Tag Archives: dogs

‘Court dogs’ comfort kids in juvenile proceedings

East Tennessee now has six “court dogs” on duty when youngsters come to trials, reports the News Sentinel, and not for policing purposes.

They and their owners or handlers attend juvenile court proceedings in a program begun in April by CASA of East Tennessee and HABIT.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Its volunteers advocate for about 200 neglected or abused children each year in Knox County Juvenile Court. CASA volunteers do home assessments, conduct interviews and make recommendations in children’s interests.

HABIT, or Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, is a University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine program that offers animal-assisted therapy. HABIT owners and their behaviorally and medically screened animals visit nursing homes, schools, hospitals — and now — court.

CASA Volunteer Coordinator Summer Colbert started the program after learning about a similar project at a 2014 national CASA conference. A New Mexico CASA organization owns and cares for its own court therapy dog. Colbert knew CASA of East Tennessee didn’t have the money to buy and care for a dog and knew HABIT already offered animal-assisted therapy.

“I said, ‘I want a dog to be in court … so I contacted HABIT,” she said. “Now we have six therapy dogs.”

…The canines are a “welcome addition” to court, said Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin. “It’s nice for the kids, nice for the staff. Everybody can use a little cheering up in this business.”

The idea is simple: a child anxious or stressed in court may feel better by seeing, talking to or petting a calm, friendly dog. “The kids don’t expect to see them (in court),” said Karen Armsey. “And they get such joy from them.”

House Gives Final OK to Repeal of Vehicle Leash Law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has unanimously approved a bill to do away with a leash law for dogs and cats while being transported in Tennessee.
Several members howled like dogs in jest as the chamber voted 96-0 on Thursday to pass the bill (HB440) sponsored by Republican Rep. Pat Marsh of Shelbyville.
The measure would whittle down the little-known law requiring a leash or restraint for any dog or cat in transport to only apply to animals that might have rabies.
The Senate had previously passed its version of the bill on 30-0 vote, meaning the bill now heads for the governor’s desk.

Who Let the Dogs Out? Allegedly, Sen. Jim Summerville

State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, has been served with a criminal summons citing him with a misdemeanor for “dogs at large” after an ongoing dispute that has Dickson police scratching their heads, reports The Dickson Herald via The Tennessean.
Germaine Paltzer, who lives down the road from Summerville, has filed two complaints over the lawmaker’s dogs, and called Dickson police four times on him in the last four months. Paltzer had just undergone knee surgery when she filed the first complaint.
“I had knee surgery; that’s how this started. The dog ran out in front of us and we had to brake,” Paltzer said.
Residents can cite other residents for minor infractions such as violating leash laws, but an officer must sign off on the citation. The senator was cited April 12 for having dogs out and paid the fine. Ricky Manley, animal control officer for the city of Dickson, cited Summerville again May 12.
Summerville paid $157 in court costs for the first citation without having to appear in court. The second citation required an appearance by Summerville, but the date was moved because city attorney Jerry Smith was not in court.
…The first police report April 9 reports dogs belonging to Summerville came running out at Paltzer in the street. The report further states Manley “then went over to Mr. Summerville’s house and advised him about the dogs running after the car and stated that he was sorry and he would keep the dogs up but didn’t know they were getting out of his yard.”
Paltzer dispatched animal control again May 12. The May report states she went to Summerville’s house and asked him why the dogs were still loose when he had a fenced-in backyard. Paltzer said Summerville “made a face at her and jumped towards her as if to make her flinch,” according to the report.
Manley said he’s gone out to Summerville’s house a number of times and did not see dogs out, but picked up two puppies that belonged to Summerville when Paltzer called in a police report in May.
“I have gone through there numerous times, and have yet to see the dog loose, but she took pictures of [Summerville’s dog] this time, so she’s got proof of him being loose,” said Manley.
…When approached about the issue, Summerville said he believed The Herald wanted a “little piece of sensationalism guaranteeing your readers, a few of whom who read at about a sixth-grade level, so I am not going to cooperate with your investigation.”
…Summerville wrote a column entitled “Dickson County has long history with man’s best friend” that appeared in the June 1 edition of The Herald. He wrote: “When we first get to heaven, all the dogs we’ve ever loved will come running to greet us.”

(HT/Stephen Hale)

Shelby Commission Mandates Sterlizing Vicious Dogs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Shelby County Commission members have given final approval to a revised vicious dog ordinance that includes mandatory sterilization in some cases.
Commission members voted 8-3 on Monday in favor of the ordinance, which spells out how a dog will be declared vicious. Violations include “breaking the skin and causing the victim to bleed,” according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/wnM4Nr ).
Dogs declared vicious must be spayed or neutered and have an electronic identification chip implanted before the owner could get it back.
In a separate vote commissioners set minimum pet care standards, including providing adequate food and water.

Cumberland County Commission Wants Its Own Hog Law

The Cumberland County Commission has approved a resolution urging the Legislature to enact a “private act” for the county allowing the hunting of wild hogs with dogs, reports the Crossville Chronicle.
The resolution passed unanimously and will be forwarded to state Representative Cameron Sexton requesting a private act be passed for Cumberland County.
County Commissioner Carmin Lynch, 9th District, asked what difference the private act would make.
“It’s confusing and I wonder what difference a private act will make,” Lynch said.
Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, said he also wondered the same thing and spoke with TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency) about the matter and invited TWRA Region III Wildlife Program Manager Kirk Miles to come to the meeting to answer questions.
Miles explained the main difference between the current law and the private act, or resolution, would be that hunters or landowners would not need a permit to hunt the wild hogs with dogs.
The other significant difference is that, with the private act, there would be no limit as to how many designated hunters could be used to capture or eradicate the hogs from a landowner’s property. The discretion would be up to the landowner, who could designate any means necessary to protect their land and property from destruction from free running feral hogs.
The current law sets a limit of 10 designated hunters to help.

Shelby Moves to Ban ‘Vicious’ Dogs, Set Pet Care Requirements

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Proposals to more specifically define vicious dogs and set minimum care requirements for owning pets are moving through the Shelby County Commission.
A commission committee voted 6-1 in favor of the vicious dog plan and supported the minimum care proposal unanimously at a meeting on Wednesday, according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/ruRWWc ).
The vicious dog proposal by Commissioner Steve Mulroy says a dog could be classified as dangerous if it kills a domestic animal outside of the owner’s property. Other reasons would include attacking and injuring a person.
The ordinance now in force doesn’t specify how an animal control officer should determine whether an animal is vicious.
During the discussion, Commissioner Terry Roland said one his dogs was attacked and killed by other dogs over the weekend.
“Could I go back after their dogs with this ordinance?” he asked.
Mulroy said had the proposal been in force, Roland could have.
The animal care proposal would specify minimum care required. The proposal would require pet owners to provide food and water daily to their pets.
Owners would also have to provide a shelter and protect pets against extremes in temperature.
Infractions would bring down a $50 fine.
Opponents of the measure have said it would infringe on pet owners’ rights.
The measures would apply to unincorporated areas of Shelby County as well as in Arlington, Millington and Lakeland.
The full commission is expected to vote Monday on a first reading of the proposals.

Rep. Favors Explains Her Fear of Dogs

Andy Sher has a followup story on Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, who drew statewide attention this week when she complained in an emotional House floor speech about encountering a dog in the Legislative Plaza where lawmakers have their offices.
“I know my blood pressure is up sky-high right now — I just encountered a dog down in the plaza,” Favors told colleagues. “I am very upset about this, Madam Speaker. I think it’s so unfair that I have to deal with dogs here in this plaza.”
What went unreported is why she fears dogs — especially large ones like the one she encountered. It was, the Chattanoogan said in a later interview, the result of a dog attacking her when she was a small child. She had to get stitches on her arms and legs.
“I was attacked and bitten, multiple bites,” Favors said. “And a neighbor had to pull the dog off.”
Since then, the lawmaker said, she has “just avoided dogs as much as I could. … I wouldn’t expect them to be in a job environment.”
..About a month ago, Favors voiced concerns to a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter when she saw a lawmaker’s dog being walked in a crowded legislative corridor by a secretary. But the dog Favors encountered did not belong to a lawmaker. It was a lobbyist’s.

Lapdog Legislation Dies in Senate Committee

A bill that would prohibit a motorists from driving with a dog or cat in his or her lap died in a Senate committee today, less than a week after passing the House 72-16.
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville could not get anyone on the nine-member the Senate Transportation Committee to make the necessary motion for passage of his bill, SB621.
As introduced, the measure – nicknamed “the Marmaduke bill” after a comic strip character dog by Campfield — would have prohibited animals anywhere in the front seat of a moving vehicle. As amended, however, the new misdemeanor crime would only occur if the animal is on the driver’s side.
The entire text of the amended bill reads:
“No person shall operate a motor vehicle with an animal in the front driver seat. The front driver seat shall mean the area where the operator of a motor vehicle sits while driving such motor vehicle.”
The House has voted 72-16 in favor of the bill on Thursday with little debate. Sponsors described it as a safety measure to keep drivers from being distracted by an animal.
Campfield said that, according to the American Automotive Association, more than 30,000 accidents per year are caused by animals in a vehicle.
After the bill failed in committee, Campfield blamed the defeat on misunderstanding of the measure, which he depicted as animal-friendly. Current state law requires animals to be “securely confined or kept on a leash” while in a vehicle.
His bill, Campfield said, would have repealed that provision of law and replaced it with the ban on animals being on the driver’s side of the front seat.

House Votes to Outlaw Lapdogs (in cars)

The House has voted 72-16 (with six abstentions) to make it a misdemeanor to drive with a dog or cat in your lap. Or a ferret, mouse or catfish, for that matter.
As introduced, HB212 by Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, would have prohibited animals anywhere in the front seat. But, as amended, the new crime will only occur it the animal is on the driver’s side.
Here’s text of the new law, as amended:
“No person shall operate a motor vehicle with an animal in the front
driver seat. The front driver seat shall mean the area where the operator of a
motor vehicle sits while driving such motor vehicle.”

From Hank Hayes:
The bill calls for a violation to be considered a misdemeanor offense. The Tennessee Department of Safety estimates there will be 100 violations annually with an average $15 fine.
“It’s just the same as texting (from a cell phone). … If somebody is spotted with a dog in their lap hanging out the window, they can be pulled over,” Cobb told lawmaker

Committee Approves Bill to Ban Lap Dogs (if you’re driving a car)

The House Transportation Committee approved Tuesday legislation that, as revised, will prohibit motorists from having dogs or cats in their laps while driving.
As originally introduced, HB212 would have required animals in the front seat of a vehicle to be restrained or confined in a box. Sponsor Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, said that version was “drafted over the phone without enough communication” and “was just ridiculous.”
“It was modified just to apply with a dog who is in (a driver’s) lap, impeding their body and ability to keep their attention on the road,” Cobb said.
Rep. John Tidwell, D-New Johnsonville, questioned whether the bill was really necessary since the state already has the traffic offense of “distracted driving” and that would apparently cover a driver who was distracted by a dog.
Cobb said he felt a specific law was needed because “I’ve seen too many dogs with people who have a complete disregard.”
The bill, he said, was inspired by an accident that left a woman and her dog both dead. The victim, who was not identified, was a friend of a legislative staffer, Cobb said.
The measure was approved on voice vote and now goes to the House Finance Committee. The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, awaits its first committee vote.