L.A. Unleashed

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Category: Pit Bulls

Your morning adorable: Pit bull plays with kitten

We're suckers for animals that have a soft spot for babies.

So we were bound to love Karma, a pit bull described as a "bully ambassador" by owner nrc5878. "I am the proudest [pit bull] mom ever," nrc5878 wrote. With a gentle dog like Karma, we can see why!

Karma helps nrc5878 take care of foster animals like this kitten, who seems not to have heard any of the negative press about pit bulls.

Your morning adorable: Patient dog meets duckling
Your morning adorable: Duck babysits a litter of abandoned kittens

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: nrc5878 via YouTube

Miami-Dade County pit bull owners use service-animal loophole to skirt breed ban

Pitty MIAMI — Officials in Miami-Dade County say a small but growing group of pit bull owners has found a loophole in the county's ban against the breed.

Miami-Dade Animal Services reports that about a half-dozen pit bulls have been registered as service animals for people with disabilities. Federal rules governing service animals trump the local ban, enacted in 1989 after an 8-year-old girl was mauled by a neighbor's pit bull.

Investigator supervisor Kathy Labrada says it's a challenge to verify that a pit bull is a service animal because the federal rules don't require any special certification and restrict what the county can ask about an individual's disabilities.

Pit bull owners can face a $500 fine and possible court hearings in Miami-Dade, which considers the breed to be dangerous.

San Bernardino County weighs mandatory spay/neuter for pit bulls and pit bull mixes
Riverside's quick fix for pit bull population explosion: free sterilization

-- Associated Press

Photo: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

San Bernardino County weighs mandatory spay/neuter for pit bulls and pit bull mixes

Pit bull

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has approved a measure that would require all pit bulls and pit bull mixes in the county to be spayed or neutered. Owners who refuse to alter their pets would face fines.

Dealing with the county's pit bulls specifically, rather than all dogs regardless of breed, was "an imminent issue that we felt had to be addressed because of the recent attacks," Supervisor Neil Derry said, referring to the deaths of two San Bernardino County children in separate incidents involving pit bulls this year. Four county residents have been killed in incidents involving pit bulls over the last five years.

A final vote on the ordinance is scheduled for July, and it is expected to pass handily. When it goes into effect, pit bulls and pit mixes over 4 months of age will be required to be spayed or neutered. The county will give vouchers to low-income dog owners to subsidize the cost of sterilization surgery. Owners who ignore the ordinance will face a $100 fine for the first offense, with subsequent offenses drawing a stiffer penalty.

Derry, who co-sponsored the measure, said he views legislation requiring pit bulls to be altered as a preliminary step toward ultimately implementing spay/neuter requirements for all San Bernardino County dogs. Such a requirement is already on the books in the nearby city of Los Angeles.

Learn more about the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors' efforts to mandate the altering of pit bulls at The Times' local news blog, L.A. Now.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Authorities report surge in dogfighting investigations in Philadelphia in the last year

Burrito dog PHILADELPHIA — When humane officers responded to a North Philadelphia row home in February, they found pit bulls chained to spikes driven into the ground in the backyard. They seized treadmills, steroids and "break sticks" used to separate fighting dogs at the jaws.

They also arrested a man who had long been on their radar as a suspected dogfighter. This time, officers were able to get enough information to nab him thanks to an increase in tips.

One major reason? Since the Philadelphia Eagles brought convicted dogfighter Michael Vick to town, more people are aware that the illegal sport is also a crime.

"It has really brought this to light," said George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "People are definitely more aware or attuned to this type of activity."

The number of dogfighting investigations in Philadelphia has jumped over the last year, a surge attributed to increased public awareness since Vick joined the Eagles, a new SPCA hot line to report dogfighting, stepped-up enforcement and -- some activists say -- new animal abusers drawn to the illegal sport.

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Tennessee dog who chewed police car bumper is returned to family

Winston the dog has no problem with people. But he cannot stand police cars, specifically their bumpers.

On March 14, while lying in wait for speeding motorists, a Chattanooga, Tenn., police officer felt his vehicle bouncing around. Soon he realized Winston was attacking the front bumper. A second unit was brought in to document the assault (which can be seen in the video above and here).

The use of a Taser did not stop the animal, but eventually the boxer-bull mix was apprehended and taken into custody at the McKamey Animal Shelter where he was held for two weeks. On Thursday Winston was reunited with his family, the Emerlings, who paid $200 in fees.

City Court Judge Sherry Paty acknowledged that the violent attack did not happen to any people but insisted that the Emerlings take Winston to at least two obedience classes so that this behavior could be quelled before others were injured.

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Marine base cracks down on violators of rule that bans 'aggressive' dog breeds from military housing

Rottweiler puppies

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A North Carolina Marine Corps base is cracking down on violators of a rule banning pit bulls and other aggressive dog breeds from military housing.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported Thursday that Marines who haven't been approved for a waiver by April 1 will be evicted or have their pets taken. Only about a quarter of the 200 dogs in the vicious breed category known to live in base housing have been registered.

Camp Lejeune's base commander last April issued an order banning full or mixed breeds of pit bulls, Rottweilers, wolf-dogs mixes or any breed with "dominant traits of aggression."

The ban came after a 3-year-old boy was fatally bitten in base housing in 2008 by a pit bull owned by a visiting family friend.

-- Associated Press

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Photo: Rottweiler puppies play with a trainer at a Clearwater, Fla., humane society. Credit: Scott Martin / Associated Press

U.K. government pulls back on proposal that'd require dog owners to purchase pet insurance

Pit bull

LONDON — It seems the British government's bark is worse than its bite.

Authorities say they will not require all dog owners to take out insurance -- just days after proposing the measure in a bid to clamp down on dangerous canines.

The plan would have made millions of dog owners buy insurance against the risk of their pet attacking someone.

The government said it wanted to stop people who use pit bulls and other aggressive dogs to intimidate others, but critics said the idea was unfair.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said Tuesday that he had ruled out compulsory insurance because he didn't want to penalize responsible dog owners.

The opposition Conservatives accused ministers of turning the issue into a "political dog's dinner."

-- Associated Press

Animal news on the go: Follow Unleashed on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: A pit bull relaxes on a picnic table at a dog park in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood in 1998. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Michael Vick honored for courage at NFL award ceremony; animal activists protest

Vick1 BALTIMORE — Inside the banquet hall, a humbled but defiant Michael Vick was honored Tuesday night as one of 32 NFL players to receive the Ed Block Courage Award.

Outside, dozens of protesters expressed dismay over his nomination.

The award is presented to players who exemplify commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Each NFL team selects their own recipient, and most of the winners were on hand for the gala event Tuesday night.

Vick was picked as the Philadelphia Eagles' representative by a unanimous vote of his teammates. Once a star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick was convicted in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting ring and served 18 months in federal prison.

"I'm very humbled to be here," Vick said before the award ceremony. "I'm blessed to be voted by my peers, to be here, and this is an opportunity that I will take advantage of and cherish forever."

It was the first award he received since being reinstated by the NFL in September 2009.

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Michael Vick offered $1 million to pose for Playgirl and donate the money to PETA?

Michael Vick Will Michael Vick undress for Playgirl to the benefit of PETA?

Talk about strange bedfellows.

According to Life & Style magazine Playgirl has offered the notorious quarterback seven figures to take it all off for ... the animals.

A spokesperson for Playgirl says it made the convicted animal abuser an offer last week but hadn't received a response. "I figured he paid back society for dogfighting, but what about the animals?"

Playgirl continued: "This way he could donate a large sum to PETA and all he'd have to do is pose for the magazine! It's kind of a win-win situation."

Vick admitted in August of 2007 to drowning, electrocuting and hanging under-performing dogs in his dog-fighting stable and was sent to jail for 18 months. He spent an additional 2 months in home confinement and lost millions of dollars in lost wages and lawsuits, including a multimillion-dollar suit from his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, which won the right to about $7 million of his signing bonus. But still, many animal lovers do not agree that the star quarterback has yet paid his debt to society; indeed, many protested his return to the NFL this year when he was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles as a backup.

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Riverside's quick fix for pit bull population explosion: free sterilization

The pit bulls sprawled around the Riverside County Animal Control office this week were an unusually tranquil lot -- more fluffy the cat than hound from hell.

Each had been sedated before its turn on the operating table to get fixed, part of an ambitious project aimed at putting a dent in their exploding population here.

"We always knew we had a lot of pit bulls, but when we analyzed the data we saw that half our population was dominated by this breed," said Robert Miller, director of Riverside County Department of Animal Services. "It's a problem born out of community decisions. Sometimes it's machismo or the dogs are highlighted in the latest rap video or some young men think it's cool to own them."

Pit bulls have been responsible for a number of vicious attacks, including one Monday in which three children were badly mauled.

The high-energy, powerfully built dogs can be difficult to handle. Males will leap 6-foot-high fences to mate with females, who can bear as many as 14 puppies. The result has been a pit bull boom.

In 2008, Riverside County shelters euthanized 3,000 of them.

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