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More on Proposed PA Dog Law; Dog-friendly Homes

The proposed new dog law takes care of puppy mill breeding stock, targeting about 650 large-scale commercial breeders–roughly one-fifth of the nearly 3,000 licensed kennels. However, now the stakeholders will begin arguing about definitions and other concerns. It is important that they do not nit-pick and continue to keep the big mission and target always first in their mind–making life better for the dogs living in the commercial kennels.

On the first page of the new dog law dogs are still defined as personal property and this sets the tone for the entire document. Dogs need our protection more than the sofa does and that is why we are going through this process of legislation but we wish that another category was being used, rather than “property@.

Also, the terms residence and structure always bother me. They really are important and we must remember that the hobby breeder raises litters in dark basements and cold garages. And, I know breeders who whelp a litter in a bedroom or livingroom. Puppy mills are not always Lancaster barns. They can be trailers and private homes. Is love really enough in these cases? Do we need to have more restrictions on the small breeders? Will small breeders disappear just like small farms or will they get better? After all, organic farms are small. Should homes with pets also be subject to inspection the way puppy mills are? Many call this instrusive but then so is the Patriot Act. One protects the country and one protects pets and the people who live with them.

I have a house built for pets but if I had to build it again I would make changes. How many cat homes need to have floor-level windows with the heat source directly above on the wall so our feline friends– who now should stay indoors–still have access to the sounds, sights and smells of the outdoors? Dogs need access to a sofa, of course, but what about places they can go and just be dogs? Indoor fencing–dog rooms, not just crates–to keep us out! They need to stay in touch with their dogginess. We love them for their dogginess and not as Apeople@. I wonder why they don=t design houses for people with dogs and people with dog hobbies? The dog law enforcement officers could inspect the plans and the final dwelling.

I was told that Seward Johnson (Johnson & Johnson) had an interesting doggy door in his bedroom. He owned German Shepherds and when they wanted to go out at night they left his bedroom through the doggy door that opened onto a ramp that extended down two floors to a special area. I never saw it, of course, but then neither did I ever see the submarine he used to travel to Europe in. He and his wife used to pack a picnic lunch and have lunch at Hammhausen Kennels in Hopewell, N.J., where he would watch Ed Hamm train the dogs.

When it comes to dog landscaping there are common myths that should be avoided, according to an article in cg magazine–@celebrating greyhounds@ (the magazine for greyhound adoption). The primary myth is that encouraging a dog to drink more dilutes urine and avoids brown spots in the lawn. Not so, say the experts. Also a myth–adding tomato juice, baking soda, and vinegar to the diet to change the urine=s pH. Instead, the authors suggest choosing a urine-resistant grass seed like a Ahigh activity@ or Aplayground@ blend that contains a high percentage of Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass. They also suggest watering right after the dog urinates to dilute the nitrogen, training your dog to use certain areas of the yard for elimination, and constructing play surfaces of artificial turf.

Since exercise is mandated in the new dog law the question of exercise surfaces as being as important as the backyard. Ideally, the exercise surface should stay cool in the summer but dry easily in the winter–not muddy or icy. It should be easy to clean and disinfect and yet rough enough so toe nails stay short and healthy. Is artificial turf the answer? Discounting the cost, there still seems to be the question of safety. If artificial turf is being blamed for athletic injuries and possible toxicity, then perhaps that is not the answer either? It is easier to write a law and agree with it than to make it effective.

May 27, 2008 | Comments are off | Pennsylvania dog law, Seward Johnson, Uncategorized, artificial turf, exercise, kennels, pet landscaping, pet-friendly homes, puppy mills