rath’s proposal as written, he does not believe that the law should remain breed specific. He believes that a stricter law should apply to all dogs and hold owners more responsible for the actions of their dogs.
The city of New Orleans continues to consider significant changes to its animal ordinances, several of which the American Kennel Club legislative department finds concerning. Details of the proposal are available on the AKC website, along with information about how concerned residents can contact New Orleans city council members.
Best In Show Daily provides a biweekly look at dog-related legislation that is pending and has passed around the country. If you learn of proposed legislation that you feel we should report on, please feel free to contact me at Christi@bestinshowdaily.com.