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And sometimes we mourn. In memory of Lucky.

 

By Patti Loverink, Fences For Fido Co-Chair

 

Over the month, our community has mourned the loss of a Fido. And although we never built a fence for him, he was and always will be our beloved Fido. He died without a chain and tight collar. And he died, knowing he was loved, comforted by gentle pets, soft words, and warm blankets. 

14-year-old, life-long chained Fido Lucky first came to us as a neighbor referral. We had made plans for his fence on 3/16 and had arranged his vet care for very serious, painful internal infections.

 

 

Then, about a month ago, a Fences For Fido volunteer found a wandering, emaciated dog, pulling behind him—a 5-foot chain. He had broken free. He willingly went to her, even though we later learned that others had tried to “catch him” unsuccessfully. We believe he knew she is one of “us.” One of his angels. She literally embraced him, removed the chain, loosened his much-too-tight collar and replaced it with a handsome red, green and white collar, and took him to Multnomah County Animal Shelter where they gently cared for this fragile, sweet, boy. But he was no longer lost, alone or empty. He had found love.

 

What do these two dogs have in common? They were both one dog: Lucky. We would piece this together only after he had been humanely euthanized because he had reached a point of suffering, and he was near death.

 

Lucky and all of our Fidos deserve better than this. And we all know that’s EXACTLY why we’re here, doing what we do as a united community with a common purpose.

 

On January 1st, we reached a significant milestone: Our 500th Fido un-chained. And every single day they spent chained was far too long. For Lucky, we hurt so deeply because we wanted him to have this moment, and in some ways it seems ridiculous that we yearn for a basic right—freedom.

 

What can we do? A growing coalition (consisting of Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, Oregon Animal Control Council, Oregon Humane Society, Multnomah County Animal Services, and Bonnie Hayes Small Animal Shelter) is working to pass legislation to restrict tethering statewide, and Fences For Fido is a member of the coalition backing this important law reform.

 

In memory of Lucky and in honor of all our Fidos, please write a letter to the editor asking readers to contact their state representatives urging them to support H.B. 2783, a bill to restrict chaining and tethering of dogs and improve minimum care standards for dogs. (Additional details at the bottom of this article).

 

On March 16th, we built a fence for another 14-year-old Guantes, and the fence was built in memory of Lucky.

Rest in peace, sweet Lucky. You were special, and we will steadfastly move forward, in memory of you.

 

 

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Details about H.B. 2783 –

Fences For Fido’s reasoning for supporting H.B. 2783:

The reality is that FFF recognizes it is not enough to simply build fences alone, even though that will always be our primary mission. But, to be a responsible to the needs of our community, we need to dig deeper and uncover the heart of the issue—the long term problems associated with tethering. In doing so, we will always continue to be respectful and patient with our families who we value in ways for which there are no words. Their trust, we are indebted. However, as FFF grows we need to incorporate a larger public education component to our programs—that is why we support this bill.

FFF is reflective of our community – we see this need and we are responsive. Proper education is important – we need to elevate standards of care – move needle forward – asking our families to search out ways to better meet the needs of their four legged family members yet not absolving our own responsibility as an organization, to be there for them, providing resources – working in collaboration. Laws are an important component to solving the overarching problem—rather than simply plugging holes.

All that said, our heart and soul is unchaining fidos and building fences – the dogs who remind us each and every day why we do what we do – why we stretch outside of comfort zones … why we get up earlySaturday mornings, rain, shine, snow. We are the lucky ones to experience, see goodness and beauty, special moments to fill up our hearts and connect us in ways that are without words.

How to submit a Letter to the Editor:

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/how_do_i_write_a_letter_to_the.html

 

The Oregonian’s Editorial

 

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/02/pet-safety_bills_though_well-i.html

 

 

Pet-safety bills, though well-intentioned, should not be a priority

By The Oregonian Editorial Board The Oregonian on February 23, 2013

 

Animal bills are a good way for legislators to curry favor with constituents. Oregon ranks fourth in the nation for pet ownership,according to a report released last month. And those who don't have pets generally want animals to be treated well.

 

But Rover and Fido don't need an assist from the Legislature to find a good home. Most Oregonians do the right thing and call local authorities when they see an animal mistreated. And animal services departments in heavily populated areas generally have workable ways to enforce local ordinances.

 

Certainly, animal control officers wouldn't mind a little help in doing their jobs. But it's unclear how much stricter state laws would help their cause. And it's undebatable that the Legislature faces more urgent matters, including encouraging job creation so more Oregonians can stay in good homes.

 

A handful of bills filed for this session address animal issues, including one that offers guidance on how to handle stray bison. Two specifically target treatment of pets, and both go too far.House Bill 2783 would enact stricter regulations on the tethering of dogs. House Bill 2394 would require people accused of certain animal crimes to register with law enforcement.

 

Scott Beckstead, Oregon director for the Humane Society of the United States, said the intent of the tethering bill is to provide an enforcement mechanism to keep dogs from being chronically chained. It's hard to argue with that goal. But it's also hard to see a state law being any more effective than local ordinances that already exist in some jurisdictions, including Multnomah County.

 

The Multnomah County ordinance prohibits "any dog to be tethered for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period," a similar standard to the proposed state legislation. The bill also would impose length requirements on tethers and define adequate shelter for pets. The measures sound reasonable, but the important question is whether they are enforceable.

 

"It's hard to have the evidence to issue a notice of infraction," Mike Oswald, director of Multnomah County Animal Services, acknowledged.

At least, discouraging dog owners from tethering their pets for long periods is a worthwhile goal. Animal-related nonprofits should continue to encourage such behavior through public-education campaigns and other steps that don't require taxpayer money. Creating an abuse registry, on the other hand, is just a bad idea. There are better ways to discourage animal abuse than public shaming, and it's questionable how much abusers would be influenced by the threat.

 

A registry could be helpful to those who place pets in homes. But the Humane Society, which has not taken a position on registry proposals popping up around the nation, has a better idea. The Humane Society wants the FBI to specifically identify animal-related crimes in the Uniform Crime Reports system, rather than lump them into the "miscellaneous" category. Such a move would help law enforcement track and prevent animal abuse.

 

We trust Oregonians to find a way to keep pets safe without the Legislature's help. Meanwhile, if legislators can't focus on more important tasks -- like improving schools and creating jobs -- they deserve to be put in the doghouse.

© OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Specifics about H.B. 2783 from The Humane Society of the United States:

 

 

Support H.B. 2783

Restrict Tethering and Chaining of Dogs

 

Tethering and Chaining is Unsafe for Dogs, and the Community: 

A dog on a chain is lonely and isolated, and that causes a host of behavioral problems. The continuous chaining or tethering of a dog is a key contributor to poor socialization, as dogs subjected to excessive chaining tend to bark excessively and often suffer great psychological damage which can make them anxious and aggressive. The Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association warn that chained dogs are about eight times more likely to bite.  Chained dogs are more likely to escape, run at large, and pose a threat to themselves and the public. Further, The USDA considers tethering as a means for confinement to be inhumane and an inadequate method of confinement. Chains catch on obstacles, which can be dangerous, and can cause dogs to be unable to reach their food, water, or shelter.  By imposing modest restrictions, HB 2783 will protect dogs from the risk of injury and strangulation.

 

HB 2783 Sets Limits on Chaining and Tethering of Dogs and Provides for Violations or Penalties When Dogs are Injured or Killed by Tethering: 

 

If a dog is simply tied to a stationary object, HB 2783 provides that the animal can only be tethered for no more than ten hours in a 24 hour period, and if the animal is on a pulley, trolley or zip line, no more than 15 hours in a 24 hour period.  Counties can adopt stricter standards. Violation of this provision would be a Class B Violation. When the keeper remains in the physical presence of domestic animal, there is no time restriction. Tethering that results in serious injury is a Class B Misdemeanor, and the penalty is increased to a Class A Misdemeanor if it results in serious injury or death of the animal. 

 

HB 2783 Improves Minimum Care Standards for Dogs:  

Current standards for shelter required for dogs are vague and difficult for animal control and law enforcement officers to interpret and enforce.  HB 2783 provides a more specific and consistent framework of what is allowed, and will require that dogs are provided with shelter that is enclosed and contains bedding materials.

 

HB 2783 Gives Officers a Valuable Tool for Enforcement:

Restricting the tethering of dogs and upgrading care standards will give animal control and law enforcement officers an important opportunity to educate dog owners on proper care, and provide them with more certain, consistent, and enforceable minimum care standards. Tethering would be considered a violation (giving law enforcement a tool to require the family to make changes and corrections), unless certain requirements are met. In short, this new law would be used as a deterrent, a mechanism and tool to elevate the standard of care for those dogs living outside most hours of the day.

 

A restriction on chaining or tethering will reduce the high volume of calls to animal control and the law enforcement regarding the concerns of chained dogs, and complaints from neighbors over the constant barking, running at large, and the other undesirable behaviors of tethered dogs. They will also reduce the threat to public safety, since chained dogs are far more likely to be aggressive.

 

HB 2783 Does Not Apply To Horses and Livestock: 

This bill only applies to “domestic animals,” which is defined by statute toNOT include equines and livestock.

 

HB 2783 Provides for Key Exemptions:

Tethering for specific purposes and certain entities are exempt.  HB 2783 allows unrestricted tethering when it is required by a camping or recreational area, for licensed activities, and to protect the animal from the dangers of agricultural cultivation.