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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

The New PA Dog Law Bill, Miley/Doris/Liza, Arlene, and Lighting Up Cagney

PA STATE DOG LAW. As many of you know, a group met with Special Deputy Secretary of Dog Law Enforcement Jesse Smith and a delegation from Harrisburg to discuss and gather information on the overhaul of the state dog law. The present bill is one I believe we can all agree upon. It targets only commercial kennels (60 dogs and over) and is aimed at the breeding stock. It excludes puppies born in these facilities until they are 8 weeks of age. Then, they are considered to be protected by all welfare standards built into the overhaul. I have a strong feeling we will see more dog-targeted legislation in the near future. This is a start toward helping the most helpless and their Acash source of dogs and bitches@. It is thus the most important. A tethering bill is under revision and it appears to be headed toward a balance we can all live with. (It is interesting to note that no one could remember who Tammy Grimes was–thus, her 15 minutes as a celebrity are over. At least let=s hope so .) Carly, the de-barked Pomeranian, seems to be the new canine celebrity. My vote, however, goes to the Shih-tzu who watches his owner wash the car while tied in the shade. This little companion belongs to the head of the Sportsmen=s Alliance. One has to wonder what he hunts?

Probably the most interesting developments are a series of seminars on how to live with the better standards imposed by the new bill. They will be offered free of charge through the Lancaster District Attorney=s office with a great faculty from the Department of Dog Law. Wish we could do that locally. By the way, Jesse Smith brought pictures of her Chow Chow puppy, who is in puppy kindergarten, to the Bloomsburg meeting. Too many of those who talk a lot don=t own dogs. Clearly, that is neither the case with our Special Deputy nor our Governor.

MILEY, DORIS, AND LIZA. While everyone was reading the Miley Cyrus story in Vanity Fair, I read about Doris Day. As some of you know she is the ex-movie star who is probably as famous for APillow Talk@ and Rock Hudson as she is for her advocacy of spay/neuter. Spay/Day USA became HER day each February until the AVMA decided it could not support the Doris Day Animal League. Thus, with this cause as her main reason for animal welfare fame it is ironic that on her 86th birthday in 2007 the famous Liza Minelli paid her a birthday tribute on a radio program by announcing that her Miniature Schnauzer was in labor! The spay/neuter cause rivals gun control as one of the most emotional debates in America with plenty of irrationality as well as reason on both issues.

CUSTOM POETRY. A new web site by Arlene Kline is worth a look. Kline is another celebrity who counts among her close friends Betty White. On the web site, http://www.designingpoet.com, Arlene announces that she will write poems for you and your pet. Arlene is a trustee and board membe rof the Morris Animal Foundation. She is the proud owner of Scout, a champion Yorkshire Terrier. She knows just about every AKC judge present and past and stars in the Latham Foundation videotape on the Canine Good Citizen. For Yorkie lovers there is a videotape, @A Day In the Life of a Dog@, and a wonderful book of poetry titled I Never Wanted To Say Good-bye. Visit her.

There is encouraging news on the CANINE INFLUENZA RESEARCH front. The Florida immunologist, Dr. Cynda Crawford, who first identified canine flu in Greyhound kennels and later in shelters, has identified a respiratory coronavirus as partly responsible for respiratory infections in dogs. The coronavirus and parainfluenza virus appear to thrive in shelters where there are inadequate isolation procedures for both dogs and staff biosecurity. Many dog owners probably remember coronavirus from the time when the big mystery was parvovirus, a disease that can be not only contagious but fatal. Canine flu, on the other hand, has a low mortality rate.

GATES GIFTS INCLUDE ALL LIFE. Bill and Melinda Gates have gifted Washington State University with funding for a SCHOOL FOR GLOBAL ANIMAL HEALTH. As part of the school=s focus–vaccine development, disease detection and control from animals to humans. AThe school=s mission meshes with the one-health concept which integrates animal, human and environmental health for the benefit of all.@

LIGHTING UP CAGNEY. I have found a new use for those blinking collar lights. Cagney now wears one beside her therapy dog tag so she and I don=t have night-time collisions. I turn off the light and then turn on Cagney!

May 17, 2008 | Comments are off | Arlene Kline, Gates Foundation, Morris Animal Foundation, Pennsylvania dog law, Uncategorized, blinking collar lights, canine influenza