New Laws Mean High Fines for Neglectful Pet Owners This Winter

A new ordinance in Philadelphia requires pet owners to step up and keep their pets protected from winter’s below-freezing weather conditions or face hefty fines.

When Philadelphia declares a code blue, code gray or code red advisory for extreme weather, pet owners now have no choice but to keep their furry friends sheltered or face fines up to $300.

“Keeping dogs safe and warm is a basic need,” Susan Cosby, executive director of the Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT). “Don’t risk fines by taking steps now to ensure your dog has protection from the elements.”

The new ordinance, introduced and supported by Congressman Kenyatta Johnson, relies on concerned neighbors to report animals left out in the cold by calling ACCT at 267-385-3800 or email

ACCT recommends that pet owners who normally keep their pets outdoors start moving their pets inside, or into a suitable form of shelter, before the bitter cold kicks in. The legislation outlines several requirements for pet owners, including standards for acceptable pet housing during extreme weather.

Code blue conditions are expected this week with snow and temperatures that feel as low as 10 degrees on Wednesday. Code blue refers to temperatures below 20 degrees, code gray refers to precipitation accompanied by temperatures below 32 degrees and code red refers to forecasts of 95 degrees or higher for three consecutive days. During all three conditions, pet owners will be required to move their pets indoors.

Neglectful pet owners will be subject to a fine of no less than $150, according to the ordinance.

Pet owners who want more information or help with the new ordinance can contact for tips on how to make the transition indoors easier.

A complete list of tips for pet owners can be found at

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Ex-Phillies Star Jimmy Rollins to Maintain Philadelphia Fresh Food Initiative Despite Trade

Despite being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after 14 years on the Philadelphia Phillies, former MVP Jimmy Rollins will keep his foundation active in the Delaware Valley.

The Rollins Family Foundation, founded by Rollins and his wife, Johari, supports Philadelphia and surrounding communities by providing fresh food to families at risk.

“Fresh food shouldn’t be a luxury. Every family should have access to fruits and vegetables,” Rollins said.

While Rollins moved back to his home state, California, to play for the LA Dodgers, his nonprofit foundation continued to provide families with affordable, fresh food while continuing to empower youth to make healthy choices in the area he called home while becoming a star with the Phillies.

“We made great progress in 2014 and look to continue to build on that momentum,” Rollins said.

Going forward, The Rollins Family Foundation is considering an partnership with projects in Los Angeles while continuing to work with SHARE, the Food Trust and St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children-Farm to Families initiatives, said the foundation.

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Allentown to See Substantial Economic Change in 2015

Allentown is on the top 20 list of towns to see a jump in job growth in early 2015 – a huge boost for the city where 27.8 percent of residents live under the poverty line and 4.8 percent are unemployed.

Allentown shares the number 11 spot with Dallas, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Knoxville, Tennessee; San Antonio, Texas; and Wichita, Kansas. The towns are expected to see a 17 percent increase in employment during the first quarter of 2015, according to a comprehensive list by Manpower Group.

“Staffing plans are much stronger than quarter 4 when the net employment outlook was [7 percent],” said Manpower spokesman Michael Pinkasavage.

The increase in employment comes after a welcomed, steady decrease of unemployment in Pennsylvania.

Allentown’s mayor credits the city’s investment in the downtown with the rise in job growth.

“We have invested over a billion dollars worth of new development and millions in office space. We have close to a thousand new jobs that have been created here,” Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said.  “So far this has been a dramatic change for the positive over the course of the last several years and we hope to see more to come.”

The survey included interviews more than 65,000 employers worldwide to gauge growth in 2015.

Employment in the Northeast has been more stagnant than other regions in the United States, according to data collected by the Manpower Group

While most industries report an increase in employment outlook, the Northeast reports the lowest percent of employers looking to increase staff and the highest percent of employers planning to decrease payroll in the first quarter.

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Annual Tree Recycling Program is Here to Make Clean-Up Easy

It’s official: the holiday season is over. Thankfully, the Philadelphia Streets Department is offering a Christmas tree recycling program to assist with decoration clean-up.

Philly residents are encouraged to drop their trees off at any one of Philadelphia’s 23 pick-up locations between Jan. 10 or Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The National Christmas Tree Association offers a variety of ideas for tree recycling at home, although they may be best suited for the experienced gardener.

“A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden,” according to the National Christmas Tree Association. “If you have a neighbor with a chipper, see if he will chip it for you.”

Additionally the leftover trees make good goat snacks. So, if you happen to have a few goats, recycling the trees into tasty treats may be a viable option.

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2 Masked Gunmen Hold Up 8 Convenience Stores in 4 Weeks: Police

Police suspect that two men are behind eight armed robberies that occured at various convenience stores throughout North Philadelphia in a one month span.

The masked gunmen entered New Life Food Market, located at 2101 York St., on Nov. 15 and demanded money and cigarettes from the store clerk before fleeing the scene, authorities said.

Four days later, the suspects hit another store, North 19th Grocery at 1821 N. 19th St., and took off with a .40 caliber handgun, along with cash and cigarettes, police said.

The pair allegedly repeated the crime at least six other times, hitting Jaer Grocery at 1262 N. 29th St. on Nov. 18; Perelta Grocery at 2938 Oxford St. on Nov. 26; Rodriquez Grocery Store at 1350 N. 29th St. on Dec. 9; Karen Mini Market at 1400 N. 30th St. on Dec. 12; Torres Grocery at 1900 Ringgold St. on Dec. 17; and B & R Grocery at 2601 N. 23rd St. on Dec. 18, officials said.

A dark-colored late model Ford Taurus was spotted circling B & R Grocery prior to the Dec. 18 robbery, investigators said.

Surveillance video shows the suspects covering their faces, but they are both described as roughly 20 years old wearing black hoodies.

One suspect is estimated to be approximately 5-feet 9-inches to 5-feet 11-inches tall with a thin build, and wearing black and oragnge track pants with reflective trim, a black Nike hooded sweatshirt and sneakers.  Investigators describe the second man as 5-feet 11-inches to 6-feet 1-inch tall with a stocky build, wearing a black Nike zip-up hooded sweatshirt, capri-length jeans and sneakers.

Police urge the public to avoid confronting the suspects. If anyone has information on the men’s identities or the robberies, they can contact police at 215-686-8477.

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When Domestic Stories Make Headlines, Other Victims Get Wary of Seeking Help

When domestic abuse stories hit the front page, survivors and victims of domestic violence are forced to face their nightmares. The impact of Bradley Stone’s killing spree, and stories similar to it, can make people wonder whether it’s worth it to step forward and report their abusers.

“I think it reaffirms every nightmare they have,” said Maria Macaluso, who works with the Women’s Center of Montgomery County. “It’s their worst reality come to life. It has a dampening effect on what they are willing to do. After these things we have to talk to people in a vulnerable place.”

Macaluso said case workers started planning Monday as soon as they heard Stone shot his ex-wife and killed five of her family members in a pre-dawn rampage through Montgomery County. Domestic abuse victims who use the center’s services began questioning whether working to escape their dangerous situation was worth the potential for their abuser to lose control.

“As soon as the story was breaking [we had] people who have been working with us start calling, concerned about their safety in their situation,” said Macaluso. “It was clear very early on that it was domestic violence.”

Most domestic violence victims do not report their abusers. Only about a quarter of physical assaults and half of stalking cases get reported to police, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Faced with the fear of even more danger by aggressors and abusers, when domestic abuse stories become headlines, victims tend to become hesitant about the idea police can protect them.

“We took extra precautions for families within our shelter; we had everyone stay in,” said Ifeoma Aduba of A Women’s Place in Doylestown. “The safest thing to do in the moment was to stay off the streets away from any threats and keep out of the way of any first responders doing their job.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also sees an increase in calls during the winter season, but claims the role of the news in domestic abuse cases can be positive.

“Having the conversation about domestic violence in the media allows victims to know where to get help,” said Cameka Crawford of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “It also helps family members or friends of people experiencing domestic violence know where to get help.”

While there is a theory that reports increase during the holiday season, Macaluso reports that the Women’s Center of Montgomery County sees a drop in reports.

“There are different triggers for different people. The abuser loses their job, they’re taking jobs, the woman gets pregnant — those kind of things set people off more than holiday things.”

Aduba reports a similar issue at A Women’s Place. “Some years we see a drop in people looking for services — working to ‘keep the peace’ for the sake of their kids and not have that disruption in their family life,” she explained.

“The thing that we try to do with people we are working with is try to validate the fear they are feeling,” said Aduba. “It’s completely understandable that you would watch what occurred [Tuesday] and be unnerved by it.”

If you are in an abusive relationship, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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Real-Life Lady Grinch Arrested at New Jersey Wawa: Police

A real-life Grinch was arrested after allegedly plucking the holiday cheer from New Jerseyans’ yards.

Jeanette P. Montanez was tracked down to a Wawa in Gloucester Township after quiet onlookers said they saw her steal Christmas decorations from two homes on the 400 block of Dearborne Avenue in Blackwood, New Jersey.

A concerned community member saw the holiday buzzkill and was able to partially identify her vehicle, leading police to her arrest.

The stolen decorations, and the accompanying holiday cheer, were returned to their rightful owners.

Montanez was charged with two counts of theft and two counts of criminal attempt.

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