Tips of the Month
Prepare for the Better Bag Ordinance
Following a City Council ordinance passed earlier this year, College Park businesses will no longer be able to distribute plastic bags for most items beginning on September 1, 2023. Plastic bags are a scourge on the environment--they get into our waterways, breaking into tiny pieces and absorbing dangerous chemicals. Marine and terrestrial animals can eat them, causing injury or death.
College Park is among a growing number of municipalities that have adopted plastic bag bans, including Laurel, Takoma Park, and Westminster. Currently, Prince George's County is considering a similar ban.
How can you prepare for the upcoming Better Bag Ordinance? Bring reusable bags with you when you go to the store--keep reusable bags in your car, in your purse or backpack, or even on your keychain! The City of College Park will be giving away reusable bags to help residents with the transition. You can also make your own reusable bag from an old t-shirt (no sewing required) and it’s easy to wash! Check online for tutorials on how to do this.
From the City's Committee for a Better Environment
Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Animals
If you have ever tried to pet a puppy wearing a vest that says “service dog,” its owner probably asked you to stop.
That’s because service dogs aren’t the same as regular pets. They’re trained to help their owners—who might be blind or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, for example—navigate their way through the world.
If you distract the dog by trying to socialize with it, it might not be able to respond quickly if its owner needs help. And if enough people treat the animal like it’s a regular pet, it might just get used to that treatment—and like it—and become more interested in seeking out comfort itself than providing it for its owner.
Owners who have service animals are allowed to take their dogs into hotels, restaurants, workplaces, their apartments and even on airplanes with advance notice and some paperwork. They need those animals by their side whenever they go out because of some physical, emotional or intellectual disability. That’s why the law allows them to take their highly trained dogs into places that you’re not allowed to bring pets.
Fun fact: The Americans with Disabilities Act counts both trained dogs and horses as service animals.
Still, not every dog that’s in service to its owner qualifies as a service dog. More and more people are relying on animals for emotional support rather than to do physical tasks or use their training to protect them during a seizure or anxiety attack.
These emotional support companions often are dogs but can be any species of animal. Most do not take any special training. Their main role is to be companions to their owners and offer comfort and a calming presence.
These dogs usually are not allowed into public places that have a no-pets policy. And although some owners might not consider them to be pets, the law affords them only the same access as pets.
Friendly reminder: Dogs and other animals typically are noise-sensitive, which means yours is likely to freak out if you bring it to a fireworks display this Fourth of July.
Even service dogs, which are trained to have little or no noise sensitivity, often find fireworks disturbing and frightening.
Your best bet: Leave your pet at home during the celebration so it can hide in its favorite “safe place,” where everything is familiar and comfortable.
From the City's Animal Welfare Committee