Tuesday wag 7/14

Camden activists angry about city feral cat proposal - A coalition of NJ animal protection groups says an ordinance scheduled for consideration by the Camden City Council today will harm efforts to help feral cats. Animal welfare advocates say the ordinance purports to set up Trap Neuter Return (TNR) policy, but in fact places untenable restrictions on private groups who act as feral cat caretakers. The ordinance would restrict trapping to Camden residents only, place limits on the hours TNR can be done and set requirements for spay/neuter services. Private nonprofits already handle TNR in Camden at residents’ request, finding homes for kittens and getting adult cats fixed and vaccinated at no cost. In 2008, Camden spent almost $60,000 trapping, impounding, and killing more than 1,000 street cats brought in by animal control officers, according to animal welfare activists.

Statehouse Watch -- HB 39 - otherwise known as the animal cruelty bill - is on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar today. Does that mean the standoff between House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Caltagirone and his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf is over? Caltagirone, the bill's sponsor, had threatened to hold up all Senate bills before his committee until Greenleaf moved the cruelty bill. Suddenly Senate bills began appearing on the House Judiciary calendar and HB 39 turned up on the Senate calendar. Greenleaf's aides could not say if the bill would be voted out. To recap, the bill - which forbids anyone except veterinarians from performing certain surgeries, such as debarking and C-sections - passed the state House unanimously in March. It sat in the Senate Agriculture Committee before being voted out in May and sent over to Judiciary.  

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen last week signed legislation that for the first time requires basic humane care standards for dogs in commercial kennels and requires these facilities operate as legitimate businesses, subject to licensure and inspection. The Tennessee Commercial Breeder Act requires large scale commercial breeding operations with more than 20 unsterilized female dogs maintained for breeding purposes to acquire a license from the Department of Health, establish inspections as a prerequisite for licensure and implement humane care standards for dogs and cats. The bill also calls for commercial breeding operations to comply with state sales tax requirements, and it holds mass dog producers accountable to consumers by forcing adherence to the consumer protection act. In June 2008, the Humane Society of the United States was the lead animal welfare agency in the largest puppy mill bust in Tennessee history. More than 700 animals were rescued from deplorable conditions and put up for adoption at humane organizations across the country. The puppy mill owner was charged with 24 counts of felony aggravated cruelty and nine counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Crime and Punishment - A 10-year-old Norristown boy was arrested last week and charged with animal cruelty for allegedly beating and seriously injuring a puppy, according to the Times Herald of Montgomery County. The boy reportedly at first lied to police suggesting someone older had hit the 12-week-old dog with a stick in an incident in June, but later admitted to committing the act, according to Norristown police Chief Russell Bono. The German Shepherd mix dog was taken to the Montgomery County SPCA with broken bones in two legs. SPCA officials said the initial surgery bill was $3,630, and that the puppy would need extensive additional care. A Norristown woman who stepped forward to claim she owned the puppy said she was unable to pay for its medical expenses and signed it over to the SPCA.

Convicted Virginia puppy mill operator Lanzie “Junior” Horton has been ordered not to own or operate a dog kennel. The order came Friday after Horton was found guilty on two counts of animal neglect and other charges. Horton was charged under Virginia’s new puppy mill law. This is Horton’s second conviction for animal-related neglect charges since 2007 when he was convicted of 25 counts of neglect and 14 counts of cruelty. The law, which went into effect on January 1, limits the number of breeding dogs at one kennel to no more than 50, and requires female dogs to be examined by a veterinarian prior to breeding. In January 2009, an unannounced inspection of Horton’s property in Hillsville, Va. uncovered numerous violations of the law and resulted in charges against Horton. The charges included multiple counts of neglect, harboring too many adult dogs and failing to maintain adequate health records. In Nov. 2007 law enforcement and animal welfare groups raided Horton’s Pups puppy mill and removed more than 700 dogs from deplorable conditions. In 2008 Horton was convicted of 14 counts of animal cruelty but was allowed to keep a maximum of 250 dogs. The conviction was appealed twice and was upheld both times.