Cat Fanatic Proves You Can Fight City Hall

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Here’s a question for you. Do you think the government (town, city, county or state) should be allowed to regulate how many pets you have?

Personally I have mixed feelings on the topic. On one hand I think it’s a great way to prevent hoarding — as long as the laws are actually enforced before things get out of hand. I also think it’s a good way to encourage responsible pet ownership — even if it can’t guarantee that people will treat their pets properly.

And then there’s the rebellious part of me. This is the part that says, “Wait just a minute. How dare you tell me how many pets I can have?”

Fighting city hall — and winning

Apparently a Utah man feels the same way. As recently reported in The Salt Lake Tribune, a West Valley City resident has two black cats and wanted to get another one. But when he went to the local animal shelter to get one, he learned that he couldn’t because of a city regulation limiting the number of cats and dogs residents could have to two per household.

Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

When he learned the only way to change that was to convince the city to change the rules, he took the challenge seriously. And after six months of lobbying, his persistence finally paid off.

Earlier this month, the City Council unanimously passed an amended ordinance that “would allow for pet owners to apply for a permit to have up to four cats or dogs.” However, the restriction pertaining to the total number of pets is unchanged, meaning that residents still can’t have four cats and four dogs. An exception to the limit for kittens and puppies up to 4-months old is also unchanged.

A matter of personal preference

As it stands, I have had cats since I was 10. But the only time I had more than one was when my ex and I were married. And I’ll be honest. Having two cats in a small apartment was an adventure, especially since my cat was the alpha.

After I got divorced, Heals came home with me. She also moved to Virginia with me, and live there for three years before she died of cancer in 2007. I was still living in Virginia when I got Eli in 2008 and I’ve had him ever since. Sometimes I think about getting another one — but it wouldn’t be fair to him — or to me, for that matter.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

For one thing, Eli is a “pit bull in a cat costume.” He is loyal, affectionate, and super-smart. But because he was abused before I adopted him, he is very easily triggered and acts accordingly. You’d think that he would mellow out as he gets older, especially since he’s been in a stable, loving environment for so long. As it turns out, that’s wishful thinking. Finding ways to address his redirected aggression is an ongoing process.

Secondly, having a cat is expensive. Or should I say, having this cat is expensive. There’s food, and cat litter, and vet bills. Oh, the vet bills. And because Eli is such a handful, I have to take him to the vet to have his claws clipped every three months. At $23 and change for each trimming, even that adds up.

Not to mention that I’m busy and I travel. So the bottom line for me is that — as much as I love cats — I don’t think I’ll ever have more than one at a time again.

How about you? Do you have pets? How many? How many is “too many?” I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment.

Connecticut Cat Tax Proposed

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It’s official. I’m speechless. Completely. Utterly. Totally. Speechless. Seriously. I’ve got nothing.

And for the record, it takes a lot to put me in this state. I’m never at a loss for words. But I just can’t wrap my head around the Connecticut Cat Tax. l’m serious. Connecticut Democrats want to impose a “cat tax” on those of us who have felines and are still “lucky” enough to live here (sarcasm fully intended).

I read all about it on the Hartford Courant’s website earlier this week. At first I thought it had to be fake news. Unfortunately I checked the Connecticut General Assembly’s website, and it’s true.

What a catastrophe

At this time, raised S.B. 999 is officially known as An Act Concerning The Fee For Adopting a Dog, Cat or Other Domestic Animal From a Municipal Pound and Requiring the Licensing of Such Cats and Other Domestic Animals. 

I kid you not. This is what they decided to call it. Why didn’t they just call it a cat tax? It would have been so much easier that way.

In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

At any rate, the stated purpose of this proposed “Act” is to “increase the fee paid by anyone adopting a dog from a municipal shelter and to require the payment of such fee for anyone adopting a cat or other domestic animal from a municipal shelter and to require the licensing of such cats and other domestic animals.”

You can find the link text of the proposed bill here. In the meantime, I’ll just hit the “high points.”

As currently proposed:

  • Any Connecticut resident that  purchases a dog, cat or other domestic animal as a pet will have to pay a $15 fee to the municipal animal shelter or dog pound in order to get a license and tag for it from the town clerk.
  • Anyone that purchases a dog, cat or other domestic animal as a pet in Connecticut will also be required to cover the cost the municipality incurred, if any, to spay or neuter and vaccinate the dog [sic], provided such charge is not more than $150.
  • Any Connecticut resident that owns or keeps a dog that is at least six months old, except those  kept under a kennel license as provided by law; and anyone that owns a cat or other domestic animal adopted from a municipal animal shelter or dog pound  will be required to have the animal licensed in the town clerk’s office in the town where it is kept, on or before June 30th, each year after it turns six-months old.
  • The annual licensing fee for each qualifying neutered or spayed animal would be $10.
  • The annual licensing fee for each unaltered qualifying animal would be $15.
  • In addition to the licensing fee there would be a $2 fee for issuing a license and tag as allowed by law.
  • Anyone required to comply with the new law who failed to do so would be required to pay the appropriate license fee, the town clerk’s fee and a $1 penalty for each month or portion of a month that the animal remains unlicensed.

Why a cat tax simply won’t work…

The public got a chance to have its say at an Environment Committee hearing held March 11.

In a letter to the committee, Ellington resident Diana Bump voiced numerous reasons for her opposition.

“Requiring cats to be licensed will deter adoption and/or barn cat owners from taking in cats and also lead to more euthanizing of shelter cats. Licensing cats will cost more to the state implement than it will actually receive in cat licensing fees, no doubt,” Bump wrote. “Licensing cats will not incentivize spaying/ neutering either as the main reason people do not spay/neuter is because of costs and adding licensing fees will make it even more unaffordable.”

Bump also pointed out that most indoor/outdoor cats wear so-called “break away” collars, which are designed to come off if the cat gets it caught on something, so tags could be lost easily. The use of non-break away collars is unsafe, she added. Finally Bump also noted that any noise made by the tags could alert predators to a cat’s location, putting it at risk.

Hamden resident David Malicki put it even more succinctly.

“As most shelters are often overflowing with animals for adoption, I find this proposed House Bill 999 absolutely sub-human,” he wrote. “This bill should not be even considered for a motion. This bill should have never been proposed. Shame on all of you for this shortsighted proposal.”

Animal advocates also oppose the measure as proposed.

So now it’s your turn. What do you think? Is this a good idea, or not? Let’s talk about it. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

When the law goes to the dogs

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You must admit, my quest for blog fodder has yielded some pretty interesting results. Since I started doing these posts, I’ve written about everything ranging from pets (including my own) to New York City crime, an assessment of the Virginia courts and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Last week I came across an interesting article in The Plainville Citizen about a controversial dog confiscation case. The lawsuit reportedly headed for U.S. District Court in Connecticut  “pits” the “owners and trustee” of a pit bull named Luca — who stands accused of biting people in three separate incidents — against the Town of Plainville. For brevity’s sake, I won’t go into too much detail about the litigation but you can read about it here.

I only say that because — as intriguing as it is — the lawsuit itself isn’t really what caught my attention. Now the details about the attorney representing the plaintiffs — that grabbed my attention. The man’s name is Richard Bruce Rosenthal, and according to The Plainville Citizen’s report, he is a self-proclaimed “dog lawyer.” He is also the co-founder of The Lexus Project, which provides “legal defense for all breeds.”

While doing some additional research about the organization, it became evident that some people embrace its mission — and some condemn it. Although I have mixed feelings on the subject, I am unwilling to do either.

However I am curious about whether or not animal advocacy is a growing trend in the legal world. At this point, I know of a former lawyer who is now involved in the mediation of animal disputes. I also read about a character with a similar role in the novel, The Hand That Feeds You by A.J. Rich.

How about you? Are you a lawyer or paralegal involved in animal advocacy? Do you know anyone who is? What do you think of the idea?

Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

 

Duty calls

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Don’t you just love getting mail from the government?

Your pulse quickens, your stomach knots and your mouth gets all dry. Your hands shake, you start to sweat and your head is pounding.

You study the return address, trying to figure out whether or not to open it. Maybe if you ignore it, it will just go away. Maybe you’ll “lose” it.

Then again, maybe not.

And in all fairness to much-maligned bureaucrats out there, sometimes those envelopes do contain good news. Sometimes it’s your tax refund.

Most of the time, it’s not.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I got my property tax bill from the Town of Greenwich recently. And then the state sent me a note informing me it’s my turn to report for jury duty.

I already paid my taxes. As for jury duty, I’m supposed to go later this week. On one hand, I’m dreading it since I’m supposed to be at the courthouse early and it will probably take an hour to get there. On the other hand, it would be kind of cool to be chosen for a high-profile case.

I suppose it would be fairly easy for me to “get out of it” if I really want to. I have a paralegal certificate — so I know a bit about the law. I also spent the better part of 21 years covering cops and courts…

Then again, the experience could provide some very interesting blog fodder.

In any case, I will definitely let you know what happens… as soon as I can.

There ought to be a law…

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Dateline — Greenwich, Conn. As I write this, a winter storm is raging.

The aftermath of a December snow storm in Greenwich, Conn. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
“Just Another Snow Storm.” Greenwich, Conn., December 2010. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Howling wind. Freezing rain. Sleet. Ice. Snow. You name it, we’ve got it. Or we’re going to get it before the day is over.  And then I will spend my birthday cleaning up the mess.

For now I am safe and warm and dry. In fact, I am tucked up on the couch with my favorite fuzzy green blanket and laptop for warmth. The TV is on in the background, providing me with the details from the third Premier League football match of the day. Across the Pond, West Ham is leading Manchester City, 2-1, but I’m hardly invested in the outcome. I’ve got other stuff on my mind.

It suddenly dawned on me while channel surfing between games that there ought to be a law on days like this. Make that several. First of all, there ought to be a law against extensive TV storm coverage. We get it. It’s snowing. It’s windy. It’s cold. Newsflash: it’s winter.

There ought to be a law against any politicians commenting on a storm. What in God’s name do you have to say that we don’t already know? Personally, if I want to know about the weather, I can look out the window. Peering through the glass, I can also tell if the roads have been plowed, or if my neighborhood has been affected by a power outage. Based on personal observation, I can also make an educated guess about storm impacts on local, regional and national transportation. Believe it or not, I can rely on common sense to decide whether or not it’s safe to travel.

Black and white photograph of New York Police Department barriers taken by Alexandra Bogdanovic
NYPD barriers. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

There ought to be a law against snowplows shoving all the ice, sleet, slush and snow into private driveways. I don’t care where you put it. If you can’t think of an alternate location, I’ve got a few suggestions…

There ought to be a law against idiots in sports utility vehicles, or any 4-wheel drive vehicles for that matter. Just because you’ve allegedly got better traction doesn’t mean you can stop on a dime in slippery conditions. In case you haven’t figured it out, the  added height of most SUVs equals a higher center of gravity. Turn that steering wheel abruptly at an unsafe speed and I guarantee you will flip your SUV or end up in a ditch.

There ought to be a law against rude and inconsiderate behavior. Calm down. Relax. It’s just another winter storm. It is not the end of the world. Or is it?

 

Censorship – alive and well

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“Censorship generally is the deletion of speech or any communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a body authorized to censor.”

– As defined on uslegal.com

A disturbing news report surfaced last week.

Apparently some Russian government-types have been burning some “undesirable” books.

Given the heinous and egregious nature of this conduct, I am sure the Russians would have been happy if this remained a closely guarded secret.  Unfortunately (for the alleged offenders) some American media outlets discovered and published accounts of this disgusting behavior.

I found out about it when goodreads.com shared a link to the post on Twitter. Ain’t social media grand?

At any rate, I banged off a snippy response, which was something to the effect of, “And this comes as a surprise?” Not surprisingly, that Tweet didn’t amount to much.

But in all honesty, I wasn’t surprised. Angry? Yes. Disgusted? Of course. Sickened? Absolutely. Flabbergasted, gob-smacked, astonished, taken aback? No. Not at all.

Of course government censorship is alive and well. Let’s face it. In Russia, where Vlad Putin does whatever he wants with impunity, it probably never died.   But what you may not realize – or simply refuse to admit –  is that censorship is practiced with alarming frequency right here in the good old USA.

The restrictions on freedom of expression to which I am referring go far beyond rules and regulations put in place to limit potential exposure to “offensive” material and to hold those who engage in hateful rhetoric accountable for their actions.

I am referring to the vast majority of the censorship that occurs in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, which  is condoned if not officially sanctioned by the politically correct crowd in the government and elsewhere. In an effort to combat the ignorant, misguided and hateful behavior of a vocal minority, the “polite police” are running amok.

Yes, some censorship is blatant. Some is passive-aggressive. Trust me. I speak from personal experience.

Book Cover, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey
Image courtesy of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency

You see, I am the award-winning author of what could be considered a somewhat controversial book. In my memoir, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey, I share how I met, fell in love with and married the man of my dreams. In vivid detail, I recount how I learned that he self-identified as and planned on having surgery to “become” a woman. I also share what happened after I learned the truth.

Some readers have loved my work. Some have hated it. Most have expressed their opinions in no uncertain terms — which is fine. I have very broad shoulders. There was only one occasion when I was truly insulted, and that was when a local library official told me they’d probably never shelf my book because readers here are “very conservative.”

I wonder what they’ll do if Caitlyn Jenner writes a book.

Why tougher gun laws will backfire

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So here’s the official disclaimer: I am not “pro gun.” I don’t even like guns…

They scare me. I’ve never even touched one (unless you count the toy cap guns and water pistols I played with when I was little). The thought of ordinary, law-abiding citizens having access to, much less toting assault rifles and similar firearms makes me sick. That they’re seemingly the weapons of choice for all manner of criminals, terrorists and other “bad guys” is an issue I will touch on later. For now all you need to know is that absolutely no one outside of the military, para-military organizations (law enforcement) and similar groups needs or should have any access to those types of weapons. Period.

Having said that, I am not a “gun grabber,” either. I fully respect and support the right to bear arms afforded to Americans under the Second Amendment. I believe that most law-abiding citizens who have guns believe and engage in responsible gun ownership. I also believe that any laws aimed at restricting access to certain types of firearms – or limiting gun ownership in general – will always backfire.  Ultimately these well-intentioned but deeply misguided laws will result in more criminal activity and more violence – not less.

The simple reason for this is one that President Obama and the rest of the gun control gang fail to realize: Laws only matter to those of us who choose to follow them.

Black and white photograph of New York Police Department barriers taken by Alexandra Bogdanovic
NYPD barriers. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Does anyone honestly believe that criminals will be deterred by tougher gun laws? If anything, organized crime groups, gangs, terrorists and their cronies welcome them. Think about it. It’s a simple question of supply and demand. Less or stricter access to “legal” firearms will create an even more lucrative black market. Unfortunately for the general public, the rush to claim the lion’s share of the revenue generated from illegal arms sales could easily result in more competition among certain people who couldn’t care less about who gets caught in the crossfire.

If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is find a U.S. History book and turn to the section on Prohibition…

Then there’s the matter of mass shootings. In their wake, much is made about how the perpetrator obtained his or her weapon(s). While it is largely a moot point, those who call for new gun laws claim stricter rules will reduce public access to the types of weapons used in the course of these tragic events. In a perfect world, that would be true. But we all know this world is far from perfect. Does anyone honestly think that someone desperate  or angry or crazy or determined enough to commit an act of terrorism or a mass shooting is all that concerned about the law? If someone is truly hell-bent on committing such a heinous act, he or she will use any means necessary to do so.

So President Obama can weep and stomp his feet, gnash his teeth and threaten to take executive action on the issue as much as he would like, while the rest of the gun control gang sings his praises.

The rest of us can only hope for the best.

 

 

 

The whole truth?

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“The real purpose of this post is to encourage independent, critical thinking.”

On Sunday, The New York Times actually shared some “good news.” Contrary to public opinion… or more accurately, public perception, crime is down. New Yorkers are safer than they think. Their fears are baseless.

If you know me at all, or if you are any good at reading between the lines, you can easily detect the sarcasm here. Or perhaps it’s merely a healthy dose of skepticism. In any case, the purpose of this post is not to bash the Times. If anything the newspaper, which, in my humble opinion, joins the rest of the mainstream media in demonstrating a blatant anti-law enforcement bias, actually made a fairly decent attempt at presenting both sides of this particular story.

The real purpose of this post is to encourage independent, critical thinking – a skill that is not taught (much less encouraged) in American schools  and hence one that I find sorely lacking among the vast majority of Americans.

Of course it is far easier to take what the government – or any other authority – tells us on face value than to question it. Deep down those of us who live in free societies want to believe that authorities have our best interests at heart – so it is far easier to believe that our duly-elected leaders, teachers, police and the media are telling us the truth rather than what we want to hear.

ISIS is being defeated, the economy has recovered, unemployment is down and – at least in New York City – crime has declined as well. A rosy picture indeed. And why not believe it? After all, those who are telling it say they have data to prove their point. Numbers. Cold, hard facts. That’s all the proof you need. Or so they say.

But the numbers can be – and are – easily manipulated by those who provide them and those who report them. This tactic is hardly unique to one political party – or even one group, for that matter. Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, anarchists, liberals, conservatives, economists, the media and even scientists engage in it.

Acknowledging all of this is the key to sorting through the BS and drawing your own conclusions. It is just one step though. Once you realize that any data can be – and is – manipulated, you must then ask the tough questions. Who is manipulating it? How are they doing so? How do they benefit from twisting the facts?

In some cases finding the answer is simply a question of following the money but in most cases it’s simply a question of using a little bit of common sense.

Speaking of which, here’s a newsflash for The New York Times: perception is reality.