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CM Todd Introducing “Extreme Weather Protection for Animals Act of 2017!”

by Prince Of Petworth January 10, 2017 at 9:25 am 39 Comments

momma

Thanks to all who emailed about this proposed legislation following the the plight of Momma. Ward Four (home to Momma and Petworth) Council Member Brandon Todd tweeted:

“at the first Legislative Meeting of Council Period 22, I will introduce the Extreme Weather Protection for Animals Act of 2017.”

“Will make it illegal to keep animals outside for extended periods in extreme weather & prevent future dogs from suffering like Momma did”

There is also a change.org petition started to encourage other members of the Council to follow suit/support.

  • SamZen

    Last week we wrote a neighbor the following letter:
    “… The reason we’re writing you is because last night we noticed your dog, Murray (not sure if we’re spelling that right), was in the backyard barking in apparent discomfort during the middle of the night. Our guess is that Murray was cold in the freezing temperatures. So we were very concerned for his well being. Since no one appeared to be at home, and Murray appeared to be suffering, at around 2:45am we called the Humane Rescue Alliance (located at 71 Oglethorpe St NW, Washington, DC 20011) so that they could care for Murray. I don’t know whether they took action, but I thought you should know that we called. Note that we did not call out of malice but instead out of concern for Murray’s well being.
    On a separate but related matter, since the end of the summer Murray has been left outside during for extended periods of time. And he appears to be unhappy about it, barking regularly. We have not complained about it, but we are eager to help Murray, if we can. Please let us know.
    If you have any questions or just want to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”
    Since then we have not seen or heard Murray.

    • SamZen

      sorry for double posting.

    • Anon

      My neighbor beats his dog and also leaves the dog outside, in a yard full of dog excrement, for extended periods of time. On Sunday (when it was 17 degrees) the dog was outside for at least 15 hours. I have called 311 multiple times and have a correspondence going with an officer from the Humane Rescue Alliance for months now and no action has been taken. I have zero faith in the Humane Rescue Alliance as they have done very little (other than talking with the dog owner) to remedy the situation. The individual also dog sits dogs for Rover, so make sure you vet your dog watchers.

      • dcspring

        If you see the dog beaten, call MPD and HRA immediately. The laws are a bit better on that front than cold/neglect.

        • Anon

          My neighbors and I have been calling HRA (and its predecessor) about this individual for 5 years and they haven’t done a thing. We have called as we have witnessed the abuse and have provided audio evidence of the abuse, as well as pictures of the backyard. I have contacted my ANC rep (more about the enormous amount of dog excrement and broken glass/trash in the backyard that has been there for going on 2 months and, obviously getting worse). I will try my councilmember next.

          • textdoc

            Contact DCRA and the MOCR (Mayor’s Office of Community Relations) rep for your ward. Even if HRA can’t/won’t do anything about the animal abuse and neglect, DCRA should be able to cite the owner regarding the excrement and trash/debris.

          • Anon

            This is in reply to textdoc – DCRA and DPW have cited them several times for the excrement and trash/debris. They just don’t clean it up and just don’t care. Good rec about the MOCR rep – I will definitely check that out and contact them. Thank you.

      • houseintherear

        Write to the councilmembers and ANC reps. The HRA is stuck with horrible laws, and there’s nothing they can do without a law on the books.

      • JoDa

        Please report this person to Rover as well. Even if they treat the dogs they are sitting well (which I highly doubt), I wouldn’t want my dog in a situation like that in case the resident dog finally decides to fight back against the abuse and my dog gets caught in the “crossfire” of a dog lashing out and an owner trying to beat them into submission. Call their trust and safety team at 888-727-1140. Seriously, do it. I use Rover as a client and sit with them when I’m in town on weekends and holidays (when I’m home), and no one who beats their dog and leaves them out unattended for long periods of time (forget freezing temps…in the city, I’m *terrified* that someone would snatch my dog or one I was sitting from the yard if I wasn’t out with them…that happened to a neighbor several years ago when she left her dog outside for only a few minutes when she went in to answer the house phone) should be sitting.

  • SamZen

    Last week we wrote a neighbor the following letter:
    “… The reason we’re writing you is because we noticed your dog, Murray (not sure if we’re spelling that right), was in the backyard barking in apparent discomfort during the middle of the night. Our guess is that Murray was cold in the freezing temperatures. So we were very concerned for his well being. Since no one appeared to be at home, and Murray appeared to be suffering, at around 2:45am we called the Humane Rescue Alliance (located at 71 Oglethorpe St NW, Washington, DC 20011) so that they could care for Murray. I don’t know whether they took action, but I thought you should know that we called. Note that we did not call out of malice but instead out of concern for Murray’s well being.
    On a separate but related matter, since the end of the summer Murray has been left outside during for extended periods of time. And he appears to be unhappy about it, barking regularly. We have not complained about it, but we are eager to help Murray, if we can. Please let us know.
    If you have any questions or just want to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”
    Since then we have not seen or heard Murray.

  • I. Rex

    I’m glad that the CM is taking this seriously, but I hope they have a more precise definition than “extended periods.” I have a chow that loves sitting out on the back porch in winter weather and would hate to be at the mercy of vague legislation.

    • Klown Jules

      Cheers to the chow, love those guys. Many are perfectly peaceful, but they were also bred to be watchdogs centuries back, so mine is waaay overprotective. I love these fiercely loyal dragon dogs. Also bred for the cold, they have a double coat, so of course they like sitting in the ice all day, watching everyone, judging silently, in some cases ready to bite the face at the slightest threat to their crew.
      What I want to know is, what can be done for a dog that just isn’t walked enough? One large doggie on my street barks incessantly from inside, and only gets outside to drop his spikes in a tiny yard, and is building a sizeable and stinking spike pile. A large dog needs to be walked everyday, at least once. Letting him into the back once or twice a day is not enough, you’re mistreating your dog.

      • Anon

        “in some cases ready to bite the face at the slightest threat to their crew” – you should probably get that checked out; doesn’t seem healthy

        • Klown Jules

          Agreed, you wanna check it out for me?

      • Tsar of Truxton

        I don’t know what breed you are talking about, but many large dogs actually require significantly less exercise than their smaller counterparts. That said, hopefully, he or she is getting more than you say.

      • textdoc

        Aside from the animal-cruelty aspect, allowing dog excrement to accumulate provides food for rats. You could try complaining to DCRA about the accumulation of excrement.
        .
        DOH runs the rat abatement program, but unfortunately doesn’t have enforcement authority with regard to the kinds of outdoor conditions that foster rats — excrement/debris/overgrowth in yards (DCRA) or uncontainerized/overflowing trash (DPW).

        • anon

          I had a similar issue. Piles and piles of dog excrement in a 15 foot by 8 ft space, a dog that even came into our back yard to shit. Dog was neglected, never exercised, barely fed. In addition to working with the Humane Society, I called rat control, dept of health, DPW, council member, ANC, posted on neighborhood list serves. I was pregnant, this was a health issue. No-one cared. They literally washed their hands of it. Pushing emails or phone calls off on anyone else.

          The only people who finally took action were the humane society. It took a lot but they finally seized the poor malnourished dog when he had been left outside in poor weather without shelter for too long. The dog house in Momma’s case is considered “shelter”.

  • JlEE

    I am in full support!

  • Congrats to all those who put in serious effort to trying to see a happy resolution to this situation and see the change that needed to occur.

  • anonymous

    I wrote to my council member and to the Humane Rescue Alliance (reminding the latter that I am a contributing member to their organization). I’m hoping that this debacle serves as an impetus for (a) installing more comprehensive, serious laws for animal neglect/abuse, (b) puts some teeth in enforcement, (c) causes HRA to be more aggressive in telling DC they need more money for their mission- the one they are contracted to do for animal patrol/humane law enforcement, and (d) causes the council to devote a lot more money to this mission.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      I agree that increasing the penalties is key to this law succeeding (if it passes). The current law has no teeth, so even if it was more comprehensive, many people would ignore it because the risk is so low.

    • You are misinformed, the humane law enforcement department is not part of the DC DOH contract. They receive no money from the government and is funded completely by donor dollars. Vehicles, salaries, medical costs and housing for impounded animals is all paid through donations.

  • Inez

    I support this legislation, but also hope it’s not used against homeless people who may sleep outside despite trying their best to shelter themselves and their dogs. I urge Council Member Todd to consider adding some caveats so his great idea isn’t use to criminalize homelessness and deny vulnerable people their companions.

    Thank you PoPville for covering this story and keeping us updated on Momma.

  • Brightwoodian

    The only issue I see is that most of the council seems to be against creating new anti-crime legislation. I have a feeling this will struggle to get off the ground. The whole mass incarceration thing…

  • JlEE

    When I saw this post yesterday I immediately started to consider ways to help this poor dog. I thought about it all day to no avail. I am extremely glad that B. Todd stepped up and took the lead on this. Also, thank you Popville.

  • stacksp

    Not to make excuses but a lot of the “misbehavior” or “mistreatment” that I am hearing about is potentially philosophical and some one would say ethical differences that i feel education could help bridge the gap. Growing up it was common for people to refer to their dogs as an “inside” dog or an “outside” dog. The larger breeds were mostly kept outside because of “accidents” around the house etc.

    • KP

      I acknowledge that there are some cultural/geographic differences in how people treat pets – but this is a city. These “outdoor” dogs are not spending their days herding sheep or running around a farm. They are trapped in a tiny (probably paved) yard that is covered in their own waste, often with little food or water.

      I’m glad this legislation is being introduced, its long overdue. My neighbors kept a dog in their yard for two years under similar conditions to Momma – every time I called Humane Society I was told that the dog “had access to shelter” – ie a deteriorating cardboard box under the stairs. It was heartbreaking.

      • stacksp

        So thats where I think the city can step in and educate. The owners of Momma had that shelter built for the purpose of leaving her outside. They didnt go the cardboard box route so that leads me to believe that maybe they thought the shelter was adequate probably up until the recent freezing temperatures. I think it would be helpful to indicate whats appropriate shelter and upper/lower temp limits. The food and water thing is hard to gauge unless the dog looks really emaciated and is evaluated by a vet. The eye test cant really prove or disprove whether he is getting fed regularly.

        • anonymous

          Save yourself from thinking about what Momma’s owner was thinking or trying to find a way to excuse or explain the frozen water and horrible living conditions. The dude is a lifelong criminal who previously had a dog named “Princess,” who was allowed to starve. Petworth News had photos of that dog, who was skin and bones, until she “disappeared” and Momma showed up. This guy and everyone associated with him are bad news. This isn’t cultural- it’s criminal.

          • stacksp

            The education would not be just for this one owner but general awareness for all owners.

          • textdoc

            D.C. provides all kinds of education/guidance — not to mention actual regulations — that seem to fall on deaf ears.
            .
            Supposedly there’s education against littering… not that you’d know it from looking at Georgia Avenue. There’s education/regulations about keeping your lawn/weeds below 10″ so as not to create conditions that foster rats, but DCRA enforces it only in response to complaints and is pretty lenient (giving warnings and fining only if the situation isn’t remedied within 3 weeks). There’s education/regulations about proper containment and disposal of trash, but DPW enforces only in response to complaints.

          • textdoc

            I didn’t mean to sound like such a wet blanket — education presumably couldn’t hurt and might help.
            .
            But I despair about how ineffective some of D.C.’s current education efforts and/or enforcement of actual regulations seems to be.

          • stacksp

            fair point @textdoc

    • kejad

      I grew up in rural SC with lots of poor relatives. No one in my extended family had inside animals – unless it was really cold. (Also, no one spayed or neutered their pets until maybe the late ’80s or so. That was for fancy lawyers’ and doctors’ pets.) If it was going to be really cold – below freezing in SC, my relatives would put out a box – IN A SHELTERED SPOT IN A CARPORT OR BARN – with a bunch of clean blankets where the dog/cat could build a cozy nest. If it was going down near 20 degrees, the animals all went inside the covered porch or entry hall with the potted plants – even my grandmother who absolutely never, ever allowed animals inside her house.

      Side note: my brother and I always looked forward to sub-freezing nights, because it meant that our cat was allowed to sleep inside, and we traded off who got to go to bed with the cat snuggled up with us. (Not that the cat ever stayed there after the lights were all out in the house.)

      I’m very confident that my relatives would’ve all considered anyone who left a short-haired dog caged/chained up in the yard in freezing weather without water to be “not good people”. So, no, even in areas where there are “outside animals”, people would make sure that the animals were cared for. Momma’s owners are not good people.

  • dcspring

    As of now, we do not know where Momma, the dog in question is. We believe she may be in an unsafe situation. Please:

    Sign this Change.org petition to urge the DC Council to strengthen Animal Cruelty Laws.https://www.change.org/p/dc-city-council-strengthen-animal-cruelty-laws-in-dc?recruiter=65623370&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

    Contact your DC Councilmember (find them online)

    Contact Councilmember Brandon Todd and tell him you support his legislation to protect animal welfare.

    Contact Councilmember Mary Cheh directly and share your thoughts on animal welfare

    Contact the DC Mayor’s office (202-727-2643 or email)

    Contact the Humane Rescue Alliance

    • Anon

      If you think that Momma is now in a better place than she was before, I’d like to disabuse you of that belief. The type of person who abuses their dog out of casual habit is also the type of person to take out their anger/frustration on a defenseless being. I genuinely hope that I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s hoping for the best for Momma. :-/

      • dcspring

        We are actively trying to find out where she is. HLE with HRA is monitoring the situation. We are terrified for Momma and hope now that all the authorities are aware of the issue, someone can act. Please keep contacting your council members.

    • nonanon

      we believe that the owner of the dog may have removed her from the premises, refuses to surrender her, and will not identify where he is taking her. please put pressure on HRA, the CMs, and MPD to conduct a welfare check to ensure her immediate safety. this owner has had 2 previous dogs disappear after previous neglect investigations- we cannot let this happen to momma too!

  • Pooch lover from Takoma

    I actually feel pretty badly for HRC. They seem to be getting alot of criticism over this, but they don’t make the laws. They can only enforce what laws exist. It sounds like they did everything possible within the existing legal framework to help Momma and probably lost sleep over their inability to do more. They have my full support. I got my pooch from HRC (when it was WARL) and he is my favorite thing in the world!

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