Relevant Articles

Date: February 23, 2005


Houston, Miss.—In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization with a regional office in Grenada, Miss. was awarded custody of 41 pit bulls seized following a drug bust.

In serving a warrant, the Mississippi Narcotics Bureau discovered dozens of pit bulls and what was suspected to be paraphernalia associated with the breeding and training of dogs for fighting. Dog fighting is a felony offense in Mississippi. On February 7, 2005, Jerry Heair, resident of 655 CR 92, Houston, Miss. was arrested for narcotics violations and was incarcerated. IDA was called to look into issues regarding the dogs.

“I was charged with the seizure of 683 animals a few years back, but there’s nothing like having to move powerful animals with lethal determination towards one another. After securing professional care and evaluation for 30 of the dogs, plus 8 surrendered from another property, I was running out of options for the remaining 23 dogs. When a team from the Louisiana SPCA arrived from New Orleans to aid us it was like seeing the Calvary when you’re down to your last shell,” said Doll Stanley IDA Director of Investigations.

On February 17, 2005, a hearing was held for 2 persons who qualified for a determination of custody of a number of the seized dogs. On February 22, 2005 Justice Court Judge Gary Turner granted the parties custody of 12 of the dogs with the stipulation that IDA monitor their care for 6 months. The parties did not reside on the property at the time of the seizure, were not charged with cruelty, and provided documentation to support their claim to the dogs.

“Professionally abiding by the ruling, and expeditiously returning these dogs does not require our satisfaction. Those of us involved in the investigation, transport, care, and evaluation of these animals unanimously concur that their displays of animal aggression pose a lethal threat. One veterinarian described the trans-like manner in which one of the dogs attacked a client’s dog while being walked to the exercise yard. I’ve contended that there could be no other reason for the dogs to be kept on heavy chains, secured with double stiff collars that removed hair and skin from their necks as they lunged to breach the often 4 to 6 foot span between them,” stated Stanley.

To protect “owners” from the accumulated impoundment fees once associated with such actions, Miss. State Statute 97-41-2, “The Animal Seizure Statute,” allows “owners” of seized animals and court awarded guardians an expedited hearing to determine the custody of seized animals. This also prevents appointed humane agencies that care for the animals until a custody ruling from becoming over-burdened, or having to euthanize other animals they would care for until adopted.

Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states. Dogs pit against one another in fights are often severely injured or killed during the fights and receive no veterinary attention. Research has proved that children who view dog fighting violence have a greater acceptance of aggressive behavior and believe that it’s okay to inflict the cruelties they observe.

Man's Best Friends

2/3/2005 - 2/9/2005
Vol. 14 Issue 33.

Dogs, cats, birds, reptiles—pets can be good for the psyche. They can help us get dates, lose weight--but are we humans being good keepers of these little creatures?
by Gretchen Collins

When Rex Harrison sang “Talk to the Animals” in the 1967 version of Doctor Dolittle he only confirmed what humankind has known for centuries: animals make us feel better. Just petting one of our furry, feathered, or scaly friends lowers our blood pressure. Talking over our problems with a nonjudgmental pet helps reduce stress. For many pet owners, there’s nothing better to come home to than an animal pal who loves us unconditionally, period. They don’t care what we look like or about the size of our bank account, they just want to be in the same room, curled in a lap or perched on a shoulder. More>

Woodstock plans to raise fines for violating animal law
By Norma Jean Howland , Correspondent

WOODSTOCK - The Town Board plans to increase fines under the town's Animal Control Law to make pet owners more responsible.

At Tuesday's meeting, town Supervisor Jeremy Wilber said the current law does not encourage people to keep dogs leashed.

Current penalties for unleashed pets include a warning, with no fee, for a first offense; then fines of $25, $50, $75 and $100 for subsequent offenses.

The new law will fine violators $25 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $150 for a third, $250 for a fourth, $350 for a fifth and $500 for the sixth and subsequent offenses.

Wilber also said the word "guardian" will replace "pet owner" in the revised law in hopes of raising people's consciousness about taking care of pets.

"We are all God's creatures," Wilber said.

Ulster County Legislator Brian Shapiro, D-Woodstock, said he supports the changes and noted that he often sees unleashed animals on such busy roads as state Route 212 and 375.

Several town residents at Tuesday's meeting expressed concerns about inconsistencies in the new law regarding how long a seized animal will be held before being put up for adoption. The law refers to holding periods of both five and 14 days. Many residents said five days may be insufficient for the pet's owner to be located.

Town Animal Control Officer Susan Trnka said 14 days would give owners enough time to reclaim animals.

Mitch Rapoport, of the National Dog Registry, spoke at the meeting about a pet identification program that uses microchips and/or tattoos on animals. He said the procedure would save the town some money that it currently spends boarding animals.

Rapoport said registration in the program costs $38 (of which the town would receive $8), and that the fee for the tattoo or microchip ranges from $6 to $20.

He said the procedure is non-invasive, takes about 60 seconds and lasts for the lifetime of the pet.

"It is a far more responsible, and the animal can always be traced back to the pet owner," said Rapoport, who noted that 90 percent of animals in the program never go to a shelter.

Wilber said the board will adopt the revised law next week.

©Daily Freeman 2004

Posted on December 22, 2003
Spaying/Neutering Mandatory In Buncombe County
by Sherry Morse

Under a law passed unanimously by the Buncombe County, North Carolina Board of Commissioners in early December, all dogs and cats in the county must now be spayed or neutered.

For $100, animal guardians can buy a permit that will allow them to keep a dog or cat unsterilized. Unless guardians have the permit, they will be fined if their unsterilized animals are picked up by animal control officers.

The new law goes into effect on February 1, 2004 with a sixty day grace period during which animal guardians will be issued warnings if they do not have a permit.

After April 1, 2004 offenders will be fined $100, although the fine will be waived if the animal is spayed or neutered within thirty days of the offense. New law requires dogs and cats to be neutered or spayed.

Members of the Asheville Kennel Club and several other animal guardians said that they support the law's intent but disagree with the approach because, in their view, the permit fee and ordinance targets responsible guardians.

Marta Stoneman, who has two show dogs, commented, "This does unfairly punish those who show their dogs. We are being asked to pay $100 to participate in that sport."

Other animal guardians see the new law as a way to help curb dog and cat overpopulation in the county. Currently 7000 animals each year face euthanization at the county animal shelter.

George Bielik, who supported the measure, said, "It's absolutely the right thing to do. There are just far too many animals at the shelter."

Eileen Bouressa, executive director of the Animal Compassion Network, a nonprofit animal rescue organization, said several local nonprofits help people pay for spaying and neutering their companion animals.

Bouressa said of the county, "We are in a unique position to set a precedent that will affect not only our community, but all of Western North Carolina. And what we decide here today will serve as a model and inspiration for the rest of the country."

The new ordinance also prohibits the display of cats and dogs in public places for the purpose of selling them. The county already has a leash law for dogs and cats.


Citizen Times

Mountain X

December 22, 2003
Animal Advocates Changing Vets' Hearts and Minds
by Sherry Morse

Years of sustained effort by animal advocates seem to be having a positive effect on the veterinary profession.

In July, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) delegates drew up a resolution to rethink whether or not sow gestation stalls should still be considered 'welfare appropriate.'

The resolution was put together after an hour's heated debate, and, to the surprise of many, most of the language was taken directly from a resolution submitted by Farm Sanctuary - an animal advocacy group which has proposed the resolution for the last five years at the AVMA's meeting.

For the veterinary profession to amend welfare standards for farmed animals, and become involved in animal law, may not seem groundbreaking, but according to those familiar with the profession it is almost revolutionary for these changes to be taking place.

Jim Wilson, who is a veterinarian and a lawyer, says, "On a whole, veterinarians don't grasp the importance of these issues as they relate to the changing status of animals. The result is most still think of animals as nothing more than property when society's moving to anthropomorphize them."

State laws have also changed over the last few years as a result of campaigning by animal advocates. Now, statutes in many states provide broader legal protection for animals than before, with more than 40 states classifying animal cruelty as a felony, and 18 states making animal abandonment a crime.

In some states, judges have allowed lawsuits relating to emotional damage due to the loss of a companion animal to go through the court system.

In 2000, Tennessee became the first state to grant animal guardians rights to pain and suffering damages as well as punitive damages related to the loss of a companion animal.

Illinois passed a similar law last year and similar bills are before the legislatures of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Many veterinarians worry that such lawsuits may drive up their malpractice insurance costs - as has happened with people doctors - and that they would then have to raise their fees to help pay for this insurance.

There is also disagreement within the veterinary profession on changing the designation of those with companion animals from "owners" to "guardians".

Animal advocates feel that the change reflects the level of care and responsibility people owe their companion animals, but veterinarians believe that the label change carries implied legal authority which could have unforeseen consequences.

However, animal advocates are not the only forces acting on veterinarians these days.

Dr. Dick Schumacher, executive director of the California Veterinary Medicine Association (CVMA) says, "There's a lot of disagreement within the veterinary community on what our positions should be."

The CVMA has formed a task force of lawyers, veterinarians and animal advocates that began meetings in December to determine whether legislation was needed to clarify the status of companion animals in the eyes of the law in California.

Dr. Schumacher has said that, "I don't think there's anybody who doesn't agree that pets are more than property."

However, those people currently advocating for animals have to patch together laws that deal with civil rights, property and product liability to bring their cases to court.


Contra Costa Times

DVM Magazine

Sun, Aug. 10, 2003
'Pets welcome' is a growing refrain
More innkeepers see value in hosting travelers with animals.
By David Lyman
Philadelphia Inquirer


For most of us, planning a trip is simple. Pick a destination, find somewhere to stay, and then get there.

For Marisa Bartolone, there's one more step: finding lodging for Kalix, her 95-pound golden retriever.

Never mind that it's more complicated to take a dog on vacation. Or that Kalix has a tendency to get carsick. Bartolone, a 36-year-old secretary in a Warren, Mich., insurance office, wouldn't dream of traveling without the lovable 6-year-old.

"None of that makes any difference - he's kind of like a child to me," Bartolone says. "I know that sounds silly. But I just find that I enjoy myself better if he's with me."

Bartolone would be right at home at the Will O'Glenn Country Inn.
The first thing that David Stephenson and Eric Jensen did when they bought the Fennville bed-and-breakfast last year was to dump the no-pets policy. "S.W. Michigan's #1 Pet Friendly B&B!," says the inn's Web site (

Even motels with the most generous policies rarely offer more than a few rooms for pets. But Stephenson and Jensen believed there was a sizable niche group just waiting to be served, so they took it to the extreme.
Every room in the place is a pet room.

"We're not pet-friendly," Stephenson says, "we're pet fanatics. In traveling for the last 10 years, we found that it was impossible to find someplace worthwhile that would accept the dog with us. We decided that wouldn't happen here."

The Fennville scenario is becoming increasingly common, according to the Travel Industry Association, which estimates that 14 percent of Americans traveling during this year's spring and summer season will do it in the company of the family pet.

That's more than 32 million people.

Dogs are by far the most common pets to travel with. The American Automobile Association says 78 percent of those who vacation with pets travel with dogs. An additional 15 percent take their cats along, while 2 percent travel with their birds. The rest is made up of a variety of animals, the most common being ferrets, rabbits and fish.

"It's gigantic," says Nick Sveslosky, editor of Fido Friendly Magazine. "And it's just going to keep growing."

While there are no reliable figures on how much pet travel has increased, signs of its growth are everywhere.

Massive pet supply superstores proliferate throughout the suburbs. The number of pet-related travel accessories on the market has exploded. You can buy doggie seat belts, pet car seats, collapsible bowls, pet hammocks, and sunscreen for animals. The number of pet-friendly, AAA-approved lodgings has increased more than 17 percent in the last five years.

There is plenty of speculation about why we've changed our vacationing habits.

Some think it is the impact of the Baby Boom generation. Every year, more boomers become empty nesters. The kids are long gone and the only family they have at home are their pets.

Others cite the growing influence of the animal-rights movement. It's not the radical fringe they're talking about. Rather, it's the way in which the movement has changed the way many of us regard our pets. Note, for instance, that more and more people are abandoning the phrase "pet owner" in favor of more politically correct phrases such as "pet guardian." Increasingly, people see leaving their pets in kennels or relying on friends to care for them as harsh.

Also, more people are paying big bucks for their pets. Thirty years ago, it was almost unheard of for anyone but breeders or serious pet show competitors to sink money into the purchase of a pet. Today, it's not uncommon for a middle-class family to pay $300 to $400 for the family pooch.

Even if you don't buy into any of those theories, there is the simple fact that post-9/11, Americans are much more hesitant to climb on planes. And Travel Industry Association studies tell us that the more people travel by car, the more likely they are to take pets with them.

"For people who are really involved with their careers and aren't focusing on having families yet, pets are about the best family they could have," says Bridget Johnson, editor of Cat Fancy Magazine. "And for them to leave the pet at home is unthinkable. They'd miss them too much. It's like withdrawal."

Besides, says Robyn Peters, publisher and editor of the DogGone Newsletter, pets make ideal traveling partners.

"They're absolutely loyal, they give unconditional love, they don't talk back. When was the last time you traveled with a human being with those qualities?"

Fortunately, there is no shortage of places out there that are more than happy to accept people and their pets. Many national forests permit leashed pets. The same goes for national lakeshores and many state parks.

But nowhere is the trend so evident as in the lodging industry. So far this summer, more than 60 percent of the guests at the Will O'Glenn Country Inn have been accompanied by pets. They pay a little more - $15 a night - but plenty of travelers are willing to fork it out.

The inn does have rules. Only dogs and horses are allowed, although the occasional cat has been permitted to spend the night. Dogs must be house-trained. And it's forbidden to leave them in the room alone.

"We also say that they must be well-behaved and get along with others," Stephenson says.

But in return, they get to roam the fully fenced, 17-acre property - on a leash, of course. And they get their own in-room baskets of goodies. Many hoteliers remain adamant about keeping pets out. But others have experimented and, for the most part, found they like the results. When the Holiday Inn in Spring Lake-Grand Haven, Mich., renovated its 123 rooms two years ago, the owners set aside eight rooms for people traveling with pets.

"We knew there was a market out there for this," says Bernadette Benkert, the motel's assistant general manager. "We just weren't sure how big it was."

The result, she says, surprised them.

"With the response we've gotten, we wish we had made it a little more pet-friendly. We waited to see if it was going to go. And right from the start, it was obvious this was really going to take off."

Local comment: People see pets as family, not property Law should recognize the bond between humans, companions

July 16, 2001
By Barbara H. Goldman

Animal abuse is in the news these days. Just look at the story of Sadie, the German shepherd from Ecorse who was tied to the railroad tracks and left to die. People were outraged on behalf of the dog's owner. Even a police officer suggested, "She should sue them." Sadly, that's not as easy as it sounds.

Most states, including Michigan, set the legal value of an animal at whatever its price would be on the open market -- racehorse or goldfish, champion bull or fireside pal, all are considered no more than personal property. If someone causes the death of an animal, all the owner can ask for in damages is its fair market value -- "less depreciation," as one especially hard-hearted claims adjuster suggested. Sentimental value doesn't count; no matter how long you and your dog have been together or how much your cat means to you, if it's killed, you can't sue for more than you could sell it for.

Once upon a time, this approach made sense. Most animals worked for a living or were food producers more than human companions. But in contemporary society, things just aren't the same. By some estimates, there are over 100 million pet dogs and cats in this country. Some dogs guard their owners or hunt and some cats still catch rats and mice, but there is no denying that it is the social and psychological benefits of pet ownership that keep pet stores prosperous and veterinarians in business.

As I heard in a vet's waiting room: "Of course we brought her here; she's a member of the family!" Indeed, one survey found as many as 80 percent of pet owners describe their animal companions like that. Science has begun to recognize the strength of the human-animal connection. Since the 1980s, a host of studies have established the importance of the bond between people and their pets. One of the first found that people who owned dogs were more likely to survive after a heart attack. More recently, larger-scale studies have confirmed the association between pet ownership and better health.

The effect is particularly pronounced among elderly people. Pets alleviate the loneliness of the widowed, for example, and pet visitation programs in nursing homes make residents less depressed and more receptive to treatment. One assessment found a decreased need for medication, reduced tensions between residents and less staff turnover in a nursing home where animals were abundant and part of the center's daily routine.

Alzheimer's patients also benefit from contact with companion animals, and a 1990 study found that Medicare participants who owned pets made fewer doctors' visits.

When a pet dies, the bereavement process is similar to that of the loss of a well-loved human being. The evidence is abundant. At least 19 cemeteries (and two crematoriums) in Michigan are devoted exclusively to pets.

Across the country, grief counseling hot lines provide help to owners who have lost their pets. At the University of Pennsylvania, social work services have been available to bereaved pet owners since 1978. A modern bookstore features half-a-dozen volumes on coping with the death of an animal.

Why, then, does society persist in pretending that a poodle is the same as a piano? In Koester v. VCA Animal Hospital, Michigan's Court of Appeals recently agreed with a veterinarian that she should not be liable for the psychological loss to an owner whose dog was choked by a too-tight bandage. Although the judges were sympathetic, they declined to change the rule. The dog's owner has appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, but it has not yet decided whether to hear the case.

It is not so long in human history that women, children and others were seen, in legal terms, as merely property. We like to think that society has evolved since then. It is time we acknowledge that animals, too, are worth something more than their price at auction. Let's not let Sadie be forgotten.

BARBARA H. GOLDMAN is an attorney with the firm of Lopatin, Miller, Freedman, Bluestone, Herskovic & Domol in Southfield and a former chairperson of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. Write to her in care of the Free Press Editorial Page, 600 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226.

Twelve Days of Horror For Pets In England

Posted on October 25, 2003
by ANC Staff and RSPCA

Set on fire, mutilated and scalded - just some of the fates experienced by animals in England during a shockingly violent period this fall. A string of brutal attacks from 25 September to 6 October has horrified England's RSPCA inspectors. Among the victims was a spaniel who captured the hearts of the UK public after her body was thrown in a river with a 10kg weight around her neck. RSPCA chief officer of the inspectorate Andy Foxcroft said the sudden escalation in violence had troubled staff and he urged the public to respect animals and report abusers. "Although we investigate a number of brutal incidents each year, this sudden glut of violent cases is deeply troubling," he said. "It is dreadful to realise that we live in a society where some people feel it is acceptable to harm animals in such vile ways.

RSPCA Web site "Everyone has a responsibility to protect animals from harm and prevent cruelty. We are asking the public to make a stand and to contact us or the police whenever they witness or suspect animal abuse is taking place," Foxcroft said. The shocking recent incidents included: 25 Sept - Cat's ear cut off and posted through (guardian)'s letterbox, in Liverpool 28 Sept - Body of weighted-down spaniel thrown in river, in Southampton 1 Oct - Kettle of boiling water poured over 12-week-old kitten, in Somerset 1 Oct - Youth caught on CCTV apparently kicking hedgehog to death, in East Yorkshire 2 Oct - Half a sliced cat placed on school steps, in Rotherham 3 Oct - Sheep possibly bludgeoned, legs bound and dumped by road, in London 3 Oct - Black Labrador allegedly shot with nailgun, in Nottinghamshire 4 Oct - Cat doused in petrol and set alight, in Bath 6 Oct - Cat killed by trauma to head and hung from tree, in Chichester 6 Oct - Teenagers inflict massive head injuries on elderly cat, in Somerset.

RSPCA director general Jackie Ballard said it was impossible to provide a clear explanation for this sudden escalation in violence, but warned against the possible dangers of animals being demeaned in entertainment. She said: "On our televisions we now see so-called survival shows where a chicken will be killed by amateurs for no other purpose than entertainment. We have celebrities eating live insects and crawling through tubes filled with rats. "We believe that at best this is demeaning to animals and at worst can involve suffering. Our fear is that people will become desensitized and feel it is acceptable to abuse animals for any reason." "While we have not yet proved a scientific link between the two, it cannot help our message of promoting kindness to animals," Ballard said. From January the RSPCA's education team, which helps teach children the value of respecting animals, will refocus its work in the parts of England and Wales where inspectors are at their busiest. Reproduce this Article on a Web Site or in Print Up to 25 education officers will aim to build stronger relationships with schools in these areas in an effort to target their work more effectively, helping teachers to integrate the animal welfare message into Britain's national curriculum.

Although the number of cases prosecuted by the RSPCA fell in 2002, those involving violence towards animals rose with a total of 57 prison sentences imposed. In 2001 one in 13 defendants were prosecuted for a violent or brutal attack on an animal rising to one in 10 last year. For more information or to donate to the RSPCA, visit the organization's Web site: Sources Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) October 23 News Release

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