QUESTION: I’ve seen a man driving a motorcycle around Longview, towing a small, flat trailer. There’s a dog standing, balancing on the back of the trailer. Is that legal?
ANSWER: A couple of local and state laws could apply to this situation, and, unfortunately, there’s some room for interpretation. (I’m answering this with the help of Longview police spokesman Lt. Shane McCarter and local animal rights activist and attorney Kelly Heitkamp.)
First, city ordinance says it’s illegal for an animal’s owner to allow an animal to roam at-large, which means “running free or otherwise without physical or other restraint whether on or off the premises of its owner.” Then, the definition of restrained includes if the animal is on or in a vehicle that is being driven or that is parked if the animal is “secured by a leash or other device that is cross-connected to prevent the animal from falling, jumping, or being thrown from the motor vehicle and from strangling on a single lead.”
So, based on my conversation with McCarter, it sounds as if it would be easy enough for someone in this situation to meet the requirements of the local ordinance (whether we agree with that or not). Violation of this city ordinance, by the way, is a misdemeanor.
The Texas Penal Code states it’s illegal if a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly ... transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner.” “Cruel manner” is defined as “a manner that causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.”
The application of that law could be open to interpretation, McCarter said.
Heitkamp said forcing an animal to balance while driving down the road is cruel, saying that would cause fear in the animal that amounts to the pain and suffering mentioned in the law.
Q: Who is responsible for weeding the center esplanade on Loop 281 — the city or the state? And when will that be done? There are weeds about thigh-high that are growing out of the brick paver stones.
A: Hello spring, right? (Or at least, hello spring rain and some sunshine and the growth that’s brought us.)
The city’s assistant public works director, Dwayne Archer, told me the city monitors those medians and maintains them as needed. The rain and sunny days have those medians “growing fast,” which landed them on the city’s radar. Archer said crews would address them early next week.
Q: I have filled out three complaint forms and left the postmaster two requests to call me. I have received no reply. Could you please tell me how to contact the next level of rank?
A: A representative of the U.S. Postal Service told me you did the right thing by first reaching out to your postmaster. Here are the other steps he said you could take:
Visit www.USPS.com and click on the “Help” tab all the way on the right side of the page. That brings up a screen with several options: “Contact Us,” File a Claim” and “Request a Refund.”
Under “Contact Us,” you’ll find an option to click on “Find Out How.” After you select that, go to “Send email.” Then, answer the questions.
“This will create an electronic case that goes to that post office and a consumer affairs representative,” spokesman Albert Ruiz said, and you will be contacted.
You also can call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).