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Minnesota Prepared to Enact New Dangerous Dog Act

On January 14th of the current year, District 66A Representative John Lesch ( rep.john.lesch@house.mn ) and Representative of District 64B Michael Paymar ( rep.michael.paymar@house.mn ) introduced a bill that would require owners or those individuals identified as owners of ‘dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs” to participate in responsible dog ownership classes. Additional information on this bill indicates that yet again the government is insinuating itself into the affairs of the people without truly addressing the needs of the community at large.

Read more here: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H0115.0.html&session=ls86

You may have to copy and paste the above link.

I have taken the liberty of posting the whole sordid mess here:

H.F. No. 115, as introduced – 86th Legislative Session (2009-2010) Posted on Jan 14, 2009

1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to dogs; requiring certain dog owners to take responsible dog owner
1.3classes and pass certain tests; requiring maintenance of a database; proposing
1.4coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 347.
1.5BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

1.6 Section 1. [347.57] DEFINITIONS.
1.7 Subdivision 1. Applicability. The definitions in this section apply to sections
1.8347.57 to 347.67.
1.9 Subd. 2. Animal control authority. “Animal control authority” means an agency of
1.10the state, county, municipality, or other governmental subdivision of the state which is
1.11responsible for animal control operations in its jurisdiction.
1.12 Subd. 3. Class training manual. “Class training manual” means the materials used
1.13to train the facilitator and the materials used by facilitators to train the dog owner.
1.14 Subd. 4. Dog owner. “Dog owner” means the owner of a dog that has been declared
1.15dangerous or potentially dangerous.
1.16 Subd. 5. Facilitator. “Facilitator” means a person who teaches the responsible dog
1.17owner class and administers the test to the dog owner.
1.18 Subd. 6. Program manager. “Program manager” means the person who oversees
1.19and coordinates the responsible dog owner class, trains the facilitators, and handles
1.20recordkeeping of the classes.
1.21 Subd. 7. Responsible dog owner class. “Responsible dog owner class” means a
1.22class for owners of dogs that have been declared dangerous or potentially dangerous
1.23under section 347.50.

2.1 Sec. 2. [347.58] RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNER CLASS.
2.2(a) The owner of a dog that has been declared dangerous or potentially dangerous
2.3under section 347.50 must take and pass the responsible dog owner class lasting
2.4approximately four hours. A photo identification of the dog owner is required at the time
2.5of the class to confirm ownership of the dog. The dog owner must enroll in a class within
2.630 days of the dog being declared potentially dangerous or dangerous. The dog owner
2.7must attend the class at the next scheduled class date. The class is for the owner of the
2.8dog only; dogs are not allowed in the class.
2.9(b) Dog owners who own dogs that were previously declared dangerous must
2.10take the responsible dog owner class. The dog owner must attend the class at the next
2.11scheduled class date after the effective date of this section.
2.12(c) The Department of Public Safety must charge the dog owner a reasonable fee for
2.13attending the class.

2.14 Sec. 3. [347.59] PROGRAM MANAGER.
2.15(a) The program manager must be:
2.16(1) a veterinarian in good standing in Minnesota with a minimum of three years
2.17experience; or
2.18(2) a person with a minimum of five years experience working in an animal-related
2.19field, including knowledge and training of dog behavior and education of the public on
2.20dog behavior.
2.21(b) A background check must be performed on a person applying to be a program
2.22manager. The applicant must pass the background check without any violations prior to
2.23being appointed. No person who has been convicted of animal cruelty under Minnesota
2.24law or any other state law may be a program manager.
2.25(c) The Department of Public Safety shall employ the program manager and
2.26determine how much the program manager shall be paid for providing program manager
2.27services.

2.28 Sec. 4. [347.60] FACILITATOR.
2.29A facilitator must have a minimum of five years experience in dog training or in
2.30educating the public on dog behavior. A background check must be performed on a
2.31facilitator and a facilitator must pass the background check without any violations prior to
2.32that person being appointed and trained. No person who has been convicted of animal
2.33cruelty under Minnesota law or any other state law may be a facilitator. A facilitator must
2.34receive retraining by the program manager every three years to remain a facilitator.

3.1 Sec. 5. [347.61] TRAINING.
3.2Ongoing training must be provided by the program manager to facilitators, including
3.3updating the class training manual and teaching facilitators current information.

3.4 Sec. 6. [347.62] ANIMAL CONTROL AUTHORITY DUTIES.
3.5The animal control authority that declares a dog dangerous or potentially dangerous
3.6must provide the following information to the program manager and the Department of
3.7Public Safety:
3.8(1) name, address, and telephone number of the dog owner;
3.9(2) description of the dog;
3.10(3) a tracking number to identify the case; and
3.11(4) any other pertinent information.

3.12 Sec. 7. [347.63] NOTIFICATION.
3.13The program manager must send a written notification to the owners of dogs
3.14declared dangerous or potentially dangerous that they must register for a class within 30
3.15days, how to register for the class, and any other pertinent information.

3.16 Sec. 8. [347.64] CLASS TRAINING MANUAL; FORMS; CURRICULUM; TEST.
3.17(a) The class training manual and curriculum must address the basic needs of the
3.18dog, both behavioral and physical, and include education on dog care and dog behavior.
3.19The class training manual, forms, test, and curriculum must be prepared in consultation
3.20with a study commission and printed by the Department of Public Safety.
3.21(b) Upon completion of the responsible dog owner class, a facilitator must administer
3.22a multiple choice test to the dog owner and grade the test. A dog owner who fails the
3.23test must retake the test within two weeks.
3.24(c) If the owner of a dog declared dangerous fails the test twice, the animal control
3.25authority must seize the animal and provide for disposition of the animal pursuant to
3.26sections 347.54 and 347.541.
3.27(d) If the owner of a dog declared potentially dangerous fails the test twice, the
3.28animal control authority must make the determination as to disposition of the dog.
3.29(e) If a dog owner fails to register for a responsible dog owner class or fails to appear
3.30for the class and take the test, the dog owner must be considered as having failed the test.
3.31(f) A facilitator must provide a certificate of class completion to a dog owner upon
3.32successfully passing the test. A facilitator must forward a verification of completion or
3.33non-completion form and the tests to the program manager. The program manager must
4.1verify the information and forward it to the animal control authority and the Department
4.2of Public Safety.

4.3 Sec. 9. [347.65] LOCATION OF CLASS.
4.4Responsible dog owner classes must be offered to dog owners at locations
4.5determined by the program manager on a quarterly basis, as needed.

4.6 Sec. 10. [347.66] TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP.
4.7If ownership of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog is transferred to another
4.8person, the new owner must take a responsible dog owner class and pass the test.

4.9 Sec. 11. [347.67] STATEWIDE RECORDS; REPORTING; DATABASE.
4.10A database must be maintained by the Department of Public Safety containing
4.11records of all dogs in Minnesota declared potentially dangerous or dangerous, and
4.12owner information, including any convictions for violations of section 347.51; 347.515;
4.13347.56; 609.205, subdivision 4; or 609.226, subdivision 1 or 2; and any dogs owned
4.14by that person that have been ordered destroyed under section 347.56, as well as other
4.15information pertinent to enforcement of sections 347.50 to 347.565. The database must
4.16also contain information regarding the test results of the responsible dog owner class.
4.17The commissioner of public safety, in consultation with animal control professionals,
4.18must determine what information will be kept in this database. This database must be
4.19accessible, only for purposes of law enforcement, to all police and sheriff departments
4.20and other local government departments responsible for conducting or overseeing animal
4.21control operations in their jurisdictions, with the exception that private animal control
4.22authorities contracted to local government agencies may only access these records
4.23through, and with the permission of, those local government agencies. All Minnesota law
4.24enforcement agencies and animal control authorities must report in a timely manner to the
4.25Department of Public Safety any information required under this section.

4.26 Sec. 12. EFFECTIVE DATE.
4.27Sections 1, 3 to 6, 9, and 11 are effective the day following final enactment. Sections
4.282, 7, 8, and 10 are effective six months after that day.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE*

This bill was introduced one week prior to the State of New York bill that I had addressed last week.

It would seem to me that the lawmakers might want to consider enforcing their existing laws as opposed to this dreck which has absolutely no provisions for what constitutes responsible ownership, who makes that determination and who is responsible for the selection criterion for “Program Managers”, “Facilitators” or what constitutes appropriate curricula?

A state pronouncement does not extol one with the necessary virtues of either the actual training of a dog, nor the skills necessary for the instruction of a dog’s training.

What are these people smoking?

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Breed Specific Legislation, Dangerous Dogs, Dog Laws, Dog Politics, Dog Trainers, dog training, Dogs, Puppy Training

New York Dog Owners/Trainers Soon to be Howling at Albany

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York Dog Owners/Trainers Soon to be Howling at Albany
January 7th, 2009
Albany, New York

New York District 39’s Assemblyman Jose Peralta has initiated a bill (A01540) into the New York State legislature to compel dog owners to comply with new licensing requirements, including a provision requiring them to attend and complete dog obedience training.

The Bill will also have a profound effect on Professional Dog Trainers conducting commerce in New York State; including those who participate in a wide variety of dog training disciplines from training hunting dogs, competitive obedience dogs and protection dogs as well as those who make their livelihood on the misbehaviors of man’s best friend.

This Bill is attached to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing and the provisions within it rely heavily on “…the Commissioner to establish requirements for basic obedience courses for dogs and their owners that must be completed successfully…”, all without mentioning the consequences should they (owners) be found not in compliance. In addition, the provision in 113-A requires that “…the Commissioner shall establish requirements for Dog Obedience Schools which are ‘authorized’ to provide the basic dog obedience courses for dogs and their owners…”, again all without clarifying the language that will address that authorization.

Upon contacting the Assemblyman’s office, it was implied that those “authorization prerequisites” could possibly come in the form of ‘certification’ for dog trainers in order to meet this criterion and continue to conduct commerce by offering training help to dogs and their owners in the state of New York.

Certification has long been a ‘bone’ of contention amongst the dog training community with disagreements from what qualifies a dog trainer to what would constitute a trained dog, by any standards. It has been long established that dog training has been largely unregulated and it has historically been identified as a diverse group of individuals who practice a variety of dog training disciplines.

With the recent growth of schools for Dog Trainers, professional organizations and other dog training communities, many long-time Professional Dog Trainers are feeling the heat of this pending legislation.

Up until only a few short years ago, there was no such thing as ‘certification’ for dog trainers and today its value depends largely on the certifying body, and the organization that endorses the certification.

Many Professional Dog Trainers have practiced their craft for decades, through the traditional institutions of apprenticeship and practical hands-on training, where even the most well known organization that recognizes Professional Dog Trainers (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) established in the mid ‘90’s offers only a multiple choice questionnaire and a minimal number of hands-on hours before granting a certification. The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors established in 1965, requires an essay examination of practical skill sets and video portions to identify these skill sets in order to be endorsed; the International Association of Canine Professionals established in the late ‘90’s affords a voluntary process for it’s members to elect a certification program that contains not only an essay portion, but a video portion as well as endorsements written by students of the applicant, something neither of the other organizations require.

With an inability to determine what constitutes “basic obedience” in a meaningful way, logic suggest those already in place, a certification determining the safe behavior of the dog is a far better alternative to regulating dog owners and Dog Trainers. Such an option to amend a community’s licensing requirements with “Good Dog” tests such as Rockville Maryland’s Section 3-23 “Animal Off-Leash with Permission” offers a meaningful alternative to New York’s proposed difficult to implement, difficult to enforce legislation.

Reasonable legislation can be drafted to promote responsible dog ownership without forcing impositions on already responsible men and women who own dogs and Professional Dog Trainers who offer training services without the benefit of questionable ‘certification’.

Responsible New York State dog owners cannot help but be failed by this proposal and the Professional Dog Trainers who currently serve them should not be restricted from conducting their trade by a state mandate that can only be damaging to dog owners and their dogs.

Coeur d’Lion K9 Behavior Management
Linda I Kaim
1443 Old Taneytown Rd
Westminster,Maryland 21158
410-857-0555
717-880-4751
coeurdlionk9@gmail.com
http://www.lionheartk9.com

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    Filed under Dog Laws, Dog Politics, Dog Trainers, dog training, Dog Training Tools, Dogs, legislation

    Animal Cognition, Strictly Speculation….

    Funny this should show up on one of my email lists:

    Wolves Make Dogs’ Dinner out of Domestication Theory

    Funny because a few days ago I was a participant in a discussion about Animal Cognition and an article that had appeared in National Geographic magazine in March 2008 of the same name. I had read the article and had seen various televised specials regarding it on Maryland’s PBS and the National Geographic channel.

    The article appeared to contradict the recent assertions from the scientific community about animal cognition, dogs specifically; refuting the ‘theory of mind’ in which it is thought that through the evolutionary process, dogs were endowed with an ability to communicate with us in a way that wolves could not have. The experiment details the study of wolves, household (owned) dogs who fared as well and the study of institutionalized dogs in shelters, who fared poorly.

    Since no-one knows for sure how domestication came to pass, the dogs aren’t talking, don’t have a written history and all of our primal ancestors are decedent; I speculate that dogs developed a symbiotic relationship with man by virtue of a common usury. Raymond Coppinger believes it had to do with the by-products of pre-civilization.

    Our own waste. Middlings from our campfires, the leavings of a species on the move.

    I support that theory in part only because it makes sense that we as a species are a messy lot. I can’t imagine much thought was given to concealing our waste products, but I disagree that that’s all it was. I think that early man was compelled to follow wild dogs on the hunt for game, allowing them their successes, only to drive them off and consume the game for themselves. In this way a few things may have occurred; the two species would have become quite familiar with the movements and activities of each other, become rather comfortable in a “Know Thy Enemy” sort of way and became dependent upon each other through that process.

    As the millennium creeped on and the two species became more comfortable with the presence of each other, that same familiarity enabled each to become more predictable in their mutual behaviors. Since the goal of survival was the same for both, it makes sense that each could become co-dependent on the other to locate and bring down game. When game was difficult to locate, man tracked the animal tracking the game animal. If the human was successful on the hunt, there would certainly be leavings for his erstwhile canine companion from his abandoned campfires. If the wild dog was successful, man learned how to overcome his fear and scare the wild dog off of the game to consume it for himself. And still leave enough for his reluctant companions.

    It becomes easy to visualize a suspension of fear between the two parties and a union develop that allowed for more intimate contact, the securing and raising of pups to do what they had always done, but this time from within the lights of the campfires.

    It is not too much of a stretch to see this happening in human populations across the globe, using what raw material they had available to work with. Selection begins here, with cognitive decisions for choosing and rearing the young animals.

    I believe it is not necessarily one wild dog population that acted as the genetic raw material for all dogs, but I would like to think it was many separate genetic pools that didn’t begin to intermingle until trade routes developed through the passage of man to other areas beyond his home range. A wolf on the steppes of Siberia during these times may have shared some of the genetic material as a wild counterpart in what is now known as Africa, but the diversity of each was coupled with his environment and his capability to survive in it.

    The recruitment of dogs for specific tasks was a direct result of this symbiotic relationship. This symbiosis continued throughout much of the evolution of both species until within the last one hundred years. Hunting dogs will have always been first. Without them, the success of early man’s survival may have been questionable. Sentry or guarding type dogs would have been right up there with the hunting dog if not one in the same animal. To this day, there are populations of indigenous people across the globe that are wholly dependent on their dogs to help locate game, act as sentries to their villages and encampments and protect their flocks and herds from predators.

    The wolves they used for this experiment were intensely socialized from early ages and trained much like a dog could be. Some of the dogs they used for the study were in effect tested twice; once in a laboratory type environment where they tested poorly and again in their own surroundings, where they fared equally with the wolves. The last group of dogs tested were dogs in an institutionalized environment like a shelter.

    After reading the remainder of this post and following the links, you can draw your own conclusions both about the study and about the evolution of dogs or animal cognition on the whole.

    There were studies conducted on a fox farm in Siberia more than half a century ago based on genetic selection and it’s impact on a population of foxes raised for fur. The discoveries offered telling arguments for domestication through selection for “tameness” in their pursuit of animals that were easier to handle. What transpired over many generations were measured in the alterations of physical attributes that changed along with the fox’s temperamental changes. Folding or hanging ears, alterations in coat color, tail carriage and shape. Genetically, they were still foxes.

    The original foxes used in this study were wild animals who were captured and then selectively bred for their fur. Successive generations were bred specifically for tameness, proving the genetic diversity within the species itself. These successive generations were born with largely patterned coat color, soft ears, different eye colors, other physiological differences that made them more “dog-like” than fox-like.

    Since the wolves in the study were trained much like one would a dog, how are their cognitive skills anything more than a by-product of that conditioning? It is clear that the dogs in the study who were tested in their own homes fared just as well and it is also clear that the institutionalized dogs failed. I construe these findings as a result of the relationships, of the training and socialization that they had received. It had nothing, in my mind, to do with genetic influence, cognition or racial differences.

    Wolves and other wild canids are by nature a suspicious lot. Brilliantly observant and cautious. Their survival depends on their abilities to adapt. Through whatever domestication process that transpired, the one thing that was removed from the equation was caution. The wild beast through whatever process; capture, peripheral association, familiarity that came in some way, lost his basic fear of man and man for his part lost his fear of the wild beast.

    The caution that kept the wild dog in the distance was eroded to a point to make it possible for humans to exploit it. If they captured pups in the den, these pups were raised in the company of humans for whatever length of time and the rudiments of communication must have occurred on some level. I venture to guess that even back then our progenitors knew the value of a tasty morsel when made available to a hungry animal.

    Surely our ancestors knew when they were being followed and by what. I can imagine somewhere in the past when we were not the highest predator on the food chain. Just speculation on my part, but I would also venture to guess that the ‘domestication’ occurred by design when it was discovered how alike as a species we really were.

    Wild dogs of any species are keen observers. They see better than the average dog, hear better than the average dog, have olfactory capabilities beyond the average dog. These are all skills necessary to make them successful predators. I would surmise that early on in our association with wild dogs that we recognized the VALUE of these attributes and learned to work with them.

    One of the folks that had been discussing the National Geographic article also read the results of this study. His comment to me encapsulated my question perfectly.

    He wanted to know what kind of dogs the research participants were working with.

    The wolves in the study were nurtured to a point that they lost their natural caution of humans and were able to react to the test using the function of their inherent abilities. That which makes them successful predators.

    The dogs used in the study ranged from the average house pet (who were tested both in the institutional environment and in their familiar surroundings) and either failed or succeeded according to the environment. In the confines of the lab, they were inhibited, cautious and failed; while tested at home they were comfortable and conversely, successful in equal measure to the wolves.

    The institutionalized dogs failed miserably.

    This is not a measure of cognition. This is a measure of the nurturing component that affected all three populations.

    The domestic dog is considered to be the most successful species on the planet. Within his genetic potential lies the capability to reinvent himself in as many ways, with as many skills as necessary to continue to survive. Early on we found those traits to be indispensable for our own survival and began to mold them in our image.

    Border Collies are the penultimate stock dog for a reason. For centuries they have been selected not only for their ability to round up sheep and deliver them to their masters’ feet, but all of the qualities that enable them to do that. Keen hearing, keen sight, a keen sense of smell and the willingness to cooperate with a human.

    The hounds, all with noses like double barreled shotguns to locate game, again endowed with skills inherited from their wild ancestors. Endurance, scenting ability, excellent hearing.

    Other breeds, other tasks, all extrapolations of what was considered valuable by humans and selected for.

    All of these skills are the direct result of selection from an ancestor richly endowed with them. What makes them useful to us is the willingness to cooperate, a lack of inhibition and for us to recognize and select those inherent skills and direct them to a specific task. To nurture them.

    So of course the wolves did well. They are naturals.

    The dogs from the group of house pets also did well, but not when taken out of an environment familiar to them.

    The institutionalized dogs did the worst of all the groups.

    But what kind of dogs were they?

    Of the institutionalized dogs, it is easy to determine that they are certainly a product of their environment. What considerations were made to their selection for this experiment? Breed? Age? Reasons for surrender? But still, there remains a question regarding their selection as dogs or rather, why they came to be? Were they purposefully bred working dogs? The product of a puppy mill or pet shop? Random-bred mutts from the cities or farm communities surrounding a particular area? What breeds did they have in common if they were of mixed ancestry? What breed or breeds did they represent if they were ‘pure’? Had there been any prior training? Was the training conducted by a professional trainer of dogs or by lab technicians much like the Scott and Fuller experiments conducted throughout the mid part of the 20th century.

    Of the owned dogs, what were their statistics?

    The argument that dogs ‘read’ humans better than any other animal based almost exclusively on their route to domestication just doesn’t appeal to me. I have owned, bred and trained them for many years. Although I have owned some very special dogs, they had to LEARN to read me. Once they ‘knew’ me, they could anticipate my intentions based solely on cues I offered, either with movement no matter how subtle, sounds I made no matter how hard or soft or even the casting of my eyes from one direction to another. This is a testament to their skills of observation, handed down to them from ancient contributors whose very lives depended on these same skills.

    But they had to know me first. They had to adapt and conform to the signals passed on to them through me and observe the outcomes each and every time.

    Does this diminish them as cognitive beings? Certainly not. It places them on a level of capability that to this day we depend upon. Since we have moved through the need for dogs as hunters and guards in most parts of the modern world, we still select for the excellence of their attributes for sport, for protection, for service and even now for detection of things as insignificant as insects and mold to life threatening cancers.

    Does this make them better than wolves? No, it simply makes them less cautious.

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    Filed under companion animals, Dogs, Shelter Dogs, Wild Dogs, Wolves