More than 100 animal lovers across the country "tethered" themselves to dog houses recently to protest the treatment of dogs who spend their lives on chains. It was part of the sixth annual "Chain-Off" sponsored by Dogs Deserve Better, the Altoona-based group that advocates for anti-tethering laws and raises awareness about the living conditions - and dangers - of chained dogs. "It's meant to shock people into awareness," said
Tamira Thayne, the group's founder, spent 28 hours on a 10-foot chain earlier this month in Greenville, S.C. "If you don't live next to a chained dog it's easy to think it doesn't happen." The event raised money to help rescue chained dogs. A bill that would outlaw round-the-clock chaining of dogs in Pennsylvania - which passed the House Judiciary committee last year - has failed to be brought up for a vote by Chairman Tom Caltagirone (D., Berks) this session.
Pennsylvania's sixth annual animal law seminar kicks off this week with the first of three cross-state meetings. The focus of the event, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, is the state's new dog law, with a panel moderated by Jessie Smith, special deputy secretary for Dog Law Enforcement. Other topics include cat law, resolving pet disputes in divorce cases and assessing and placing shelter dogs. The meetings start Thursday in Pittsburgh. The second seminar is Aug. 13 in Mechanicsburg and the final one is Aug. 26 in Philadelphia. The event is open to the public. Nonmembers fee is $284 (or $259 if you register more than two days before the event). The discounted price for shelter/rescue staff or volunteers is $125.
Hero, a German Shepherd-mix, spent seven years in a New Jersey shelter before being adopted by a Pennsylvania man. Now he's being honored posthumously as a national hero. On Saturday Hero was named as a runner up in the Second Annual Dog of Valor Awards. The Dogs of Valor Awards, recognize dogs who have shown extraordinary courage or resolve by helping a person in need. Hero was chosen by a panel of celebrity judges that included big-screen "Dog of Valor" Benji. Hero jumped into action in January 2008, when owner Dennis Redline slipped on the ice while on a walk, hitting his head, and losing consciousness. Immediately, Hero ran barking throughout the complex prompting neighbors to call the police. When officers arrived, the frantic dog led them straight to Redline, who was still unconscious. Redline was rushed to a hospital where he was placed in intensive care, and remained in a coma for six days but recovered. Sadly, on Dec. 1, 2008, Hero passed away with Redline by his side.
The Humane Society of the United States has launched a national animal fighting tip line. Those who have information about persons involved in illegal animal fighting — such as dogfighting and cockfighting — are encouraged to call 877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787). The HSUS offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in dogfighting or cockfighting. Earlier this month, federal, state and local authorities, along with HSUS, carried out the largest single series of raids on multiple dogfighting operations in U.S history. More than 400 confiscated dogs will soon be evaluated to determine whether they are suitable candidates for placement with rescue groups or permanent adoption.
Main Line Animal Rescue founder Bill Smith's crusade to clean up puppy mills is featured again in Newsweek magazine this week. In response to the original story that ran in April Smith pointed out that a number of commercial dog breeders with repeated dog violations in Chester and Lancaster counties, also produce organic milk for suppliers such as Horizon, which serves Whole Foods among other supermarket chains. The magazine reports that in response Whole Foods issued a stern request that vendors "not supply any products to our stores that have been sourced from farmers…who breed or raise dogs inhumanely."
Legislative watch - State Rep. Mike Hanna (D., Centre) has introduced a resolution designating September 2009 as American Kennel Club month in Pennsylvania, recognizing the 125th anniversary of the organization and its birth in Philadelphia. The resolution is expected to be voted on this week.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed legislation to address animal fighting and regulate dog breeding. The bill expands the current dogfighting statutes to prohibit the staged fighting of any species of animal, including hog-dog fighting in which one or more trained dogs are placed in combat against a feral hog for human amusement. It also creates a procedure for kennel inspections under which person who operates a kennel that houses fewer than 20 dogs may be subject to an inspection by the county enforcement agent during regular business hours if the there is a complaint. A person who operates a kennel that houses 20 dogs or more shall allow inspections by a county enforcement agent as a condition of receiving a kennel permit. The legislation also bans the practice of “horse tripping," the practice of roping the legs of a galloping horse, which causes the horse to fall to the ground. Horse tripping is already banned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and by the American Quarter Horse Association, and has been banned in film and television production for over 50 years.