Mid-June issue

"T he Dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his."

American author, cartoonist
and celebrated wit
(1894 – 1961)

Extremists and Wild Fires Threaten Lobos Wolves in Arizona

Aerial wolf killing has come to Idaho

Brooklyn boy mauled to death inside his apartment by 'violent' mastiff


Ban The Deed not The Breed

How likely are New York City dogs to chomp on letter carriers?

LITTER LIT: Dog Sense, The New Science Of Understanding Dog Behavior

UPDATE: Judge Denies Request To Move Starved Pit Bull Patrick To Shelter

Paying tribute to dogs of war


New York Petition: Help Guarantee Shelter Access NOW!

Leona Helmsley's pampered Maltese 'Trouble,' one of the world's richest dogs, dies at age 12

NY Tells Pet Cemeteries To Stop Taking In Humans (2 articles)

Yelping pooches paintballed

For the Executive With Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It

14-year-old girl beat dog with shovel, doused him with gasoline, then lit him on fire

5 puppies in Paterson saved from stifling heat

Six Summertime Hazards for Dogs

Bay Shore Firefighters Rescue Dog Trapped On Roof For Hours

The Dogs of Central Park

‘For the Dogs’ Has a Whole New Meaning

Handicapped Brooklyn man with pooch in tow wins $20K bias suit against city

Get healthy with nature's personal trainers

Some large Labrador, whose parents obviously neglected his lunch

Doggie death row

Viral Outbreaks in Dogs Yield Clues on Origins of Hepatitis C

Miracle twister pup

Police Search For Vandals After Damage To 9/11 Rescue Dogs Statue

Sloppiness Aside, Dogs Are Sophisticated Drinkers Too

Nina In New York: Anyone Need A Dog Walker?

Beginners film leads star to adoption

ASPCA: Lay Off Owner Of ‘Coffee,’ Citi Field’s Panhandling Pooch

Cur caught beating pup in elevator attack

Post-Rapture pet care

Dog Runs Maryland’s Half Marathon… By Himself

Teacup poodle chases bear up a tree

Mid-May issue


"W hat counts is not necessarily the size of the Dog in the fight – but it’s the size of the fight in the Dog.”

1953 - 1961

Afghanistan, June 11, 2010

Presidential Weimaraner HEIDI

Obama shakes hand of warrior who killed bin Laden and meets military K- 9 Cairo

Q & A WITH GERRY PROCTOR: Osama bin Laden's four-legged foe

The Dogs of War: Beloved Comrades in Afghanistan

Rally As Newark Woman Accused Dumping Patrick The Pit Bull Appears In Court

New York Lawmaker Seeks To Save Shelter Animals With New Bill

Police Dogs bite dopey druggie


Results from the First-Ever Mutt Census are In!

One Dog Policy - New Shanghai law barks at dog owners

NYC Pet Show Prepares to Take Manhattan - Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chihuahua Lifts Leg, Gets Blame For LI Bomb Scare

Animals in Flood-Ravaged Areas Receive Comprehensive Disaster Relief

Evacuation Planning for Pets: Are You Prepared?ß

For Chihuahuas, the Race Is Not Always Swift

Suffolk County Passes Animal Abuse Bill

8 Die and Scores Are Hurt as Quakes Jolt Southeast Spain

Nearly 80 Animals Arrive in New York from Tornado Ravaged Zones

What’s Good for the Goose? Collies

Lady Bug gets second chance at life after lifetime of abuse

May 5 Issue

"T he greatest love is a Mother's,
then a Dog's,
then a sweetheart's."


K-9 Retiring After 3 Operations

Officer and His Dog Play Key Role in Hunt for Remains

Gunman sentenced to 26 years for shooting Ohio officer, police dog

Rescued Lab lost and found by JFK tarmac

Animal group will close on Michael Vick's Surry property soon

Containing the Costs of Pet Care

Man’s Best Friend’s Best Friend

They’re baaAack! Foxtail Season Returns With a Vengeance

ASPCA Busts Dog Fighting Operation in Virginia!

State Won’t Renew Coyote-Trapping Permits For Rye

Google should permanently muzzle Dog Wars app, LAPD union chief says

Civility on the Way Out? Add Dogs to That List

A Registry Explores Dog Deaths by Breed

Young Brain Cancer Patient Loses Custody Of Helper Dog After Attack

Man Arrested For Throwing Neighbor’s Dog By The Leash

Police Search For Robbers Who Stole Dog From S.I. Family

Will New York Get An Official State Dog?

Busy, Busy, Busy (Toting Pinky)

Complaint Box/Dog Urineß

Long Island Railroad Train Hopping Dog

Politeness at the pooch park

N.J. Homeowner Finds Fox Pups Underneath Shed

Major League Baseball Dog Days

April 10 Issue

Kisha Curtis
"Dogs are blameless, devoid of calculation, neither blessed nor cursed with human motives. They can’t really be held responsible for what they do.
But we can.”

From "The Dogs of Bedlam Farm".


Patrick the Miracle Dog - YouTube video

Congress, in a First, Removes an Animal From the Endangered Species List

Alaska Clash Over Resources and Rights Heats Up

Animal welfare groups working around the clock to help Japan's hardest hit areas care for pets

Dog rescued after quake going back to its owner

Sheriff's office K-9 Kane killed in the line of duty

CPD officer, canine partner retire together

Injured police dog witnesses bill signing

Dog owners angered by plan to charge for park

CHILDREN’S BOOKS: “Say Hello to Zorro!” and “Scritch-Scratch a Perfect Match”

A Reality Check for Steinbeck and Charley

Little oversight on ingredients in 'senior' dog food, experts say

3 of 14 Pit Bulls Hurt in Bronx Fire Were Euthanized

Redd the celebrity

Clues dug up: France and lap dogs go way back

Local NY Food Pantries Helping To Keep Pets In Homes

Gene Sharp: Wagging for Freedom

For Yale Law Students With Everything, Dog Therapy for Stress

Police Warn Rye Residents Of Coyotes

Activists Rally Against Hempstead Animal Shelter Citing Alleged Abuses

Canine Genetic Wrinkle Has Human Potential

Pit bull chases patrol car; officer radios for help

Apps to Keep Your Dog Healthy, Active and, Maybe, Quiet

March 15 Issue

Click for Story

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.


Bomb-Sniffing Dog Dies of Broken Heart After His Handler is Killed

Dog lover wins right to be buried alongside 'closest' companions' in PET cemetery

AKC Celebrates Irish Dog Breeds in Spirit of St. Patrick’s Day



Emotional Power Broker of the Modern Family

Easing the Way in Therapy With the Aid of an Animal

Forget the Treadmill, Get a Dog

The Creature Connection

Pets for working people

Hempstead reassigns animal shelter director over abuse video

Blind man keeps and his old guide dog get a new one who now leads them both around

Nina In New York: I Am One Of Them

Pet Oxygen Masks Help Save the Day

For sea dogs, swim skills aren’t required

Dog ate toes of diabetic Ore. owner as he slept (plus two related articles)

Mugsy a local celebrity when featured in Las Vegas newspaper promoting adoption of dogs


Dog Lovers Want to Loosen Proposed Leash Laws

Selden Teenager Charged With Killing Ex-Girlfriend’s Dog

Hundreds want pup that survived being put to sleep

Greenwood Lake NY rescuers pull 2 dogs from icy lake; 1 survives

Dolphins’ Splashing Saves Dog’s Life

February 28 Issue

Before you get a Dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way."

American writer and columnist
1959 - 2002

Thanks Be to Dogs: The Benefits of Owning a Pet

Missouri Legislature Moves to Weaken/Repeal Puppy Mill Reforms

My Life as a Dog: Splash, Ted Kennedy and Me

And the 'Pawscar' Winner Is...

Filet Mignon? Westminster Winner Turns Up Nose

Puppy placebos: New Yorkers are trying ‘emotional support’ dogs instead of pills

Long Island Mom And Daughter Plead Guilty To Animal Neglect

L.I. Woman Accused In Pet Torture Case Pleads Guilty

Little Pet Dog Attacked, Killed By Coyote In Fairfield

ASPCA Helps Rescue Hundreds of Dogs from Failed Ohio Sanctuary

Showboat in Atlantic City welcomes dogs to hotel

Parisian luxury hotel for dogs gets tails wagging

Wayne Residents Warned Of Possibly Rabid Fox In Neighborhood

Lost dog found in Web: Wayward-pet owners turn to new media


On Thin Ice: Fireman plunges into icy river to save dog’s life

Pets Help Sell Manhattan Apartments

Annandale civic association elects dog as president

Yo quiero bite you! Tiny dogs major culprits behind record number of bites

Two Brooklyn Women Plan To Eat Dog Food For A Month

Pit Bull Throws Weed Out of Truck Window

February 15 Issue


Dogs were used by artists in portraits to convey a wide range of subtle message and in various different symbolic roles, but their inclusion can, in many instances, be distilled to one simple reason -- they were beloved companions and, as such, it was a matter of course for them to be painted alongside their masters."

THE DOG: 5,000 Years of the Dog in Art


WESTMINSTER: A Country Dog Charms the Big Show in the City

At Westminster Dog Show, Familiar Breeds Get Little Respect

Who Are You Calling Ugly? The Xolo Is Making a Comeback

New York artist wins a different Westminster Club contest

Dog Show’s Rare Breeds Are Glimpse of History

They're 'drooly' in love

The dogs of war: Returning Heroes

NY town offers $250 for every pit bull adopted

New Hyde Park Fire Department Rescued Dog In Cesspool

3 Arrested In NYC In 2 Separate Animal Cruelty Cases

When the Dog Isn’t Yours but the Fine for Its Poop Is

Pet food pantry planned for suburban NY counties

Shots gal out of doghouse

Hiker Found Dead In Rockland Lake State Park

Neighbors in Livingston, Mont., got into a dog fight over a pooch's snack

Hundreds turn out for 'Barking Mad' doggie tweet-up in West Vancouver

Expen$ive Dogs Stolen From Long Island Pet Store

Puppy Arrives At New Tri-State Home After Airline Mix-Up

Man lucky to be alive, but his dog is killed after boat bursts into flames at Chelsea Piers

Woman charged with animal cruelty after trying to air-mail dog to Atlanta from Minneapolis

Canadians Outraged After Report of Cruelty in Mass Killing of Sled Dogs

Mass sled dog killing probed in British Columbia

January 31 Issue


And he’s housebroken – he’s broken every room in the house!”



Beagle Freedom Project Takes Wing

Canine Tumor Fuels Up by Stealing Parts From Host

Maine: Evidence that Man Bit Dog

JULIA SZABO: Celebrating Jack LaLanne, Ageless Dog Lover

'Karate Kid''s Taraji P. Henson bares All for PeTA

Pet owners fete dogs with lavish birthday parties

Wounded SWAT dog expected to recover

Mass sled dog killing probed in British Columbia

Last Two Dogs From Mt. Vernon Shelter Theft Found (2 articles)

Woman returned rescue dog 'because it clashed with curtains'

Connecticut High School Volleyball Coach Charged with Animal Cruelty

Canine Combat Member Killed in Military Training Exercise

Judge 'dogs' woman over license summons

Labrador Retriever Named Most Popular Dog In US

13-year-old boy in rural Norway circled by pack of wolves

Why Fido Snaps at Friendly People

The truth about kids & dogs

New Castle County Police officer and canine partner win national honor

Chaser vs. Chua: Sit! Fetch! Practice!

Comfy, Cozy Canine Gear

Thieves snort cremated human, dog remains believing the ashes were cocaine

January 19 Issue


A well-trained Dog starts with an owner who's committed to using positive reinforcement to get the best compliance from his four-footed friend."

Journalist, Author:
"Pretty Pet Friendly"
"Living With Dogs" column for Dogster.com
"Nose to the Ground" for fetchdog.com

Beloved SAM

WOLF MOON: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Bronx couple fights to keep their co-op and their singing 'therapy dog'

Joint Replacements Keep Dogs in the Running

A Sniff of Home Cooking

ON LANGUAGE, Chaser of 1,000 Words: Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl!

Fido’s No Doctor. Neither Is Whiskers.

Celebrate January, National Train Your Dog Month

AKC Welcomes Three New Breeds

The Dog in Finland Who Was Trained to Give a Nazi Salute

Dog-chase girl saved from icy waters

Four-Legged Assistants Sniff Out Wildlife Data

Rye Residents On Alert for Coyote Sightings

L.I. Authorities Rescue Dog After Fall Through Ice

Presidential Primary Book Club: Tim Pawlenty

13 Dogs, 2 Cats Rescued From ‘Living Hell’ In Rockville Centre

Animal taxi services offer owners a reliable ride

Arizona Shooting Suspect Once Volunteered as Dog Walker

Brother's Bite - When Sibling Rivalry Is Man Vs. Dog

Offer to name firstborn baby after anyone who finds and returns their missing Burnese

Hunted Fox in Belarus Shoots Back

For Bored Border Collies

Stories From Main Street: Morris Animal Inn, Morristown, NJ


Reality TV's a bitch: NY gals & pampered pooches

Petrified pooch plunges into Hudson, NYPD harbor cop comes to pup's rescue

Puppy tossed in Elmhurst traffic reunited with owner

Furry Friends: Three-Legged Dog Cares for Ferral Kittens

4 out of 7 Mt. Vernon Dogs Found; Search Continues For 3 Other

Have pawsport, will travel

Welcome Home, Four-Legged Friend!

BOOK REVIEW: The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe

JULIA SZABO: One Dog Lover’s 2011 Resolution: Revolutionize Training Tools

13 New Year's Resolutions for Dog Owners

Extremists and Wild Fires Threaten Lobos Wolves in Arizona
There are only about 50 left in the wild, but anti-wolf extremists are targeting exceptionally rare Southwest wolves -- even as these native animals struggle to regain a foothold in the wilderness of Arizona and New Mexico.

Please donate today to post rewards to catch poachers, help save Southwest wolves and ensure a lasting future for wolves in America.

Zealous anti-wolf hatred has driven these amazing animals to extinction in the past: Lobos disappeared from the landscape last century after decades of trapping, shooting and poisoning.

Thanks to a life-saving captive breeding program, these wolves returned to the wild in 1998. But anti-wolf extremists are once again targeting these rare animals.

Lawless killers have taken the lives of 35 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico since their reintroduction -- including two all-important alpha males last year. But only two poachers have been caught and prosecuted for their crimes.

And recently, anti-wolf extremists in Congress have introduced legislation that would remove vital federal protections for these scarce animals that are struggling to survive in the Southwest -- a move that would virtually doom these wolves to a second extinction in the wild.

Lobos simply can't survive the fierce onslaught of anti-wolf extremists without our help.Your donation will help Defenders:

Post rewards to help law enforcement capture lawless wolf-killers and put them behind bars;
Stop extreme anti-wolf legislation in Congress that would spell doom for Southwest wolves;
Counter the hate-filled propaganda of extremists through a robust public education campaign;
Work with ranchers to use proven on-the-ground techniques to keep wolves away from livestock -- and out of harm's way;
Promote other vital efforts to ensure a lasting future for America's wolves and other wildlife struggling to survive.

Please donate now to save something wild and help save struggling lobos.

For the Wild Ones,

Rodger Schlickeisen
Defenders of Wildlife

Aerial wolf killing has come to Idaho

The Wolf hunt has brought out feelings that have less to do with Canis Lupus than with something more deep-seated. Gray Wolves were exterminated long ago in most Western states, a campaign of blood lust, terror and bounty kills.”


In one of its first moves since retaking the reins of wolf management, Idaho officials last week called in Wildlife Services -- the federal government's chief wildlife-killing agency -- to kill wolves in the central part of the state.

Federal marksmen took to the skies in Idaho's Lolo wilderness, targeting up to 60 wolves to help artificially boost game populations in the region.

Please take action now: speak out against Wildlife Services' aerial gunning of wolves in Idaho.

Using radio collars to track down wolf packs in the area, the airborne marksmen only managed to kill five wolves. The mission was quickly abandoned, described as both inefficientand expensive by the Wildlife Services agents themselves.

But that's not stopping Idaho's plan to kill dozens of wolves in the region to artificially boost ELKpopulations. Wildlife Services could continue gunning from the skies and trapping on the ground.

Hunters want to kill wolves because wolves kill elk — and the human hunters want the elk. A second reason is a love of killing things. A third is an implacable, and unjustified, hostility to the wolf.”

~ Editorial: Wolf Season Begins
1 September 2009

Wildlife Services is a program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Their mission is to "create a balance that allows people and wildlife to coexist peacefully." But instead, they have become the federal government's de facto wildlife hitmen -- heavily relying on killing wildlife rather than using proven, effective non-lethal methods of control.

Now, it seems, Wildlife Services has gotten into the business of killing wolves to artificially boost ELK populations.

Idaho officials claim that wolves are a major cause of ELK declines in certain parts of the state.

But the science says otherwise: In 23 of 29 elk management zones, populations of these animals are at or above targets.In fact, many of the areas experiencing declines contain few or no wolves.

And the Clearwater National Forest --
an area targeted by Wildlife Services' aerial gunning plan -- was experiencing steep declines in
ELK numbers in 1988, well before wolves returned to the area.

Science tells us that predator populations are naturally maintained by their prey population levels
-- almost never the other way around. But Wildlife Services' plan kills wolves for doing what they do naturally: Preying on
ELK and fulfilling their ecological role in a natural system.

Help ensure a lasting future for wolves in Idaho. Speak out to help stop Wildlife Services' aerial gunning program to artificially boost elk populations.

Take action now:
Urge Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to abandon aerial wolf-killing in Idaho by Wildlife Services.
Clickon Vilsack photo at right to sign the petition

Together, we can ensure a lasting future for America's wolves.

For the Wild Ones,

Jamie Rappaport Clark
Executive Vice President
Defenders of Wildlife





We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet; and amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the Dog, has made an alliance with us.”

Belgian Nobel laureate Playwrite, Poet, Essayist


Brooklyn boy mauled to death inside his apartment by 'violent' mastiff, chaotic scene follows

May 29th 2011
-year-old boy left alone for a minute by his mother was killed when a family dog savagely mauled him as his two terrified brothers watched helplessly, cops and witnesses said.
Neighbors rushed to the Pacific St. home in Brownsville about 9:15 p.m. Friday after hearing the mother's desperate cries for help when the dog latched onto the boy's throat, witnesses said.

"Help! He ate my baby! He ate my baby!" wailed mother Saquina Jubeark (left), according to one witness.

Police said the mom insisted that she only left the boys alone for a minute to get something from a stroller in the hallway, and returned to find the dog tearing at her son.

Jubeark, after desperately trying to pull the dog off her boy, ran to a neighbor's house and called for help - but it was too late to save the child from the killer dog, sources said.

"The baby was bit in the head and neck," said neighbor Anthony Brown, 35. "The baby wasn't moving."

Jayelin Graham (right) was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital, where he died. Police said his two brothers, ages 2 and 5, were inside the room with Jayelin when the powerful Cane Corso (left) attacked. The Italian-bred dogs are large, muscular animals once used to hunt wild boars. A neighbor said the killer dog had recently eaten the family's pet rabbit.

A chaotic scene unfolded when cops arrived at the apartment as neighbors crowded near the building, witnesses said. A group of people tried to storm the home, but police held them back. Six people were later arrested and expected to be hit with obstruction charges, sources said.

No charges were expected against Jubeark, who was sobbing and hysterical when she returned to the blood-spattered apartment Saturday from a Brooklyn police precinct. She left a short time later with one of her crying kids.
An investigation was continuing, said a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney. The Administration for Children's Services was also investigating the case, although an agency spokeswoman declined to say if there was any prior history with the family.

Jayelin's grandmother, Amrett Graham, said several calls had been made to ACS. "A lot of people called," said Graham, 49. "I don't know if they actually came, but people pleaded to get the kids out of that house. [ACS] never did and now he's dead."

Neighbors said the seedy first-floor home of the family was like a small zoo with the Cane Corso, a pit bull, a German shepherd, a parrot and a snake.

It took 10 firefighters to remove the vicious dogs from the apartment, one neighbor said.

"People were scared of those dogs," said Kenny Rishar, 50, the super of the building. "The dogs belong to the husband, who is seldom here. This was a tragedy waiting to happen."

Brown said the entire street was afraid of the dog that killed little Jayelin. "It was a violent dog," he said. "Dangerous. A big dog. The whole block is scared of that dog."

Angelica Barriere, president of the PTA at Public School 178 across the street, said she ran over when she heard the screams. "I think the mother should be locked up, should be arrested," said Barriere, 32. "She had issues. The little boy was not well-dressed and was not clean, but he was a good kid."

A neighbor, Rose, who recalled Jayelin being a "real sweet little kid," said the dogs were kept in a cage.

"When you cage an animal and let it out, what do you think it will do? An animal goes wild," Rose said.

"Humans - who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals - have an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain.. A sharp distinction between humans and "animals" is essential is we are to bend them to our will, wear them, eat them - without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret."

(1934 - 1996)

Neighbors' premonitions of doom became reality after 'monster dog' rips apart little boy

Sunday, May 29th 2011
f I had not heard the story, I might have thought that one of the kids had gone wild on the floor with brown fingerpaint. But I knew it was blood and that these frenetic smears marked where the big mastiff killed a little boy who had been happily playing outside just hours before. I also knew that this was a horror that people on Pacific St. had been predicting since a man they nicknamed "Dread" arrived on the block with three of the scariest dogs in Brooklyn.

A neighbor named Robin Parkinson recalled the first time she saw the dogs some four years ago. The owner warned her against even gazing at them. "Don't look too long," the newcomer told her.

"'My God, they're big, what do you feed them?' " she recalled asking.
"Gunpowder and raw meat," Dread said.
Parkinson thought at the time that he was joking.

"What kind of dogs are those?" she asked.

Dread laughed.
"Monster dogs," he said. "I breed monster dogs."

She would recall eying the biggest of them, the one that would be classified as a mastiff, but was like no other dog she had ever seen. "That thing always has white foam from the mouth, even when it's laying down," she remembered. "I told him, 'You're right, you got monster dogs.'"

With size came ferocity that Dread insured with beatings and kicks. He gave Parkinson an unneeded warning. "He told me, 'I don't like anybody touching my dogs,' she recalled. "You couldn't pay me."

He did not want anybody even trying to show his dogs the slightest kindness.
"He told me, 'No love,' " she remembered. "You don't show his dogs love."

The Dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his."


To give his dogs monster practice, Dread hung things on the schoolyard fence for them to tear apart.
"Big stuffed animals, footballs, all kinds of things," Parkinson remembered.

Dread seemed delighted when the dogs killed cats, even a pet rabbit.

"Those dogs would kill anything," Parkinson said. "The whole block was afraid of those dogs."

Parkinson would cross the street when she saw the monster dogs, even when they were behind the building's front gate. She was afraid the biggest one, the mastiff in the thick studded collar, would vault over and come after her. "I know I look like a chicken wing to that dog," she said. "That dog IS a monster. It's Cujo!"

The dogs never bit anybody because no one came close enough. "Nobody goes near those dogs," Parkinson said. "Nobody is crazy enough to."

The only people who could not stay clear of the dogs were the four young children who lived with them in Dread's apartment.

A neighbor named Carl Peters made a prediction:
"One day, one of those dogs are going to kill one of those kids," Peters told Parkinson.

Parkinson has two dogs of her own, Brooklyn's gentlest blue nose pit bull, Diamond, and an equally good-tempered Rottweiler-Cocker Spaniel mix, Ziba. "My sweet girls," she said.

She got a shock when 4-year-old Jayelin Graham toddled over to Diamond. Jayelin lived with Dread and the monster dogs.

"First time, he came up and punched her," Parkinson recalled. "I told him no. He said, 'My daddy take the dog and go bam!' I said, 'You can't go bam on my dogs. You make nice to the dogs.'"

From then on, Jayelin would gently pet the dogs and show them love. Parkinson understood that those other monster dogs were a tragedy waiting to happen, but she still had no premonition of doom as she watched little loving Jayelin playing outside early Friday evening.

"Up and down the sidewalk," Parkinson recalled. "Happy as can be. He was just a happy kid."

The mastiff's huge studded collar was left lying in the boy's blood when the police took the monster dog in a cage from the apartment. A big parrot remained, along with a lone fish in a cloudy tank.

On the street where Jayelin had been so happily playing, Parkinson stood with Diamond and Ziba, the sweet girls the boy loved to pet once he learned not to hit them.

"It's not the dog," Parkinson said, "It's the owner."

Dogs are blameless, devoid of calculation, neither blessed nor cursed with human motives. They can’t really be held responsible for what they do.

"But we can."


From "The Dogs of Bedlam Farm"

Mutt that mauled 4-year-old to death was trained to kill by dead child's stepdad

With Bob Kappstatter and Mike Jaccarino

Sunday, May 29th 2011
he malevolent mutt that fatally mauled a 4-year-old boy as his terrified brothers watched from beneath a bed was trained to kill by the dead child's stepdad, neighbors said Saturday.

Brooklyn residents who watched Damian Jones (right) walk his powerful pets on the street were shocked but not surprised by the canine carnage that left little Jayelin Graham dead in a blood-spattered bedroom.

"Those dogs were vicious," said building superintendent Kenny Risher, 50. "They stink and they are nasty. The same dog ate their (pet) rabbit."

Another neighbor, who tried desperately to help free the child from the brutal Cane Corso dubbed "Machete," said there was no chance of pulling the overmatched boy from the dog's death grip.

"He was trained to kill,"
said the 29-year-old man. "He had the boy by his throat. The dog was shaking him. He had no chance."

But Jones, known as "Animal" or "Dread," and his devastated fiancée Saquina (Honey) Jubeark insisted the death was a tragic accident.

"He was like a big Scooby-Doo," said Jones, whose Facebook page says he's a fan of the television program "When Animals Attack."

"He acted like a big kid and just wanted to play."

Jubeark, a mother of four, was sobbing and hysterical when she returned to the gore-covered apartment after hours of questioning at a Brooklyn police precinct.

Later, she absolved her fiancé of any blame.

"People seem to be offended by facts, or what used to be called truth."

Irish born British artist
(1909 - 1992)

"It was not my son's or (Jones') fault," she told The News. "The dog had showed no sign of aggression."

Jones, who was working when the fatal attack occurred, brought the Italian-bred dog home two months ago. The dogs are large, muscular animals traditionally used to hunt wild boars. The couple was preparing for both Jubeark's 24th birthday and their June 10 wedding - two events now linked forever to the horrific killing.

Police said the fatal attack went down in a matter of seconds, when Jubeark returned to the squalid apartment with her four kids. The bride-be-be left her three boys alone in a bedroom as she carried her infant daughter into the hallway to grab her keys from a stroller. When she came back, the ferocious dog had its jaws locked on the little boy's neck as his brothers - age 2 and 5 - cowered beneath a nearby bed. Cops needed a tranquilizer gun to take the snarling dog down.

The child was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital.

"What a horrible way to die," said the boy's great-grandfather, Ameer Jamaal-Uddin. "I have a lot of frustrations, a lot of emotions, a lot of anger."

Family and neighbors recalled Jayelin as a happy-go-lucky kid often spotted playing outside. He was the second of his mother's four kids, arriving after 5-year-old Sincere and before Jordan, 2, and 6-month-old Savannah.

"He was a bright kid - good-looking little fella," said great-grandmother Ethel Jolly, 79. "When I would see him, he would call me grandma and say, 'You have to kiss me on both my cheeks.'"

The mother was released without any charges filed in the mauling. An investigation was continuing, said a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney.

The Administration for Children's Services was also investigating the case, although an agency spokeswoman declined to say if there was any prior history with the family.

Jayelin's grandmother, Amrett Graham, said several calls had been made to ACS. "A lot of people called," said Graham, 49. "I don't know if they actually came, but people pleaded to get the kids out of that house."

Neighbors described the family's seedy first-floor home as a small zoo with the Cane Corso, two other dogs, two birds and fish. Cops removed two dogs from the apartment early Saturday.

Risher and other neighbors said Jones would wear a protective arm guard while training the fierce dogs outside the family's Brownsville apartment.

"They looked mean," Risher said. "Nobody would want to go near them. They were trained to fight."

Some recalled the dogs foaming at the mouth as Jones worked the dogs into a street-clearing frenzy.

"It was a violent dog," said neighbor Anthony Brown, 35, of Machete. "Dangerous. A big dog. The whole block is scared of that dog."

The killer canine was taken to the city Animal Care & Control for a 10-day observation period before a decision will be made on its future, officials said.

Great-grandfather Jamaal-Uddin said Machete was typically laid-back. "I guess it's just like humans," he said. "It's the quiet ones you have to watch."

"The silent dog is the first to bite."


Tot mauled to death by pooch was often alone with killer dog, neighbors say
Monday, May 30th 2011
he parents of a tragic Brooklyn tot savagely mauled by his stepdad's pumped-up pooch often left the boy alone with the killer dog, neighbors said Sunday. "He had no chance," said neighbor Sabrina Ramos. "I don't know how someone would leave a child that small with a dog that big."

Neither Jayelin Graham's mother, Saquina (Honey) Jubeark, nor his stepfather, Damian Jones, have been charged in the boy's horrific death late Friday.

Investigators say the brutal pooch - a 65-pound Cane Corso named "Machete" - chomped down on the 4-year-old boy's throat after his mom left him and his siblings alone with the animal. Jayelin died from injuries to his right carotid artery, larynx, trachea and esophagus, said the city medical examiner's office.

Neighbors say Jones, 29, trained his dogs to be killers.

"The dogs are vicious," Ramos said. "I wouldn't stand outside with that big one around. I wouldn't let my child outside if that dog was out."

Jones has a rap sheet with busts for weapons possession, kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment, records show.

Ramos said investigators from the Administration for Children's Services often visited the apartment when the family first moved in two years ago, but the visits tapered off. A spokeswoman for the ACS declined to comment pending the outcome of an investigation.


The Cane Corso Mastiff is believed to have descended from the old Roman war dogs, Canis Pugnax, or Molossus, a breed now extinct.

The Cane Corso is a catch dog used to drive cattle and swine over long distances, and also in wild boar hunts. It is used by night watchmen, keepers, and, in the past, by carters as a drover. In the more distant past this breed was common all over Italy

Cane Corsi are easy to obedience train, have a willingness to please, and form a close attachment with their primary owner. As puppies, a Corso must have strong leadership and training, and although they easily learn the basic commands, any owner understands that the difficult part is controlling and moulding the Corso's strong protective instinct.

Powerful and imposing, a Cane Corso is highly suspicious of strangers, and for this reason aggression should never be encouraged. Because of their need to keep the status quo, a Corso often dislikes new things, animals, and people, so the owner must be careful when introducing the dog to new places and people.

Cane Corsi tend to be a quiet breed, though they will bark at anything they are unsure of, but for the most part, they like nothing better than staying next to their owner all the time.

A true Corso should be indifferent when approached and should only react when a real threat is present. Of course, socialization is the key to controlling the dog's natural protective instincts, because a Corso will find anything threatening if not properly socialized as a puppy.

If socialized properly as a puppy, a Cane Corso can get along with other dogs and people.

"Let slip the dogs of War"
Ancient military command

Ban The Deed
not The Breed


Breed Specific
RELATED:Tiny dogs major culprits behind record number of bites

Click on icons abobe for additional information


F.Y.I.: Questions About New York City

May 28, 2011
A recent circular I got from the post office said that May 15 to 21 was National Dog Bite Prevention Week. How likely are New York City dogs to chomp on letter carriers?

A. Relatively likely, judging by a United States Postal Service list of the cities with the most dog attacks on letter carriers for the year that ended Sept. 30. New York’s five boroughs totaled 69 bites, placing the city at the head of the pack. Next were Houston (62 bites), and San Diego and Columbus, Ohio (tied with 45). Los Angeles had 44.

Not all of New York is threatening to postal employees. Manhattan recorded only four attacks and the Bronx seven. But there must be something about Queens, which the Postal Service breaks into several parts. The Jamaica area recorded 17 bites, ahead of cities like Indianapolis, Washington and Las Vegas. Flushing had 15 bites. Staten Island had 14 and Brooklyn had 12.

Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service nearly $1.2 million last year, it said. A letter carrier has the right to refuse to deliver mail to a home where a loose or unrestrained dog seems to pose a safety threat, according to Postal Service regulations.

Among the service’s tips for dog owners, besides obedience training and neutering, are these:

Take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet, which might interpret the carrier’s actions as a threat. When a carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room. Dogs that get little attention or handling, or that are tied up for a long time, are especially prone to bite, according to the service.

"The small percentage of dogs that bite people is monumental proof that the dog is the most benign, forgiving creature on earth."

Animal trainer


Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog
“A lovely and clear-headed book on all things dog—emotion, mind, and breed. John Bradshaw’s authority and experience are matched by the thoughtfulness and humanity of his writing. Read this before you bring a dog into your life.”

Publishers Weekly
“Bradshaw…offers an alternative to conventional, dominance-based approaches to understanding dogs (Cesar Milan’s methods, for example) in an informative…guide to how canine biology and psychology determine behavior…. Bradshaw’s book is useful to those looking to further their understanding of dog behavior and clarify common misconceptions.”

Dog Sense
How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet
By John Bradshaw Reviewed by Susan Tasaki

Dogs and wolves may have more than 99 percent of their DNA in common, but when it comes to understanding dogs, John Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, says it does them an injustice to look to wolves as models. Not only did domestication have a profound impact, but also, many early wolf studies were carried out on groups of unrelated animals forced together in artificial environments, which resulted in behaviors not exhibited by wild-living wolves.

Using this model has led to what he calls “one of the most pervasive—and pernicious—ideas informing modern dog-training techniques”: that dogs are driven to set up dominance hierarchies.

This has real consequences for their well-being. Bradshaw suggests that many of the behavior problems that result in dogs being abandoned or euthanized can be laid at the door of inept training, especially training based on force.

What matters, he says, is how dogs actually learn. Bradshaw provides a wellgrounded overview of the Canis family’s evolutionary journey. He also considers dogs’ brainpower, emotional states, sensory capacities and problems that come with breeding for looks rather than temperament.

The point of all this science is to lay the foundation for his central thesis: “If owners were able to appreciate their dogs’ intelligence and emotional life for what it actually is, rather than for what they imagine it to be, then dogs would not just be better understood—they’d be better treated as well.” Ultimately, this is what makes the book so appealing. He does more than simply lay out interesting theories; he uses science to advocate for a better life for companion dogs.

Click on book cover to order from Amazon.com

The New Science Of Understanding Dog Behavior
May 26, 2011
hat's the best advice to give man about respecting man's best friend?

Animal behaviorist John Bradshaw says it's realizing that dogs are neither wolves nor furry humans and that dog owners have certain responsibilities to make sure their dogs are psychologically healthy.

Bradshaw, who has spent much of his career debunking bad advice given to dog owners, is the author of a new behavior guidebook called Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. The book details what pet owners should expect from their dogs and what their dogs should expect in return from their owners.

How To Reprimand Your Dog

One of the most common problems owners face, says Bradshaw, is knowing what to do when a dog misbehaves. For example, many owners might be inclined to immediately physically reprimand a dog for jumping up on visitors. But Bradshaw says that's the wrong way to teach your pet how to behave because dogs see any form of attention — even negative attention — as a reward. Instead, he says, owners should immediately ignore their pet completely.

"Most dogs require their owners' attention [and] they want their owners' attention," he says. "They want people's attention in general. And withdrawing that is a very powerful signal to the dog."

Bradshaw recommends folding your arms, looking away and pretending your dog isn't in the same room. Your change in body language will be apparent to your pet.

"Then you'll find that quite quickly the dog begins to realize that [their bad behavior] is not working," he says. "You can then use a distraction technique to get the dog to do something else, like sit or lie down and then it will get the idea that this is what it's supposed to do when visitors come to visit."

Bradshaw says dogs naturally want to please and play with people, especially the people who love them.

"[When a puppy's eyes open it has] a very strong ability to learn about people and ... this behavior persists throughout life," he says. "And surprisingly, most dogs, given the choice, will actually prefer human company to other dog company."

Studies indicate that dogs will naturally gravitate toward humans, though Bradshaw says how that idea gets into a dog's developing brain is still somewhat of a mystery.

"But they have an exaggerated tendency to learn from anything that people do right from the minute they're capable of doing it," he says. "They're particularly sensitive to human body language — the direction we look in, what our whole body language is telling them, pointing gestures. They are much more sensitive to things like that than almost any other species on the planet."

Creating Expectations For Dogs And Owners

Bradshaw says humans also expect dogs to be companionable when they're needed and unobtrusive when they're not. City dogs, he says, are expected to be better-behaved than the average human child and as self-reliant as adults. But these expectations, he says, create problems for modern dogs.

"Many dogs — maybe as many as half the dogs in the West — that are kept in homes have a real problem with being left alone at some point in their lives," he says. "And the problem may last for weeks or years. ... They crave the company of people. They also have a mind which does not have a particularly good sense of time, so when they get left alone, they can immediately begin to think, 'When's anyone coming back? Have I been abandoned forever?' "

Dogs can get extremely anxious as a result, Bradshaw says. But there are bits of training owners can do to help their dogs avoid separation disorders.

"You train your dog to toilet outside. You train your dog to sit on command," he says. "You should also train your dog to cope with being left alone."

Click here to listen to John Bradshaw's interwiew with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air.


Judge Denies Request To Move Starved Pit Bull ‘Patrick’ To Shelter
June 2, 2011
f they had tails, the staff at Garden State Veterinary Specialists would be wagging them. A judge awarded custody Thursday to the Tinton Falls hospital and its staff members who had been caring for a 1-year-old pit bull that was found starving in a Newark trash chute in March.

The dog was named Patrick because he was found near death the day before St. Patrick’s Day.

Patrick was at the center of a dispute between the animal hospital and Associated Humane Societies, the organization that initially discovered him. The humane society wanted to move Patrick to a shelter in Forked River that shares property with the AHS Popcorn Park Zoo to await his final adoption decision.

The hospital, who nursed him back to health, wanted to keep him until he’s ready for adoption.

According to a Facebook post from NJ SPCA, “Judge Joseph C. Cassini (left) of Superior Court of NJ in Essex rendered the verdict that Patrick is a victim and evidence, so he stays with GSVS pending criminal charges of Kisha Curtis (right).”

Authorities say Curtis tied Patrick to a railing in her Newark apartment building and left the state for more than a week. A janitor later found the emaciated dog in a trash bin. Curtis is charged with two fourth-degree offenses for “tormenting and torturing” an animal. She also faces two abandonment charges that are punishable by up to six months in jail.

Patrick’s story received worldwide attention when he was rescued in March, with hundreds of donations pouring in since then for his medical care.

Patrick with toys - Mel Evans/AP

Patrick with nurse - Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger
Kisha Curtis - Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger

Paying tribute to dogs of war
They are America's humblest -- and hairiest -- military heroes.

May 30, 2011
Military war dogs may not get their own Memorial Day parade, but they are on the front lines, protecting American soldiers, sniffing out bad guys and detecting illicit drugs overseas.

"We handlers have the most sophisticated pieces of military machinery ever made," said Petty Officer 1st Class Kathleen Ellison, 48, of Grahamsville, NY, a military-dog handler stationed at the US Naval Station in Rota, Spain.

"These dogs, no matter what their specialty, are saving US troops," added Ellison, a lifelong dog lover.

Ellison was deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan with war dogs between 2004 and 2009.

Her favorite perky companion, a German shepherd named Riki, detected mountains of illegal drugs, including marijuana, hashish and opium, while on the job.

One night on patrol in northeast Afghanistan, Riki's keen senses picked up on the movement of Taliban fighters 75 yards away. Thanks to the dog's heads-up, US soldiers -- whose night-vision goggles hadn't even picked up the insurgents -- were able to safely clear out of the area.

"[Military dogs] are on the absolute frontlines with our troops," said Ellison, who re-enlisted with the Navy after her godson's father, Lt. Vincent Halloran, was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

There are approximately 3,000 military dogs safeguarding US bases and embassies, as well as patrolling in the Middle East, according to Ron Aiello, president of the US War Dogs Association and a handler during the Vietnam War. About 60 have been killed or injured in the line of duty in the last eight years, he said.

All of the dogs are trained to conduct dangerous missions, such as the one just handled by Cairo, the Navy SEALs pooch who policed Osama bin Laden's compound during the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


New York, please help guarantee shelter access

Co-Founder, Best Friends Animal Society
JUNE 05, 2011
Your Action Needed Now: Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act legislation
in New York state.

New York assemblyman Micah Kellner (left) and Senator Joseph Robach (right) have introduced the Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act (CAARA), which will guarantee shelter access to qualified rescue groups and empower them to claim animals who are scheduled to be destroyed at shelters.

At the present time, New York law does not recognize or distinguish qualified animal rescue organizations as a unique resource capable of saving lives as well as taxpayer money. Euthanizing shelter animals is not only unconscionable, it costs money and is the ultimate form of animal cruelty. Adopting shelter pets to the public or placing them with rescue organizations generates revenue and reduces costs. Sadly, current law does not allow qualified rescue organizations to step in and provide these animals with another chance at life. CAARA will change that.

CAARA is based on the Hayden Law, which was passed in California in 1998, and a similar Delaware law that passed in 2010. The intent of the measure is to find homes for shelter pets, rather than euthanize them. Both bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
In recent weeks, Best Friends Animal Society along with other animal welfare organizations, including Alley Cat Allies and the No Kill Advocacy Center, has been working closely with New York state assemblyman Micah Kellner to help craft this bill. We believe CAARA is important and effective lifesaving legislation that reflects the values and expectations of the animal-loving public.

In addition to helping to save more animals, the bill will set higher standards of care provided to homeless pets in shelters, including fresh food and water on a daily basis, exercise, socialization, clean living spaces and adequate veterinary care. It also will ensure that animal welfare organizations empowered by this bill will be qualified to meet the needs of the animals that they rescue.

It may be surprising to many that New York state does not have such basic provisions in place already, but it doesn’t. The legal standards of care for shelter animals in the Empire State are marginal at best, and while many shelters do work with the rescue community, many do not. Some shelter directors seem to be indifferent to the profound responsibility they have for the lives in their care.

Politics is not a spectator sport, so please act now. If you are a resident of New York, send a message to the Senate and General Assembly Agriculture Committees, in addition to your own state senator and representative.

Click here to send your message!

Thank you for taking action for the animals and helping to save our homeless dogs and cats. Working together we can create a time of No More Homeless Pets in New York!

Francis Battista
Co-Founder, Best Friends Animal Society

Leona Helmsley's pampered Maltese 'Trouble,' one of the world's richest dogs, dies at age 12
Thursday, June 9th 2011
eona Helmsley's pampered pooch "Trouble," who inherited $12 million from the real estate mogul, has died at the age of 12. That's 84 in dog years.

Like many Americans, the pampered Maltese retired to Florida in 2007, shortly after Helmsley died. Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle hotel in Sarasota, cared for her.

"Trouble was cremated, and her remains are being privately retained,"
spokeswoman Eileen Sullivan said. "The funds held in trust for her care have reverted to The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust for charitable purposes."

Trouble, one of the world's richest dogs, died in December, following a series of health setbacks that left her blind and infirm, sources said.

While Helmsley left the dog $12 million, a judge later knocked it down to $2 million. Lekic said he could manage on $100,000 a year: $8,000 for grooming, $1,200 for food and the rest for his fee and a full-time security guard. The security was necessary after John Codie, a trustee of the $8 billion charitable trust, reported that Trouble had received 20 to 30 death and kidnapping threats.

The high-maintenance pooch had a life of luxury from the git-go. She was bought at a Kennel Club pet shop on Lexington Ave. and traveled home in a Mercedes-Benz stretch limo, a source said. "Codie bought her to help Leona get over her grief over Harry's death," the source told the Daily News.

The luxe life continued, as Trouble accompanied Helmsley via private jet to her homes in Arizona and Florida, her 21-room Connecticut mansion Dunnellen Hall, and Helmsley's duplex penthouse with swimming pool at the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South.

Helmsley, who cut two grandchildren out of her will and evicted her son's widow after his death, was often seen cuddling the canine, which was always impeccably dressed.

Helmsley wanted Trouble interred with her in the 12,000-square-foot family mausoleum in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Westchester County. That was not to be.

"You cannot bury pets in a cemetery," said Stephen Byelick, a member of the cemetery's board. "The same rules apply to mausoleums."

Well, they're together crossing RAINBOW BRIDGE.

State law prevents woman from being buried with pets

June 11, 2011
o humans allowed. The final wishes of animal lovers to spend eternity with their furry little pals in a pet cemetery has been thwarted by state bureaucrats.

Bronx resident Rhona Levy, 61, has already planned to be buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester along with her dog, Snow, and cats Putchke, Pumpkin and Twinkie. Her wishes are in her will, and the headstone is already there with the inscription "Mommy Will Be Home Soon." It waits for her and cat Shaina, who is 10.

"I feel these little furry children are my children. Why not be with them? They're my babies," Levy said.

But state law says cemeteries are for people and pet cemeteries are just for animals. "The two shouldn't cross," said Richard Fishman, director of the state's Division of Cemeteries.

Fishman's April letter to pet-cemetery operators said the state Cemetery Board had ruled that any business that buries people must comply with state law and operate as a nonprofit. The pet cemeteries are run as for-profit businesses.

The Hartsdale cemetery is the final resting place of some 75,000 pets, including Mariah Carey's cat and former Met broadcaster Ralph Kiner's dog, and perhaps 700 of their devoted owners.
The pet cemetery has allowed people to be buried there for decades, as long as they were cremated and their pets beat them to the grave.

Cemetery director Edward Martin (said its lawyers have always maintained that the human ashes "are no longer human" and therefore could be placed anywhere, including a pet graveyard. He said about 10 people a year want to be buried with their pets at the five-acre ceme tery. The burials cost $235 plus a one-time $1,800 payment for perpetual care.

Retired NYPD Officer Thomas Ryan wants to rest in peace with his wife, Bunny, and beloved Maltese pups -- BJ the First and BJ the Second. Instead, Ryan's ashes are sitting on a shelf at his sister's upstate home and his distraught family is seeking permission for the former Bronx resident's remains to rest in peace. The Korean War vet died in April.

"We had a family memorial service. Relatives flew in from Ireland. It was excruciating to go through all that and not be able to end it with a burial," fumed Ryan's niece Taylor York.

Rhona Levy photo: ANGEL CHEVRESTT
Ed Martin by the plot reserved for his family and their pets in Hartsdale photo: AP


NY Tells Pet Cemeteries To Stop Taking In Humans
June 11, 2011
state agency has told New York’s animal cemeteries to stop burying the ashes of pet owners alongside their beloved cats, dogs and parakeets.

The order from New York’s Division of Cemeteries comes as a growing number of Americans are deciding to share their final resting place with their pets.

The ruling has blocked at least one burial at the 115-year-old Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, which claims to be the nation’s oldest. And it has upset a woman who had prearranged to have her ashes interred there along with five pets, four of which are already buried.

“Suddenly I’m not at peace anymore,” Rhona Levy of the Bronx said Friday. “You want to be with the people you are closest with, your true loved ones. The only loved ones I have in my life right now are my pets, which I consider my children.”

Levy, 61, said she has no backup plan and is hoping the state order will be reversed.

Taylor York, a law professor at Keuka College in Penn Yan, N.Y., said the state order compounded the grief in her family after the April death of her uncle, Thomas Ryan. Ryan’s wife, Bunny, and their two dogs, B.J. I and B.J. II, are buried at Hartsdale. Ryan had arranged, and prepaid, to join them, York said. There’s also a space for B.J. III, who’s still alive. But Ryan’s ashes sit in a wooden box at his sister’s home because the state’s new rule won’t allow him into Hartsdale. “My mother is completely distraught over this,” York said. “She breaks down in tears again and again, every time it crosses her mind. After watching her brother die, she has to go through this insanity?”

Hartsdale was ordered to stop taking in human ashes, it never allowed intact human remains, on Feb. 8, three days after it was featured in an Associated Press story about human burials in pet cemeteries. The order was issued statewide in April, said Lisa MacSpadden, spokeswoman for the New York Department of State, which includes the cemetery division.

She said that remains buried in human cemeteries benefit from state protections more so than if they are buried at pet cemeteries. For instance, she said human cemeteries qualify for the state-mandated permanent maintenance fund, which ensures that lots and cemeteries are maintained.

Hartsdale has an estimated 700 humans interred with about 75,000 animals. It has added 10 or 12 in each of the past few years, compared with three to five before, Ed Martin Jr. (left), the cemetery’s president and director, said in February. The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories has also noted a recent increase nationwide.

The New York cemetery division said any cemetery providing burial space for humans must be operated as a not-for-profit corporation. And by promoting the human-interment service and charging a fee, $235 to open a grave and add ashes, Hartsdale was violating laws governing not-for-profit corporations, it said.

However, Martin says the pet cemetery is a private, for-profit business. And the Division of Cemeteries’ own website says private cemeteries do not fall under its jurisdiction.

“It seems ridiculous we can’t do it,” Martin said Friday. “As of now, we’ve suspended the human part of it, but it’s our position that they don’t have the authority to do this.” He said the service was an accommodation for customers and never raised significant revenue.

York, who has a law practice in addition to her teaching post, has sent the cemeteries division a legal memo detailing why she believes it cannot prevent human burials in pet cemeteries.

“The law is clear,” she said. “There’s no authority for this board to just arbitrarily impose nonprofit corporation law on a privately incorporated for-profit business. … If I have to file a lawsuit, then I’ll file a lawsuit.”

“My uncle wants to be buried beside his wife and what he considered to be his children and I’m not letting anyone stand in the way,” she added. “His love for those dogs was just as real and just as strong as any parent’s for any child.”

The state asked Martin to sign a pledge that Hartsdale had stopped human interments, but he has resisted. Instead, he asked the state to at least “grandfather” the cases of people who had already arranged to have their ashes buried with their pets.

MacSpadden said that request would be discussed at the next Cemetery Board meeting.

The state position could disrupt Martin’s own plans. He said earlier this year he hoped his ashes would be added to a family plot, including a dog, at Hartsdale.

Woman sits in front of a dog’s grave at a pet cemetery
Jeff Chiu/AP
Headstones marking the graves of pets are spread throughout the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery
Seth Wenig/AP

Yelping pooches paintballed

June 17, 2011
n uptight Swiss man was so annoyed by the ceaseless barking of a Brooklyn neighbor's dogs that he allegedly opened fire on the pooches with a paintball gun.

Daniel Lacin, 26, let off the rapid volley of splattering shots at two dogs loudly yapping at construction workers at around 11 a.m., Wednesday police said. "In Switzerland, we train our dogs not to bark," he allegedly told their owner, Peter Wojcik (below left).

Baby, a 1-year-old pit bull-terrier mix, got the worst of it, taking 10 paintball hits, including three to her face. Birdie (below right), a 3-year-old pit bull-mastiff mix, took five shots.

Wojcik, 32, said he was in the shower when he heard a "tat-tat-tat-tat" noise. "Then, I heard Baby squeal like a pig and scream," he said. "I come out in a towel, and my dogs are covered in paint."

"I yelled, 'Who's the f - - king p- - -y shooting at my dogs?!' Then I see a guy up on the roof with a paintball gun. He says, 'Tell your dogs to shut the f - - k up.' "

When Wojcik complained about the dogs' injuries, he said, Lacin replied, "Your dog is not dead. What are you worried about?"

Lacin was arraigned yesterday on charges of reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, weapon possession and injuring and torturing animals. He was freed without bail. His lawyer, Elizabeth Latimer, said the charges should be dismissed.

"He's a very responsible person," she said. "And he's a dog-lover, for whatever it's worth. This is not a true animal-abuse case."

Photo Credits
Baby: Peter Wojcik
Wojcik, Birdie: CBS 2 stills

For the Executive With Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It

June 12, 2011
on’t call her a guard dog.

When she costs $230,000, as Julia did, the preferred title is “executive protection dog.” This 3-year-old German shepherd, who commutes by private jet between a Minnesota estate and a home in Arizona, belongs to a canine caste that combines exalted pedigree, child-friendly cuddliness and arm-lacerating ferocity.

Julia and her ilk have some of the same tracking and fighting skills as the dogs used in elite military units like Navy Seal Team 6, which took a dog on its successful raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. In fact, Julia was sold by a trainer, Harrison Prather (right), who used to supply dogs to Seal Team 6 and the British special forces.

But then Mr. Prather switched to a more lucrative market.

He and others in the high-end dog training business say prices have shot up thanks to the growing number of wealthy people around the world who like the security — and status — provided by a dog with the right credentials. Moguls and celebrities now routinely pay $40,000 to $60,000 for a well-bred German shepherd that is certified as an expert in the sport of Schutzhund, which means “protection dog.” The price can go much higher if a dog does well at an international championship, as Julia did.

“She’s a top deal,” Julia’s owner, John Johnson (right), said as she escorted him around the grounds of his 15-acre estate outside Minneapolis. “She’s won awards. She looks at you, she’s got the most beautiful face.”

But $230,000?

“It’s a lot of money,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s the speed, the smartness, the quickness — and you would not believe the roughness that she has inside. She’s like a little pit bull when she bites. She has that model face, and then opens the gums up and lets you have it.”

Mr. Johnson said he got his first protection dog after receiving personal threats while he was running the Northland Group, a debt-collection company in Minnesota that he founded and eventually sold three years ago. Now he has six protection dogs, all German shepherds, and normally takes a couple in his car whenever he goes out.

“It’s for both security and companionship,” he said as Julia nuzzled his leg, looking like a gentle enough companion. But when an intruder emerged near the tennis court of his estate, all it took was one command, “Packen!” (the bite command from the German word for “seize”), to send Julia racing across the lawn.

She sunk her teeth into the intruder’s arm, which was encased in padding for a demonstration, and hung on even as he lifted her off the ground in a vain attempt to shake free of her. She let go only upon being commanded and then stood guard over her new prisoner, barking and threatening to bite again whenever he made a move to escape, which he wisely did not try.

Julia’s was a controlled ferocity, which trainers distinguish from the anger manifested by ordinary dogs. When two dogs try to intimidate each other, they stiffen, growl, bare their teeth and stare intently.

Protection dogs are trained to continue looking around and protecting their owners, not establish their own dominance. And, when commanded, they are supposed to switch instantly from attack mode to pet mode.

“The dog has to get along with children,” Mr. Prather said. “The client is often a guy on his second family. He travels a lot, leaves his wife alone with the kids in a large house — maybe 30,000 square feet, so big you don’t even know what’s going on at the other side of the house. He wants peace of mind and a dog that his wife can handle. We don’t sell tank-stoppers.”

The price tag for a protection dog has risen because of increasing demand in the United States, Latin America (especially Mexico), the Middle East, Asia and other places, said Mr. Prather and Wayne Curry (left), the owner of Kraftwerk K9 in Rochester, Wash.

“I’ve turned down offers of more than $200,000 for one of my champion dogs,” said Mr. Curry, who added that he knew of a dog that had sold for more than $400,000 because of its bloodline and breeding potential. (Although Julia’s offspring most likely would have commanded top prices, Mr. Johnson said he had no time to breed her and instead had her spayed shortly after buying her in January.)

To clients who can afford the $50,000 price for a typical well-credentialed dog, there are lots of ways to rationalize the price. “When you compare the costs of a full-time bodyguard versus a dog, the dog makes a lot of sense,” Mr. Curry said. “And the dog, unlike the bodyguard, can’t be bought off.”

Mr. Prather said one client, a well-known entertainer, came to him after first trying to ward off a stalker by hiring bodyguards. “The stalker stabbed one of the bodyguards, got out of jail and started showing up again,” Mr. Prather said. “Then they got a canine, and they haven’t seen the stalker since. People just have an innate fear of animals with sharp teeth. We don’t want to be on the menu.”

Mr. Prather’s dogs are trained for three years in Germany before they go to South Carolina, where they receive further training and are put to the test of family living. Before her sale, Julia lived for four months in the home of November Holley, the company’s vice president and head trainer.

“I’ve probably trained a thousand dogs, and she’s the best I’ve ever seen,” Ms. Holley said. “The total package. Did absolutely everything you wanted, no questions asked. Good with kids, good with horses, good with cats. A perfect lady in the home.”

Julia also proved her mettle as a babysitter, Ms. Holley added. “If my daughter Kailee was outside in the woods, I’d say, ‘Julia, where’s Kailee?’, and she’d go out and find her. She was like a person.”

At her new home in Minnesota, Julia has a part-time trainer, Jeremy Norton (left), who also works as a firefighter in Minneapolis. Mr. Norton agreed that Julia was a special dog, but he smiled a bit uncomfortably when asked to explain the $230,000 price.

“It’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “That’s as politic an answer as I can muster. I mean, Julia’s nice, but that’s half my house. There’s no way to wrap your head around that.”

Click on KRAFTWERK logo for website


Costly Guard Dogs
June 17, 2011

To the Editor:

Re “For the Executive With Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It” (front page, June 12):

As a lifetime German shepherd owner and former breeder and exhibitor, I know that German shepherds possess wonderful traits. They are courageous, loyal, smart and would give their lives for their families. They are not, however, diseaseproof or bulletproof.

To spend $230,000 on a living thing that could be felled by illness or a bullet gives new meaning to the phrase “wretched excess.”

If these people need a status security system, they could spend a fraction of that on a well-trained protection dog and have money left over to donate to one of the many worthy rescue groups trying to save abandoned and stray animals from the dire fates that await them on the streets or in kill shelters.

Laurel Hollow, N.Y., June 14, 2011

14-year-old girl beat dog with shovel, doused him with gasoline, then lit him on fire

Thursday, June 09, 2011
14-year-old girl is facing animal abuse charges in Missouri after hitting a dog with a shovel, then setting it on fire, cops said.

The black Lab puppy named Phoenix suffered third-degree burns over 40% of his body and lost his ears in the horrific attack, according to Fox 8 News in Kansas City.

An adult relative of the teen is also being charged with animal neglect for failing to get the dog medical care. Maria Alarcon (right) waited a day before taking Phoenix to a vet, police said. The 43-year-old claimed she did not get the dog help sooner because she couldn't afford it.

5 puppies in Paterson saved from stifling heat
June 8, 2011

pit bull mother and her five 2-week-old pups denned in a derelict house would have perished in Tuesday’s stifling heat if not for the initiative of several residents.

After alerts by neighbors, city Chief Animal Control Officer John DeCando (left) recovered the animals from an abandoned house at 607 East 22nd St. on Tuesday.

In addition to the mother pit bull and her puppies, authorities removed six other adult dogs from the house.

DeCando said his office learned of the abandoned dogs after neighbors living nearby heard several barking dogs inside the deserted residence.

“They definitely would have been dead with this heat,” says DeCando, who said mom and her pups are now doing fine and will have a second chance at life. “The mother and the pups were on the second floor of this building, with the sun beating down on them all day. Another day in there and they would not have made it,” he said.

The puppies are so young they have yet to open their eyes, DeCando said. They will receive medical attention and will be cared for over the next two months by S.T.A.R.T. II, an animal rescue agency located in Wayne.

DeCando said he has been fielding calls all morning from people interested in adopting one of the five pit bull puppies, but the animals won’t be ready for adoption until at least August. “S.T.A.R.T. II will foster these pups until they are old enough for adoption,” DeCando said. “These pups are absolutely gorgeous. It’s very disturbing knowing there are people out there that would leave these dogs like this. They could have perished if not for these concerned citizens. It’s a happy ending.”

DeCando, who has been Paterson’s animal control officer going on 37 years, said that the home the dogs were found in has since been boarded up by the Department of Public Works. He did not know who owned the home, but said he’ll be looking for whoever abandoned the dogs inside.

“I’d love to find them, because I’ll be banging them with a bunch of tickets,” DeCando said. “They’ll get up to 40 tickets, each one carrying a six-month prison sentence and $1,000 in fines.”

Photo of Pit and puppies: KEVIN R. WEXLER

Six Summertime Hazards for Dogs
By Casey Lomonaco, KPA CTP

June 7, 2011
easonal pet health hazards should be considered during the extreme temperatures of both winter and summer. Keeping pets safe during the summer is easiest if you know what the risks are and how to manage them for your dog's safety.

The dog days of summer provide lots of opportunities for fun with your dog (camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking and backpacking, to name a few) but also bring a unique set of health hazards and risks pet owners should be aware of; including, though not limited to: dehydration, burned pads, parasite infestation, heat stroke, leptospirosis, and seasonal allergies.

Six Common Summer Hazards for Dogs

1. Dehydration
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe in the summer time is by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes, and introducing canned dog foods (best when frozen in a Kong!) to increase the moisture content in your dog's diet.

2. Burned Pads
Under the summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog's paws. To avoid scorched paws, walk your dog very early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off. If you must walk your dog during the day, dog booties can protect his feet. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds - if you must pull your hand away because the street is too hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. If you don't want your hand on the street for thirty seconds, your dog probably does not want his paws on it for thirty or more minutes of walking.

3. Parasites
Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; pests which can present a minor discomfort to your dog at best and at worst may be life threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors. Feeding your dog a high quality diet, without preservatives or chemicals will build his immune system, making him generally more resistant to parasite infestation. There are a wide variety of preventatives on the market, including chemical spot-on treatments, repellent shampoos, essential oils, and flea/tick collars; talk to your vet to see what she recommends for your dog. Cleaning your house frequently and keeping your dog well groomed will also reduce the risk of parasite infestation.

4. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a serious risk to dog's health - in worst case scenarios, it can be fatal. You can prevent heat stroke by restricting your pet's exercise during the hottest hours of the day (early morning or late evening are the best times for exercise during the summer), by making sure he is well hydrated, providing cool places for him to relax, providing opportunities to swim, cooling mats, and by never leaving your dog unattended in the car during summer heat.

Many dogs die annually in hot cars. Even if your windows are cracked or you park in the shade, heat can build quickly in a car in the summer, turning it into an oven. If it's 95 degrees at noon and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature in your car may still rise as high as 113 degrees.
This is a recipe for disaster for your dog. If you must leave your dog in the car for any period of time, the air conditioning should stay on. Leaving a dog to die in a hot car is not just a health risk for your dog, but may be cause for animal cruelty charges in some area. The solution? Don't leave your dog in a hot car.

5. Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is contracted through bodily fluids or tissue and can be transmitted through direct (as in the case of a bite or ingestion of flesh) or indirect contact (through water sources, food, etc.) with an infected animal. Stagnant waters are a common source of leptospirosis bacteria. Lepto can cause permanent health problems or death if not treated quickly. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, trembling/shaking, lethargy, anorexia, tenderness of joints and muscles, and increased water intake. If you suspect your dog has lepto, get him to a vet right away, an emergency vet if need be. There are vaccines for lepto but they do not prevent all strains and can cause significant adverse reactions. Talk to your vet about
weighing the risk of infection with the risks associated with the lepto vaccine.

6. Seasonal Allergies
Your dog may be allergic to one or more seasonal items, which include fleas, grass and various plants, and mold. If you suspect your dog may have seasonal allergies, is scratching and perhaps losing fur, a visit to your vet is recommended. Here is a great website where you can learn more about the various kinds of allergies affecting dogs and treatments for canine allergies in any season.

About the Author: Casey Lomonaco graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior. She owns Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training in Binghamton, NY. Keep up with Casey by visiting Dogster's Dog Training Guide.

Two worthwhile COOLERS to look into for your Dog in heat

Click on images for information and ordering

Bay Shore Firefighters Rescue Dog Trapped On Roof For Hours
June 6, 2011
t was quite a terrifying morning for a little puppy named Rosie. Apparently, she decided to go for a sky-high adventure on her dog-sitter’s roof. Getting to her precarious perch was the easy part, but firefighters had the tough job of saving her life, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

We’ve all heard of a 'cat on a hot tin roof,' but what about a dog?

“Never in my life, ever, did we see anything like this,” neighbor Pat Baker said. “Who would expect that you would see a dog on a roof?”

That’s exactly what Baker and her husband spotted on top of their neighbors’ house. “At first, like i said, I thought it was an owl or something,” Baker said.

It was Rosie, a tiny mixed breed that had been trapped on the roof for at least two hours. The neighbor’s son was watching Rosie for a friend when she escaped.

Bay Shore firefighters Michael Ippolito and Tom Komoroski came to the rescue. “Our first concern was it was a very steep roof, so we didn’t want her to get scared and run down, possibly slip and fall,” Komoroski said.

Lieutenant Ippolito straddled the 30-foot roof and slowly inched his way toward Rosie.“Saw the dog, seemed pretty terrified, shaking. I went up, calmed the dog down…I just kind of put my hand out and let the dog smell me, and with that I just grabbed the collar and pulled her in,” Ippolito said.

“I’m just glad the dog got down without anybody getting hurt, the dog getting hurt – just doing what we’re told,” Komoroski said.

So how did Rosie get up there? The dog-sitter said the answer was pretty simple – Rosie was on the second floor and jumped out a rear window onto the roof.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Baker said. “The firemen, they handled it great.”

After a few scary hours atop a roof, things are looking just rosy again for the adventurous pup.



June 5, 2011
The Dogs of Central Park
It is billed as “a photographic love letter to dogs.” In “The Dogs of Central Park” (Universe Publishing, $19.95), the photographer Fran Reisner writes that she has never seen so many in one place. During seven visits to New York, she captured on film a vast assortment of breeds and mutts, purebreds and rescue dogs, and presents them in vivid color.

The Health Department estimates there are 500,000 dogs in the city.

Among those she introduces are “Lenny, the world traveler; Scheki, the three-legged beauty rescued from Israel; Charley, the certified Delta Dog; Daisy, whose eyes inspired Roberta Flack to stop and sing to her; Gertrude, a pit bull mix who was rescued by Bernadette Peters.”

In the preface, Adrian Benepe (right), the city’s parks commissioner, says:

“Let Maine have its moose and Florida its manatees! In the heart of Manhattan, it takes a dog to understand the beauty of autumn leaves, the thrill of new-fallen snow and the promise of flowers on a rainy spring day.”

‘For the Dogs’ Has a Whole New Meaning

June 4, 2011
isa Cornish is rattling off today’s menu:
• Pan-seared duck with brown rice and blueberry compote.
• Roasted turkey with butternut squash and russet potatoes.
• Salmon with black-and-white quinoa.

Delish. Just keep in mind that all of this, right down to those banana and yogurt health bars, is dog food. Not mere Alpo, mind you — not by a long shot. And to prove it, Ms. Cornish, who works for a company called Petcurean Pet Nutrition, will give you a taste.

If you’re wondering why anyone would even consider noshing on dog chow, you haven’t been to the Global Pet Expo here, where the impresarios of America’s thriving, multibillion-dollar pet economy profitably ply their wares.
If there is a pet heaven, this could be it.

Even as the economy for us humans bogs down again, the pet economy has proved remarkably resilient to a weak housing market, high unemployment and those diminished 401(k)’s. The industry has continued to grow through the recession, albeit at a slower pace, and last year, Americans spent a record $55 billion on their pets, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts, more than the gross domestic product of Belarus.

Wherever the stock market goes — and lately, it has been going down — this nation seems to be in the thrall of a great bull market for pets. And high-priced, “human grade” pet food is only the beginning.

Pet owners, or “parents” in industry parlance, are being sold on human-style luxuries and medical care. There are stylish rain slickers, organic foods and even antidepressants for today’s pampered cats and dogs. If more evidence of this boom were needed, consider Neuticles, prosthetic testicles for neutered dogs and cats, at about $1,000 a pair, which, their designers say, help “your pet to retain his natural look, self esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.”

Make no mistake: this is big business, as a visit to the Pet Expo here shows.

Over at one booth, Debbie Bohlken, owner of Claudia’s Canine Cuisine, sits behind a table of brightly-decorated cookies and cakes that wouldn’t look out of place in a bakery. All of these treats are for dogs. She sells her products under the slogan: “Treat Her Like the Bitch She Really Is.”

“Will you try one?” she asks. Her dog biscuits, it turns out, taste a bit like ginger snaps.

Elsewhere, manufacturers are marketing foods with ingredients worthy of a Michelin-starred restaurant: pheasant, freshwater trout, yak’s milk, organic pumpkin — the list goes on. There is much more to this than food. At the Petzlife booth, one of the owners, Steve Tibbetts, explains that his oral spray is made from “human-grade” ingredients that keep a dog’s teeth and gums healthy and fight dog breath. He says it works for cats, too. And apparently, for people: Mr. Tibbetts sprays the stuff into his mouth. Twice. “People are just ga-ga over their pets,” Mr. Tibbetts says. “They’ll spend money on their pets before they spend money on themselves.”

The growth in the pet market last year was driven in part by a 7 percent increase in veterinary services. America’s pet population, like its human one, is living longer. Human medical technologies are increasingly being used for pets. Dogs’ and cats’ owners — particularly those without children at home — are taking better care of them, both medically and nutritionally, experts say.

“Pet owners aren’t just looking to provide a home for their pets,” says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. “They are investing in their pets’ quality of life. Oftentimes they do this at their own expense, cutting personal expenses, but not those affecting their faithful companions.”

Jessica Taylor, managing editor of Petfood Industry, says that when she started at the magazine four years ago, the pet food industry lagged human trends by a year or more. Now, it is just six months behind, or less. She predicts that blueberries and pomegranates, whose antioxidant wonders have been marketed to humans in recent years, will be the next big thing in pet food.

THE pet industry has long considered itself recession-resilient, and it proved just that during the recent downturn, despite some bumps along the way. For instance, shelters were swamped with pets that were given up by owners who apparently could no longer afford them. Fewer people bought pets, in part because pets are often acquired after a home purchase, and there were considerably fewer of those.

Sales growth of pet products slowed, particularly among “hard goods” like leashes and bowls. But they were still up — which is more than you can say for many industries. Sales growth of natural pet products slowed to a relatively meager 6 percent in 2009, compared with 43 percent in 2007, according to Packaged Facts.

Analysts say the pet industry will continue to rebound, driven by demand for veterinary care and health-related products, including premium treats and chow for dogs and cats.

“I’m still very bullish on natural and organic,” says David Lummis, senior pet market analyst for Packaged Facts, noting that such products account for about 7 percent of pet food sales. “There is still a lot of growth there.” In addition, he notes that expected demand for luxury pet products is strong enough to lure companies and even celebrities into the business. Among them: Martha Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Fisher-Price and General Nutrition Center, which now offers health supplements for pets.

Wall Street is bullish, too. Shares of PetSmart, the pet store chain, are hovering near a record high, at $43.46 a share. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company said same-store sales had increased 6 percent over the quarter a year earlier.

PetSmart’s main competitor, Petco, is privately owned and doesn’t publicly report its earnings. But Jim Myers, Petco’s chief executive, says his company did not have a single negative quarter throughout the recession. Fewer people traded up to more expensive items during the downturn, but he said they didn’t trade down, either, sticking with a “premium and higher-level range of food products.” “Our perspective is that, thankfully, we are in a pretty emotional category,” Mr. Myers says.

At a Petco store in West Orange, N.J., natural and organic products occupy more than half the aisles set aside for dog and cat food. A sign hanging from the ceiling reads, “It’s all natural: the very best natural products for your pet.”

A representative for Blue Buffalo dog food, Gina Corbosiero, is to pitch an array of products, which she says are “holistic” and contain antioxidant pellets that are “cold pressed.”

Blue Buffalo’s dog food costs as much as $4 a pound, but it isn’t the most expensive line on these shelves. Royal Canin makes dog food for specific breeds. Its Shih Tzu line sells for $6.80 a pound. Lowly Pedigree, by comparison, costs 50 cents a pound.

It’s all too much for Mike Pinkard, 46, who was dispatched to buy some food for his daughter’s new pit bull-Labrador retriever puppy, Taz. Asked what he will buy, he says: “I have no idea. It’s changed so much from when I had a dog.” When Mr. Pinkard was a kid, he says, “It was regular dog food. Make sure you give them water and exercise and you are in good shape.” He settles on a bag of Nature’s Recipe, a midprice natural brand.

Are our pets healthier for all of this? Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary nutrition at Ohio State University, says his students have studied the diet history of thousands of animals and have not yet determined that one pet food is better than another. “We have been unable to distinguish an outcome in healthy animals eating a wide variety of foods,” he says. Asked about the variety at megastores like Petco, he says, “I don’t even go in there anymore. I wouldn’t know where to start.”
He adds: “If you put them all in a plain brown bag, you’d probably be fine with any one of them.”

ABOUT 62 percent of American households have a pet, with dogs accounting for 40 percent of the total. Cats are second, at 34 percent. Dog and cat ownership has continued to grow slightly in recent years, even as the popularity of other types of pets, like birds, fresh-water fish and reptiles, has declined But the vendors at the Global Pet Expo, held at the Orange County Convention Center here in April, are betting that pet owners will splurge again.

One vendor is offering treadmills and treadwheels — essentially oversize hamster wheels — that let dogs exercise indoors, without the indignities of cracked sidewalks or rain.

There are “eco-friendly” pieces of furniture, grooming products and wipes, the wipes made from organically grown bamboo. An Israeli firm hawks dog shampoo containing Dead Sea minerals. Another, Pet Pop of Australia, promotes a vitamin-infused “mountain-spring water” for dogs. The price: $3.30 a bottle, about as much as a gallon of milk.

“We actually saw that there was a gap in the market for beverages for dogs,” says Bonnie Senior, a manager at the company. Then there is Jenn Mohr, who says she combined her love of dogs and love of candles to create Sniff Pet Candles. Made of “100 percent organic natural ingredients,” the aromatherapy candles have names like “Day in the Hamptons” and “Field of Dreams” and “promote your dog’s optimum health and well-being,” her company says. Ms. Mohr even designed a candle to address the flatulence of Rufus, her Rhodesian ridgeback. Made with floral ylang-ylang, white tea, myrtle and fennel, the “Fart & Away” candle “won’t completely stop them,” Ms. Mohr says. “But it will help.” The price: $28.

Aromatherapy candles aside, pet food, rather than pet extras, dominates the expo. Many vendors were pushing the idea of human grade pet food. Nummy Tum Tum, which sells canned organic pumpkin and sweet potato for pets, acknowledges that the line between pet and owner has been blurred. Last fall, amid a pumpkin shortage, people called to ask if it was O.K. to use Nummy Tum Tum to make pumpkin pies.

Answer: Sure. Daniel Stockton, national sales manager, says the company that makes Nummy Tum Tum makes canned pumpkin for pies, too. It simply switches the label. Both are simply pureed vegetables.

“What you can do is make some pies out of it, and leave the cans on the counter after everyone has eaten to freak people out,” Mr. Stockton says.

Canine Caviar Foods says it makes “the only alkaline-based dog food in America that was specifically designed to prevent cancer.” The ingredients include canned beaver, duck and venison tripe for dogs and cats, as well as a variety of “free-range, grass fed buffalo” treats for dogs.

The Honest Kitchen is offering dog food with names like “Zeal” and “Verve” and lists the provenance of the ingredients. There is organic, fair-trade quinoa from Bolivia and “wild, line-caught Icelandic haddock.” Its food is “gently dehydrated” to preserve it.

Hill’s Science Diet promotes prepackaged meals to help slim down tubby dogs and cats. American pets, it turns out, have weight problems just like many of their owners.

“We show you how to feed your animal to lose weight,” says Mike Gooch, a sales manager for Hill’s Science Diet. “It’s really kind of a paradigm shift in how you control the weight of the animal.”

Of course, it would be easier — and substantially cheaper — to feed pets less or take them for longer walks. But Mr. Gooch said that simply isn’t happening for pets or owners. “I would like to see us eat less McDonald’s and Hardees,” Mr. Gooch quips.

Bravo Raw Diet is peddling raw food for pets, which, along with refrigerated pet food, is among the hottest trends in the business. Bette Schubert, a co-founder, says dogs that eat raw meat diets — much like their wild ancestors — are healthier than those that eat processed kibbles.

Over at the Del Monte booth, Don Terry and Daniel Caulfield take all of this in with an air of bemusement. Del Monte makes old-line dog food like Kibbles ’n Bits, Gravy Train, Milk Bone and Snausages. Neither seems too worried about all these organic and holistic upstarts. “Do you know how many Milk Bones we sell compared to these companies doing $2 million a year?” Mr. Terry asks. “Dogs have lived a long time on Kibbles ’n Bits and Gravy Train.”

Mr. Terry, however, isn’t about to pop a Snausage into his mouth.

The idea of eating your dog food to prove its wholesomeness didn’t originate at the Global Pet Expo. Paul Newman sampled his organic dog food on “The Tonight Show” in 2006. The audience howled.

These days, pet food makers are eating their own products to make a point and close a sale, wisecracks aside. Ms. Bohlken, of Claudia’s Canine Cuisine, says she ate all sorts of dog treats while tweaking recipes for her products, which now include cookies and microwaveable cakes for dogs. Even now, she says, she will suck on a Puppy Pop when she has a sore throat.

Up in Brooklyn, Hanna Mandelbaum and Alison Wiener spent March dining on their dog food, Evermore, a brown mush made from beef hearts and chicken livers, among other things. “My business partner really enjoys the taste,” Ms. Mandelbaum says. “For me, it was a little bit more an acquired taste.”

The gimmick generated a huge spike in sales but came at a price: relentless ribbing from friends.
Says Ms. Mandelbaum:
“They want to know if we have a sudden urge to sniff each other’s butt.”

Global Pet Expo photos: Gary Bogdon for The New York Times

Handicapped Brooklyn man with pooch in tow wins $20K bias suit against city

Wednesday, June 1st 2011
handicapped Brooklyn man's bark is worse than his sight.

Charles Romo Jr. recently was awarded more than $20,000 by a city judge after complaining that he was barred from entering a state building to claim his benefits while toting his Italian Greyhound.

Romo, 47, is blind in one eye - but his pooch, Ramses, is not a guide dog. Ramses is registered as a service dog with the Health Department because he helps Romo with 9/11-related posttraumatic stress disorder.

That didn't fly with ISS Security guards, who said the building allows visitors to have only service dogs for the blind.

When Romo was stopped June 30, 2009, in the lobby of 55 Hanson St., he did not have his papers showing Ramses was a service dog. A heated dispute ensued.

One of the guards demanded that Romo disclose his disability, Romo testified at a February 2011 hearing. A guard claimed that Romo spat at her as the argument escalated.

In an effort to calm the situation, the building manager moved Romo into his office and called Romo's case manager, who was handling his visual impairment benefits under the state's Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities program.

Romo submitted his paperwork and was then escorted out of the building.

He filed a complaint with the city Commission on Human Rights, alleging that he'd been discriminated against.

"I find it that everywhere else people are respectful of my service dog, but in New York, a lot of people just don't care," he told the Daily News.

Administrative Law Judge Alessandra Zorgniotti agreed.

"The level of emotional distress suffered by Mr. Romo, even though it was based on one instance of discrimination, is significant and an award at the high end of the range is appropriate," she ruled April 12.

She recommended the security company cough up a $15,000 civil penalty to the city and pay Romo $20,000 for "mental anguish" and $360 in actual damages to cover the cost of his airfare back home to Houston, where he went to visit relatives for comfort. The decision was forwarded to Human Rights Commissioner Patricia Gatling, who will make a final ruling.

Romo said he began suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder after 9/11. He was living in Jersey City at the time and his roommate, John Willet, was killed in the attacks on the twin towers.

It became difficult for him to walk past large buildings and go into elevators without his doctor-prescribed service dog, Romo said.

But his neighbor across the hall in Crown Heights said the dog has its own issues with stress. "You know how dogs suffer from separation anxiety?" said Troy Benning, 32. "The dog is always in the apartment barking. He's not with the dog all the time.

Get healthy with nature's personal trainers

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service
June 1, 2011
eople who own and walk dogs are 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks for physical activity, according to a study led by Michigan State University, published recently in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

The study indicated that people who walked their dogs walked about an hour longer per week than people who owned dogs but didn't walk them. "We found people who walked their dog also had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activities," said Mathew Reeves, an epidemiologist at Michigan State.

A study at the University of Missouri in 2009 found that senior citizens go for longer walks, and walk faster, when their companion is canine rather than human.

No special equipment needed
Dr. Charles Sturm, a family-medicine practitioner at West Penn Hospital, Forbes Regional Campus, in Monroeville, Pa., owned and walked a dog for 13 years.

"We walked 20 to 25 minutes in the morning and up to an hour in the evening," Sturm said. "Even longer on weekends."
He added, "It's a very easy and convenient way to exercise. No special equipment is needed. You don't have to drive somewhere or go to a sports field to participate."

Dr. Dawn Marcus, a neurologist and pain researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has written a book, "Fit as Fido," which asserts that dogs can teach us a lot about healthy living.

"Dogs really are nature's personal trainers," Marcus told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They model fitness behaviors, and behaviors for eating and socializing, too."

Dogs are always eager to go for walks, she said. "Unlike your human exercise buddies, dogs are not going to beg off" if the weather is bad.Following our dogs' example

In addition to an eagerness to exercise regardless of weather, "dogs love sleep," Marcus said. "People who don't sleep are more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure." And when dogs are on their walks, they stop to socialize with other dogs, she said. "Stopping and saying hello to other people is important to human health as well," Marcus said. "Research shows social interactions are essential to human health."

In addition to benefiting from following the example of dogs, we'd be healthier if we treated ourselves the way we treat our dogs, she said. Most dog owners feed their pets healthy food, and see to it that they don't overeat.

"The other thing we learn from our dogs is an attitude for approaching life," Marcus said. "The dog is always wagging his tail and is eager to go out."

The Michigan State study indicated that younger and older people are more likely than middle-aged people to walk their dogs, and that larger-breed dogs are taken for longer walks than are smaller dogs.

Click on book cover to order from Amazon.com

Some large Labrador, whose parents obviously neglected his lunch

June 1, 2011
o this elegant blonde of a certain age took takeout from a 58th Street coffee shop. Chanel bag swinging, Manolos clicking, onto the street she strutted -- plastic bag of edibles dangling from her hand.

Down the block came a major tug. Some large Labrador, whose parents obviously neglected his lunch, was eating through her ham and cheese with tomato and mayo and already barking for seconds on the sponge cake.

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

Doggie death row
Insiders condemn shelter

May 31, 2011
hey're marked for death -- just to cut costs and save cage space.

Homeless dogs with the slightest coughs are routinely fast-tracked for execution at the cash-strapped Animal Care and Control shelter in East Harlem, multiple inside sources tell The Post.

"There's no doubt that animals are being labeled as being sick or dangerous so they can be killed more quickly," said Emily Tanen (right), a former paid staffer at ACC's shelter at 326 E. 110th St. "Dogs come in healthy, and within a few days, they're dead. As soon as they start coughing, we're allowed to kill them and say it's 'disease euth.' "

The unwritten policy is designed as both a space-saving measure and an end-run around charity-funding rules, charge Tanen and two current Manhattan ACC workers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The otherwise healthy dogs simply suffer from curable kennel coughs, a common animal-shelter malady, the sources say. The illness -- contagious to other dogs and marked by a runny nose, coughing, sneezing and lethargy -- can be cured if a dog is isolated and placed on a 10-day regimen of antibiotics. But each night, anywhere from a few to more than a dozen dogs are quickly shunted onto the shelter's "euth list" for euthanasia the next morning -- with kennel cough as the most common death-penalty offense, say Tanen and the two workers.

Charities that provide vital funding to the shelter -- on condition that dogs won't be killed solely for space reasons -- are told the dogs were killed due to "disease," these insiders say.

Tanen, a respected anti-euthanasia activist, was fired May 13 and is director of Project Pet, a private animal organization she founded three years ago.

She says that she was only told, "It's not working out," when she was fired, but that it followed a dispute over her sending out adoption photos of dogs posing with people, which was against policy. The ACC refused to say why she was fired.

Julie Bank (left), executive director of ACC, which also runs shelters in Brooklyn and Staten Island, dismissed criticisms about the shelter's euthanasia practices as baseless, noting the organization rescues about 40,000 animals annually. "Last year, over 17,000 animals got out of our building alive," she said. "So the thought that we are not proactively trying to get the animals adopted is not accurate."

The agency's Web site also notes that the number of euthanized dogs has fallen dramatically in the past five years, dipping from 4,824 killed in 2006 to 2,226 last year.

But Tanen and the other staffers argue that the statistics can't disguise that dogs are still routinely being killed more quickly than can be humanely justified.

Viral Outbreaks in Dogs Yield Clues on Origins of Hepatitis C

May 30, 2011
epatitis C is, in some ways, a high-profile disease. Worldwide, an estimated 200 million people are infected with the virus. Some of them will suffer cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death. Celebrities like Steven Tyler (left) of Aerosmith and “American Idol” have spoken publicly of their infections. But mysteries still shroud the disease.

Typically spread through drug injections, blood transfusions and sexual contact, hepatitis C can quietly cause liver damage for 20 years or more before victims become aware that they are ill. “Worldwide, it’s causing devastation,” said Brian Edlin, an epidemiologist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Its origins are even more puzzling. Hepatitis C is a distinct disease from hepatitis A and B; it belongs to an entirely different virus family that includes diseases like West Nile fever and yellow fever. Scientists have searched for years for related viruses in animals to figure out how it evolved into a human disease.

“Identifying the species reservoir of hepatitis C — one of the most common and deadly of all human viruses — has been something of a holy grail in studies of viral evolution,” said Eddie Holmes (right), a virologist at Penn State University.

Now scientists have gotten an important clue, finding a close relative in an unexpected host: dogs.

The discovery, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “represents a major step forward,” said Dr. Holmes, who was not involved in the research. The finding came as a surprise to all the scientists involved. Researchers at Pfizer were investigating virus outbreaks in dogs in shelters across the United States. They swabbed the noses of dogs sick with respiratory diseases and searched for viruses. In some cases they could not isolate a known virus, so they sent samples to the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, where researchers specialize in finding new viruses.

The Columbia center found that six of nine dogs in one outbreak and three of five in another shared the same unknown virus. Nasal swabs from 60 healthy dogs showed no sign of it.

Amit Kapoor, a Columbia virologist, compared the genetic material of the new virus to known ones. His analysis revealed it was closely related to the hepatitis C virus (HCV for short). “I was not expecting anything like HCV,” Dr. Kapoor said. Like many other researchers, he assumed that it had evolved from a primate virus, because chimpanzees can be experimentally infected with hepatitis C.

But as Dr. Kapoor and Peter Simmonds of the University of Edinburgh analyzed more genetic data, the link continued to hold. Dr. Kapoor and his colleagues have called the new virus canine hepacivirus, or CHV for short.

The Columbia researchers collaborated with hepatitis C experts at Rockefeller University in New York to compare the two viruses. Canine hepacivirus infects the airways of dogs and is present at low levels in the liver.

Based on the genetic similarity of the two viruses, the scientists estimate that they share a common ancestor that lived 500 to 1,000 years ago. “It’s really quite rough,” said W. Ian Lipkin, the director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and an author of the journal article. “This is not something that happened recently, but it didn’t happen hundreds of thousands of years ago.”

The researchers see three possibilities for the origin of the viruses. The least likely is that dogs acquired hepatitis C from humans. Another possibility is that dogs and humans both acquired the virus from an unknown animal. This is the sort of evolution that gave rise to the 2004 outbreak of SARS. At first scientists found the virus in the catlike palm civet of Southeast Asia. But later research revealed that the virus actually started out in bats and then spread to palm civets and humans.

A third possibility — one favored by Dr. Kapoor — is that the virus started in dogs, and then evolved into a liver-infecting disease in humans.

“The evidence we have favors an origin in dogs,” Dr. Kapoor said.

To test these alternatives, Dr. Kapoor and his colleagues plan to search for hepatitis C-like viruses in dogs from other countries, as well as in foxes and other species of carnivorous mammals.

Even before that mystery is resolved, however, researchers expect to see some benefits from the discovery of canine hepacivirus. In the current issue of the journal Nature, Dr. Edlin (right) argues that much more needs to be done to fight the hepatitis C epidemic.

Along with better surveillance, he sees a need for research into antiviral drugs as well as vaccines. (Currently there is no commercially available hepatitis C vaccine.)
Researchers may now be able to study CHV in dogs to get insights into hepatitis C in humans.

“I’m sure this will be helpful,” Dr. Edlin said.

Miracle twister pup

May 28, 2011
here's no place like home for this brave little pooch!

A miracle dog who was sucked away in a deadly Alabama tornado crawled back to the ruins of his owners' home with two badly broken legs nearly three weeks later, wagging his tail with joy at the sight of his shocked family.

The owners, who lost nearly everything in the twister that devastated North Smithfield on April 27, burst into tears upon seeing their dog, Mason, perched on what was left of their front porch.

Now the 1-year-old terrier mix is on the yellow brick road to recovery after undergoing surgery to fix his legs.

"He's doing great," said Dr. William Lamb, the Birmingham vet who has been tending to Mason for free since the pup was found on May 16.

Mason will be returned to his owners, who want to remain anonymous, in a few weeks.


Police Search For Vandals After Damage To 9/11 Rescue Dogs Statue

May 27, 2011
olice on Long Island were hunting for vandals who knocked over a 300-pound monument dedicated to 9/11 rescue dogs. The cement statue in Lindenhurst is modeled after Hansen, a German shepherd who spent 150 days searching through the rubble of Ground Zero.

Retired NYPD officer Steve Smaldon, who was Hansen’s handler, said he is perplexed by the damage. He said it’s like going into a cemetery and knocking over gravestones.

Police weren’t sure if the statue was targeted or just the subject of random vandalism but Smaldon thinks it was intentional.
“A garbage can was used to get over the fence, because it’s locked up at night, and they went over and that’s the only thing that was touched, they spent their time to smash it into many pieces,” Smaldon told 1010 WINS. “I can’t believe that somebody would not respect 9/11 and not understand 9/11 and do something like that.”

Smaldon said the statue is “totally unrepairable” and will try to raise money to build a new one.

Hansen died in 2004 at age 11.

In addition to the statue, the park has plaques dedicated to eight Lindenhurst residents who died in the 9/11 attacks.

If you’re interested in the effort to rebuild the statue you can e-mail Smaldon at

Photos: Steve Smaldon

Sloppiness Aside, Dogs Are Sophisticated Drinkers Too
The great dog-cat liquid lapping investigation continues

May 26, 2011
Late last year, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used high-speed photography to describe the elegant way in which cats lap up liquid with the tip of the tongue, seemingly defying gravity. Dogs, on the other hand, form a cup with the tongue and scoop up liquid, the researchers said, spilling quite a bit of it.

Not so, according to Alfred Crompton, a zoologist at Harvard, and Catherine Musinsky, his assistant, who used high-speed light videos and X-ray videos to demonstrate that dogs and cats actually use the same mechanism to drink. They report their findings in the current issue of the journal Biology Letters.

“Dogs are just a little more exuberant and messy in their drinking, so it looks like it’s being scooped up,” Dr. Crompton said. “But they do it the same way as cats.”

Both animals reach into liquids with the tips of their tongues, pulling up a long column. Before the liquid drops back down, they open their mouths and pull it in.

But the dog tongue tip penetrates the liquid a little more deeply than the cat tongue, causing a messy spray around the tongue during withdrawal, Dr. Crompton said. This gives the false impression that dogs use a scooping motion.

“The video shows that all the liquid that was so-called being ‘scooped up’ falls right back out,” he said.

The test subject in the study was Dr. Crompton’s dog, Mathilda (right). Once the liquid was in her mouth, they saw that it was held in ridges called rugae on the roof of the mouth before it continued down her throat. This intermediate location for the liquid allows Mathilda, and other dogs, to lap continuously and pull in another column of liquid without losing the previous one.

Click on image above right for video

Rodin's Brew photo: From-TheDoghouse.com/SCOOP & HOWL
Sophisticated Drinkers illustration: Chris Gash

Nina In New York: Anyone Need A Dog Walker?
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
May 26, 2011
he other day I was feeling under the weather and decided to take a sick day. I was feeling logy and foggy and stuffy-headed, so it didn’t occur to me to call the dog walker, Betty, to tell her she could skip Gus’s walks since I’d be home.

I was lying on the couch answering work emails and trying to orchestrate all sorts of things by proxy in my absence when Betty opened the door with her key. She looked fresh-faced and happy, relaxed and flush from the sun. Like someone who had nothing to worry about throughout the day aside from walking dogs, getting natural exercise, enjoying the day and making a surprising amount of money, much of which could very easily be under the table.

All of a sudden, I felt I had to restrain myself from impulsively quitting my job and trying to break into the dog walking game.

Of course, I didn’t, and I wouldn’t.

I care about my career and I have no idea what other stressors Betty faces in her life. But gosh, it does look good from here. Those dog walkers really have it made. Their clients are generally sweet and entirely nonverbal, the best ones only walk a couple of dogs at a time, and there will never be a shortage of 9-5ers who can’t take care of their dogs’ daytime needs around here. Often, mine just brings Gus to the dog run so he can get more exercise, which means she doesn’t even have to walk much if she doesn’t want to. She’s a pro-walker! None of them work a very wide radius, so it’s not like they even have to contend with schlepping around the city. Plus, they have almost no overhead outside of durable footwear and sunblock.

The only downside and the great irony is that most of them are too busy to take care of their own dogs. That and they pick up a whole lot of poop. But really, small prices to pay. What a life!

Better than the Upper East Side nannies, better than the professional closet organizers or pregnancy consultants or personal shoppers or wedding planners or life coaches or any other highly-paid, highly-specialized independent contractor work that could only ever exist in this city, dog walkers are the unsung geniuses of the New York job market.

The more I think about it, the more convinced (and jealous) I become. Dog walkers everywhere, I tip my proverbial hat to you. Well played, guys.

Photo credits

Top left: Gus with Nina

Above right: Our walker Janine with manfriend Seiko, pooches Gizmo (floor) and Poochie (lap)and Daddy Bob (avec moi on the apron) at one of our many summer BarK-b-Q pawties
Photo by Michelle Kang-Fagan

Beginners film leads star to adoption
How actor Ewan McGregor found his co-pilot dog
MAY 2011
ith the new film Beginners, director Mike Mills creates a delightful and very personal love story. Ewan
McGregor stars as Oliver, who navigates not only his father’s final years (Hal, played by Christopher Plummer) but also a burgeoning love affair (with the effervescent Mélanie Laurent) in the company of his father’s Jack
Russell Terrier, Arthur—portrayed by the charming Cosmo.

You’ve heard of on-set romances where the stars fall madly in love … well, such was the case with McGregor and Cosmo. Though Cosmo was destined to return to his companion, animal trainer and guardian Mathilde De Cagny (below left), this story has a happy ending: McGregor finds his own canine soul mate.

Bark: Ewan, we understand that after you finished filming Beginners, you got a dog. Was that something you’d been planning, or did the role create the desire for one?

Ewan McGregor: I grew up with dogs but hadn’t had one since I left home. On the set, I fell for Cosmo and so loved being around him and working with him that it was hard to know I’d have to say goodbye to him. My wife’s allergic to dogs and cats, but when she came to visit on set and saw us together, she could tell that there was something missing for me and that maybe it would be nice for me to have a dog. Toward the end of the shoot, she said, “If you can find one who won’t make me sneeze, then go for it.” And I did.

Mike Mills: I just remembered something that happened when we first met. You sent me an email saying, “Maybe we should rescue a Jack Russell, and I could keep him!” And I thought to myself, “I love this man!”

McGregor: Anyway, after my wife’s comment, I started thinking, Well, okay, hypoallergenic dogs. On one of the last mornings — it may have been the last morning of our shoot — I googled “dog rescue” near my post code and this little place came up, the Lange Foundation, on Sepulveda and Santa Monica. The first face I saw was Sid’s.

Bark: Did you name him?

McGregor: Yeah. He was called Ziggy in the rescue center, but they had no idea what his real name was. I like short British names — Bob and Fred, Will, Sid: short, British-sounding names. It’s Sidney when he’s naughty.

Bark: Tell us about Sid.

McGregor: He’s two, maybe two-and-a-half. He’s Poodle, mainly, mixed with something — we don’t know what the something is. He travels with me all the time, unless I’m working somewhere that I can’t take him. He’s great company; I generally go on my own, without my wife and my kids. With Sid, I’m not on my own anymore.

Watch for Beginners, in theaters June 3.

Click √ herefor Ewan McGregor interview

ASPCA: Lay Off Owner Of ‘Coffee,’ Citi Field’s Panhandling Pooch
May 25, 2011
s it dog abuse or a misunderstanding?

A canine controversy surrounds a panhandling pet named “Coffee,” who is well known to many Mets fans.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin saw the popular dog on Wednesday — without her Mets gear. But all it takes is a quick change and she transforms into the famous panhandling pooch scores of baseball fans know, love and pay.

Owner Norberto Fernandez [right, a professional Dog trainer] insists the dog likes panhandling, He said when he rescued Coffee off the streets five years ago she was shivering and limping. Fernandez said Coffee loves the attention she gets at Citi Field, and especially enjoys collecting $50-$75 in tips. But some animal rights activists said the dog is paying a terrible price.

“I do believe a shock collar is in use,” activist Belkis Cardona-Rivera (below left) said.

Cardona-Rivera started a Facebook page titled “Stop Abusing Coffee,” with about 8,000 members. She’s circulating a photo of a commercially available and legal shock collar system and other photos of a similar looking device around Coffee’s neck, and similar remote in her owner’s hand. Carlin showed the photos to Fernandez, who denies using anything to shock Coffee. His daughter said no shock collar is used.

Members of the Fernandez family said inspectors came from the ASPCA’s Enforcement Division checked out the dog and said everything seems fine. “[They] told me the dog is good, said the dog is good,” Fernandez said.

The ASPCA confirmed to Carlin the dog appears healthy and well adjusted, but added even though it appears no laws have been broken, Coffee will be examined again during at least one of her upcoming stadium appearances “just to make sure.”

Cardona-Rivera hopes the investigators continue to follow up with spot checks.

The Fernandez family is eager to shake off the controversy as Coffee prepares for her next public appearance at Citi Field.

Click on image above for information on KOOL COLLAR

Cur caught beating pup in elevator attack

May 24, 2011
hat a beast!*

Cops busted a Harlem man after he was viewed on video brutally beating a pitbull puppy at an East Harlem housing project.

Irving Sanchez, 46, who cops say has numerous drug arrests, is pictured dragging the pooch, named Max, across the elevator floor in the Robert Wagner Houses on First Avenue near East 120th Street before slapping the pup with a leash as he cowers in the corner. The video, shot about 9 p.m. Sunday, then shows Sanchez repeatedly kicking Max.

Sanchez was charged yesterday with aggravated cruelty to animals.

Max, who wasn’t injured, was taken by the ASPCA.

* "Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among god's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death."

Final Sale? Businesses cash in on End Times
Post-Rapture pet care
May 21, 2011
n a prediction getting wide attention, radio mogul Harold Camping says the world will end this evening. And on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Rod Kurtz, executive editor of AOL Small Business, said many businesses are racing to get your money before The End.

One is called Post-Rapture pet care, co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis pointed out.

"Yeah, we've actually seen a number of pet services pop up," Kurtz said. "I guess we could call this 'the Rapture stimulus!' We see this a lot of times with big news events like this."

For people who are concerned about leaving behind their beloved pets, Kurtz says these businesses charge a fee to care for their non-Raptured animals. "A lot of these people running these companies are actually atheists who will be around if the Rapture does strike, and they've offered to, across the country, take care of your pets when you're gone. And people are, you know, buying into it.

"I think, you know, if you really are worried about this and it helps you sleep at night, at least for the last night ... then taking care of the family dog is priority number one!"

"There's a sucker born every
Don't they know about
Click for your Dog's Rapture info

Dog Runs Maryland’s Half Marathon… By Himself
May 20, 2011
t’s four o’clock. Do you know where your dog is?

The owners of Dozer, a 3-year-old Goldendoodle from Fulton, Maryland, didn’t know the answer to that question on Sunday. Unbeknownst to them, Dozer escaped his invisible fence and joined the 2,000-plus runners competing in the Maryland Half Marathon, which benefits the University of Maryland’s Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Dozer joined the fray about five miles into the race, which is held in Howard County, Maryland and he crossed the finish line at the 2:14:24 mark.

Maryland Half Marathon co-founder Jon Sevel said many runners spotted Dozer in various places on the course, at times lapping up water from cups at rest areas, but nobody realized the dog was running solo. After running the final seven miles or so of the event, Dozer found his own way home Monday morning. He’s in good health after a precautionary trip to the vet and he received a medal from race organizers on Thursday.

“This is a very sweet dog,” said University of Maryland Medical Center spokeswoman Karen Warmkessel. “When I saw him today, he looked great. He was really active, and now he’s raising money for cancer research.”

To that point, Dozer now has his own runner’s page on the Maryland Half Marathon website, where his fans can make a donation to the UM Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Dozer even has his own bib number — K9.

Teacup poodle chases bear up a tree
May 19, 2011
Washington state man said his teacup poodle chased an approximately 200-pound black bear up a tree in his back yard.

Robert Carroll of the Rose Hill neighborhood in Kirkland said he ran outside when his 21-year-old daughter shouted there was a bear in the back yard about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and he watched as the family poodle, Shmoopy, charged the bruin and chased it up a tree, the Kirkland Reporter reported Wednesday.

"The bear was really startled -- I was not too worried about the dog at the time," Carroll said. "I was only thinking, bear in yard! Rose Hill? I have seen coyotes and deer in this neighborhood, but not in a million years did I ever think seeing a bear in this neighborhood was possible."

Carroll said he clapped his hands at the bear and it jumped from the tree into a neighbor's yard.

Alicia Ames, who has lived about a mile from Rose Hill Junior High for 12 years, said she spotted a bear that may have been the same animal about 6 a.m. Tuesday. She said her dogs barked at the bear, and it climbed her fence and fled the area. Ames said it was the first time she had heard of a bear being in the area.


Obama shakes hand of warrior who killed bin Laden and meets military work Dog

May 7, 2011
grateful President Obama yesterday shook the hand of the Navy SEAL who shot and killed terror nemesis Osama bin Laden.

At Fort Campbell, one of the nation's largest military bases, Obama met privately yesterday with members of the assault force that carried out the mission to get bin Laden, thanking each one individually for their "heroic and selfless service" to the country.

Obama then awarded the SEAL teams the "Presidential Unit Citation" -- the highest honor a unit can get, in recognition of their "extraordinary service and achievement."

The president met Cairo, the Dog that took part in the mission and helped alert the special forces teams to hidden threats, an official said. The Dog is the only member of the raid team to be identified by name so far.

Commando Dog: Osama bin Laden's four-legged foe

MAY 5, 2011
Navy SEALs may have taken down Osama bin Laden, but not without a fierce four-legged friend by their side. Accompanying the SEAL's was a dog, whose breed is speculated to be either German shepherd or Belgian Malinois. Gerry Proctor, an officer at Lackland Air Force Base where the dog was trained, answered questions about the training process for these dogs, what they can do and why having a military dog was valuable to the Navy SEALs while taking down Osama bin Laden.

Gerry Proctor is the public affairs officer for the 37th Training Wing, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Proctor is responsible for the public relations role for all of the training missions on Lackland including the Department of Defense Military Working Dog School. He has served the U.S. Air Force both in uniform and as a civilian for more than 30 years. His assignments have taken him worldwide reporting military news and creating pathways for civilian media to tell their story.

Click on images for Q & A Conversation


The Dogs of War: Beloved Comrades in Afghanistan

May 12, 2011
arines were on a foot patrol last fall in the Taliban stronghold of Marja, Afghanistan, when they shot and killed a lethal threat: a local dog that made the mistake of attacking the Marines’ Labrador Retriever.

Capt. Manuel Zepeda, the commander of Company F, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, was unapologetic. If the Lab on the patrol had been hurt, the Marines would have lost their best weapon for detecting roadside bombs — and would have called for a medevac helicopter, just as they would for a human. An attack on the Lab was an attack on a fellow warrior. As Captain Zepeda put it that day, “We consider the dog another Marine.”

The classified canine that went on the Navy Seals’ raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound last week has generated a wave of interest in military dogs, which have been used by the United States since at least World War I. Now, more valued than ever, they are on their own surge into Afghanistan.

American troops may be starting to come home this summer, but more dogs are going in. In 2007, the Marines began a pilot program in Afghanistan with nine bomb-sniffing dogs, a number that has grown to 350 and is expected to reach nearly 650 by the end of the year. Over all, there are some 2,700 dogs on active duty in the American military. A decade ago, before the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 1,800.

“Most of the public isn’t aware of what these dogs add to national security,” said Gerry Proctor, a spokesman for training programs at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, including the Military Working Dog School. Dogs are used for protection, pursuit, tracking and search and rescue, but the military is also increasingly relying on them to sniff out the homemade bombs that cause the vast majority of American casualties in Afghanistan. So far, no human or human-made technology can do better.

Within the military, the breeds of choice are generally the German shepherd and a Belgian shepherd, or Malinois
, but Marines in Afghanistan rely on pure-bred Labrador Retrievers because of the dogs’ good noses and nonaggressive, eager-to-please temperaments. Labs now accompany many Marine foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, wandering off-leash 100 yards or more in front as bomb detectors. It is the vital work of an expensively trained canine (the cost to the American military can be as high as $40,000 per dog), but at the end of a sweltering day, sometimes a Lab is still a Lab.

Last spring on a patrol in Helmand’s Garmsir District, a Lab, Tango, was leading a small group of Marines on a dirt road leading into a village when the dog suddenly went down on all fours, wagging his tail — a sign that he had detected explosives nearby. The patrol froze as a Marine explosives team investigated. No bomb was found and the patrol continued, but on the way back the dog, miserable in the 102-degree heat and like most Labrador retrievers a good swimmer, abandoned his duties and leaped into an irrigation canal to cool off. But then he could not climb back up the steep bank. One of the Marines, swearing lustily, finally jumped into the canal and carried the dog out in his arms.

The bonds that grow in battle between the Labs and their Marine handlers are already the stuff of heart-tugging war stories. But few have had the emotional impact of that of Pfc. Colton W. Rusk, a 20-year-old Marine machine gunner and dog handler who was killed in December by sniper fire in Sangin, one of the most deadly areas in Helmand. During his deployment, Private Rusk sent his parents a steady flow of pictures and news about his beloved bomb dog, Eli, a black Lab. When Private Rusk was shot, Marine officers told his parents, Eli crawled on top of their son to try to protect him.

The 3-year-old Eli, the first name of the survivors listed in Private Rusk’s obituary, was retired early from the military and adopted in February by Private Rusk’s parents, Darrell and Kathy Rusk. “He’s a big comfort to us,” Kathy Rusk said in a telephone interview from her home in Orange Grove, Tex. After the dog’s retirement ceremony in February at Lackland Air Force Base, an event that generated enormous news coverage in Texas, the Rusks brought Eli for the first time into their home (right: Eli with Colton's 12-year-old brother Brady Rusk).

“The first place he went was Colton’s room,” Mrs. Rusk said. “He sniffed around and jumped up on his bed.”

So far, 20 Labrador retrievers out of the 350 have been killed in action since the Marine program began, most in explosions of homemade bombs, Marine officials said. Within the Special Operations Command, the home of the dog that went on the Bin Laden mission, some 34 dogs were killed in the line of duty between 2006 and 2009, said Maj. Wes Ticer, a spokesman. Like their handlers, dogs that survive go on repeat deployments, sometimes as many as four. Dogs retire from the military at the age of 8 or 9.

To an American public weary of nearly 10 years of war, dogs are a way to relate, as the celebrity status of the still-unknown commando dog proved. (President Obama is one of the few Americans to have met the dog, in a closed-door session with the Seal team last week.)

Few understand the appeal of dogs in battle better than Rebecca Frankel, the deputy managing editor of ForeignPolicy.com. Last week, she posted a “War Dog” photo essay, with her favorite pictures of dogs jumping out of helicopters, skydiving from 30,000 feet and relaxing with Marines. The photo essay went viral, with 6.5 million page views to date — a record for the site.

“I think people go weak at the knees for these dogs,” Ms. Frankel said in an interview. “I do, too. But their contribution is significant.

"These are serious dogs.”

Click above for Rebecca Frankel's "WAR DOGS" photo essay

MWD Canvas with his handler, Lance Cpl. Matthew Albano: unattributed
'Firefight': DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images
Eli and Colton Rusk: Courtesy Photo / SA
Eli Adopted
: San Antonio Express-News, JERRY LARA / glara@express-news.net
Eli with Brady Rusk: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III
Engraving, Roman war Dog Molossus, modern day Cane Corso: unattributed


Animal Rights Activists Rally As Newark Woman Accused Of Starving, Dumping Patrick The Pit Bull, Appears In Court
May 6, 2011
isha Curtis (left) pleaded not guilty in late March to animal abuse charges. A judge could schedule future court dates and a possible trial.

Curtis is charged with two fourth-degree offenses for “tormenting and torturing” an animal. She also faces two abandonment charges that are punishable by up to six months in jail.

Authorities say Curtis tied the dog to a railing in her Newark apartment building and left the state for more than a week. A janitor later found the emaciated dog in a trash bin.

Doctors at the Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls determined the dog was severely anemic and malnourished. He received a blood transfusion and was later named Patrick because he was found the day before St. Patrick’s Day.

Thousands of e-mails, faxes, and phone calls have come into the Essex County Prosecutor’s office since March.

On Friday, about 40 people demonstrated outside the Newark courthouse to show their support for Patrick.

“We have gotten them from across the country and even some, I believe, from Canada,” acting prosecutor Carolyn Murray (right) tells WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney. “I do think that it’s a benefit to our society that people are concerned about cruelty in whatever form.”

She’s calling for a stiff sentence.

Click here for original story

Above left - Patrick on April 8, 2011 (credit: The Patrick Miracle/Facebook)

New York Lawmaker Seeks To Save Shelter Animals With New Bill
May 16, 2011
tate Assembly Member Micah Kellner is proposing a bill in the hopes of saving thousands of animals in shelters across New York from being euthanized.

Under current state law, shelters are only allowed to adopt dogs and cats out to individuals. Rescue groups are typically turned away and denied access to the shelters. “How we get around this is we adopt it to the person coming from the rescue group and this allows shelters to have a great amount of power,” Kellner said.

The Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act would let these groups adopt animals that are scheduled to be euthanized from shelters, humane societies or pounds.

“There are tens of thousands animals in New York State shelters waiting to be adopted and most are healthy, well-behaved, and just in need of a loving home,” Kellner said. “When a humane organization volunteers to take these animals, they should not be denied.”

California passed a similar law in 1998 which allowed animal rescue and adoption organizations request possession of an animal prior to its killing. Last year, Delaware passed a law that seeks to find sheltered animals homes rather than euthanize them.

“What this bill does is create minimum standards for rescue organizations and humane organizations to recover animals that would otherwise be destroyed by a local shelter,” Kellner said.

The bill would not only guarantee rescue groups access to shelters but it would also ensure that the animals receive proper care – including fresh food and water on a daily basis, clean living environments, exercise and veterinary care.

Routine inspections would be mandated under the bill.

In addition, the legislation would extend whistleblower protections to rescue groups who have frequently been denied access to shelters for speaking out against abuse or mismanagement or animals.

Organizations such as No Kill Advocacy Center, Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends Animal Society support the bill.

and ask for their support of Micah Kellner's Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act. Ask your friends to join in as well.

Here's a link to the NY State Assembly members and their contacts. Click on banner below


America’s Premier K9 Training Event
HITS 2011
in Washington D.C.

Port Authority Police Patrol JFK Airport
Michael Nagle/Getty Images
May 19, 2011

Cities Nationwide Heighten Vigilance on Terror
Reed Saxon/Associated Press

May 14, 2011

A police officer and a sniffer dog on Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport after a demonstraton of the dogs.

Police Dogs bite dopey druggie
Man Tells Cops Drug Dealer Gave Wrong Change

MAY 6, 2011
pset that his cocaine dealer had given him the wrong change, a South Carolina man called police to complain about the unsatisfactory transaction and, of course, was promptly arrested.

According to cops, Dexter White, 41, called 911 to report that he paid his dealer $60 for crack cocaine, but had received only $20 worth of the drug. White contacted police with his consumer complaint around 4:30 AM Friday (an hour at which Better Business Bureau operators apparently were not standing by).

A North Charleston Police Department report notes that White, in a written statement, identified his supplier as “C,” and said the drug dealer refused his demand for “his $40 in change.” He added that he smoked the entire $20 worth of crack before calling 911.

In the 911 call White initially (and inexplicably) asked a police dispatcher to send a canine unit to his location. He subsequently explained his predicament, which prompted the operator to ask, “Okay, you said you bought some drugs from them and they didn’t give you your change back?"

For his efforts, White was arrested April 29 on a disorderly conduct charge (for loitering where drugs are used or sold). He was booked into the Charleston County Detention Center, where White has previously found himself on many occasions, according to court records.

White, pictured in the above mug shot, is jailed in lieu of $400 bond.


Click on any image for Web Page

Results from the First-Ever Mutt Census are In!
by Woof Report, www.woofreport.com

May 19, 2011
inally, we have insight into the most popular "breed" in the nation: the marvelous mutt!

Mixed breed dogs represent around 53 percent of all dogs that share our homes in the US, but very little is known about them on the whole - until now. Mars Veterinary launched the first-ever National Mutt Census using DNA samples from more than 36,000 mixed breed dogs and survey results from mixed breed dog owners.

The results: the German Shepherd is officially the most common breed identified in our nation's mixed breed dogs, followed by the Lab and Chow Chow.

Visit the Mutt Census site to find the top breeds detected in mixed breed dogs, feeding and activity details, and much more listed by state. Click on logo above.

One Dog Policy - Shanghai law barks at dog owners
By Liu Dong in Shanghai
Source: Global Times

May 16, 2011
ogs and their owners in Shanghai held their breaths Sunday as the city's new dog control regulations came into vigor, putting in place such measures as limiting each household to a single canine companion.

The annual management fee for each dog was reduced to 500 yuan ($77) in downtown areas and 100 yuan for suburbs, the Shanghai Finance Bureau announced last weekend, down from 2,000 yuan to register a dog in Shanghai.

In addition to mandatory vaccination, each dog must now be implanted with a chip containing owners' information under the skin around the neck, tallying another 120 yuan of costs for their owners. "We only have some 30 clients today who bring their dogs to be vaccinated. Most dog owners still do not know they should bring their dogs to us," Han, an employee at the Angel Pets Clinic in Yangpu district, one of 20 veterinarian clinics across
the city designated by the government to implant chips and give pre-registration rabies shots, told the Global Times Sunday.

One of the most controversial elements of the new rules is the one-dog limit. Additional unregistered dogs must be turned over to government shelters, with non-compliant owners facing a potential 3,000 yuan ($456) fine.

In a shelter on Kongning Road in Zhabei district, confiscated dogs must be adopted within 30 days or face "group handling," the new regulation said. The police have never clarified the meaning of "group handling," but local animal welfare groups claim the authorities kill any dogs that have not found new homes in 30 days.

"The guards there told me they will leave the dogs to starve to death," a Shanghai woman surnamed Gao, who toured the shelter during previous adoption visits, told the Global Times. "I saw a dog dead in a cage at the shelter last September, when I went in there to pick up dogs," she said. "It was barely more than a skeleton."

People who already own more than one dog and registered them before the new law came into effect are allowed to keep their dogs.

"For many dog owners who have more than one dog, it is too hard to make the decision to keep one but abandon another," Lai Xiaoyu, the head of the China Small Animal Protection Association Shanghai Branch, told the Global Times.

The regulation also includes a code of conduct for dog owners.

Owners are not allowed to bring dogs, except seeing eye dogs, into public venues including office buildings, schools, hospitals, museums, libraries, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and public transport.

When out in public, dogs must be on a leash under two meters and wear tags with their owners' information. Large dogs should be muzzled while any excrement left behind by dogs must be picked up by their owners. Any flouting of these rules carries a 200 yuan fine.

According to Ding Wei, director of the policy department of the Shanghai People's Congress, the law is made to protect the interests of dog owners and non-dog owners alike. "We are not trying to reduce the number of dogs but we encourage the citizens to be responsible for their dogs, which will benefit society," Ding told the Global Times.

NYC Pet Show Prepares to Take Manhattan
Victoria Stilwell, Rescue Ink heroes to appear at expo

May 15, 2011
he Big Apple is about to go to the dogs -- at the 2nd Annual NYC Pet Show. Planned for Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, this year's event features appearances by Victoria Stilwell and the heroes of Rescue Ink -- as well as seminars and panel discussions with pet health and lifestyle experts, and over 75 exhibitors demonstrating the latest in pet gear.

This year, the NYC Pet Show will also be working with Best Friends Animal Society, helping to provide homes for all homeless pets, as one of the benefitting charity partners.

The NYC Pet Show, presented in collaboration with the American Pet Products Association, offers pet lovers a unique opportunity to learn from experts during Q&A sessions and check out the newest goods to hit pet store shelves. Exhibitors at this year's show will be presenting a wide range of products and services, from Freshpet food to Planet Dog accessories.

And as a bonus, leashed dogs and cats are welcome, so that four-legged friends can join in the fun.

To add to the glamour of the occasion, the NYC Pet Show will welcome such pet-lebrities as Victoria Stilwell, from Animal Planet's hit television series "It's Me or the Dog!" and the heroes of animal rights organization Rescue Ink.

The NYC Pet Show will take place on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, 2011 from 12:00pm -- 5:00pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion, located at 125 W. 18th Street.

Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Admission for children under 12 is free.
For more information, or to purchase tickets online, click below

Chihuahua Lifts Leg, Gets Blame For LI Bomb Scare
May 14, 2011
dog that wasn’t quite housebroken may have indirectly been responsible for a bomb scare at a Long Island courthouse.

The trouble began Friday when 19-year-old Melvin Ruffin arrived at a court complex in Central Islip following a long bus ride from his home in Bellport.

During the trip, another passenger’s Chihuahua urinated on his backpack. So, he stashed the wet bag in some bushes while he went inside to answer a disorderly conduct citation.

But then a retired police officer saw the bag and alerted security.

The bomb squad was ultimately called in. Officers used a robot to determine that the bag didn’t contain anything harmful.

Ruffin tells Newsday that authorities let him off with a warning to be more careful next time about where he left his stuff.

Animals in Flood-Ravaged Areas Receive Comprehensive Disaster Relief
May 13, 2011
he ASPCA has been in the field for several weeks rescuing thousands of animals affected by severe storms and flooding along the Mississippi River, offering temporary shelter for pets whose families have been evacuated, and working with PetSmart Charities to provide emergency supplies to local animal welfare groups.

Now, through their new Animal Relocation Initiative, the ASPCA is going one step further and transporting homeless animals from overcrowded shelters in the disaster areas to regions of the country that can accommodate these resilient pets. In turn, overburdened shelters will be able to help house even more local animals.

Last weekend, 46 dogs traveled from eastern Arkansas shelters to facilities in Kansas and Colorado. Then, 70 dogs from parts of Georgia and South Carolina devastated by tornadoes were transported to the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society in Menands, New York, and New Jersey’s St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. Several transport companies stepped forward to help move the animals to their new shelters, where they’ll soon be available for adoption.

“The help we received from the ASPCA was integral in getting our adoptable animals to reputable shelter partners,” says Kim Adkins, adoption coordinator for the Humane Society of Eastern Arkansas/West Memphis Animal Services. “This allowed us to turn our attention and resources to those animals in imminent need within our community.”

Though the program’s debut was part of our disaster-relief efforts, the ASPCA’s new relocation initiative will extend to safely, efficiently and humanely transporting animals anywhere there is overcrowding, with an eye to relocating animals as close to home as possible.

“Our new program is all about supply and demand,” says Sandy Monterose, ASPCA Senior Director of Community Outreach, explaining that the team will take homeless pets to places where few, if any, similar animals are available for adoption. That means that overcrowded shelters will have more room to accept other homeless pets—room they badly need.

Adds Monterose: “A natural disaster like flooding creates immediate hardship in a community. By collaborating with other groups and using our resources strategically, we can respond to shelters and animals in need, creating a safety net. It’s part of the fabric of animal sheltering.”

To find out more about the ASPCA’s rescue efforts along the Mississippi River and elsewhere, as well as how you can help, please visit ASPCA.org.

Photo: PetSmart Charities

Evacuation Planning for Pets: Are You Prepared?

Do you live in an area that is prone to natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods?

Disaster can strike at any time, so it’s important to have a clear evacuation plan in place well before you need it. The ASPCA recommends arranging a safe haven for yourself and your pets, and if you must evacuate your home due to a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. Most importantly, do not leave your pets behind. Remmber, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets.

To minimize evacuation time, please follow these simple steps:

• Store an emergency kit—with items such as three to five days’ supply of pet food, bottled water, medical records, a blanket, a flashlight and leashes—as close to an exit as possible.

• Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet's ID tag should contain his name, your mobile telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to write your pet's name, your name and contact information on your pet's carrier.

• The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted in the animal's shoulder area, and can be read by scanners at most animal shelters.

• Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.

• Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster.

For a complete list of disaster planning tips, or to receive a free “Animals Inside” window sticker, please visit ASPCA.org.

For Chihuahuas, the Race Is Not Always Swift
May 12, 2011
here is no starting gun at a Chihuahua race. The loud noise might unduly alarm the competitors, who are high-strung even when not running for $1,000 in prize money.

“On your mark,” the announcer says in a moderate voice. “Get set. Go!”

But Chihuahuas do not necessarily bound toward the finish line on command. Some of them, wearing tutus and frilly outfits in the heat, turn around and look quizzically at their owners or take a few steps forward and then a few steps back.

“I think they’re having a siesta,” the announcer said during one particularly sluggish round at the Cinco de Mayo Festival and Chihuahua Races over the weekend, a Chandler tradition now in its ninth year.

The race took place on a grassy area in the courtyard of the public library, with mariachi music playing in the background. The grandstand was filled with human spectators and Miss Cinco de Mayo, a young beauty queen, was ambling about in her sash.

Despite plenty of cheering, none of the five dogs in competition would budge. But not all the heats were like that. During some, Chihuahuas bounded across the grass as if being chased. The overall winner was one named Chico, who took home a trophy far bigger than he was. Like all the other competitors, he had out-size ears and a rather large cabeza, the Spanish word for head. But one learns at a gathering like this how individual Chihuahuas are, coming in varying hues and ranging from tiny to even smaller than that.

Unlike race horses, which have grandiose sounding names (Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby about the same time Chico was streaking toward his finish line), most race Chihuahuas have cute monikers that match their pocket size. Competing on Saturday were Taco, Peanut, Bambi, Bonita and Mucho Pequeño.

“Everybody be quiet,” the announcer told the crowd, trying to encourage another group of jittery Chihuahuas to relax. When she said “Go!” this time, the Chihuahuas were off.

Illustration: Troy Griggs/The New York Times
Race photo: Deirdre Hamill/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press
Chihuahua in sombrero: Google Images

Suffolk County Passes Animal Abuse Bill
May 11, 2011
uffolk County is making it very tough for anyone to abuse animals.

County legislators Tuesday, May 10, passed legislation that bars pet stores, breeders and animal shelters from selling or giving animals to people listed on Suffolk’s animal abuse registry.

The law is expected to be signed by County Executive Steve Levy. It will require sellers to check the ID of buyers against the registry, which goes into effect May 23.

Violators of the new law will be fine $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second and $1,500 for subsequent infractions.

Last year, Suffolk created the nation’s first animal abuse registry. It requires people convicted of cruelty to animals to register or face jail time and fines.

Pictured: Frankie the chihauhua — the abused animal was rescued in a raid in Yaphank in June and is now awaitng adoption at a rescue shelter in Farmingville (Photo/Mona Rivera)

8 Die and Scores Are Hurt as Quakes Jolt
Southeast Spain

May 11, 2011

Always alert. Always ready for action!
In the Spirit of 1936, Rodin S. Coane aids the rescue effort in Lorca, Spain
Israel Sanchez/European Pressphoto Agency

Nearly 80 Animals Arrive in Ne
w York from Tornado Ravaged Zones
A Second NSALA Rescue Team Remains in Tuscaloosa and Continues to Offer Emergency Assistance and Provide Humane Relocation of Homeless Animals

Port Washington, NY
MONDAY, May 9, 2011
orth Shore Animal League America, recently deployed two of its Emergency Rescue Teams to assist its shelter partners in the state of Alabama. With the recent events of devastating tornadoes, not only have hundreds of animals been abandoned or lost, but sadly many displaced families were left no choice but to relinquish their pets. This has resulted in the local shelters being inundated with animals with nowhere to go.

Aiding the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter and the Greater Birmingham Humane Society with this crisis, the Animal League Rescue Teams will not only transport animals on its Mobile Rescue Unit to its Port Washington Headquarters, but they are also assisting by transporting animals to surrounding shelters, where they will be housed until reunions or adoptions have been made. Animals that are found on the streets, or have been abandoned will remain in Alabama shelters with the hope of reconnecting with their owners.

Laura Golden, GBHS Strategic Communications Officer said, “The sheer volume of animals that are being brought into shelters every day is overwhelming. We are so grateful for the hands on support that North Shore Animal League America is providing. With their expertise and ability to relocate and transport animals’, it is undeniable that pets’ lives will ultimately be saved.”

When the Animal League received the request for help from its shelter partners, SVP of Operations Joanne Yohannan responded immediately, “After seeing the devastation and long term affects that Hurricane Katrina had on so many communities, we knew the sooner we can help the more lives we can save.” She added, “It is so heartbreaking to know that just a few weeks earlier the Animal League stopped in Tuscaloosa for our annual national adoption event, Tour For Life. We will do everything we can to find safe havens for these priceless pets.”

Yohannan added that there are many ways that the concerned animal loving community can help, including adopting a pet, volunteering or by visiting www.AnimalLeague.org to make a donation, which will help support this and other rescue efforts.

Among the first of the rescues that have arrived from Alabama to North Shore Animal League America are 25 dogs, 30 puppies and 23 kittens. Once they are evaluated, medically, behaviorally, spay or neutered they will begin to be available for adoption at 10:00 AM on Thursday, May 12th.

What’s Good for the Goose: Collies?

May 7, 2011
ogs of every breed come to Prospect Park and bother the geese, but only Cleo, a black and white Border collie, is paid to do it. Her job is to save the geese by tormenting them.

Last year, federal authorities killed nearly 370 Prospect Park geese, mainly to keep them from hitting airplanes. Now, with that slaughter fresh in the minds of many people in Brooklyn, park officials have brought in Cleo to help avoid a repeat.

“It’s all about persistence,” said Cleo’s handler, Philip Graziano, a veteran goose fighter who began working in the park this week. “We can’t let them win.”

Cleo will patrol the lakeshore to chase the geese from land and ride a kayak to chase them from water. She will vary her activity to shake the rhythm of the geese, and she will receive help from two collie colleagues, Spanky and Samantha (pictured above). If Cleo’s constant harassment succeeds in keeping most of the geese away, Prospect Park officials hope the federal agents in charge of the culling will pass them by.

“We would really like to keep the number down low enough so this is not a target area,” said Emily Lloyd (right), president of the Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit group that helps run the park. Her organization hired Cleo’s owners, Goose Busters, a company based in Virginia that has worked extensively in the New York region, at $725 a week for about eight weeks, or until molting season begins.

In recent years, the Canada goose population has grown significantly in Prospect Park and the rest of the city. The region is home to 15,000 to 20,000 geese, roughly five times the “socially acceptable amount,” according to a November report by the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. The federal agency killed 1,509 geese in the city last year, including 368 in Prospect Park, largely because they threaten airplane safety, the report said.

The goose killing was prompted by the ditching of US Airways Flight 1549, which was forced to land in the Hudson River in 2009 after geese flew into the engines.

That led federal authorities to recommend the elimination of most of the geese within a seven-mile radius of the region’s major airports. Federal officials determined Prospect Park to sit 6.5 miles from Kennedy and La Guardia Airports, though several other measurements found it to be closer to nine miles.

Federal, state and city officials will meet in the coming months to determine whether more geese need to be killed this year, said Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.

It is up to the Border collies to keep their focus off Prospect Park.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Graziano, vice president of operations for Goose Busters, and another dog, Samantha, patrolled the lakeshore. Cleo, who is younger and lighter than Samantha, will take over in the coming days, Mr. Graziano said.

As Samantha turned a bend, she found two geese lazily floating in the lake. “Go get ‘em, Sammy,” Mr. Graziano said. She locked her eyes on the birds and ran back and forth along the water’s edge, never making a sound — and causing the geese little apparent distress. After about a minute, the birds flew off. Samantha turned to sniff some grass, and Mr. Graziano declared himself pleased. “Her being here is what made them fly,” he said.

But when the geese leave Prospect Park, where do they go? “Someplace else,” Ms. Lloyd said.

They often head to the nearby Green-Wood Cemetery. Ken Taylor, a cemetery official, said two kites that look like eagles were used there to chase the geese away — and back to Prospect Park.

It remains to be seen whether Cleo, named for her resemblance to Cleopatra, proves scarier than the kites, but Mr. Graziano appeared confident. “They’ll leave the park,” he said.

For years, the geese of Prospect Park have been difficult to miss, their large numbers creating what one employee called “a raucous feeling.” But their ranks have been steadily thinning. Last spring there were 400, then about 100 this winter, and 40 to 50 today, park officials said.

The killings last July took many by surprise. Prospect Park employees said they were not consulted in the decision, which was made by city, state and federal officials. “We came in and there were no geese,” said John Jordan, the park’s natural resources supervisor.

Community groups and politicians were outraged. Two Brooklyn councilmen, Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, introduced legislation last month that would create a new citywide panel to oversee more humane wildlife management.

The Humane Society and New York City Audubon support the use of Border collies, a strategy that has become increasingly common across the country. Central Park has used Border collies for about five years.

But Prospect Park officials are not putting all their hopes on the collies’ shaggy coats. They have also covered 13 gosling eggs with oil to prevent them from hatching, and officials intend to cover more, said Anne Wong, director of landscape management. They will plant shrubbery that geese do not like and crack down on people feeding the birds.

But Cleo will be the linchpin in the goose fight. “They see the dog,” Mr. Graziano said. “They don’t want to be anywhere near it.”


Samantha photos: Eric Michael Johnson for The New York Times
Rodin, Bird-Dog: SCOOP & HOWL/From-The-DOGHOUSE.com

Lady Bug gets second chance at life after lifetime of abuse
By Lawerence Synett

May 5, 2011
ady Bug will soon be up for adoption at Animal House Shelter.

Animal House Shelter founder Leslie Irwin was siphoning through her more than 300 daily emails she receives about animals in need when she came across a subject headline that caught her eye — “Pathetic girl has only 24 hours to live.” Irwin immediately opened the email from the Kansas City-based shelter to find a photo of a brown and white female pit bull — body chewed, ears frayed, and eyes glossed over. She knew then something had to be done.

After several attempts to contact the shelter proved unsuccessful, she was able to make arrangements to have the struggling canine brought to her Huntley business to rehabilitate her both mentally and physically, before trying to find her a new home. That successful call took place April 30, the same day Lady Bug was to be euthanized.

“Looking at the photo, you could tell she was depressed and had given up,” Irwin said. “Something with Lady Bug told me we had to make this work. Even if she doesn’t live that many years past once we get her, she will at least get to know some type of human kindness and compassion.”

Lady Bug was brought to the Kansas City Animal Shelter by animal control after police reportedly broke up a dog-fighting ring about two weeks ago. Once at the shelter, volunteers determined she had severe skin conditions, dental problems, and was filled with hookworms and infected with heartworm, said Carolyn Hadley, former volunteer coordinator at the Kansas City Animal Shelter. She was also going blind and had been abused by both humans and dogs, and had been used repeatedly for breeding, she said. “Lady Bug was in horrible condition,” Hadley said. “But she was so sweet that we just had to do something.”

Unable to find anyone to take her, workers decided euthanasia was the only option, until a call from Irwin saved Lady Bug’s life.

“I believe that all things happen for a reason,” Hadley said. “Fate brings animal people together to make a difference. Lady Bug is one lucky girl.” Algonquin resident and Animal House Shelter volunteer Lynn Nowinski recently made a donation to help the dog’s cause.

“Her story touched my heart, it was so sad,” Nowinski said. “She will be able to live her last few years in happiness. It was a stroke of fate to find her when we did.”

Lady Bug has since been staying in foster care with a volunteer until she is transported to the Huntley nonprofit shelter on May 14, where she will be treated and spayed before being put up for adoption. She has become a staff favorite in Kansas City, “wiggling all over, being super sweet and doing fantastic,” Hadley said.

The Animal House Shelter, which opened in 2002, houses around 200 dogs and cats, readying them for adoption, with most of the animals coming from southern Illinois. The business also has another 100 cats and 100 dogs in foster homes awaiting adoption. It is a no kill shelter.

Saving dogs like Lady Bug gives animals that have been abused their entire lives a chance to be loved, Irwin said.

“She has never once had a person be nice to her,” she said. “No one else was going to take her. It’s heart wrenching to think of an animal that is put down before ever knowing what it’s like to be loved.”

To help with Lady Bug’s rehabilitation or inquire about adoption, go to www.animalhouseshelter.com or call 847-961-5541.








A Bin Laden Hunter on Four Legs

May 4, 2011

The identities of all 80 members of the American commando team who thundered into Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden are the subject of intense speculation, but perhaps none more so than the only member with 4 legs.

Little is known about what may be the nation’s most courageous dog. Even its breed is the subject of great interest, although it was most likely a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, military sources say. But its use in the raid reflects the military’s growing dependence on dogs in wars in which improvised explosive devices have caused two-thirds of all casualties. Dogs have proved far better than people or machines at quickly finding bombs.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of United States forces in Afghanistan (left), said last year that the military needed more dogs. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” he said.

Maj. William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, said the dog on the raid could have checked the compound for explosives and even sniffed door handles to see if they were booby-trapped.

And given that Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a narrow, dark hole (right) beneath a mud shack in Iraq, the Seal team might have brought the dog in case Bin Laden had built a secret room into his compound. “Dogs are very good at detecting people inside of a building,” Major Roberts said.

Another use may have been to catch anyone escaping the compound in the first moments of the raid. A shepherd or a Malinois runs twice as fast as a human.

Tech Sgt. Kelly A. Mylott, the kennel master at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, called dogs ideal for getting someone who is running away without having to shoot them. “When the dogs go after a suspect, they’re trained to bite and hold them,” Sergeant Mylott said.

Some dogs are big enough that, when they leap on a suspect, the person tends to drop to the ground, Sergeant Mylott said. Others bite arms or legs. “Different dogs do different things,” she said. “But whatever they do, it’s very difficult for that person to go any further.”

Finally, dogs can be used to pacify an unruly group of people — particularly in the Middle East. “There is a cultural aversion to dogs in some of these countries, where few of them are used as pets,” Major Roberts said. “Dogs can be very intimidating in that situation.”

Sergeant Mylott (right) said that dogs got people’s attention in ways that weapons sometimes did not. “Dogs can be an amazing psychological deterrent,” she said.

There are 600 dogs serving in Afghanistan and Iraq,
and that number is expected to grow substantially over the next year, Ensign Brynn Olson of the United States Central Command said. Particularly popular with the troops are the growing number of Labrador retrievers who wander off-leash 100 yards or more in front of patrols to ensure the safety of the route.

A Silver Star, one of the Navy’s highest awards, was awarded posthumously in 2009 to a dog named Remco after he charged an insurgent’s hide-out in Afghanistan.

The training of dogs in Navy Seal teams and other Special Operations units is shrouded in secrecy. Maj. Wes Ticer, a spokesman for United States Special Operations Command, said the dogs’ primary functions “are finding explosives and conducting searches and patrols.”“Dogs are relied upon,” he continued, “to provide early warning for potential hazards, many times, saving the lives of the Special Operations Forces with whom they operate.”

Last year, the Seals bought four waterproof tactical vests for their dogs that featured infrared and night-vision cameras so that handlers — holding a three-inch monitor from as far as 1,000 yards away — could immediately see what the dogs were seeing. The vests, which come in coyote tan and camouflage, let handlers communicate with the dogs with a speaker, and the four together cost more than $86,000. Navy Seal teams have trained to parachute from great heights and deploy out of helicopters with dogs.

The military uses a variety of breeds, but by far the most common are the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, which “have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition,” according to a fact sheet from the military working dog unit.

Suzanne Belger, president of the American Belgian Malinois Club, said she was hoping the dog was one of her breed “and that it did its job and came home safe.” But Laura Gilbert, corresponding secretary for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, said she was sure the dog was her breed “because we’re the best!”


Happy Mother's Day!

Holly Springs, Mississippi
May 3, 2011

Members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team arrived at the scene to find more than 95 severely underweight dogs living in feces-encrusted pens. The degree of neglect was shocking—skin disease, rotted teeth, malnutrition and infection were widespread. Several dead dogs and puppies were discovered on the property. Others, like Binah, were barely alive.

Binah was one of the many victims found living in squalor at the Holly Springs puppy mill. She was dirty, skinny and unable to walk due to a congenital defect made worse by spending years in a tiny, overcrowded cage. Binah was forced, with little regard to her health or well-being, to produce puppies assembly-line style.

"Mother dogs like Binah are considered a cash crop—the more puppies they can crank out, the more money the mills make,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “When they can no longer produce, they are deemed worthless, just like broken equipment."

This Mother’s Day, while honoring our own moms, let’s take a moment to remember dogs like Binah, who are forced to spend their entire lives confined in puppy mills.


Who Says Pet Parents Can't Celebrate Mother's Day?
May 4, 2011
It's almost Mother's Day, and just because your child may be furry and walk on four paws doesn't mean you can't take part in the fun. After all, pet parents are some of the best, most loving, giving, and deserving moms around.

Here are some ideas on fun ways to celebrate Mother's Day together. With a little preparation it will be a day to wag about.

Go to brunch together! The weather is getting warmer, and that means more restaurants are setting up their patios and sidewalks for al fresco dining. If you live in an area where dogs are allowed to join their people at outdoor tables (and in most areas in the US, they are), sniff around for one that has an appealing menu and will welcome you with your dog. Keep in mind that it may be pretty busy at some of these places on Mother's Day, and call ahead to see if it would be OK to bring your dog. Reservations may be needed. Be open to celebrating on another day; the day before Mother's Day is just as good as the "big day" itself, and you won't have to deal with the crowds. (Prices for just about the same food may well be lower, too.)

Get your dog the right duds. Dress your dog up for the holiday with a leash or collar designed with hearts or flowers. It'll brighten your day every time you look at your fur child. Or if you want to go all out, try out some doggy clothes made for this special day. Type "mother's day dog clothes" into your favorite search engine and you'll come up with some fun choices. A couple of places that offer doggy shirts proclaiming their love for mom include: The Pet Boutique and The Yuppy Puppy Boutique.

Help your dog send you a card. Dogs may not be very good at taking the car and going shopping, but if they were, you can be assured that yours would buy you a very cool Mother's Day card. The good news is that you can help your dog out with card "shopping" without ever leaving the house. And there are plenty of places to find great doggy Mother's Day cards online. Sloppy Kiss Cards has several very appealing animated Mother's Day cards you can custom design with pictures of your breed of choice, and a message from your dog. Some cards even offer the ability to upload your dog's photo for a highly personalized experience. Sloppy Kiss offers a free 30-day trial, or you pay just $13.95 for a year of unlimited e-cards. Part of the membership fee goes to Petfinder.com, so you can't go wrong.

Celebrate with a special bouquet. Since Mother's Day is on a Sunday, you might be able to find a dog-friendly farmer's market in your area with vendors selling beautiful bouquets. Go with your dog and sniff out a bunch of flowers that will brighten your week. (Try not to rely too much on your dog's suggestions, because dogs don't exactly have the best color vision.) Many farmer's markets have stands that prepare tasty local foods, so you can even grab yourselves a fun Mother's Day meal there. If you want a unique bouquet, Dog Lover Gift Baskets offers a very special one this time of year. It's called the Mom & Dog Mother's Day Bouquet. It looks good enough to eat - and it is! The feast for the eyes and tastebuds is a lovely bouquet made up of tasty, all-natural homemade treats for your dog, and delectable chocolates and other sweet yummies for you. It's not cheap ($79.95), but if your dog has deep pockets, it's worth the splurge.

Take a great walk together. There's no better gift your dog can give you than the gift of love and health. It's as simple as getting outdoors for a heart-healthy walk. Your dog will love you for the extra time outdoors together. If you already walk a couple of times a day, go for a walk in a park or area you've been wanting to check out. Or pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it. A great way to expand your horizons when looking for fun, new places to walk your dog is to pick up a copy of a Dog Lover's Companion for your area. This award-winning series has highly readable, super helpful guidebooks for several locations throughout the US. Yours will be sure to become dog-eared in no time. What a wonderful way to make Mother's Day last all year.


Puppy Mill Law Is Reconsidered

April 15, 2011
Lawmakers are poised to repeal much of a measure voters approved in November cracking down on some of the nation’s most notorious puppy mills. Animal advocates complain elected officials have essentially overruled the will of the people. Swayed by breeders who argued the law would close them down and concerned about possible future regulation for other agricultural industries, a bipartisan group of mostly rural lawmakers voted to change most of the law’s provisions.

Legislature Guts Prop B, Rolls Back Puppy Mill Protections
In an outrageous affront to the democratic process, on Wednesday, April 13, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 85-71 to reject the will of the state’s voters and eliminate all of the newly established humane improvements outlined in the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act (PMCPA).

The PMCPA, which is scheduled to go into effect in November,
was passed five months ago by popular vote as “Proposition B” to more tightly regulate conditions at the state’s thousands of commercial dog breeding facilities.

Missouri is the number-one puppy-producing state in the county, supplying pet stores from
coast to coast with hundreds of thousands of dogs annually, and is notorious for its lax animal-care standards and proliferation of unlicensed breeders. Unless it is vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon, the bill the House just passed (SB 113) will not only supersede the PMCPA—which includes such humane provisions as increased cage size, prohibition on the use of wire flooring and restrictions on breeding frequency—it will make parts of the state’s commercial breeding law even weaker than they are now.

“In spite of decades of urging by the animal welfare community, the Missouri General Assembly remained silent on the issue of puppy mills until after the voters spoke. The failure of the General Assembly to address the problem is why we finally took this straight to the people,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “And as evidenced by the passage of Proposition B, Missourians care deeply about puppy mill reform. That state legislators are discarding Prop B and ignoring the will of the people they are supposed to represent is appalling, insulting and disrespectful.”

If the legislature succeeds in blocking implementation of the PMCPA, it could have consequences far beyond Missouri. States as close as Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska and as distant as Hawaii are currently considering puppy mill-related measures of their own. Unfortunately, lawmakers in these states are regarding these developments in the Puppy Mill Capital of America as a bellwether of reform.

If the PMCPA is gutted in Missouri, your state’s puppy mill law might be next.

The fate of millions of dogs now hangs on the decision of one man. The ASPCA implores all of our supporters to contact everyone you know in Missouri; ask them to call Governor Nixon to urge him to veto SB 113 (please do not call the governor if you live outside Missouri). You can also help by spreading the word about this injustice—please share this article via Facebook and twitter.

"Any breeder that can’t provide a loving, in-home environment for a pregnant bitch, and a safe home environment surrounded by loving people for new born puppies, is exploitive. Anyone who breeds as a business rather than for the love of the breed is exploitive."

Co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society


Missouri Legislature Passes Governor-Backed Puppy Mill Compromise
April 29, 2011
e’ve been updating News Alert readers since last summer about our efforts to pass common-sense, humane reforms for large-scale, commercial dog breeders in Missouri, the Puppy Mill Capital of America. On Election Day 2010, the state’s citizens approved Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act—and animal lovers around the country rejoiced!

Unfortunately, Prop B’s victory was just the beginning of what has become a long, drawn-out saga of might against right. In a startling development last Monday, April 18, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, representatives from the dog breeding industry, and a few agriculture special-interest groups and local animal welfare groups announced a so-called “compromise” agreement on puppy mill reform. Legislators tacked the language onto an unrelated agriculture tax bill as a last-minute amendment, and both chambers passed it on Wednesday, April 27. Governor Nixon (right), who played a part in arranging the compromise agreement, is expected to sign it into law.

“The ASPCA was not part of the negotiations and does not support the agreement,” says Cori Menkin (right), ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “The language crafted by the participating groups is far from an actual compromise—instead, it guts many of the core provisions to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities passed by voters last November.”

The agreement, which will nullify Prop B, allows the stacking of cages, leaves temperature, exercise and veterinary care requirements unenforceable, allows female dogs to be bred at every heat cycle with no rest between litters, and places no limit on the number of dogs a breeder may keep. Most significantly, it does not set specific standards, but defers to those set by the Missouri Department of Agriculture—which is free to change or lower these standards at will.

The ASPCA is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the will of the voters is honored; to that end, we are poring over new language to determine our next steps. We are far from defeated, and the movement to protect thousands of dogs in Missouri’s puppy mills is not over!

You can help by continuing to spread the word—please share this article via
Facebook and twitter.

Hiding the Truth About Factory Farms
April 27, 2011
supermarket shopper buying hamburger, eggs or milk has every reason, and every right, to wonder how they were produced. The answer, in industrial agriculture, is “behind closed doors,” and that’s how the industry wants to keep it. In at least three states — Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota — legislation is moving ahead that would make undercover investigations in factory farms, especially filming and photography, a crime. The legislation has only one purpose: to hide factory-farming conditions from a public that is beginning to think seriously about animal rights and the way food is produced.

These bills share common features. Their definition of agriculture is overly broad; they include puppy mills
, for instance. They treat undercover investigators and whistle-blowers as if they were “agro-terrorists,” determined to harm livestock or damage facilities. They would criminalize reporting on crop production as well. And they are supported by the big guns of industrial agriculture: Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, the associations that represent pork producers, dairy farmers and cattlemen, as well as poultry, soybean, and corn growers.

Exposing the workings of the livestock industry has been an undercover activity since Upton Sinclair’s day. Nearly every major improvement in the welfare of agricultural animals, as well as some notable improvements in food safety, has come about because someone exposed the conditions in which they live and die. Factory farming confines animals in highly crowded, unnatural and often unsanitary conditions.

We need to know more about what goes on behind those closed doors, not less.


Who Protects the Animals?
April 27, 2011
etting caught is a drag.

Just ask Kirt Espenson (right), whose employees at E6 Cattle Company in Southwest Texas were videotaped bashing cows’ heads in with pickaxes and hammers and performing other acts of unspeakably sickening cruelty.

Yet if some state legislators have their way, horrific but valuable videos like that one will never be made.

But, first, the story:
Espenson, who comes off on the phone as sincere and contrite, explained to me that he’d made a “catastrophic error in a very difficult situation,” when ultracold weather caused frostbite in some of his 20,000 cattle. He was short-staffed and had his best employees saving the endangered but viable cows while new workers were asked to “euthanize” those who were near death. Out came the hammers. “We just didn’t have the protocol to deal with it,” he told me. “I made a mistake and take full responsibility.”

The offending employees have been terminated. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Nothing like this will ever happen again.

Much as I’d like to believe Espenson, this sounds like too many other horror stories of animal cruelty, and frankly — without belittling either situation — the excuses echo Abu Ghraib. And this is far from an isolated incident. Remember the four Iowa factory farmers who pleaded guilty in 2009 to sexually abusing and beating pigs, and the abuses of downed cattle exposed by the Humane Society of the United States in 2008 at the Hallmark slaughterhouse in California, which led to the country’s biggest ever recall of meat.

The root problem is not Espenson or his company, any more than the root problem at Abu Ghraib was Lynndie England.

The problem is the system that enables cruelty and a lack not just of law enforcement but actual laws. Because the only federal laws governing animal cruelty apply to slaughterhouses, where animals may spend only minutes before being dispatched. None apply to farms, where animals are protected only by state laws.

And these may be moving in the wrong direction. In their infinite wisdom the legislatures of Iowa, Minnesota, Florida and others are considering measures that would punish heroic videographers like the one who spent two weeks as an E6 employee, who was clearly traumatized by the experience. (I spoke to him on the phone Saturday, with a guarantee of anonymity.)

Minnesota’s “ag-gag” law — isn’t that a great name? — would seek to punish not only photographers and videographers but those who distribute their work, which means organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and Mercy for Animals, which contracted the videographer for the E6 investigation. “It’s so sweeping,” says Nathan Runkle (right), the executive director of Mercy for Animals, “that if you took a picture of a dog at a pet shop and texted it to someone, that could be a crime.” Unconstitutional? Probably, but there it is.

Videotaping at factory farms wouldn’t be necessary if the industry were properly regulated. But it isn’t. And the public knows this; the one poll about the Iowa ag-gag law shows a mere 21 percent of people supporting it. And poll after poll finds that almost everyone believes that even if it costs more, farm animals should be treated humanely.

That is not the norm on factory farms. Espenson insists that it was a coincidence that the investigator for Mercy for Animals showed up just when his workers were hammering cows’ heads; the videographer believes it was routine. And, while the farmer claims that extreme weather had hurt the cows, Weather Underground recorded that the weather was far from extreme during the period in question. The investigator theorizes that weaker, less desirable animals were sickened by living in their own feces.

We can’t know. What we can know is that organizations like the Humane Society and Mercy for Animals need to be allowed to do the work that the federal and state governments are not: documenting the kind of behavior most of us abhor. Indeed, the independent investigators should be supported. As Runkle says, “The industry should be teaming up with organizations like ours to put cameras in these facilities, to advocate for mandatory training and have real euthanasia policies, things that would allow the public to trust these operations rather than fear them.”

The biggest problem of all is that we’ve created a system in which standard factory-farming practices are inhumane, and the kinds of abuses documented at E6 are really just reminders of that. If you’re raising and killing 10 billion animals every year, some abuse is pretty much guaranteed.

There is, of course, the argument that domesticating animals in order to kill them is essentially immoral; those of us who eat meat choose not to believe this. But in “Bengal Tiger,” a Broadway play set at Baghdad Zoo, the tiger — played by Robin Williams — wonders: “What if my every meal has been an act of cruelty?”

The way most animals are handled in the United States right now has to have all of us omnivores wondering the same thing.

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."

(1724 – 1804)
Professor of philosophy at Königsberg, in Prussia

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A Hole in the Endangered Species Act

April 22, 2011
s part of its budget bill, Congress approved a brief rider, 11 lines long, that removes gray wolves in Idaho and Montana from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The rider overturns a recent court ruling, prohibits further judicial review and cannot be good for the wolf. But the worst part is that it sets a terrible precedent — allowing Congress to decide the fate of animals on the list.


The law’s purpose is to base protections on science. Now that politics has been allowed to trump science when it comes to the gray wolf, which species will be next?

The rider’s sponsors, Senator Jon Tester of Montana (left) and Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho (right), were responding to the demands of ranchers, who sometimes lose livestock to wolves, and hunters, who complain that wolves reduce deer and elk populations.

Sadly and surprisingly, they were abetted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who declared last month that he would accept what he called a “legislative solution” to the status of the wolf in the Rocky Mountains. One Interior Department official has argued that without this concession, the rider might well have been far more radical — possibly removing wolves everywhere from protection.

Wolf Season Begins
1 September 2009

Hunters want to kill wolves because wolves kill elk
— and the human hunters want the elk.

A second reason is a love of killing things.

A third is an implacable, and unjustified, hostility to the wolf.”

The wolf has been a subject of litigation ever since it was reintroduced in the mid-1990s. One of Mr. Salazar’s first acts as secretary was to de-list the animal in Idaho and Montana, arguing that populations had recovered and that the states could now manage them. A federal judge [Donald W. Molloy (left)] overturned his ruling, as well as a compromise plan that Mr. Salazar worked out with environmental groups.

Idaho and Montana plan to allow controlled hunts. The best hope for the wolves is that the states adhere to their management plans and not let the hunts get out of control. The courts can only stand by, but the Interior Department must hold the states to the terms of a five-year review process required by their management plans.

As for Mr. Salazar (right), he has made it harder to uphold the integrity of a law that has withstood attacks from industry, ranchers, real estate developers and their political allies. Other protected species like the grizzly bear could now face their own “legislative solution.”

For the sake of his own reputation as a conservationist, Mr. Salazar has to hope that Congress’s meddling stops with the wolves.

"Gov. 'Butch' Otter of Idaho is so on the side of private enterprise ranchers that he just signed a law naming the gray wolf a 'disaster emergency.' I would love to go into this, but he’s actually not new in office. I just brought it up because I like being able to saynx'Butcher Offer.' "
The New York Times
Op-Ed, 23 April 2011


$150 for a Wolf's leg

Relishing the Part of a Dog’s Best Friend

April 21, 2011
or young Bau, there is a lot to learn yet. For instance, that it’s not a good idea to walk your human full speed into a lamppost. Especially when your human has a money face. When she is, say, Isabella Rossellini.

Ms. Rossellini is, of course, an actress of some renown, but during a recent stroll in Midtown Manhattan, she wasn’t acting, she was training. Bau, the trainee, is a 6-month-old black Lab who, if he proves to be a good learner and have the right personality, will some day be a guide dog for a blind person.

“I do like a lot of animals, but dogs are so close to us,” Ms. Rossellini said during the stroll down Eighth Avenue with Bau. “No; leave it.” That last phrase was directed at Bau, who was eyeballing a pigeon that was pecking at someone’s trash on the sidewalk. Any other puppy would see an opportunity for fun; Bau was learning that there is no pigeon chasing while on the job.

Ms. Rossellini is a “puppy walker,” someone who will spend a year with a young dog teaching rudimentary skills and habituating the animal to crowds, bright lights, cats and, yes, pigeons. If Bau shows promise in that year, he will be turned over to another trainer to gain the specialized knowledge needed by a guide dog. The dogs, Ms. Rossellini said, can learn 200 commands.

Ms. Rossellini also walks a four-legged trainee around town in Animals Distract Me, an hourlong documentary she made for the cable channel Planet Green that is having its premiere on Saturday. In the film, that dog, Sweety, drops in on some of Ms. Rossellini’s famous friends, like the chef Mario Batali, and Ms. Rossellini gets a chance to expound not just on guide dog training but also on her broader concern for animals, cruelty-free menu choices and other subjects.

Ms. Rossellini’s acting résumé is certainly eclectic: highlights include David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” in 1986 and “Wild at Heart” in 1990, the foodie favorite “Big Night” in 1996 and a recurring role on the ABC series “Alias.” But for real eclecticism, you need to see her work as a filmmaker. In one especially ridiculous scene in “Animals Distract Me,” Ms. Rossellini and André Leon Talley (right), the fashion editor, begin talking gibberish to illustrate how Sweety perceives their conversation.

Two series of very short films that Ms. Rossellini made for the Sundance Channel, “Green Porno” and “Seduce Me,” about the sex lives of spiders, dolphins and assorted other creatures, border on the bizarre.
They are droll and informational at the same time and, like some vignettes in “Animals Distract Me,” feature Ms. Rossellini in an array of outlandish costumes. For instance, the whale suit she dons to show the male half of that species in midreproduction leaves nothing to the imagination in terms of the animal’s appendages. Ms. Rossellini may have a highbrow pedigree — her father was the director Roberto Rossellini, her mother Ingrid Bergman — but she has a wicked, winking sense of humor.

“She always has a point of view about the world that is a little off center,” said Laura Michalchyshyn, president of Planet Green, part of Discovery’s group of channels.

In the new film “she’s making a big statement about how humans and our interactions influence the world, but she doesn’t do it with straight finger-pointing, she does it with humor,” added Ms. Michalchyshyn, who first worked with Ms Rossellini when she was an executive at the Sundance Channel. “She doesn’t take herself so seriously that she can’t talk dog-talk with André Leon Talley or can’t dress up as a cabbage.”

She is serious, though, about the work she does for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, N.Y., on Long Island. Bau — the name is from the Italian equivalent of the sound of a dog’s bark, as in bow-wow — is the eighth dog she has trained. She also sometimes acts as a midwife to pregnant dogs being used by the foundation; she takes them into her home in the Long Island town of Bellport and oversees the birth and the first five weeks of the puppies’ lives.

“Mostly they are Labs or golden retrievers,” Ms. Rossellini said, though efforts are being made to turn poodles into guide dogs because some people who are allergic to other breeds aren’t allergic to them. Another trend comes from war: “Now they’re breeding very big dogs that act like walking sticks” for veterans with head injuries that leave them with impaired balance, she said.

On the stroll through Midtown, at 40th and Eighth, Bau was a bit distracted by a food cart. Crosswalks were still a problem. And so were obstacles like trash cans and lampposts.

“The dog is always calculating so he doesn’t walk you into a pole,” Ms. Rossellini said, referring to fully trained dogs, not to Bau. She then demonstrated his need for work in this area by letting him walk near a lamppost. Sure enough, Bau — the dog is always on the human’s left side, by the way — didn’t have the calculation thing down yet; he left himself enough room to get past the pole, but Ms. Rossellini, had she been blind, would have clanged right into it.

An amble down a sidewalk, though, is only the simplest thing a guide dog is asked to do; any old mutt can probably manage that. But it takes a dog with a certain kind of personality, Ms. Rossellini said, to make the command decisions that are sometimes needed.

“The dog has to be obedient, but it has to be willing to overrule,” Ms. Rossellini said. For instance, a blind person going by sound may be ready to step off the curb to cross the street, but the dog needs to have the last word, in case a bicyclist or a super-quiet electric car is coming along.

“The puppies she raises for us are very well-adjusted dogs,” said Doug Wiggin, a field representative at the Smithtown foundation who has done the next level of training on some of Ms. Rossellini’s graduates. Especially useful, he said, is Ms. Rossellini’s fearlessness about taking the puppies to the city, into crowds and so on. “The puppies have quite a bit of exposure, which is great for our purposes,” he said.

The walk ended at Penn Station, a spot nicely suited to Ms. Rossellini’s needs. “All of this is fantastic for training: loudspeakers, crowds, that noise,” she said, as she prepared to disappear onto an ordinary commuter train with Bau for the trek to Long Island.

When she’s out and about with a trainee like this, who gets the most attention, the movie star or the dog?

“Probably the dog,” she said.


NYC on High Alert

May 2, 2011

MAY 3, 2011
Police officers on Tuesday monitored Los Angeles International Airport,
one of a number of sites where security was increased.

Monica Almeida/The New York Times


K-9 Retiring After 3 Operations
May 3, 2011
e’s had a good career with the NYPD, and now Blaze is retiring after eight years with New York’s finest.

The German Shepherd has had three operations and is feeling the effects. One was to relieve the pain from a pinched nerve. A second removed an infected toe and the third was for stomach bloat.

His handler, Officer Benny Colvecchio, tells the Daily News that Blaze was a great and dependable partner. They worked together out of Staten Island’s 120 Precinct.

The canine’s jobs included finding a body in the rubble of a Bronx fire and helping to track down a suspect.

Blaze will continue to live with Colvecchio and his family, which includes five children.
In the meantime, Blaze’s replacement is being trained.

Officer and His Dog Play Key Role in Hunt for Remains

April 18, 2011
en sets of human remains have turned up in the thick brush off Ocean Parkway on the South Shore of Long Island since December. All of them have been discovered by the police. Five of them were found by the same officer and his partner.

The officer, John Mallia, a 31-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department and a former private investigator, is good at finding the things and people that are the hardest to find, like inmates who have escaped from the county jail. His partner is even better at it: Blue, a German shepherd, has worked with Officer Mallia since 2005.

Through some combination of tenacity, luck, canine sensory skill and mathematical probabilities, Officer Mallia and his police dog have played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in the search for a serial killer and perhaps other killers, discovering the remains along the same remote stretch of road. At least two of the searches of a nearby beach community were done on their own time.

Blue has gotten scratched up in the overgrown terrain north of the parkway near Oak Beach, and so has his handler, who has gotten poison ivy from the work.

“When he’s tracking, he’s relentless,” Inspector Stuart K. Cameron, commander of the Suffolk department’s special patrol bureau, said of Officer Mallia. “He’ll work and work and work. That’s what happened at Oak Beach. His persistence is what led to the discovery of that first body.”

The investigation was prompted by the search for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old prostitute from Jersey City who disappeared in the area last May and remains missing. One month later, the department’s missing persons bureau asked Officer Mallia to search for Ms. Gilbert.

“I assumed we would find her,” he said. “I assumed she was dead. Nobody had a clue.”

Over the summer, the officer and Blue searched the gated beach community where she was last seen, but came up with nothing.

On Dec. 11, he returned, this time venturing west. He said he stuck close to the shoulder of the parkway, because the vegetation was so thick and because data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed that when bodies were dumped, most were disposed of about 30 feet from the road. That afternoon, shortly before 3 p.m., Blue picked up a scent on the parkway.

“The tail starts wagging; he’s making adjustments with his head,” Officer Mallia said, adding, “There was some burlap, and most of the skeleton was there.”

That discovery — the skeletal remains of a woman in a nearly disintegrated burlap sack — would be the first of several grisly finds the police would make off Ocean Parkway.

Two days later, Officer Mallia and Blue returned to the area in the morning to help homicide investigators collect evidence. But about 500 feet from the first body, the officer found a second body wrapped in burlap. Officer Mallia made that discovery alone, since Blue was still in the car. By 1:20 p.m. that December day, the officer and Blue had recovered two more bodies.

“It couldn’t have been colder and windier,” he said. “You didn’t feel any of that. The adrenaline just took over.”
Months later, last Monday, as the search expanded to Nassau County, Officer Mallia, Blue and Joe Grella, an officer with the Nassau County Police Department’s bureau of special operations, were assigned to search a section of brush just west of the Suffolk line. “We came through some thick brush and we saw it together,” Officer Mallia said. “It looked like a skull on top of a bag. Right away, we knew what it was.”

Ms. Gilbert is still missing. The four bodies found in December have been identified, as those of prostitutes. The remains found this spring have not been publicly identified.

Officer Mallia is 59 years old; Blue is 7. The dog lives with the officer at his home in the Suffolk town of Brookhaven. Police work can be dangerous, for both man and beast. The officer’s previous German shepherd police dog, Boomer, was stabbed six times by a man fleeing the scene of a domestic dispute in 2004. Boomer survived but retired in 2005.

Officer Mallia raised and trained Boomer and Blue since each was a puppy.

Gunman sentenced to 26 years for shooting Ohio officer, police dog
Dominick Conley, 20, was arrested after he shot Zanesville Police Officer Mike Schiele and his canine partner, Bosco, while resisting arrest in August 2009
By Josh Jarman
From Columbus Dispatch

April 13, 2011
Muskingum County man who shot a police officer and his dog was sentenced yesterday to 26 years in prison.

Dominick Conley, 20 (left), was arrested after he shot Zanesville Police Officer Mike Schiele and his canine partner, Bosco (right), while resisting arrest in August 2009. Schiele and the dog were both flown to Columbus hospitals, and Bosco spent months in rehabilitation.

Conley pleaded guilty last month to felonious assault on a peace officer, assault on a police dog, kidnapping, abduction and tampering with evidence for the shooting and the rampage that followed as he fled to Canton to avoid capture. Most of the crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences because Conley used a gun to commit them.

Conley's trial had been held up for more than a year and a half by repeated mental evaluations to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. He had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity before pleading guilty in March.

He could have faced more than 47 years in prison, but Muskingum County Common Pleas Judge Mark C. Fleegle sentenced him to 26 years in exchange for his guilty pleas, one more year than was recommended by prosecutors. Fleegle agreed to dismiss two of the abduction charges and an aggravated-burglary charge against Conley for breaking into his mother's apartment and holding his mother and a family friend at gunpoint on the night of the shooting, part of the sequence of events that Muskingum County Prosecutor D. Michael Haddox called a "one-man crime spree."

Haddox said that, after the shooting, Conley carjacked a 20-year-old woman whose 10-day-old child also was in the car. He forced her to drive to his mother's Zanesville-area apartment, where he let the woman and her infant go uninjured. Conley broke into the apartment and, finding no one there, traveled to his grandfather's house, also in Zanesville, where he briefly held six family members at gunpoint before leaving for Canton.

Assistant Prosecutor Robert Smith said Conley's sentence "fairly represented the damage he did and the trouble he caused everybody." He said Schiele was aware of the hearing but chose not to attend. Schiele could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Bosco was retired from police work after the shooting and now serves as a good-will ambassador for the department. An outpouring of community support during his recovery raised thousands of dollars for the department's canine division, which is funded through private donations.

Schiele has since returned to work with another dog, Tino.



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Rescued Lab lost and found by JFK tarmac

May 4, 2011
his lucky pooch has as many lives as a cat.

After being rescued from certain death as a stray in Taiwan, Jazz, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever mix, was flown to the United States to unite with a new owner, Hong Kong actress Joan Chen (right). But he got separated from his handlers at Kennedy Airport and wandered near the tarmac for three days before he was found, authorities said yesterday.

Port Authority cops feared Jazz would end up under the wheels of a jumbo jet after he bolted from his crate outside an airport cargo area Saturday after the 15-hour flight from Taiwan.

An inexperienced handler forgot to put him on a leash before taking him from the crate, officials said. "He just opened up the crate and tried to pull the dog out by its collar," said Port Authority Officer Randal Craft (above, left, with Jazz and officer Joseph D'Angelo). "But the dog got very nervous. He took off."

The officers chased the dog from one side of the cargo terminal to the other before four coralled him three days later.

Expectant dog owner Chen waited nervously.

She said she was "touched" by the plight of wild dogs rescued from Taiwan who, once adopted, end up having "entirely different personalities."

Photo of Jazz with officers: WILLIAM MILLER

wtkr com
Animal group will close on Michael Vick's Surry property soon

May 3, 2011
group trying to bring new life to Michael Vick's old dog fighting compound has cleared another hurdle.

The walls inside of Michael Vick's former Surry County home brings back painful memories of dog abuse.

a non-profit organization at "Dogs Deserve Better" is once step closer to replacing. For years they have been fundraising to build a rehabilitation center for unwanted dogs and they've spent months trying to get enough money to buy the infamous Vick house.

Spokesperson for Dogs Deserve Better Monica Severy said, "A lot of people don't want their dogs but they don't want to take it to the pound because they don't want it to be euthanized".

A few months ago Newschannel 3 introduced you to the group when they had to raise nearly $600,000 to put an offer on the house. Now thanks to donations and a loan the group is just weeks away from closing and moving in.

"Everybody's ecstatic about it. We can save more dogs and we've need a facility for a couple of years now," said Monica.
Monica says they already have big plans for their move in, from construction projects to refurbishing a memorial honoring the dogs that were used in the dog fighting ring.

"The kennels will stay as they are in the black sheds.People can come and visit and it should bring some education to the area and a voice for the dogs," said Monica.

Containing the Costs of Pet Care

April 29, 2011
eborah Nocella, a 43-year-old mother in Park Slope, says she feels as if she takes the family’s two dogs to the vet almost as often as she takes them to the neighborhood dog run.

Last year the Nocella family adopted two puppies, a pit bull mix named Pokie (left) and a “puggle” named Browny. Since then, Ms. Nocella estimates, the family has spent as much as $5,000 on veterinarian bills.

The dogs have had routine checkups and shots, of course. But then there were unexpected costs: Pokie arrived with a bad case of worms and kennel cough; some strange bumps on her paws turned out, after $700 worth of tests, to be warts. Browny has severe allergies and requires frequent trips to the vet.

Last November, Pokie swallowed Advil pills, which are toxic to dogs. She went into renal failure and required emergency treatment overnight in a nearby animal hospital. The treatment was successful and Pokie is fine, but the incident set the Nocellas back $2,300.

Pet owners like Ms. Nocella are spending more on veterinarian bills than ever before. The American Pet Products Association estimates that Americans will spend $12.2 billion on veterinary care this year, up from $11 billion last year and $8.2 billion in 2006.

Advances in veterinary medicine mean more extensive, and expensive, treatments are available for animals, but even ordinary costs like flea and tick protection can add up quickly. Here are some ways to curb those costs while still giving your pet the best of care.

Local shelters often offer free or low-cost spaying and neutering for dogs and cats, said Dr. Louise Murray (right), vice president at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York and author of “Vet Confidential.” To find a shelter near you, check the ASPCA website at xwww.aspca.org/pet-care/spayneuter.

Shelters where pets can be adopted may offer low-cost vaccinations and checkups. Mobile clinics, usually sponsored by local governments or animal protection agencies, also provide routine pet care for far less than a traditional vet would charge.

Veterinarian schools are another good source of low-cost care. Students are carefully supervised by qualified veterinarians, so pets receive quality care — everything from heartworm tests to major surgery, often for as little as a third of the price at a veterinarian’s office.

Keeping up with a pet’s shots will save money, not to mention misery, in the long run by preventing many serious illnesses. But that does not mean a pet needs every vaccine available.

“A corgi who lives on the Upper East Side doesn’t need the same protocol as a Labrador in Connecticut,” Dr. Murray said. “Your veterinarian should customize a vaccine plan that fits your pet.”

Many vets sell prescriptions and high-quality pet food, but the same brands are sold for much less at many pet supply stores or websites. Still, do not skimp on quality.

“Cats, for example, are carnivores and aren’t meant to eat carbohydrates,” Dr. Murray said. “Feeding them only the cheap dried food can lead to diabetes or blockages that will cost you a lot more in the long run than the price you’ll pay for the right food.”

If a pet needs regular medication, discount chains such as Costco can be cheaper than a regular drug store or the vet’s office, said Dr. Sharon Friedman, a veterinarian at the Berkley Animal Clinic in Berkley, Mich. But consult a veterinarian first, she advised, to be sure to buy the right medicine at the right dosage.

On the other hand, do not assume that tick and flea treatments or heartworm medications are cheaper at the big discount chains. Manufacturers want to distribute these medicines through veterinarians’ offices, so they often offer promotions and discounts there that are not available elsewhere.

“One company recently offered two free tick and flea treatments if you bought six doses. That worked out to be less expensive than PetMeds, a popular online store, or Costco,” Dr. Friedman said. “It often pays to ask.”

Many websites sell high-quality pet medications at good prices, but a recent Food and Drug. Administration. investigation caught some sites selling counterfeit, unapproved or expired drugs.

Beware of any site that sells medications without requiring a veterinarian’s prescription.

The F.D.A. also recommends that consumers look for sites accredited as a Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site, part of a voluntary accreditation program.

Pet health insurance is a booming industry, growing more than 20 percent every year, although only an estimated 3 percent of pet owners have bought policies. While Ms. Nocella has never seriously considered buying pet insurance, she does acknowledge it might have come in handy the day Pokie ate the Advil.

But like health insurance for humans, pet insurance can be complicated and highly restricted. Some policies will not cover older pets or genetic conditions that certain breeds are known to have, such as hip dysplasia in retrievers. Others limit coverage to only one treatment per illness. So if your dog develops asthma, for instance, some policies will cover just the first trip to the vet although treatment will require multiple visits.

Prices for pet insurance can range from $12 to $50 a month, depending on the type and age of the pet and any pre-existing conditions. In almost all cases the pet owner pays up front, then files a claim for reimbursement.
Costs are higher to insure older, sicker pets, or for policies that cover preventive care, such as vaccines and veterinarian office visits.

Many pet owners prefer to save for unexpected vet expenses in an emergency fund instead of paying premiums for coverage they may not use.

Dr. Murray suggested putting away a little each week until savings reach $2,000 to $3,000.
“That’s the minimum you’ll need if a serious situation arises and your pet needs lifesaving care,”
she said.

Man’s Best Friend’s Best Friend

April 29, 2011
n the patio at the Park Chow restaurant in San Francisco last month, while other diners grazed on salads and veggie lasagna, Douglas Wilkins took a glob of cream cheese from a container and fed it to Thisbe, a white fluffy Eskie that he and his wife had just adopted. Thisbe wagged her tail, seeming to enjoy a night on the town, but moments later regurgitated her meal.

It happened every time she ate, the result of mistreatment by previous owners in San Mateo. Three weeks later, Thisbe choked to death in the arms of a veterinarian.

“We did not realize just how badly a dog could be neglected,” Mr. Wilkins said.

Thisbe’s story represents a larger, grim reality that has developed in recent years:
beyond the city limits of San Francisco, dogs and cats are far more likely to lack proper care and to die at younger ages.

“You step outside of the city, and it really changes,” said Calla Felicity, who works at Rocket Dog Rescue, a Bay Area animal rescue service.

The number of animals destroyed each year reveals the disparity: dogs and cats are up to 30 times more likely to be euthanized in surrounding and outlying counties than in San Francisco, according to an analysis by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In San Francisco, 1.2 stray or abandoned pets are euthanized for every 1,000 residents. That number grows to 1.9 per 1,000 residents in Alameda County and triples in San Mateo County to 4.5. The figure climbs sharply with distance from the city: Contra Costa County (8.8), Solano County (14.3), Monterey County (18.6) and Stanislaus County (40).

San Francisco is renowned as a haven for pets. Dogs outnumber children, and instead of cages, animals at the local S.P.C.A. reside in rooms that rival some nearby studio apartments. This is, after all, a city named for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

But it is not the city’s love of pets, but rather its breeding control that some credit for the vivid difference in animal welfare.

For the past 20 years, the city has had an aggressive policy of spaying and neutering dogs and cats. Surgery is often underwritten to be free or low cost, and most rescue services and shelters require the procedure before a pet can be adopted.

“In rural and poorer areas it could be a matter of means,” said Jennifer Scarlett, a veterinarian and co-president of the San Francisco S.P.C.A., noting that spaying and neutering costs about $300 per animal. “Some people simply don’t have access and resources.”

Another issue is unscrupulous breeders.

Thisbe, 5, was one of four dogs rescued from a suburban home in San Mateo — two 15-year-old dogs, Thisbe’s parents, were blind, and her brother, Pillsbury, 8, had a severe flea infestation and mouth rot.

Ms. Felicity retrieved the animals at the owners’ request. “It looked like they were backyard breeders who wanted out of the business,” she said of the owners. Eskie puppies sell for as much as $1,400 each. The dogs had stopped reproducing and were instead in a health tailspin. Their yard was full of foxtail grasses with tiny barbs that Thisbe had consumed while grooming her fur, destroying her digestive system. “She had been starving to death for over three months,” Ms. Felicity said. Thisbe weighed just eight pounds when rescued; her breed typically weighs up to 35 pounds.

Starvation left her nearly blind. “She was so emaciated that the fatty pads behind her eyes had shrunken,” Mr. Wilkins said.

Thisbe’s parents died shortly after being rescued, while she and Pillsbury received months of medical care and eventually new homes. Thisbe became a mascot at the Sanchez Annex, an office for writers where I work and that Mr. Wilkins owns.

We had all just started to get to know her, and then she was gone.

No one has been held accountable for what happened to Thisbe and her family, and most likely never will be.

Animal rescue workers, many of them volunteers, take a vow of silence and do not reveal the identities of those who mistreat pets. Rescuers argue that people might not relinquish animals if they thought they would be punished. So we have moved on. Huka is the latest rescue dog visiting our offices, an effusive little mixed-breed with a brown circle around one eye.

She came from Fresno. The euthanasia rate there is 47.4, one of the worst in the state.
Scott James is an Emmy-winning television journalist and novelist who lives in San Francisco.

They’re baaAack! Foxtail Season Returns With a Vengeance
April 2011
In these chronically difficult economic times, people often look for ways to save money on vet bills or animal-related expenditures. Some ways involve corner cutting: foregoing Fluffy’s semiannual exam or feeding Fido an ultra-cheap diet. I don’t recommend these methods.

There are, however, two very simple ways to save money and help your pet unequivocally. I endorse these methods. The first is to brush your pet’s teeth every day. The second, if you live where foxtails are common, is to be foxtail-savvy.

In places such as California where foxtails exist, they are public enemy number one in the veterinary world. Foxtails, or grass awns, lodge in the skin, ears, eyes, mouths, noses, private parts of unfortunate pets. Once in place, they wreak enormous havoc. They can migrate throughout the body, causing infection and inflammation everywhere they tread. And they can end up in sensitive places such as the heart or the lungs, where they can cause death.

Here are some tips on being foxtail-savvy:

• First, know what they are and what they look like. Stay away from them if at all possible. The following images should give you an idea of the enemy we face.

• If you have a cat, keep him indoors. This will provide nearly complete protection against the vegetative pests.

• If you have a dog, use common sense. Keep him or her on leash whenever you’re in foxtail territory. In northern California, this means just about everywhere. Never let a pet roam through tall, seeded grass at any time of the year — but especially not in spring and summer.

• Check your dog for foxtails after every walk. Pay special attention to the feet, the chest, and the ears.

• If your pet develops sudden problems with an ear or an eye, or if he starts sneezing violently, or if a particular area of the skin becomes inflamed, seek immediate veterinary care. A foxtail could be to blame. The longer the problem is left unaddressed, the worse it will get.

ASPCA Busts Dog Fighting Operation in Virginia!
April 29, 2011
n the morning of Wednesday, April 20, a search warrant was executed for the confiscation of 41 dogs linked with multiple dog fighting operations in Halifax, Virginia. Working closely with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Attorney’s Office, the ASPCA assisted in what is being dubbed one of the largest dog fighting busts the area has ever seen.

ASPCA responders have confirmed that many of the dogs exhibited scars consistent with fighting. The dogs were also denied access to clean water and appeared to be underweight. Skin infections and other medical conditions were apparent.

“Organized dog fighting is a brutal form of animal abuse where dogs are exploited and forced to fight as their owners profit from their torture,” says ASPCA Animal Fighting Specialist Terry Mills (right). “We are determined to protect our nation’s animals from this form of cruelty.”

All 41 dogs have been taken to an undisclosed location, where veterinarians will examine their medical conditions and temperaments.

In addition to removing the animals and collecting evidence for the prosecution of the criminal case, the ASPCA will collect DNA samples from the dogs and submit them to Canine CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the nation’s first criminal dog-fighting DNA database.

State Won’t Renew Coyote-Trapping Permits
For Rye
For Now, Air Horns And Pepper-Guns Are The Main Deterrents

April 29, 2011
here have all the coyotes gone?

Nervous suburbanites north of New York City say they want more done to keep the animals from attacking pets and children as they did last summer.

On Friday, officials were arming themselves with air horns at the Rye Parks Department as police continued to patrol with anti-coyote pepper-ball guns.

The state says the communities of Rye and Rye Brook — the scene of disturbing coyote encounters last summer — can harass the animals this year but may not trap them again unless the coyotes resume problem behavior.

“Why wait? Why wait? If we had a coyote problem last summer we could easily have one this summer,” Rye Brook resident Steve Orsini told CBS 2.

Last summer coyotes killed a dog and attacked two children in a display of aggressive behavior that was as unusual as it was alarming. In response, police trapped and killed several of the animals. But so far this year coyote sightings are down to roughly one a month since January. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said that’s not enough activity to warrant a trapping permit, but you can’t find anyone here who believes the problem has gone away.

“I think if they don’t do something there will be problems. I think they need to do something and be proactive before somebody gets hurt,” said Kira Wales of Rye.

The mayor of Rye said he needs a little help. “We want the public to call the police department and notify the police of a sighting so we can start to monitor where they are and then we can go back to the DEC and see if we can get a permit. I’d like to have every tool possible,” Douglas French said.

Until then, there will be noisemakers and sharp eyes on the tree line as coyote season approaches.

Experts warn people not to run away if a coyote is sighted, but to make noise and make it leave. Running, they said, makes a human look like prey.

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Google should permanently muzzle Dog Wars app, LAPD union chief says
April 28, 2011
he head of the Los Angeles police union urged the chief executive officer of Google to step in and permanently pull the controversial Dog Wars virtual dogfighting game app from its phone app marketplace.

In the letter sent Thursday to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page (left), Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber (right) urged Google "to do the right thing and ban this game permanently."

"The game teaches users how to breed, train, fight, medicate and kill virtual dogs,"
Weber wrote on behalf of the union's 9,900 rank-and-file members. "The entire concept is repulsive and sickening," Weber said, noting that the app simulates dog fighting, which is a felony offense in all 50 states.

The Dog Wars app for the Android smart phone operating system encourages players to "Raise your dog to beat the best" and allows players to train a virtual pit bull to fight other virtual dogs and build street cred that "puts money in your pocket and lets you earn more in fights."

The company's website notes that the game player has a "gun for police raids and can inject the dog with steroids."

A Google representative said the application was "removed based on a trademark infringement complaint" but did not immediately say whether the app would be sold again if those issues were resolved. But Weber urged Page to ensure that Dog Wars was permanently muzzled, particularly at a time of increasing violence nationally against police officers.

Animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, have echoed those sentiments, as has Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who was convicted and imprisoned for dogfighting.

Kage Games, the creators of a dogfighting phone application that has been assailed by animal protection groups and police officials, said in an email to The Times this week that the game was meant to educate the public on the evils of animal cruelty.

"We are in fact animal lovers ourselves," the email said. "This is our groundbreaking way to raise money/awareness to aid REAL dogs in need, execute freedom of expression, and serve as a demonstration to the competing platform that will not allow us as developers to release software without prejudgment."

Although the application has already been taken down, Kage Games has told some media outlets that it removed Dog Wars to work on updates, which may indicate that the game will be rereleased soon.

Click below to sign petition

Civility on the Way Out? Add Dogs to That List

April 27, 2011
ver since her bulldog bit a fox terrier in the elevator last spring, Liz Weston has been forced by her co-op board to use the freight elevator at her Sutton Place South building. She doesn’t think that it’s fair. After she apologized and paid the $600 veterinary bill, she sent a note asking how the terrier’s little tail was healing. She got back a letter from the co-op board’s lawyer demanding she move out.

“We’re all living in the same building in close quarters,” said Ms. Weston, whose dog, Theo, happens to be certified to visit hospitals as a therapy pet. She sued her co-op board in February.

“Dogs are dogs,” she added.

That may be, but that doesn’t mean they’re allowed to show it, especially not in the oh-so-carefully controlled and scrutinized upper echelons of society.

The dog fight at Sutton Place South is not an isolated incident. High-end hounds and pampered canines seem to be acting out everywhere these days, in doorman buildings, the gated homes of Los Angeles or on manicured Hamptons lawns. And like their tightly wound owners, they can be lightning rods for lawsuits and bad publicity.

Samantha Ronson (right), the celebrity D.J. and former girlfriend of Lindsay Lohan , was mortified last year when the news media learned that her Bulldog, Cadillac, had attacked and killed a tiny Maltese at her West Hollywood apartment building.

During New York Fashion Week in February, Thakoon Panichgul had to go on Twitter to deny that his tiny Yorkie, named Stevie Nicks, snapped at interns.

And when Elizabeth Taylor died last month, obituaries made gleeful mention of her canine cohort, in particular one that treated the floors of friends as fire hydrants.

Bad dogs can bring bad publicity, as Carl Paladino learned when his pit bull attacked another dog on the campaign trail for governor in New York last year.

They can be real estate deal-breakers, too, barking and growling at potential buyers. “If you’re not a dog lover, it can be very off-putting,” said Robert Browne, a senior vice president at Corcoran, who recently showed a $3 million home in Greenwich Village with a nasty Rottweiler running loose.

Dogs in banks. Dogs in yoga classes. Dogs in wedding parties. They have even invaded luxury boutiques. At the Manhattan offices of Marchesa, the delicate gown line designed by Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, office dogs are known to get into savage fights. “Sometimes it’s funny, but other times it can get pretty violent,” said Edward Chapman, the company’s president, whose Yorkshire terrier, Lottie, is often the instigator.

Are these dogs getting an unleashed sense of entitlement from their owners? Yes, said David Reinecker, a Beverly Hills dog trainer whose clients include Maria Shriver, Kirk Douglas and Teri Garr. “The elite are extreme personalities,” he said. “Some come home from a day at the office of controlling armies of frightened people and then let their dogs rule their lives. On top of that, the mega-rich and powerful can be very insecure.”

That might have explained Trouble, the Maltese that belonged to Leona Helmsley. It was known to attack the harried staff. “Leona wanted everybody to love her, but she knew nobody loved her,” a housekeeper of Ms. Helmsley was quoted as saying in The Daily News in 2007, when it was learned the dog was to inherit $12 million. “This dog replaced that love.” That may explain why both seemed so neurotic.

But then, the life of cosseted canines can be harder than it appears. Snooty co-ops have etiquette rules about barking and dog-on-dog interactions in lobbies and elevators. Some buildings even require that dogs be carried on elevators and in lobbies. (Carrying dogs, according to experts, makes them more neurotic because they are happier on their feet, just as any person other than Liz Taylor in “Cleopatra” might be.)

In addition, second and third homes in the Hamptons or Sun Valley, Idaho, can be disorienting for older dogs that don’t like learning new tricks, like finding the urine pad in a new mansion or not attacking the strangers who trim the privet. A big domestic staff can make obedience confusing, too. At cocktail parties, canapés are a temptation, as are mink coats draped on couches and expensive shoes that look like toys.

Then there are the women who use dogs as security blankets and take them to red carpet events like arm candy. Paris Hilton’s Tinkerbell was known to snap and bite. “Little dogs sense their owners’ fear of strangers and paparazzi, so they growl and snap at them,” said Mr. Reinecker, who as a trainer has found that there’s a bull market in bad dogs right now

Making matters worse, he said, is the fact that owners don’t discipline the dogs themselves. Instead, they throw money at them, expecting a specialist to fix the problem.

“The rich are less hands-on,” said Pat McGregor, the founder of Vancouver Dog Training in New York, who said that she has worked with the difficult dogs of Bette Midler, Robert De Niro and Blaine Trump. “You can’t blame an animal for not behaving like a person. But just like us, every dog has its own issues because there are no perfect dogs.”

And there are no perfect owners, even when they are as gracious and unassuming as Ellen Crown, a youthful Upper East Side mother of three children and three dogs. Her problem pooch was Kiwi, a terror of a Yorkshire Terrier. “Kiwi bit people on the street all the time, and I’d be mortified,” Ms. Crown said. “My mother-in-law got bit once.”

Kiwi also ruined expensive rugs on a regular basis. “My poor stepfather is the owner of ABC Carpet,” said Ms. Crown, who is married to Daniel Crown, a lawyer whose family also runs the Little Nell hotel in Aspen and helped found the Aspen Institute. “He told me that I’m the most expensive stepdaughter he could possibly imagine.”

In addition, having a biting dog around with her youngest and his little friends (and potentially litigious parents) was a minefield. So after several failed attempts with trainers, Kiwi was given away. But not long after, Ms. Crown got another miniature poodle that was almost as bad.

No home, however stately, is immune. That includes the White House. The Pit Bull of Theodore Roosevelt (left) was known for ripping the pants off a French ambassador. And although Bo, the Obamas’ Portuguese Water Dog, is incident free for now, recent presidential dogs in the dog house included Buddy, the Clintons’ cat-attacking Labrador Retriever, and Barney, the Scottish terrier of George and Laura Bush, who bit a journalist.

Size is also irrelevant. Small dogs, so often owned by the wealthy, do seem to cause big problems. A 2010 New York City Health Department survey shows 3,609 reported dog-bite incidents, with just as many involving Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas and miniature poodles as pit bulls and Rotweillers.

Breeding, especially the intense behavior of some purebreds, seems to make a difference, too, as the writer Martin Kihn learned the hard way. He adopted a giant Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed sometimes called “the Little Bear of Switzerland.” The dog “was a status symbol and harder to get from a breeder than getting into Yale,” Mr. Kihn said. But the dog, whose name was Hola, seemed hell-bent on wreaking havoc.

While walking past Lincoln Center, Hola accosted a perfectly coiffed doyenne and left two big paw prints on a beautiful white dress. “That was the last time I took her to the opera,” said Mr. Kihn, whose new memoir, “Bad Dog: A Love Story,” offers a wry tale of canine rehabilitation. “I really got her because I wanted to be seen with her, that’s all.”

It’s a good thing Mr. Kihn wasn’t asked to bring Hola to his Riverside Drive co-op board before moving in. “We just lied and told them she was medium-size and mellow,” he said.

Others should have it so easy. To get past highly selective co-op boards, the desperate turn to Elena Gretch, founder of It’s a Dog’s Life, an upmarket training service. She usually requires six sessions (at about $175 a session) to prep dogs for interviews.

While some slip dogs Valium, she keeps dogs sober, training them not to bark during the dreaded doorbell test and helping them understand that elevators and lobbies are not powder rooms. And, of course, an elaborate bath before the interview is de rigueur.

“Co-op boards are about controlling their environments, and they expect dogs to behave like well-trained little people,” said Ms. Gretch, who faces all kinds of challenges daily. Recent clients included an Upper East Side dermatologist who wants to train his feisty Pug puppy to be calm in his office, a type-A lawyer turned fitness entrepreneur whose basset hound had to be prepared for a Hush Puppies shoot, and a financier who wanted his Chesapeake Bay retriever yacht-broken for a cruise to St. Bart’s.

But all of it that, she added, is nothing compared with the scrutiny of a high-strung co-op board. “When you have to charm so many people, it’s really intimidating,” she said.

It’s a good thing dogs don’t have to apply to private schools.

Clickon cover to order Bad Dog (A Love Story) from Amazon.com

New York Tenant Attorney • Pet Evictions
360 Central Park West
Suite 5E
New York, New York 10025
Phone: 212 • 972 • 1355
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A Registry Explores Dog Deaths by Breed

April 26, 2011
ost dog owners and veterinarians know that small dogs live longer than large ones, but until now there has been no thorough systematic examination of breed-related causes of death.

Now, a group of researchers has reviewed more than 74,000 cases of canine death recorded from 1984 to 2004 in the Veterinary Medicine Database, a registry established by the National Cancer Institute that receives reports from 27 veterinary teaching hospitals in North America.

The analysis, published in the March/April issue of The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, found that the most common cause of death varies considerably from breed to breed and by age.

Golden Retrievers (above left) and Boxers had the highest rates of cancer, the leading cause of canine death over all. In several toy breeds — Chihuahua, Pekingese, Pomeranians and toy Poodles — cancer was much less common. For them, the leading cause of death was trauma.

Diseases of the nervous system were the most common cause of death in older dogs, while gastrointestinal disease affected dogs of all ages equally. Death from diseases of the musculoskeletal system was common in larger breeds, but the big dogs suffered less from neurological and endocrine ailments.

The authors acknowledge that the study is retrospective and subject to errors of classification of breed and disease. Still, a co-author, Kate E. Creevy (left), an assistant professor of veterinary internal medicine at the University of Georgia, said that knowing what kinds of diseases a breed is prone to is helpful. “We can use that information to avoid disease rather than treat it.”

Clickon JOURNAL cover for full report

Young Brain Cancer Patient Loses Custody Of Helper Dog After Attack
April 25, 2011
young girl lost custody of her German Shepherd after it bit another child in the face.

To nine-year-old Molly Kimball, Ava, her 14-month-old dog is more than just a pet. “She helps me through all of it and when sometimes I’m really sad she comes up to my face and kisses my tears,” she said.

Molly is battling brain cancer. Ava is being trained as her service dog, but right now she’s a valued companion. “When Ava goes and wakes Molly up, she rolls out of bed with a smile on her face and comes down and takes her medication,” said her father, Paul Kimball.

While Ava is apparently devoted to Molly, there are questions whether the dog is a danger to other children. The German Shepherd is now living in a shelter, pending a hearing this week to determine if she’s vicious.

In March, an incident involving the dog and a girl living next door, left the six-year-old child with a gash to her face that took 100 stitches to close. Molly’s parents said it was an accidental collision between the leashed dog and the child. “It wasn’t the dog snarling and me jumping and dragging it away. That didn’t happen. It was very quick,” Kimball said.

The injured girl’s parents disagree. “It was a dog attacking a child point blank,” said Liz Gernhardt, the victim’s mother. She said the dog ripped skin off her daughter’s nose. “And to be there and have them tie her down so they could perform the surgery and to hear her scream, I never want to hear anyone scream like that. And this could have been prevented,” she said.

Gernhard said Ava nipped her son last year. She’s worried that the incidents will be repeated. “I just want my children to feel safe and be safe while outside. That’s the bottom line,” she said.

The Gernhardts said they don’t want the dog to be put down, but they don’t feel it should be in a neighborhood filled with children.


“Gernhardt said Ava nipped her son last year.”

Last year Ava was a PUPPY!

This Dog attacks TWO kids from the same family? Any others? Has the Dog attacked any children in the neighborhood OTHER than the Gernhardts’?

If not, it might be more a matter on the Gernhardts teaching THEIR children how to behave around Dogs than anything in the Dog’s behavioral makeup. Small children, six-year-olds, who screech and scream and jump around and run and make brusk movements are especially annoying to most Dogs.

Dogs react aggressively to signals of fear and, according to NorthJerseycom, little Isabella Gernhardt was hiding behind her mother. Isabelle, who is allergic to canines, stays away from the dog, Isabelle’s mother Elizabeth Gernhardt, said, adding that her daughter was not playing with Ava. “She has never played with that dog, she won’t even pet the dog.”

There are always signals: a raised upper lip showing the canines. ears flattened back, a sudden stop and apparent retreat, a snarl, agrowl. There is no such thing as “It was a dog attacking a child point blank.”


Dogs are blameless, devoid of calculation, neither blessed nor cursed with human motives. They can’t really be held responsible for what they do.
"But we can."

~ JON KATZ, from
“The Dogs of Bedlam Farm”

…and stop blaming the Dog

Click on logo above for NorthJersey•com / THE RECORD article


Young Brain Cancer Patient In N.J. Loses Service Dog

April 27, 2011
wo families came to terms on a heartbreaking decision involving two little girls and a service dog.

A judge was supposed to decide the fate of the dog Tuesday, but the parents of both girls agreed to have the dog moved to Edgewater.

The decision spared Ava’s life, but cost Molly her beloved companion.

“She was always with me, by my side,” she said.

“We didn’t want the dog put down. We wanted it to go somewhere it could be of use. We just didn’t want it back in the neighborhood,” said Mike Gernhardt, the injured girl’s father.

Molly will likely get another service dog, but one that is safe and can provide companionship.

Man Arrested For Throwing Neighbor’s Dog By The Leash
April 24, 2011
man was arrested for allegedly torturing an animal on Long Island on Saturday afternoon, police said.

Police said 56-year-old Jamie Sanchez (right) threw his neighbor’s dog by the leash into the air and onto the street in Franklin Square at 2:15 p.m. after getting into an argument.

The neighbor, 54, was walking her 1-year-old Dachshund named Coco (left with guardian Barbara Bottiglieri) when the argument happened. Police said Sanchez threatened to let his dog loose on the neighbor and her dog if she walked her dog on his property.

“When the victim threatened to call the police, Sanchez grabbed the leash from his neighbor gaining control of her dog. The defendant then flung her dog six feet into the air and ten feet into the middle of the road causing Coco to sustain injuries to her tail and rupture stitches from a prior recent surgery,” according to the police report. Coco was taken to her veterinarian for treatment to her injuries.

Sanchez faces charges of overdriving, torturing animals and reckless endangerment to property. Sanchez will be arraigned on Sunday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Police Search For Robbers Who Stole Dog From
S.I. Family

April 24, 2011
olice on Staten Island were looking for burglars who stole a family’s dog.

Richie Rienel is developmentally disabled. A few years ago, his mom and sister realized a dog may do him some good. “She distracts him. She keeps him happy,” said Betsy Reinel, Richie’s sister. They bought Pookie, a yorkiepoo, and the connection was instant.

Richie, however, said he was now sad. It’s because robbers stole Pookie right from the Rienels’ home in Mariners Harbor.
“I want Pookie back,” he said.

Betsy said she was sleeping around 8 a.m. and she didn’t hear anyone come in. She thinks the robbers broke in their front door.

“I try to stay strong because I don’t want him to know how much it hurts but it does it. It hurts a lot,” she said. A few weeks before Pookie was taken, someone broke in and stole jewelry out of their mother Maria’s room. “They take away the little one and all the jewelry, my big one,” Maria said.

Betsy plastered signs around her neighborhood but police said they had no leads. In the meantime, Richie stares out their front window, waiting for Pookie to come home. “I want him,” he said.

“That breaks my heart. That’s my brother. He means a lot to me. All I want is to get her back,” Betsy said.

The Rienels believe the same person who robbed their house the first time is also the person who stole Pookie.

Pookie weighs about 14 pounds. She’s missing two or three of her front teeth. The Rienel family said they won’t press charges against anyone who brings Pookie forward. They just want their dog back.

Will New York Get An Official State Dog?
April 21, 2011
ew York appears to have everything but there’s one thing it doesn’t have a state dog.

Assemblymembers Micah Kellner and Linda Rosenthal are proposing that adopted shelter and “rescue” dogs become the official state canine.

New York already has an official animal, insect, fish and even a shell. Kellner and Robach are hoping the Empire State will join others, such as Pennsylvania and Massachussestts, in adopting a state dog.

The two lawmakers will be joined by animal rescuers and a pooch named Sarge Wolf Stringer (left), who was rescued in 2009 after 14 years of abuse, in announcing the proposal at a news conference at City Hall on Thursday.

The politicians said their proposal could help promote the adoption and care of over 12,000 dogs currently in City shelters.

Photo Credits:
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Sarge Wolf-Stringer: elderbulls.blogspot.com



Lawmakers announce a proposal calling for an official New York State dog

Stan Brooks reports
April 21, 2011 12:25 PM
ssemblymembers Micah Kellner and Linda Rosenthal propose that adopted shelter and “rescue” dogs become the official state canine.

“The reason why it’s the rescue dog is because the rescue dog fits with New York so perfectly,” Kellner said. “New Yorkers are scrappy just like rescue dogs, we often both have a bone to pick and a lot of us are mutts. So, this is a perfect fit.”

The politicians said their proposal could help promote the adoption and care of over 12,000 dogs currently in City shelters.

“Ninety percent of these dogs are healthy, treatable and just in need of a loving home. They’re the most loyal pets you can have,” Kellner said.

“It’s time that we throw these dogs a bone.”

Photo credit: Stan Brooks/1010 WINS

Busy, Busy, Busy (Toting Pinky)

April 17, 2011


I get up at 5:30, same as I do every day: I’m a very early bird. I don’t drink coffee; I have Tropicana mango-orange juice, and then a banana, scrambled eggs and some turkey bacon. I take a shower and get dressed in my Sunday best. My Sundays in New York are really regimented, but for a good reason: I pack a lot of activities in.

I drop Pinky off at the New York Dog Spa for her bath.

I’ll pick up Pinky and take her home so she can nap after being traumatized by her bath, then I go to the Exhale Spa on Madison Avenue for a Core Fusion class. I shower right there, and head over to brunch with my girlfriends.

We always meet at the Parlor Steakhouse. If I’m in a good mood, I’ll have a glass of Champagne and the roast chicken. Brunch is a girlfriend dish session, and before we know it we look up at the clock and it’s 4 p.m.

So we do the air kiss and then I walk home to get Pinky to take a walk and go for a $19.99 mani-pedi; I found two great little places right in the neighborhood. Pinky comes along and sits there in her black quilted Chanel doggie bag looking very sharp with her little pink bows. Then I put on my flip-flops and walk on home; that’s the only part of the day I’m not in heels. I can’t walk around the neighborhood looking tacky!

I’ve been watching “60 Minutes” since I was about 12; my dad and I had a ritual of watching it together. Every Sunday, no matter where I am, I call my parents right after “60 Minutes,” because I know where they’ll be, home in front of their TV.

If I’m lucky and our schedules connect, my guy, Herb Wilson, comes over and cooks dinner; he’s a chef. He’ll make broiled salmon and lentils; he knows I love a good lentil salad more than just about anything else on earth.

Sunday night is veg-out night. I click on the DVR and watch a marathon of all my favorite shows: “The Good Wife,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” “Law and Order,” “Top Chef,” and “The Game” on BET. I start the process with me watching the TV, but it usually ends with the TV watching me. At the start of the marathon, I set the timer to go off after four hours. There we’ll be, all THREE of us, asleep in front of the TV.

Photo: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Complaint Box
Dog Urine

April 15, 2011
s the new gardener for the recently renovated Washington Square Park, I never suspected that I would be spending such a large part of my day chasing people with dogs away from plant beds. As a dog owner myself, I find it almost impossible to tell something as cute as a French bulldog puppy what to do. But it is absolutely necessary if we want our greenery to thrive.

I use the phrase “Excuse me, but did you know that dog pee is bad for plants?” more times a day than I would ever admit at a dinner party. Although most people respond with surprise and apologies, there is always an entitled minority. Well-dressed and sometimes quite famous people will threaten to call the police, write angry letters or use their powerful connections to protect their inalienable right to allow Miffy to urinate with reckless abandon on every inch of our beautiful city.

Legally, it’s a gray area. New York City’s Canine Waste Law of 1978 requires dog owners to pick up only solid waste. Parks regulations state that no person shall “injure” trees or “mutilate” plants — and while dog urine does injure plants, proving prior knowledge of this and forethought would be a challenge. Ethically, however, it’s pretty straightforward: dogs should not pee on anything alive, nor do they naturally want to (?). The sad truth is that most owners have trained their dogs to relieve themselves on trees.

After a less than scientific survey of dog owners, it is clear that a majority think their pets’ urine is good for plants. Owners fantasize about their dogs in a forest, running free, bestowing lucky trees with much needed fertilizer. Miffy, they say, is doing the same thing here, for the less fortunate urban trees.

While urea is rich in nitrogen, and plants require nitrogen for leaf growth, urea is also rich in salt. Remember Carthage? The Romans salted the earth so that no crops would ever grow again. Salt sucks moisture from leaves and roots alike and kills beneficial soil microorganisms. Next time you’re in any park, look at the shrubs at the entrance and on corners; they all have a sad brown arc of dead leaves at the base.

More important, the nitrogen the dogs distribute so readily is in the form of nitrates. Most plants can’t use the nitrate form and must rely on soil bacteria to turn it into ammonium, the form they can absorb. Both natural and well-cared-for soils usually contain the bacterial and microbial communities to perform this function, but urban trees, like all of us city folk, have it rough. The soil is compacted, unwatered and lacking in organic material to support this activity. The urea generally stays as it is.

So while Miffy might someday help fertilize a forest tree, New York City has 1.4 million dogs and far fewer forests. I have watched a single plant get peed on 35 times over the course of a morning. That much urea can eat through bark and kill a small plant in a week. We may never know exactly how many plants and trees are killed by dog pee, but I assure you the number is staggering.

I never imagined gardening would include getting into the mind of a dog with a full bladder, yet I’ve added canine psychology to my repertory of considerations when locating plants: far from poles, away from the edges of walkways and in clumps (individuals are an easy target). My sign suggestion — “You don’t like to be peed on. Neither do plants.” — was deemed inappropriate for public display, so I hang more traditional signs over plants that are frequent victims. But we do not want to become a society of signs and fences.

Teaching dogs to respect plants is not impossible, even for the most manipulated owners — like those who tell me their pet is the one holding the leash. Oh really? I am quite positive that Miffy, given the option, would actually prefer to pee in the apartment rather than outside of it, yet you have persuaded her not to.

Rebecca McMackin is a horticulturalist with New York City and a garden designer for Mantis Plant Works.
Click on logo at left for info

NYTimes illustration, above right: P. C. Vey


Long Island Veterinarians Look To Find Owner Of Train Hopping Dog

April 13, 2011
Police and a group of Long Island veterinarians are trying to find the owner of a train hopping dog found on Tuesday.

A news release from the Long Island Veterinary Specialists says the yellow lab and pit bull mix was removed from a train at the Farmingdale Railroad Station.

Passengers said the canine, described as “happy, friendly and well fed,” boarded a train in Wyandanch.

Pat Rosen, of LIVS, said the dog had no identification chip and that officials have been unable to determine if the dog was lost or ran away.

“With the severe weather last night, we think he possibly was frightened and bolted through an open door or hopped a fence and ran,” Rosen said.


Police Continue Search For Family Of Dog Found On LIRR Train
April 14, 2011
uthorities are still trying to locate the family of a friendly dog found riding a Long Island Rail Road train. Train operators found the canine stowaway in Farmingdale on Tuesday.

Police believe the yellow lab mix was frightened by severe weather Tuesday night and bolted onto the train two stops earlier in Wyandanch.

Pat Rosen of Long Island Veterinary Specialists in Plainview (left) said the 85-pound pooch is a “lovey” who leans in for cuddling and kisses. “Very, very friendly, happy dog, very affectionate, definitely a family dog,” Rosen told 1010 WINS. “He’s well fed, well taken care of. I hope we’re able to find that family I’m sure they’re upset.”

The mysterious mutt was taken Thursday to the Town of Babylon shelter. The dog was not wearing a collar and tests revealed he does not have an identification microchip.


Affectionate Dog Found On LIRR Train Returns Home
April 15, 2011
he friendly dog that apparently got bitten by a travel bug is back at home on Long Island Friday.

The yellow lab mix boarded a Long Island Rail Road train in Wyandanch Tuesday night. Passengers said the friendly dog did not have an ID chip.

“Very, very friendly, happy dog, very affectionate, definitely a family dog,” Pat Rosen told 1010 WINS. The sweet pooch drew a lot of attention for boarding trains instead of chasing cars.

Thankfully, it appears he had a round-trip ticket:
His owner picked him up Thursday.

Train Hopping Dog photo credit: Long Island Veterinary Specialists

Politeness at the pooch park
So what if they're dogs? You still need to know how to behave at the dog park. Here are some etiquette tips.
By William Hageman

April 12, 2011
efore you run little Spanky over to your neighborhood dog park, it's good to brush up on dog park etiquette.
With spring here and more dog owners and their animals getting out, the Anti-Cruelty Society is offering some timely advice. Read and enjoy – and have fun at dog park.

Know your dog's behavior
Be aware of how your dog interacts with other dogs and people, both of which he will encounter in large numbers. Be realistic when it comes to your dog's temperament. Is he a bully, pushy with other dogs? Or is he shy and timid? If he is older, he might feel vulnerable in a dog park environment.

"Dog parks are great for most dogs but you must watch your dog very carefully to ensure they want to be there," says Dr. Robyn Barbiers, president of the Anti-Cruelty Society. "If your dog hasn't been introduced to many strange dogs on a regular basis, he may need time to adjust to the many different personalities encountered at a dog park. Be ready to accept that your dog may not be an appropriate one to be in the dog park or may not enjoy the company of many other dogs."

She also advises that if your dog is acting aggressively, you should leave.

Know the rules
Most dog parks require dogs to be current on vaccinations (usually distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and bordetella) and prohibit "aggressive" dogs and female dogs in heat. Chicago Park District dog-friendly areas require a $5 tag, available from most veterinarians.

Keep your dog hydrated
When you go to the park, make sure your dog has plenty of water.

Clean up after your dog
Picking up after your dog is just part of being a responsible pet owner.

Social behavior
Dog parks are best for socializing, not socialization. The difference is that a well-socialized dog can enjoy socializing at the dog park, whereas a dog that needs socialization may find the experience in the dog park overwhelming.

If your dog is not socialized, try enrolling in a dog training class.

N.J. Homeowner Finds Fox Pups Underneath Shed

April 10, 2011
New Jersey homeowner found several Red Fox pups underneath his shed last week. Paul Josling said he discovered the pups on his property on Van Holten Road in Basking Ridge.

At first he thought the hungry animals were baby coyotes, but animal experts informed him that they were baby foxes, believed to be two to three weeks old.

Experts said spring is the time of the year when homeowners should be on the lookout for baby critters on their property. “Just about every wild thing out there is having a baby something right now. So we just ask people to walk their properties and take a look to see if you can find these spots before you dig into them,” Woodlands Wildlife Refuge expert Tracy Leaver said.

Animal experts said if you find baby animals, call your local wildlife department so workers can get them to a facility that can care for them.

Major League Baseball Dog Days
by Stacey Sachs

Apr 10th 2010
ow that Major League Baseball season has officially begun, it's time to get tickets to your local team's Dog Day Game!

At these special events you and your pooch will sit in a designated section and can take part in all kinds of activities like pre-game parades around the field, costume contests, special treats and more. Even better, many ballparks donate a portion of ticket proceeds to local animal charities.

Get your seats now and make sure to order Dog Day tickets not General Admission ones so you can have access to the designated section and events. Also be certain that your dog is comfortable with noise and crowds so he enjoys the day.

We've included the dates for games in Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Oakland, Miami, New York and San Francisco. If your team isn't listed here, look for the games on your team's promotions and giveaways schedule.

Minor League teams often have Dog Day Games as well so check for those too.

MLB 2010 Dog Days Games

Atlanta Braves - Bark in the Park: May 2 vs. Houston and August 29 vs. Florida

Chicago White Sox - Dog Day: June 3 vs. Texas

Cincinnati Reds - Bark in the Park: May 26 vs. the Pirates and September 14 vs. the Diamondbacks

Florida Marlins - Bark at the Park: April 30 vs. Washington

Houston Astros - Dog Day: April 11 vs. Philadelphia

New York Mets - Bark in the Park: April 24 vs. Atlanta

Oakland Athletics - Dog Day: July 23 vs. Chicago White Sox

San Francisco Giants - Dog Days of Summer: August 29 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks



March 25, 2011

Cousin Pugsley has arrived at
Rainbow Bridge

and is waiting

Click for Story

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.


1997 ~ 2011

Click on image above for MEMORIAL

Patrick the Miracle Dog
This is Patrick's Story
Uploaded by ladyfmylife

Mar 21, 2011:
he 22 story apartment building is equipped with garbage chutes on each floor for tenants. Someone had no more use for this dog. They had starved it to near death, put it in a garbage bag and threw it down the garbage chute. A maintenance worker cleans out the bin every few days and on Wednesday, March 16th, they were cleaning out the contents of the container to go directly into a trash compacter. The bag moved a little and the worker opened it to find a moribund dog inside -- pathetically thin, cold and near death.

The City of Newark Animal Control was contacted and ACO Arthur Skinner picked up the dog and brought him directly to the Society.

The veterinary staff immediately put him on intravenous fluid.His temperature was so low that it did not even register on the thermometer. He was covered with heating pads and blankets. Society vet tech Gina DeSalvo held the pit bull in her arms -- she soothed him, gave him warmth, comfort and bits of food. From that moment on, he looked up with gratitude in his eyes to all of the staff.

After a brief time at the Society's Newark facility, he was ambulanced to Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls -- a referral hospital with 24 hour emergency care. If he died during that night, we feel he would know that everyone loved and cared about him and treated him gently and lovingly.

He amazed everyone at the Society and at Garden State by surviving with the 24 hour emergency care that they rendered. He was given a blood transfusion, a bath -- and even a walk!

In honor of the first day of his re-birth, we call him Patrick -- in honor of St. Patrick's Day and we hope he has the luck of the Irish!. File 99623-F.

The Society's Res-Q Fund is just what is needed for emergency situations as this. The expenses involved are high and the effort to save this dog comes at a great cost. Although emaciated dogs have come in for our help, we have never seen one this wasted. There will be a long road to recovery and your donations to the Res-Q Fund will help Patrick.

You can send your donations via PayPal to


Click above

Click below
Sign the petition to help Patrick

* This is my first video... I don't own the pictures... Nor the facebook page... I was simply moved enough to create this video for the world to see... There is much injustice in this world and what they did to Patrick will probably not be prosecuted properly... His owner should be ashamed.

Click on Patrick's photo for


Newark woman is charged in pit bull abuse case

Monday, March 28, 2011
28-year-old Newark woman has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty involving Patrick, a 1-year-old pit bull that was starved and dumped down an apartment trash chute, an official with the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Sunday.

Kisha Curtis (right) faces criminal and civil counts for abandonment and failure to provide sustenance, according to Frank Saracino, public information officer for the NJSPCA.

The criminal charges could result in six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or community service, Saracino said.

Curtis, who lives in the Garden Spires in Newark, admitted to starving the dog but denied throwing him down the 22-story apartment complex trash chute where a custodian found the emaciated animal on March 16, according to Saracino.

"This is one of the worst (cases) that we’ve seen in a long time," the SPCA official said.

Curtis was arrested on Friday, but Saracino said he did not know whether she was still in custody on Sunday.

Reports of Patrick’s abuse sparked outrage and the story of his rescue prompted a wave of donations from as far as Europe, according to a humane society official. Patrick is still recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, a hospital official said last night.


The investigation is still ongoing and anyone with information can call the tip line at
(800) 582-5979.

Photo: Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger


Newark Woman Accused Of Starving, Dumping Pit Bull Pleads Not Guilty
March 31, 2011

A New Jersey woman accused of starving a dog that was found at the bottom of a trash chute pleaded not guilty Thursday to animal abuse charges, as letters and donations poured in from the around the world in support of the 1-year-old pit bull nicknamed Patrick.

Kisha Curtis (left) appeared by video feed from the Essex County jail wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. Attorney Kelly Lerner, who represented Curtis for the arraignment, entered the plea on her behalf.

Meanwhile, Essex County’s courthouse has received more than 200 letters and faxes from around the world expressing concern for the dog and urging swift and harsh punishment for Curtis. “She should not be treated with kid gloves,” a writer from Colorado says. “Throw the book at her,” another writes. One letter came from New Zealand.

Curtis is charged with two fourth-degree offenses for “tormenting and torturing” an animal by failing to provide food and water, the prosecutor’s office said. Those carry a maximum jail sentence of 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000, but the prosecutor’s office still has to determine whether those charges will be presented to a grand jury.

She also faces two abandonment charges that are disorderly persons offenses and are punishable by up to six months in jail with a $1,000 fine. Curtis, whose only previous brush with law is a 2003 shoplifting charge in Passaic County, could receive probation or community service, prosecutors said.

Municipal Court Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez continued Curtis’ bail at $10,000 bond or $1,000 cash. She faces another court hearing in early May.

Authorities say Curtis tied the dog to a railing in her Newark apartment building and left the state for more than a week. A janitor later found the emaciated dog in a trash bin.

Curtis’ mother was in court Thursday and said her daughter was in Albany, N.Y., when the dog was believed to have been abused.

“Somebody gave her that dog but she couldn’t take care of it, so she tied it up outside hoping somebody else could take it,” Tammie Curtis said. “Somebody took that dog and did whatever they did to it.”

Patrick, named because he was found the day before St. Patrick’s Day, is being treated at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. On its website, the center wrote that is has received so many donations that it has discontinued accepting them and is urging people to donate to local animal shelters.

It was determined the dog was severely anemic and malnourished. He received a blood transfusion and was later named Patrick.

“He’s walking, which is a big symbol of hope, because he couldn’t walk in the beginning,” Assisstant Prosecutor Cheryl Cucinello said.

GMVS Hospital Videos Track Patrick's Progress

Patrick Chows Down At The Vet!
Dr. Tom Scavelly Hand Feeds Patrick
Patrick and his toys

Click on images to view

12 Videos from GMVS

Congress, in a First, Removes an Animal From the Endangered Species List

April 12, 2011
ongress for the first time is directly intervening in the Endangered Species List and removing an animal from it, establishing a precedent for political influence over the list that has outraged environmental groups.

A rider to the Congressional budget measure agreed to last weekend dictates that wolves in Montana and Idaho be taken off the endangered species list and managed instead by state wildlife agencies, which is in direct opposition to a federal judge’s recent decision forbidding the Interior Department to take such an action.

While the language on the Rocky Mountain wolves was a tiny item in budgetary terms, environmental groups said it set an unnerving precedent by letting Congress, rather than a science-based federal agency, remove endangered species protections.

The rider is the first known instance of Congress’ directly intervening in the list. While Congress overrode the protections extended to a tiny Tennessee fish called the snail darter about two decades ago, it did so by authorizing the construction of a dam that had originally been tabled to protect the fish. In that case, Congress did not overturn scientists’ findings about the fish’s viability.

There are myriad restrictions and budget cuts for environmental initiatives in the proposed budget. Most appeared modest compared to the more drastic cutbacks in the original House budget. Federal agencies were still working through the extensive and complex list provided by Congress on Tuesday, trying to determine what their impact might be.

The budget rider on the wolves, backed by two Western legislators Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana (left), and Rep. Mike Simpson (right), Republican of Idaho — requires the Interior Department to adopt its earlier plan, removing wolves from the endangered list in those two states because it deemed that the states’ management plans, which include hunts of the animals, were acceptable.

The rider also precluded judicial review of this provision.

The wolf issue has great political resonance among the ranchers and hunters of Montana. The first group is concerned about livestock; the second about declines in elk and moose herds. Senator Tester is up for re-election in 2012.

The fact that the department is being required to do what it had originally intended to do did not take the edge off arguments from environmental advocates that Congress had crossed a crucial line.

Michael T. Leahy, the Rocky Mountain region director for the group Defenders of Wildlife, said in an interview Tuesday, “Now, anytime anybody has an issue with an endangered species, they are going to run to Congress and try to get the same treatment the anti-wolf people have gotten.”

A spokeswoman for Interior Department said it would have no comment on the budget rider.

State officials want the population culled because of the threat wolves pose to elk, moose and deer. Ron Aasheim, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said Tuesday, “We need to be able to manage them as a state to balance them with other wildlife and landowner impacts pertinent to livestock.”

The two sides had recently reached a proposed settlement of a federal lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the Fish and Wildlife Service and Idaho and Montana officials. But the judge, Donald W. Molloy (left), rejected the settlement.

Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, declined to comment on how all the proposed cuts would affect operations at his department. He did note that the agency responsible for regulating offshore oil and gas development would get an increase in money, allowing it to hire dozens of new inspectors, scientists and other officials.

Interior Department officials would not discuss the bill’s elimination of a program to expand wilderness areas in the West, a program prized by Mr. Salazar but bitterly opposed by many lawmakers from the region who argue that it will limit development of natural resources, hunting and recreational uses of public lands.

The National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service take relatively modest cuts.

Conservation programs at the Department of Agriculture will be reduced by $800 million, while the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program will be cut by $350 million, essentially ending its financing for the rest of the fiscal year, officials said.

An E.P.A. spokesman, Brendan Gilfillan, said agency staff members were reviewing the spending measure. “We will have more details when that review is complete,” he said.

Photo top left: US Fish & Wildlife, via Associated Press

Alaska Clash Over Resources and Rights Heats Up
JUNEAU, Alaska
March 30, 2011
nyone interested in learning more about the distinctive flora and fauna here in the Last Frontier will want to pick up a copy of an unconventional new field guide: the 2010 Annual Report of the Alaska Department of Law.

Just published in January, the report, on Page 21, tells the fascinating tale of the Cook Inlet beluga whale — specifically of Alaska’s legal battle to remove it from the federal endangered species list. On Page 22, it recounts the state’s continuing fight to remove protections for the Eastern Steller sea lion. Page 24 provides an update on the battle against a federal decision that prevents Alaska from killing wolves to protect a declining caribou population.

Yet as the report goes on to say, and as the state’s attorney general, John J. Burns, made clear in an accompanying letter to Gov. Sean Parnell (left) and state lawmakers, the fate of Arctic wildlife is just one front in the fight to free Alaska from the federal environmental restrictions that limit its ability to drill for oil, build roads, mine precious metals and otherwise make a living developing the state and its abundant natural resources.

“The Department of Law, in conjunction with other state agencies and with the assistance of the administration and the Legislature, must and will remain vigilant in protecting against the federal regulatory overreach that threatens our socioeconomic well-being,” Mr. Burns (right) wrote.

Amid the recent rush of resistance to federal initiatives nationwide — with terms like “state sovereignty,” “constitutional conservative” and “nullification” becoming increasingly common in the political patois — Alaska stands out for the considerable experience and irony it brings to the debate. No matter which party is in power in Alaska, the state has long cried for more autonomy, and its governors have boasted of filing suit, even as it has routinely received more federal money per capita than any other state.

Yet setting aside that contradiction, what legal observers say is notable about Governor Parnell’s administration is the degree to which it is following up its words of resistance with legal action — all at once and on many fronts. It is involved in high-profile issues, like protections for polar bears and overturning the health care law, but also in more obscure matters like the fate of wood bison or a small population of caribou on a remote island.

Yet nothing seems to generate more legal work here than Alaska’s wildlife. The more federal protections for wildlife there are, the harder it can be for the state to develop natural resources. And while the Parnell administration has attacked the growth of the federal government, it has grown a bit itself in fighting back. It recently created a new position for a lawyer who deals specifically with issues involving the Endangered Species Act.

In 2010 alone, the state fought (sometimes against the federal government and sometimes with it) over polar bears, beluga whales, ribbon and other seals, humpback whales, Steller sea lions, wood bison, caribou, wolves and salmon. In some cases the state was simply challenging a decision through administrative channels. In others, like with protections for polar bears, it filed lawsuits.

Click on Alaska seal for full article

Alaska Wolf: Steve Quinn/Associated Press
Aerial Wolf Hunt: Dfenders of Wildlife

We Wooves!

Animal welfare groups working around the clock to help Japan's hardest hit areas care for pets

Saturday, March 19th 2011
While rescue workers continue to search for and assist human survivors a week after Japan's devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami, animal welfare groups are working around the clock to find food, shelter and medicine for the country's animals.

Sadly, despite the tireless efforts by the international and local animal rescuers on the ground, there have been few signs of animal life in the areas closest to the disaster.

"It seems that most animals in the hardest hit areas did not survive the tragedies," said Susan Mercer of Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support. The nonprofit group, a coalition of three local animal welfare organizations, including HEART-Tokushima, Animal Friends Niigata and Japan Cat Network, is dedicated to helping the animals affected by the tragedy.

"They only saw paw prints left behind in the mud that led to nowhere," Mercer said, of the animal rescuers who traveled this week to the country's most devastated regions. As the days go by, the chance of finding human or animal survivors becomes increasingly slim.

Many survivors of the earthquake and tsunami who lost everything have been forced to give up their beloved pets while they rebuild their lives. And rescue groups are being flooded with pleas from foreigners who have been advised to leave the country due to a nuclear threat and cannot take their animals with them. Most of the country's animal shelters are already overwhelmed.

Echoing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many survivors have refused to part with their animals. A woman spotted walking aimlessly with her collie amid the rubble and devastation last week told rescuers she refused to seek shelter without her dog.

"She told them she had stayed in her shaking house for three days because some evacuation centers were not allowing pets," Mercer said.

Animal Rescue Corps estimates that up to 92,000 companion animals may have been affected. That does not include strays, wildlife and livestock.

The rescue efforts are made all the more difficult as gas is scarce and supplies and resources are increasingly thin the farther west rescuers travel. Unfortunately, the most devastated towns and the areas within the radiation evacuation zone are feared to have the most animals needing rescue.

Please consider donating to the following groups that are in desperate need of funds for supplies and assistance:

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support
Those who wish may donate by paypal to donate@jears.org or at japanearthquakeanimalrelief.chipin.com/japan-earthquake-animal-rescue-and-support.
For updates, visit them on Facebook.

World Vets, www.worldvets.org
An international veterinary group based in the U.S. has deployed a group to assist with medical needs. Donations will go toward mobilizing supplies, gear and a first responder team.

Animal Refuge Kansai
rescue group located in the western region of Japan and is assisting with rescue efforts. Donate by paypal at www.arkbark.net.

Dog rescued after quake going back to its owner
By Brian Walker

April 3, 2011
dog rescued off the Japanese coast floating on top of a house is on her way back to her owner Monday. The dog wagged its tail and jumped up to a woman described by local media as a relative of the owner as she collected her to deliver back to her family for what promises to be a warm reunion.

It turns out the lucky dog's name is "Ban," and she was originally living in Kessenuma before being separated from her master after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent fire that swept through the coastal village. It's not clear how the 2-year-old mixed breed Ban and her master were separated, but Kessenuma is located in Miyagi prefecture, which was virtually wiped out by the disaster three weeks ago.

An employee at the Miyagi Animal Care Center told CNN by phone that the owner had been staying in a temporary relocation center in Sendai since being evacuated from Kessenuma.

The 50-year-old man reportedly recognized Ban after footage of the brown and black dog was shown being hugged by Japanese rescue workers while being unloaded from a boat in Shiogama Port this past Friday.

Japanese Coast Guard teams had spotted Ban during a helicopter patrol over debris fields nearly two kilometers off shore. When a patrol boat got the hungry and shivering dog, they found no identification on her other than a brown collar.

The prefectural animal center says it is still keeping more than a dozen cats and dogs that have been found in recent weeks in hope of further happy endings like the one Ban appears to have gotten.

Video stills: NHK WORLD


April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011
Emergency personnel examine an object on the side of the road, center, near Jones Beach in Wantagh, N.Y., Monday, April 11, 2011. (Seth Wenig/AP) Jones Beach shrouded in fog Monday as police prepared to expand their search for victims of a suspected serial killer into a neighboring preserve. (Barcelo for News)

April 8, 2011
Suffolk County Police K-9 Unit cadaver Dogs search Ocean Parkay and Gilgo Beach where eight bodies have been found.

Sheriff's office K-9 Kane killed in the line of duty
Fleeing suspect allegedly stabbed veteran police dog
By Bob Albrecht
from The Columbian

Clark County WA
April 2, 2011
ust one year from retirement, a Clark County Sheriff’s Office canine was fatally stabbed shortly after midnight Saturday. Kane, who worked as a police dog for six years, was transported to and then pronounced dead at St. Francis Animal Hospital.

Deputies spotted two people driving in a vehicle with stolen license plates in a cul-de-sac near Heritage High School, said Sgt. Scott Schanaker, a sheriff’s spokesman. They followed the vehicle south to the intersection of Northeast 76th Street and 117th Avenue. At one point, the driver allegedly tried to ram a patrol car before both people got out of the stolen vehicle and fled on foot. As the pair ran, Kane tried to detain one of them and was stabbed, according to a news release.

A commenter on The Columbian’s website claiming to have heard the incident over a police scanner wrote that Kane had caught somebody and was stabbed. He then grabbed the person a second time and was stabbed again. Another commenter wrote that Kane was stabbed near her house. “(Kane’s) cries will haunt me for a long time,” wrote someone using the username “tj.”

Deputies said the suspects in the incident were taken into custody after the Southwest Washington Regional SWAT Team was called to assist deputies, Vancouver police and Washington State Patrol. There were no other injuries reported.

Keegan H. Graves, 31, of La Center (left) was arrested on suspicion of harming a police dog, auto theft and attempting to elude a police officer. Natasa M. Cresap, 22, of Yacolt was arrested on an outstanding Department of Corrections warrant.

Harming a police dog is a Class C felony, according to state statutes. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

An investigation by the regional crimes unit is ongoing.

A Dutch Shepherd, Kane had been with the sheriff’s office since March 2005. Kane and his handler, Deputy Rick Osborne, were, as of 2008, one of just three K-9 teams in Washington certified in “Stabo,” or short-term airborne operations. That means both dog and handler could fly harnessed below helicopters on a heavy rope. The duo received an award in 2008 from the President’s Executive Office of National Drug Control Policy for marijuana eradication.

Kane was scheduled to retire in 2012.

Almost all police dogs come from Europe and cost anywhere from $5,000 to $9,600. The dogs generally have careers ranging from three to seven years.

The dogs are brought to America when they are 16 months to 4 years old. They spend 400 hours training with a handler, who generally gives commands in German, and another 200 hours of training to detect narcotics.

“The bond between the K-9 handler and their dog is very strong,” the press release said.

Vancouver police K-9 Dakota was shot pursuing a suspect in October 2007. The conviction was Ronald J. Chenette’s (right) “third strike,” triggering a life sentence.

Above left: K9 Dakota and Monument
Unveiled December 3, 2008
Sculptor Mark McLean
Vancouver Police Department

CPD officer, canine partner retire together
Theresa Gutiérrez, WLS•7

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Officer Mike Grandberg, 62, received his retirement star during a ceremony at Chicago Police Headquarters Tuesday. Grandberg s retiring after 34 years of police service. He's taking along his canine partner, Lexo, who has spent the past five years with him.

"I am happy because I am retiring. Now I can take it easy. I'm sure the dog is happy," Grandberg said. "Once you bond with the dog, it is difficult to break that bond. So putting him with someone else would be counter productive."

You can see and feel the connection between Grandberg and Lexo. "It's like my boy," said Grandberg. "I want to thank the police department for giving him to me and retiring him to me."

Over the last three years, Grandberg and Lexo have recovered a street value of over $55 million in narcotics. That amount includes over $5 million in cash from drug dealers.

"This is all because of Granberg's hard work with his phenomenal dog, Lexo. So, I want to thank Mike for many years of dedicated service your contributions to the narcotic unit," said narcotics commander James O'Grady (right). "I don't think I have ever met or worked with someone so dedicated and willing to come to work in a great mood."

Grandberg says he is most proud of locating an elderly man who suffered from Alzheimer's on a bitterly cold day in January of 2007. "We were able to find that person before he went into hypothermia. That was very rewarding," he said.

The former Marine and Vietnam veteran won several medals for his combat action and has been recognized numerous times by the police department for his work. He says he now plans to travel and spend time with his beloved 8-year-old German Shepherd.

"We are going to get a motorcycle with a side car. He's expressed interested that he wants to travel around the neighborhood, so I guess that is what we're going to do," said Grandberg.

Injured police dog witnesses bill signing
by Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul, Minn.
March 22, 2011
ov. Dayton signed a bill Tuesday to increase penalties for people who harm police dogs.

Dayton was joined at the signing ceremony by several state lawmakers, the commissioner of public safety, Roseville police officer John Jorgensen (left) and his canine partner, Major.

Major lost the use of his hind legs after he was stabbed four times while investigating a burglary. He gets around with the aid of a small cart attached to his hindquarters.

Jorgensen said the law wasn't enacted just because of Major's injuries. "We have had a lot of canines assaulted over the course of the last couple of years in the state of Minnesota," he said. "This legislation needed to be brought forward so ... we can better protect these dogs that are quite often the tip of the spear for us out there. We send them after the worst of the worst, and they do that honorably and with extreme loyalty."

Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, who previously served as St. Paul's police chief (left), said police dogs are a vital part of law enforcement. "They are part of that thin, blue line that keeps everybody safe in our communities," he said. "I think it is right and just that when they make a sacrifice that it's not only a sacrifice for the dog but it's a sacrifice for the handler, for the department and the whole community."

The new law means people could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and pay fines of up to $5,000 if they intentionally injure or kill a police dog.

MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

Click on any image for Web Page

Dog owners angered by plan to charge for park
Kane County Forest Preserve District is considering charging $40-$80
By Vikki Ortiz Healy

April 8, 2011
ane County Forest Preserve District officials on Friday worked to calm dog owners growling about a proposal that would require off-leash park users to buy a permit — and to wear a lanyard proving they have done so. "They took offense and thought we were kind of making the owners wear a leash, which is not the case at all," said Laurie Metanchuk, community affairs director for the forest preserve.

About half a dozen residents complained a day after officials introduced the idea of charging Kane County residents $40 and nonresidents $80 to use the off-leash dog parks at Fox River Bluff West in St. Charles Township, Schweitzer Woods in Dundee Township and Aurora West in Aurora. There would be smaller fees for additional dogs.

Although some residents called to express support for the fees, others argued that the idea of being forced to wear a permit ID was insulting.

Metanchuk cautioned that the proposal is only in its early stages. She added that even the concept of lanyards is still just conceptual. "You don't have to necessarily wear it around your neck; you could keep it in your pocket," she said.

Forest preserve officials told County Board members at a committee meeting Thursday that the fees would help to pay for damage to natural resources, ensure the safety of dogs and dog owners, and deter a growing problem of users not cleaning up dog waste, Metanchuk said.

More than 2,000 dog owners use the off-leash parks each year, about a quarter of whom do not live in Kane County, according to Mike Holan, director of operations for the forest preserve. "We've had so many dogs that are using these areas, and they love it so much that they're kind of being loved to death," Metanchuk said.

Officials estimate that, if approved, the permit program would begin in January and bring in $80,000 annually. A quarter of those proceeds would be used to pay for implementation of the program and the rest would be used to maintain the parks, she said.

Officials plan to discuss the idea further at a meeting April 28.

Dog’s Best Friend?
April 6, 2011
Man has very little to do with the well-being of dogs in two new, very funny books about our pets and the company they keep. “Say Hello to Zorro!,” by Carter Goodrich (left), observes the relationship between old dog and new, while “Scritch-Scratch a Perfect Match,” by Kimberly Marcus (below right), considers the relationship between dog and flea. Neither twosome forms a fast or easy friendship.

In “Zorro,” Mister Bud, a sloppy-nosed dog of indeterminate breed, lives a life of fixed ease. “It went like this: (1) Wake-up time. (2) Biscuit, then a walk time.” And so forth — a sly comment, perhaps, on today’s overscheduled kids and their overcommitted parents. (If so, “Zorro” joins some other recent books that touch on the perils of too much routine. Tammi Sauer and Jeff Mack’s “Mr. Duck Means Business,” to name one, likewise shows the chaos that life and the lives of others can inflict on the iCalendar.)

And so it is that Mister Bud is ill prepared to contend with a new household member, Zorro, a growly pug who can be bossy and insulting. It’s said that dogs believe they are human until confronted with the reality of another dog. Soon enough, Mister Bud and Zorro discover that despite their differences, they share a similar agenda.

Goodrich, who has illustrated multiple New Yorker covers and has also designed characters for animated films like “Monsters, Inc.” and “Despicable Me,” here creates animals that are emotionally expressive, humorous and recognizably individual. Somewhere, someone knows these dogs – and has learned to laugh at their foibles.

“Scritch-Scratch,” too, is illustrated with a great deal of humor, in this case by an editorial cartoonist, Mike Lester (left, “A Is for Salad,”). Marcus’s story, her debut, is written in playful rhyming couplets with a this-leads-to-that storyline recalling “Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!,” by Dr. Seuss (writing as Rosetta Stone) and Michael Frith.

But it is the cartoon drawings that snap the ideas into action: “Awoomph was the sound as he dropped like a sack, landing Thud! ‘Oh crud!’ on an old man’s back.” Lester’s pictures of a flea-ridden dog convey the itchy torture that today’s louse- and bedbug-infested readers will easily identify with. In this particular story, which ends mostly happily, the bug has the last bite.

Clickon covers to order from Amazon.com

A Reality Check for Steinbeck and Charley
April 3, 2011
n the fall of 1960 an ailing, out-of-sorts John Steinbeck, pretty much depleted as a novelist, decided that his problem was he had lost touch with America. He outfitted a three-quarter-ton pickup truck as a sort of land yacht and set off from his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., with his French poodle, Charley, to drive cross-country. The idea was that he would travel alone, stay at campgrounds and reconnect himself with the country by talking to the locals he met along the way.

Steinbeck’s book-length account of his journey, “Travels With Charley: In Search of America,” published in 1962, was generally well reviewed and became a best-seller. It remains in print, regarded by some as a classic of American travel writing. Almost from the beginning, though, a few readers pointed out that many of the conversations in the book had a stagey, wooden quality, not unlike the dialogue in Steinbeck’s fiction.

Early on in the book, for example, Steinbeck has a New England farmer talking in folksy terms about Nikita S. Khrushchev’s shoe-pounding (or -brandishing, depending on whom you ask) speech at the United Nations weeks before Khrushchev actually visited the United Nations. A particularly unlikely encounter occurs at a campsite near Alice, N.D., where a Shakespearean actor, mistaking Steinbeck for a fellow thespian, greets him with a sweeping bow, saying, “I see you are of the profession,” and then proceeds to talk about John Gielgud.

Even Steinbeck’s son John said he was convinced that his father never talked to many of the people he wrote about, and added, “He just sat in his camper and wrote all that [expletive].”

In the current issue of the libertarian monthly Reason, Bill Steigerwald (right), a former journalist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, writes that not only is the meeting with the actor made up, but on the evening in question, Oct. 12, Steinbeck wasn’t anywhere near Alice. He was in Beach, N.D., more than 300 miles to the west, staying not in the camper but in a motel.

According to Mr. Steigerwald, Steinbeck stayed in motels a lot — when he wasn’t at luxury hotels. On a night when he supposedly camped out on a farm near Lancaster, N.H., Steinbeck was actually at the Spalding Inn, a hotel so fancy that he had to borrow a coat and tie to eat in the dining room.

Nor was Steinbeck alone that much. On more than half of his trips he was accompanied by his wife, Elaine. All told Mr. Steigerwald estimates that Steinbeck spent no more than a couple of nights in the camper itself, and says, “Virtually nothing he wrote in ‘Charley’ about where he slept and whom he met on his dash across America can be trusted.”

The Reason article is a distillation of a blog Mr. Steigerwald wrote for The Post-Gazette for several weeks in 2010 while retracing Steinbeck’s journey in a leased Toyota Rav4. And he did sleep in the car, he pointed out in a recent phone interview. He stopped frequently in Wal-Mart parking lots, and once he parked in a car dealer’s lot, impersonating a used car. Mr. Steigerwald insisted that he began his project not intending to expose Steinbeck but to commemorate his journey and to write a book about how the United States had changed in 50 years.

“I didn’t set out to blow the whistle,” he said. “As a libertarian, I kind of like the old guy. He liked guns; he liked property rights.”

In the published version of “Travels With Charley” Steinbeck’s itinerary is often hard to follow, so Mr. Steigerwald created a timeline, drawing on newspaper accounts, biographies and Steinbeck’s letters, to determine where Steinbeck was on such and such a date. Discrepancies with the book’s account immediately popped up. Mr. Steigerwald also consulted the handwritten first draft of “Travels With Charley” — now at the Morgan Library & Museum — where Steinbeck’s wife is a much more frequent presence than she is in the final text.

“This is just grunt journalism,” Mr. Steigerwald said of his research methods. “Anyone with a library card and a skeptical gene in his body could do what I did.”

He added that he was a little surprised that his findings hadn’t made more of a ripple among Steinbeck scholars: “ ‘Travels With Charley’ for 50 years has been touted, venerated, reviewed, mythologized as a true story, a nonfiction account of John Steinbeck’s journey of discovery, driving slowly across America, camping out under the stars alone. Other than the fact that none of that is true, what can I tell you?” He added, “If scholars aren’t concerned about this, what are they scholaring about?”

Susan Shillinglaw (left), who teaches English at San Jose State University and is a scholar in residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Calif., said in a phone interview: “Any writer has the right to shape materials, and undoubtedly Steinbeck left things out. That doesn’t make the book a lie.”

Talking about the authenticity of the characters in “Travels With Charley,” she said, “Whether or not Steinbeck met that actor where he says he did, he could have met such a figure at some point in his life. And perhaps he enhanced some of the anecdotes with the waitress. Does it really matter that much?”

Jay Parini, the author of a 1995 biography of Steinbeck (right) who wrote the introduction to the Penguin edition of “Travels With Charley,” said he was surprised to learn that Elaine Steinbeck had accompanied her husband on so much of the trip. “I spent several hours with Elaine, and she never mentioned that,” he added. “She made a big deal about how painful it was for them to be separated and how she insisted that he take the dog along for company.”

About the book’s accuracy he said: “I have always assumed that to some degree it’s a work of fiction. Steinbeck was a fiction writer, and here he’s shaping events, massaging them. He probably wasn’t using a tape recorder. But I still feel there’s an authenticity there.”

He added, talking about Mr. Steigerwald’s discoveries: “Does this shake my faith in the book? Quite the opposite. I would say hooray for Steinbeck. If you want to get at the spirit of something, sometimes it’s important to use the techniques of a fiction writer. Why has this book stayed in the American imagination, unlike, for example, Michael Harrington’s ‘The Other America,’ which came out at the same time?”

In 2010, Bill Barich (below) published “Long Way Home: On the Trail of Steinbeck’s America,” an account of his own Steigerwald-like journey, in which he came to some more upbeat conclusions than Steinbeck had. “I’m fairly certain that Steinbeck made up most of the book,” he said recently. “The dialogue is so wooden.”

He added: “Steinbeck was extremely depressed, in really bad health, and was discouraged by everyone from making the trip. H was trying to recapture his youth, the spirit of the knight-errant. But at that point he was probably incapable of interviewing ordinary people. He’d become a celebrity and was more interested in talking to Dag Hammarskjold and Adlai Stevenson.”

In some ways, Mr. Barich went on, Steinbeck’s view of America was much darker than he let on in the book. “The die was probably cast long before he hit the road,” he said, “and a lot of what he wrote was colored by the fact that he was so ill. But I still take seriously a lot of what he said about the country.

His perceptions were right on the money about the death of localism, the growing homogeneity of America, the trashing of the environment. He was prescient about all that.”

Click to order
the Penguin Centennial Edition paperback
from amazon.com

Photo, top left:
John Steinbeck with Charley at home in Sag Harbor in 1962.- Bettmann/Corbis
Cover of the fiirst Bantam paperback ediiton from 1963

Little oversight on ingredients in 'senior' dog food, experts say
By Amanda Gardnier, HealthDay

April 2, 2011
ven though most Americans might believe that "senior" dog food is formulated differently than food for young adult dogs and pups, experts say that brands can vary widely in their ingredients and there are no requirements for what goes in foods for older canines.

A new survey finds that most Americans think that senior dog foods are lower in protein, sodium, fat and calories. "But when we actually looked at the diets, there was an incredible range," said Dr. Lisa M. Freeman (right), co-author of a paper appearing in the latest issue of The International Journal for Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine.

The manufacturers "might be increasing protein, decreasing protein or keeping it the same," said Freeman, who is professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass. "That emphasizes to us to l better medical care now allows many more pets to live longer lives.

The confusion stems from a variety of sources, one of which no doubt is the perception that there are minimum standards that must be met for dog food to qualify as "senior."

Although professional organizations do stipulate requirements for pups and adult dog food, the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the National Research Council have no such requirements for food marketed for aging or "mature" canines (beyond what's required for adult dog food).

Also, the term "old" is extremely relative in the canine world. The average lifespan for an Irish Wolfhound is only about six years but "a toy Poodle at 7 is very young still," Freeman explained. Some "old" dogs may be the picture of perfect health, while others might have a medical condition that warrants less sodium, for example, she said.

About 1,300 people — 92% of them dog owners — responded to Tufts University's web-based survey. Most respondents (84.5 percent) believed that senior dogs need to eat differently than younger dogs.

Although about 43% of Americans said they used a senior diet for their older pooches, only one-third had actually consulted their vet about it.

Respondents tended to assume that senior dog foods were lower in calories (in actuality, this varied from 246 to 408 calories a cup). And not all dogs gain weight as they age, Freeman said. Some lose and some stay the same, meaning calorie requirements may or may not change as dogs enter their golden years.

People also tended to assume that senior diets had less fat, protein and sodium but, again, this was not necessarily the case, with enormous variation among individual brands.

There is very little scientific evidence to suggest that dogs mimic humans as they age, though this is another widely held perception, the study authors stated.

"The study highlights the diversity among dogs and, consequently, dog food products. Each dog is unique and has distinct needs," said Kurt Gallagher, a spokesman for the Pet Food Institute (left), a trade group. "Attaining senior status depends on several factors, including the breed and weight of the dog. The differing nutritional needs of dogs are exemplified by the variance in the amount of protein senior dogs should consume."

"The study explains that some dogs require higher levels of protein from what they consumed earlier in life, while others actually need lower levels," Gallagher continued. "A variety of pet food products, including senior products, are available to pet owners so they may purchase a product that meets the specific needs of their pet. Dog owners may want to make a decision on whether to feed a senior diet, and which product to feed, in consultation with a veterinarian."

The study authors also advised talking with a veterinarian, noting that every "senior diet" for dogs is different and may or may not be appropriate for a particular dog, depending upon his overall condition and health.

3 of 14 Pit Bulls Hurt in Bronx Fire Were Euthanized
March 30, 2011
hree of the 14 pit bulls who were badly injured in an apartment fire in the Bronx three weeks ago were euthanized at a veterinary hospital shortly after their rescue, Richard Gentles, a spokesman for Animal Care and Control of New York City (right), said this week.

Six of the dogs — a mother and four young puppies, as well as a 4-month old puppy — were given to rescue agencies that find adoptive owners, he said.

One dog was returned to the owner, whose apartment on the sixth floor of 2186 Grand Concourse caught fire on March 7. The owner was not charged in the case, and rescue workers would not identify him. One dog was placed in a temporary home.

Of the three remaining dogs now at the group’s Manhattan shelter, two have kennel cough and the third has “some behavioral issues,” Mr. Gentles said. If those dogs are not adopted they may be euthanized, he said, explaining that dogs with health or aggression problems are particularly difficult to keep for long periods of time because they need to be held in isolated areas.

Some of the information provided by Animal Care was contested by pet advocates. Members of the Facebook group “Urgent Part 2,” which posts pictures and information about dogs scheduled to be put down by Animal Care, said they believed that four dogs — not three — were killed at the animal hospital after the fire. A woman who runs the Facebook page, and would identify herself only as Kay, said that those deaths might have been unnecessary, and that only two dogs remained at the shelter.

The two remaining dogs, Boss and Buster, are certainly adoptable, she said in a telephone interview.

She accused Animal Care of using the Bronx dogs as draws for fund-raising — noting the plea on its Web home page for donations to help “recent victims of the apartment fires in the Bronx” — without trying fully to save the remaining dogs.

The Facebook page relies on information from members who have access to the shelters, as well as e-mail notifications that Animal Care sends out each evening listing animals at risk of euthanization.

In 2010, Animal Care rescued 11,671 dogs, of which 7,352 were adopted and 2,417 were humanely euthanized, according to the group’s Web site. Others were returned to their owners.
Roughly 40 percent of the dogs taken in are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, which tend not to be adopted as easily as other breeds. Adult pit bulls are especially difficult to place.

Mr. Gentles said he appreciated the role of the Facebook page in identifying adoptive owners for dogs in the shelter, but added, “It’s important that we not attack each other, because that’s not helpful.

Click above for
Urgent Part 2

Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times
Some of the dogs rescued from the March 7 fire

Redd the celebrity
By David Dickson

March 29, 2011
ot many animals come to Best Friends with a send-off from their own personal cheering section back home. Redd the dog, however, had the entire city of Oak Brook, Illinois, rooting for him. He spent four years living on their streets, where the citizens tried hard to keep him safe. They considered him one of their own.

Redd kept his distance from people and managed to avoid capture attempts, yet the city still helped him out as much as he would allow. They gave Redd meals and set out straw bedding for him in the winter.Redd

He appreciated the help, especially the food! Redd developed regular stops for goodies around town throughout the day. These visits went like clockwork. He’d show up under the windows of office workers and at other strategic locations at consistent mealtimes. For a stray, Redd sure was an awfully picky eater. By way of example, he liked chicken but not dark meat. From one woman, he accepted nothing but mozzarella cheese. Cat food he scorned entirely.

Redd avoided close contact with people, though he loved playing with other dogs. That habit caught up with him. One day he wandered into a backyard through an open gate to play with some dogs. The homeowner closed the gate, and all of a sudden Redd was caught at last. Just in time, too. He went to the Hinsdale Humane Society for medical treatment, where vets discovered a serious heartworm infestation. He may not have survived another winter untreated.

Many in the community wanted to adopt him, yet Redd grew depressed living indoors. He stopped eating and once tried to escape through a window cracked only a few inches. In the end, Redd came to Best Friends to make a fresh start. On his big departure day, he had some six dozen people lining up to say goodbye. Along the way, he even ended up with his own Facebook page where his friends could keep chatting about him.

To a dog who has lived as a stray for such a long time, the inside of a building can seem intimidating. Yet at the Sanctuary, Redd now gets the best of both worlds. He has outdoor access with inside time during the day. He’s been hanging out in the Dogtown office during most of the daytime with multiple walks and other outside sessions to help him stay connected with the great outdoors. The office is a great socialization tool. There, he meets friendly faces at every turn, with each new person wanting to smile and say hello.

Redd has been at the Sanctuary for a little over a month. In that short time, he has reached a level where he will accept treats from strangers. True, he reserves the right to be as picky as ever about his treats (some are simply not up to snuff). But if a sufficiently tasty snack enters the equation, Redd has concluded it’s okay to accept a treat even from a stranger. If it’s somebody he knows, on the other hand, Redd is much more confident. In fact, he’s actually formed close relationships with a few select people.

Best Friends’ Dogtown staffer Megan Larsen was the first person Redd interacted with consistently at the Sanctuary. As a result, he bonded with her right away. She’s still his favorite. With Megan, Redd now shows a level of trust that the people of Oak Brook never really got to see in him. He simply wasn’t ready to bond with people this way back then. "He wants to be next to me all the time," Megan says. A great sign! If he can connect like that with one person, he can learn to connect the same way with others.

Slowly but surely, Redd continues to figure out there’s a whole side of life he hadn’t guessed at before. Toys are another example. He may not yet know how to play with toys, but he knows he wants them. When a new toy shows up in the office, Redd quietly tiptoes around and picks it up. He stashes toys near his bed to be saved for the day when he knows what on earth to do with the things!

His favorite toy so far is a stuffed football that makes lots of crazy sounds when it’s bumped. "I have no clue what this is for," he seems to say, "but wow is it awesome!" After spending enough time admiring the modern-day marvel of a toy, Redd stashes the football safely with his other mystery prizes. All told, Redd is well on his way to understanding that people are more than a handy way to get treats and toys — they’re friends who have been waiting in the background all along.

Redd is currently in a foster home where he's really flourishing. Catch up on the latest in Redd's journey by joining the new Adopt Redd facebook page.


Photos by Molly Wald

Clues dug up: France and lap dogs go way back
Poodle-sized pups raise lots of questions about the earliest domestication
By Jennifer Viegas

March 29, 2011
he oldest dogs from France were small, lap-sized canines that lived up to 15,000 years ago, according to new research. These poodle-sized dogs raise a lot of questions about the earliest domestication of dogs, due to their impressive age and the fact that most other prehistoric pooches were much larger.

"One or many domestication events could have occurred in France and, more generally, in the western part of Europe," Maud Pionnier-Capitan told Discovery News. She led the French project, described in a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

"Eurasian archaeological data plea for multiple and independent domestication processes throughout the Old World," added Pionnier-Capitan, a researcher at the National Museum of Natural History in France, as well as at Claude Bernard Lyon I University. She and her colleagues analyzed the remains of animals once thought to be dholes, a type of wild canine. The fossils were unearthed at Pont d'Ambon and Montespan in Southwest France and Le Closeau in North France.

Radiocarbon dating and detailed investigations determined that the fossils all belonged to small Upper Paleolithic dogs. These, together with a few other finds, confirm the presence of small dogs in Europe from at least 15,000 to 11,500 years ago.

Pionnier-Capitan believes these dogs had a height below about 17 inches. "Such sizes are found nowadays in breeds like the standard Poodle, Beagle or Cocker," she said.

The dogs could have warmed cold cavemen laps in the shelters where they were found. They also were probably used as hunting partners. Additional evidence suggests they weren't off the prehistoric dinner menu either. "Some of the remains we studied also present some cut marks that imply the animals had been eaten and their fur may have been used," Pionnier-Capitan explained.

It's possible the dogs were domesticated from small wolves. Diet, climate and environmental factors could also help to explain the dogs' diminutive size, according to the researchers. Another possibility is that the dogs descended from larger dogs domesticated at an even earlier date in Europe.

In 2008, Mietje Germonpre, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and her team identified what they believe is the world's first known dog. Found in a Belgian cave, the remains for this possible dog suggest that it lived around 32,000 years ago and resembled a Siberian Husky. But it was about the size of a large shepherd dog.

Germonpre told Discovery News that it's unclear now whether these much smaller French dogs descended from the European Paleolithic stock of large dogs, were introduced from elsewhere, or resulted through selection for a smaller body size. Germonpre pointed out that larger dogs, more contemporaneous with the earliest known French dogs, are known from sites in Russia and the Ukraine. "This suggests that different types of dogs occurred in Europe at the end of the last Ice Age," she said.

Dogs turn out to have a more colorful and worldly history than once previously believed. "Genetic research on recent dogs and wolves hints at several centers of dog domestication: the Middle East, Europe and China," Germonpre said, adding that "Europe was probably a center of an early domestication of the wolf."

a. Goyet: Paleolithic Dog

b. Dog

c. Wolf









Local NY Food Pantries Helping To Keep Pets In Homes
By Susan Richard

March 25, 2011
hile technically the economic recession may have ended, many Americans are still struggling. As families cut corners, record numbers of pet owners are being forced to give up their furry friends. Shelters across the New York Metro area are being inundated with surrendered animals, as people struggle to provide even the basics, such as food.
But there’s good news. Born out of the crisis, are two local organizations that are providing pet food to New Yorkers in need.

The Animal Relief Fund, founded by Susan Kaufman (right), has teamed up with both the Food Bank for New York City and Long Island Cares to make pet food available at 160 human food pantries in the five boroughs, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

North of the city, Susan Katz (left) is the force behind the Hudson Valley Pet Food Pantry, which is servicing eligible residents of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess.

Click for info

Stills: 1010wins/All for Animals

Gene Sharp: Wagging for Freedom
By Claudia Kawczynska

March 24, 2011
ecent events in Northern Africa have turned the spotlight on Gene Sharp, PhD, a scholar and social scientist anointed by the Daily Beast as “the 83-year-old who toppled Egypt.” For decades, Sharp — through his manuals and books, including From Dictatorship to Democracy, The Politics of Nonviolent Action and 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action— has argued that nonviolent action is the best way to overcome repressive regimes.

Sharp has a PhD from Oxford University, taught at the University of Massachusetts and Harvard, and is now senior scholar at the Albert Einstein Institution, a nonprofit he founded in 1983. His office is on the ground floor of his East Boston home, where he lives and works in the company of Sally, a Golden Retriever mix; before Sally, he had a black Great Dane, Caesar, who was said to serve as Sharp’s chief confidant.

As we were trying to find information about Dr. Sharp’s relationship to the world of dogs, we were pleased to discover an article he wrote in the March 1976 issue of the magazine Fellowship. In this article, “Disregarded History: The Power of Nonviolent Action,” he offers empirical historical evidence for the power of active resistance, including the fact that “it wasn’t Gandhi who introduced fasting as a political weapon”; it was Thomas Jefferson, who, in 1765, urged colonists to fast in their struggle against Great Britain.

Sharp goes on to offer the observation that nonviolent actions of this kind can be seen in nature as well. He starts his argument by demonstrating the ways a recalcitrant child tries to win over a parent with “hunger strikes” and similar resistance, then continues to the canine side of the family:

“Many animals and pets do all these things. Haven’t you had dogs or cats act this way? They want to go with you in the car somewhere—when they know they are not supposed to—they go and jump right in. It’s a ‘sit-in.’ Or, they know very well what you’re saying to them and pretend they don’t, just like you’ve done yourself. Or you say ‘move,’ and they lie down, whimpering, and look up at you with the saddest possible look—like some demonstrators do to police. Sometimes they’re being ignored, particularly if there’s company coming and there’s a big fuss in the house and nobody’s paying attention to them when they’re trying to say, ‘Come and play with me.’ The dog then goes into the middle of the living room rug and does a ‘nonviolent intervention’—not biting anybody, not growling at anybody but getting attention! So we don’t have to change human nature—or even animal nature—in order to be nonviolent.”

Leave it to a visionary like Gene Sharp to incorporate lessons learned from our animal companions in the quest for human freedom.

A documentary about Gene Sharp, “How to Start a Revolution” directed by Ruaridh Arrow, is expected to premiere in spring 2011.

Clickabove for preview

For Law Students With Everything, Dog Therapy for Stress

March 22, 2011
lack’s Law Dictionary?
An Introduction to Legal Reasoning?
Small, cute dog?

Yale Law School
, renowned for competitiveness and its Supreme Court justices
, is embarking on a pilot program next week in which students can check out a “therapy dog” named Monty (left, not to be confused with Yale mascot Handsome Dan, right) along with the library’s collection of more than one million books.

While the law school is saying little so far about its dog-lending program, it has distributed a memo to students with the basics: that Monty will be available at the circulation desk to stressed-out students for 30 minutes at a time beginning Monday, for a three-day trial run.

“It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being,” Blair Kauffman, the law librarian (left), wrote in an e-mail to students.

The school is not saying what sort of dog Monty is; what happens to him when school is out of session; or how Monty himself may be kept from becoming overstressed with all his play dates.

Sebastian Swett, 26, a second-year student at the law school, said he had signed up for a session with the dog, but does not necessarily think that it will relieve all the pressures that come with being a student at Yale. “I don’t think its going to solve anybody’s anxiety problems, but it’s certainly nice to play with a dog for half an hour.”

Monty, according to the memo to students, is hypoallergenic and will be kept in a nonpublic space inside the library, presumably away from those who don’t much like dogs. “We will need your feedback and comments to help us decide if this will be a permanent ongoing program available during stressful periods of the semester, for example, during examinations,” the note to students reads.

A handful of other universities offer similar services, including the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.

Yale Law School has kept its dog-lending plan so quiet that some faculty members were not even aware of it. “I’m surprised to hear of it,” said John Witt (right), a professor who was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship last year for a project on the laws of war through American history.

“I’ve always found library books to be therapeutic. But maybe that’s just me.”

Photo of Handsome Dan: Bob Child/Associated Press

Police Warn Rye Residents Of Coyotes
March 20, 2011
fter two coyote attacks last summer, the town of Rye is not taking any chances. Town officials are keeping their guards up and police commissioner William Connors (right) wants residents to be aware.

“It’s really just a public education message at this point. It’s important to not show fear and try to instill a very healthy fear in the coyotes,” Connors said. “If the animals are lingering in driveways, if they’re lingering in front of people, that’ll give us the information we need to take up some trapping.”

There have only been a few coyote sightings in Rye this year, but Connors said there are simple things that can help prevent attacks.

“If somebody runs into a coyote, they should act confident, make noise, rise up and make themselves look bigger and wave their arms, throw things,” Connors said. It will also help to eliminate attractions around your property, he said.

“It’s important to secure garbage which is a primary food for them. Bird feeders not only provide a source of food, but they draw off the kind of animals, rodents, and birds and things like that, that the coyotes will feed on. And leaving pet food outdoors is also a bad thing,” Connors said.

Police will use pepper pellet guns to scare off coyotes. If that doesn’t work, Connors said they’ll turn to traps.

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Hempstead Animal Shelter Shuts Out Volunteers, Denies Information Requests, and Perpetuates Abuse
by Michelle Hodkin

March 17, 2011
he first rumblings of trouble at the Hempstead, NY animal shelter began last November, when three volunteers alleged that they witnessed shelter workers beating some of the homeless animals and leaving others to die in their cages. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice (left) launched a "criminal probe" to investigate. Nothing has come of it, and the shelter banned all volunteers from the premises for their trouble.

Then, the outcry intensified when it was revealed that the shelter maintains an annual budget of 7.1 million dollars, and only accepted 3,498 animals last year. For comparison, the admittedly underfunded, and poorly managed, New York Center for Animal Care and Control operates on a budget of 7.1 million, and accepted 38,000 animals last year. Why so expensive? Well, nine shelter employees out of twenty-nine earn over $100,000 per year. And there isn't a single veterinarian among them.

Something is rotten in Hempstead, NY. And now, it's only getting worse.

In a draconian move, the shelter will no longer accept telephone inquiries on shelter animals. You read that right. If your dog is lost and you want to know if someone turned her in? You'll have to send your request via email, or through the U.S. Postal Service, and wait for one of the shelter fat cats to get back to you while your dog barks until she's hoarse in a packed kennel area as her time runs out.

The email system has failed before, but no one's concerned about practicality at the Hempstead shelter. It's all about convenience. Which helps explain why they're no longer accepting "Do Not Destroy" requests on animals, which are used to put a temporary hold on euthanasia while a foster home, forever home, or no-kill shelter facility could be found.

If, after reading about each successive administrative decision that serves only to reduce adoptions at an excessively well-funded shelter, you draw the conclusion that the administration seems to want to euthanize as many animals as possible? Well, you wouldn't be the only one.

A video clip recently surfaced that shows Pat Horan, the Hempstead Shelter's former director, gleefully encouraging other shelter staff as they pull a kitten out of a carrier with a choke pole, make throat-slitting gestures, chant "Kill the Kitty!"
and prepare to euthanize it. When news of the video reached Town Supervisor Kate Murray, she responded by claiming the video was 17 years old, that most of the staff in the video were no longer employed or not employed by the shelter to begin with, and by reassigning Pat Horan to the Department of General Services, where she'll be earning $92,491 in her position.

This is not enough. "Shelter" should be synonymous with "haven," but the closer you look, the more the Hempstead facility looks like hell. Serious questions need to be raised about the entire administration, and Town Supervisor Murray's management strategies and involvement in the aforementioned decisions.

A group of local activists has started a Facebook campaign called Hope for Hempstead Shelter to do exactly that.

But meanwhile, the issue of Ms. Horan needs to be resolved in a way that demonstrates that the town of Hempstead takes animal cruelty seriously.

For the animals' sake, let Town Supervisor Kate Murray know that you stand with them.

Click on icon above for

Click on image above to contact
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray


Activists Rally Against Hempstead Animal Shelter Citing Alleged Abuses
March 19, 2011
More than three hundred people showed up to a protest against the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter Saturday.

Many animals activists brought along their pets as they waved banners demanding changes in practices and policies at the shelter. The rally, organized by the group Hope for Hempstead Shelter, was in part sparked by a Youtube video released earlier this week. The video, said to be several years old, shows a shelter official, Patricia Horan, saying “kill the kitty, kill the kitty,” before a kitten was euthanized.

Hope for Hempstead Shelter described the cat in the video as a “seemingly healthy, domestic kitten.”

L.I. Volunteers Accuse Shelter Of Animal Abuse / November 10, 2010
Changes Ordered At Town Of Hempstead Animal Shelter / November 15, 2010

The protesters said they wanted to see reform at the shelter, where they contend many animals were being euthanized and people were being prevented from rescuing them.

“That’s why we’re here now because we have no voice for the animals anymore, we have no eyes to help us to help the animals,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney. Others said they’d seen firsthand evidence of abuse at the facility.

“All I can tell you…that I saw is that more than 50 percent of the dogs had raw, red feet. Now that doesn’t happen by chance for 50 percent of the dogs, that’s from bleach,” another woman at the rally said.

In a news release, The Town of Hempstead addressed the Youtube video along with the allegations of abuse and said town officials were “shocked” by it. They also called the video “appalling” and pointed out that the acting shelter director seen in the video was reassigned pending an investigation.


One woman at the rally said that the shelter was prohibiting animal rescuers from entering and trying to help. “There’s people in the community that are begging to go in there to help. Even if it is to walk the dogs,” she said.

Mike Deary, the Director of Communications for the Town of Hempstead, said officials were committed to ensuring the humane treatment and care of the animals at the shelter. “The Town of Hempstead is looking to give the absolute, best care and treatment to animals at its shelter and we’re looking to find them loving homes and that’s what we’re focused on,” he told 1010 WINS on Saturday.

Photo: Rashed Mian

Canine Genetic Wrinkle Has Human Potential

March 18, 2011
har-peis are an ancient Chinese dog breed characterized by two singular traits: thick, wrinkly skin and frequent bouts of fever. Researchers now say that the same gene mutation is responsible for both the wrinkles and the fever.

“All shar-pei dogs have this mutation that causes the wrinkles, but the more copies they have, the higher the risk to have this fever,” said Mia Olsson, a doctoral student at Uppsala University in Sweden who worked on the study. The research appears in the journal PLoS Genetics.

It was already known that the wrinkles were a result of excess production of a substance called hyaluronic acid distributed throughout the dogs’ skin. That excess is likely caused by to the overactivation of a gene called hyaluronan synthase 2.

Dogs that carry multiple mutations of the gene seem predisposed to periodic fever, Ms. Olsson and her colleagues reported. Although the fever is short-lived, it can be intense and frequent, and cause inflammation.

With more information, breeders might be able to avoid breeding shar-peis that have duplications of the gene mutation, Ms. Olsson said. The research was conducted with the help of breeders in the United States, Sweden and Spain.

“Our highest priority right now is to see if there’s some way to create some kind of test or tool to reduce the number of dogs with the fevers,” she said.

The fever closely resembles certain periodic fevers that humans inherit, and studying the mutation in the dogs could help human geneticists develop treatments.

The most common periodic fever among humans is known as familial Mediterranean fever. It tends to affect people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent, and there is no cure.

Photo: Franz-Peter Tschauner/European Pressphoto Agency

Pit bull chases patrol car; officer radios for help
Wendy Victora

March 17, 2011
Fort Walton Beach police officer radioed for help Wednesday morning after a pit bull began chasing his patrol car down Bay Street. The large reddish animal was wearing a spiked collar.

An animal control officer responded and found the officer still in his car, waiting for help.

"He looks big and scary but he's not big and scary at all," said Dee Thompson, director of animal control services.
The animal willingly went with the animal control officer, who contacted his owner. It was the dog's first encounter with PAWS.

Animal control officers said the dog was wiggly and happy, responding to baby talk and  playing with a green frog chew toy while waiting to go home. His owner came to get the animal within hours, calling him "my baby." He works the night shift and hadn't realized the dog had gotten out.

Apps to Keep Your Dog Healthy, Active and, Maybe, Quiet

March 3, 2011
’m part owner of a nervous little dog with a bark like an ice pick through my brain and a tendency to use that weapon at random, several times a day.

Pippi, who is officially my wife’s dog, also has a fondness for dark chocolate. And when we make the mistake of leaving it within her reach, her behavior approximates that of a barking cocaine addict. During those moments I sometimes wonder whether she might actually expire.

Smartphones can now answer that question with great precision and perform many other dog-related tasks because of apps like Pet First Aid ($4 on iPhone, $3 on Android) and PupTox ($1 on iPhone).

Others, like iSqueek ($2 on iPhone), Squeaky Fun Time (free on Android) and Dog Whistler (free on iPhone and Android) are meant to interact directly with your pet and may even help shorten your dog’s barking jags.

A third category of apps is meant to give your dog’s social life a little boost (as in the free Dog Park Finder for the iPhone) or let you leverage your pup to strengthen your own social network.

Here, DogBook is the one to watch. Free and only for the iPhone, this is the mobile version of the DogBook service on Facebook, which lets dog owners post profiles of their pets and connect with other canine lovers.

The app is promising, but flawed. You can search for Facebook friends who have also joined DogBook. But when I searched the list, very few had actually posted profiles of their dogs.

The app displays the profiles of your friends’ pets, but if my friends are any indication, these profiles offer limited (and not very entertaining) information. You can also view profiles of dogs who live near you, but because they belong to strangers, the information is even less interesting.

The search feature is marginally entertaining, though, because you can search for specific dog names and breeds and see how many people within a certain geographic area own animals like yours.

A more useful tool for socially minded dog owners is Dog Park Finder, which puts the content of DogGoes.com into a mobile-friendly format. The free version of the iPhone app shows the location of roughly 2,600 dog parks, including those closest to you. Dog Park Finder Plus ($2) adds about 2,500 dog-friendly hiking spots and beaches. (Hey Walkies, a highly rated and free iPhone app, offers similar features, but is limited to New York City users.)

What if you’re out with your dog and it eats something toxic, like, perhaps, someone’s stash of dark chocolate? Here is where PupTox and, to a greater extent, Pet First Aid come in handy. The apps can save you from a frantic trip to the veterinarian’s office.

Pet First Aid offers users a list of hazardous substances for household pets and points out toxic elements you may otherwise overlook. Avocados and antifreeze, for instance, can be toxic for pets. The list includes a section on chocolate, where you can calculate the lethal dosages for dogs of certain weights. The app further differentiates between milk chocolate and pure chocolate.

Pet First Aid includes a section for adding veterinary contacts and pet identifications, and lists vaccinations and other information. One of its developers is also the publisher of PetCPR.com, which offers pet health advice.

Far bigger online publishers are also pushing their content to mobile phones, including AOL, which produces the free Paw Nation. This polished, useful iPhone app is technically pet-agnostic, but the information skews heavily in the direction of dogs. Users can choose from several categories of stories and videos, including pieces on animal nutrition and health, celebrity pets and question-and-answer sessions with veterinarians and specialists from the American Kennel Club. Some recent features include advice for giving dogs ibuprofen and Benadryl, tips for owners of snoring canines and guidance on why a dog’s ears can get smelly. (Tips: smelly ears can be cured with medicine, but you’re more likely to need a surgeon to get rid of snoring.)

App developers haven’t built programs for your dog to play with your device, as they have done with cats. But iSqueek and Squeaky Fun Time are close, in that they can at least attract your dog’s attention.

ISqueek, for instance, includes interactive photos of 18 different squeaky toys. The toys were true to life and annoying. Perhaps predictably, Pippi was quickly drawn to the sound when I tapped the toys. Squeaky Fun Time offered uninspired graphics and less sound control, but it was free and the closest thing to iSqueek that I could find on the Android platform.

The app that held the most promise for me was, likewise, free. Dog Whistler emits high-pitched tones that you can tweak in various ways, especially on the iPhone version, so you can train your dog to, for instance, not threaten your sanity with incessant barking. The app receives mixed reviews, so I was prepared for the worst. (As one iTunes reviewer wrote, “It doesn’t work on the dog, but it really annoys my brother.”)

I opened Dog Whistler and waited for my daughter’s school bus to unload in front of our house — a trigger for Pippi’s most frantic barking. When it did, and Pippi started growling, I pointed the iPhone at her and hit the whistle. Man, did it hurt my ears, but it didn’t keep her from barking.

Quick Calls

Pinball Deluxe, new (and free) for the Android, runs in high resolution on phones and tablets. It includes three game tables. ... Fast Web Installer, which is free from Android and allows users to download apps to their phones from the AppBrain online store, is once again available. Last year, Google disabled Installer, which works with one of the more popular Android app Web sites. ... With GeoRing, new from Phone ($2), you can set your own songs as your ring tones.

Bomb-Sniffing Dog Dies of Broken Heart After His Handler is Killed in Taliban Firefight
By: Maria Goodavage

March 5, 2011
n Tuesday, March 1, British Lance Corporal Liam Tasker died in a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Shortly after, his devoted 22-month-old bomb-sniffing dog, Theo, who was with him when he died, suffered a seizure and also died.

It’s not a big stretch to think the young, healthy Springer Spaniel cross could have died of a broken heart, as many are speculating.

The two had formed an incredibly strong bond during their time together. Tasker, 26, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, spent 15 weeks at a handlers’ course with Theo. They learned to work as a team and developed their deep bond. They then went to Afghanistan. In their five months there, they recovered 14 home-made bombs and huge numbers of other weapons. According to the Daily Mail, it was a record for a dog and his handler in the conflict.

They clearly had something special together. “I love my job and working together with Theo. He has a great character and never tires,” the Daily Mail reports Tasker as saying in an interview. “He can’t wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing.”

The two are credited with saving countless lives because of the finds they made as a team.

Tasker’s family issued a statement about Tasker. You can see why his dog would be so devoted: “There are three words that best describe Liam: larger than life. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile.

‘He died a hero doing a job he was immensely passionate about. We are so proud of him and everything he’s achieved. Words can’t describe how sorely he will be missed.”

With any luck, Tasker is going off into the next world with a dear, devoted dog who didn’t want to give up his rightful place at his best friend’s side

Photo: MoD/PA Wire

Final fur-well: Dog lover wins right to be buried alongside 'closest' companions' in PET cemetery
11th March 2011
dog lover has won permission to be buried alongside his 'closest companions' - in a pet cemetery.
Retired escapologist Karl Bartoni is thought to be the first person in the country to be allowed to be laid to rest with his dogs.

And he has taken the unusual step of already having his gravestone installed over the spot where his dogs are buried - while he is still alive.

Karl, 62, said: 'I wanted to be buried with Charlie and Barney because the cemetery is a really nice place, with lovely scenery and lovely views. It's very well kept - it just shows that people really did care about their pets.

'It's a sad place but unlike in a "human" version, it is very uplifting. To see and know that these pets were loved and cherished enough to be respected in this way is very special.'

Barney, a short-haired Border Collie, died in 1994 and Karl's vet recommended Rossendale Pet Crematorium.

Karl, from Blackpool, said he instantly fell in love with the graveyard on the edge of the Lancashire Pennines - but was initially told there was no way he could be buried there as well.

But by the time his Yorkshire Terrier Charlie died last year Karl was working on convincing crematorium bosses to change their minds.

He contacted the borough solicitor, the county planning office, the waste disposal authority and the police - and found nobody had any objections. Now the cemetery has set aside space for 40 people to be buried - and 10 people have already booked spaces.

Karl, who once escaped after being tied upside down hanging from Blackpool Tower said his performing career had given him a unique take on death. He was renowned for his dangerous stunts - escaping from suspended burning ropes, straitjackets and handcuffs in perilous places. He even tied the knot in 1985 while hanging from Blackpool Tower.

Karl, who has since split from his wife, said: 'I can see the humour in death and burials, it doesn't bother me.

'I don't have any family now - my dog Charlie has been my only companion for 15 years - so I haven't got anyone else to do the funeral for me.'

Rossendale Pet Crematorium has more than 2,500 animals, ranging from small birds and hamsters to horses, buried in its Crawshawbooth grounds. Manager Russell Gray said: 'It's a very special and peaceful place, which is why many people choose it for their pets. In many ways it's much better kept and loved than a human cemetery.'

Leigh Hargreaves, bereavement officer at Rossendale council, said: 'Although this is a somewhat unusual request it is perfectly legal as long as various conditions are followed.'

Photos: Manchester Evening News Syndication

American Kennel Club Celebrates Irish Dog Breeds in Spirit of St. Patrick’s Day
March 10,2011
n honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday in March, the American Kennel Club (AKC) celebrates the loveable breeds of Irish descent.

"The rich and vibrant culture of the Emerald Isle extends beyond art and literature and touches the very foundation of some of our most devoted and fun-loving dog breeds," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "Many of these breeds have been warming our hearts and souls for much of AKC’s long history."

Glen of Imaal Terrier
Glen of Imaal, which is a valley in the Wicklow mountains, is the region in Ireland after which this hardy breed is named. Longer than tall and sporting a double coat of medium length, the "Glen" possesses great strength and conveys the impression of a dog of good substance. This is a working terrier, who must have the agility, freedom of movement and endurance to do the work for which it was developed. Like its Irish counterparts, the Glen is also courageous, and always ready to give chase. When working, it is active, agile, silent and intent upon its game. Otherwise, the Glen can be a docile companion for families with older children.

Irish Setter

Green may be the color of the Irish, but deep mahogany is the color of this four-legged beauty. The Irish Setter was among the original breeds recognized by AKC at its inception in 1884 and is part of the Sporting Group. Irish Setters have rollicking personalities and require a good amount of exercise to satisfy their breed instincts; they are tough and tireless field retrievers. They are also loving companion dogs who enjoy the company of children. It takes about three years for this breed to fully mature into adulthood, so if you’re considering bringing an Irish Setter into your home, you should be prepared for an active, fun-loving dog.

Irish Terrier
This breed was featured in the 2007 movie "Firehouse Dog," where it was cast as a canine hero. Not surprising, considering that Irish Terriers were used to transport messages between troops on the front lines in World War I. Their bravery and spirit make them incomparable pals, and they possess great tenacity. Loyal and friendly, Irish Terriers hardily adapt to any situation, and they are deeply committed to their owners. Irish Terriers served as longtime mascots for the Notre Dame Football team, providing halftime entertainment for adoring crowds. The Irish Terrier was first recognized by the AKC in 1885.

Irish Water Spaniel

This breed was among the original 9 breeds recognized by AKC in 1884. It has been referred to as the "Shannon Spaniel," the "Whip-Tail Spaniel," and the "Rat-Tail Spaniel." Distinguishing characteristics are a topknot of long, loose curls and a body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat, contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth "rat" tail. This ancient breed is a natural water dog. Irish Water Spaniels are devoted to their family and cautious around strangers. They are impressive dogs and possess an endurance quality which makes them equally agile in the water and in the field.

Irish Wolfhound
While Irish literature refers to this ancient breed in many ways, including "Big Dogs of Ireland," Irish Wolfhounds were documented in Rome in the year 391 A.D., where they were presented to the Roman Counsel as gifts, which "all Rome viewed with wonder." No wonder-- they are the largest and tallest of the galloping hounds. Males should be a minimum of 32" tall and weigh 120 pounds; females should be a minimum of 30" tall and weigh 105 pounds. This is a swift breed which hunts by sight, and needs an ample, fenced yard to accommodate its full gallop. As in early times, Irish Wolfhounds possess an extraordinary social temperament, as well as the intelligence to separate friend, family and foe.

Kerry Blue Terrier
The "Kerry Blue" hails from the Irish county of the same name; he had been purebred in that section of Ireland for more than a hundred years. Known for his superior working and hunting skills, the Kerry Blue is used for hunting small game and birds, and for retrieving from land as well as water. Size doesn’t matter, for he is an unsurpassed watch dog and herder of flock. In some instances in England, he has even been used for police work. The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1922, and came into the national spotlight when CH. Torums Scarf Michael won best in show at the 2002 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
A truly Irish breed, the "Wheaten" has a special connection to St. Patrick’s Day, having first appeared in the show ring at the Irish Kennel Club Championship on March 17, 1937. The name of this breed describes the characteristics of the coat–soft, silky, with a gentle wave, and of warm wheaten color. Underneath is a formidable dog that enjoys plenty of exercise every day. Most Wheatens are natural greeters towards people, and extremely alert in their surroundings. They are quick learners and love to travel with their owners. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was first recognized by the AKC in 1973.

Irish Red & White Setter
The Irish Red & White Setter became an official AKC breed in 2009. This breed is thought to have emerged at the end of the 17th Century in Ireland, and is red and white in color, as opposed to the solid red Irish Setter. The history of the breed is as mysterious as the myths and legends of the country of origin. Its original purpose was as a versatile hunting companion, providing food for the table, both fur and feather. As companions, they are loving, loyal and best suited for a very active family.

All photos by Mary Bloom © AKC®

Keep Your Pet "Disaster-Safe"
Events in Japan highlight need for a pet evacuation plan
March 14, 2011
he aftereffects of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday, March 11 have called attention to the need for pet owners to have a pet emergency plan in place. As evacuations continue throughout Japan, pet owners here at home are urged to consider their own pet emergency system.

Here are some suggestions from the ASPCA to keep your pets safe during an evacuation by planning ahead:

Evacuation Preparation
If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials.

To minimize evacuation time, take these 5 simple steps:
1. Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible.
2. Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet's ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs. Also do the same on your pet's carrier.
3. Consider micro-chipping as a more permanent form of identification.
4. Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
5. Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster.

Arrange a Safe Haven
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave your pets behind. Remember, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards.

Note: Not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it is imperative to determine where you will bring your pets ahead of time:
1. Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
2. Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
3. Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
4. Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits

Keep an Evac-Pack and supplies handy for your pets. This kit should be clearly labeled and easy to carry. (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)

Top 5 items should include:
1. Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet) and an extra leash or harness.
2. About a week's worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food, and bottled water.
3. Disposable litter trays and litter.
4. Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
5. Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires.

Get a Rescue Alert Sticker
This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home in case you are not there when the area is being evacuated. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes
1) the types and number of pets in your household
2) the name of your veterinarian
3) your veterinarian's phone number.

If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write "EVACUATED" across the stickers.

Click on image at left to get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home.


Click on photo above for special Gallery Exhibit: TSUNAMI SURVIVORS AND SAVIOURS

13 March 2011


Photo Credits: CFCoane/From-The-DOGHOUSE.com/SCOOP & HOWL


Emotional Power Broker of the Modern Family

March 15, 2011
irst, he tore up his dog toys. Then shredded the furniture, clothes, schoolbooks — and, finally, any semblance of family unity. James, a chocolate-brown pointer mix, turned from adorable pet to problem child in a matter of weeks.

“The big bone of contention was that my mom and my sister thought that he was too smart to be treated like a dog; they thought he was a person and should be treated as such — well, spoiled,” said Danielle, a Florida woman who asked that her last name not be published to avoid more family pet strife. “The dog remains to this day, 10 years later, a source of contention and anger.”

Psychologists long ago confirmed what most pet owners feel in their bones: that for some people bonds with animals are every bit as strong as those with other humans. And less complicated, for sure; a dog’s devotion is without detectable irony, a lap cat’s purring without artifice (if not disapproval).

Yet the nature of individual human-pet relationships varies widely, and only now are scientists beginning to characterize those differences, and their impact on the family. Pets alter not only a family’s routines, after all, but also its hierarchy, its social rhythm, its web of relationships. Several new lines of research help explain why this overall effect can be so comforting in some families, and a source of tension in others. The answers have very little to do with the pet.

“The word ‘pet’ does not really capture what these animals mean in a family, first of all,” said Froma Walsh, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and co-director of the Chicago Center for Family Health. The prevalent term among researchers is now “companion animal,” she said, which is closer to the childlike role they so often play. “And in the way that children get caught up in the family system as peacekeepers, as go-betweens, as sources of disagreement, the same happens with pets.”

People cast these roles in part based on the sensations and memories associated with their first Princess or Scooter, psychologists say — echoing Freud’s idea of transference, in which early relationships provide a template for later ones. In many families, this means that Scruffy is the universal peacemaker, the fulcrum of shared affection.

In a family interview reviewed by Dr. Walsh in a recent paper, one mother said that the best way to end an argument between siblings was to bark, “Stop fighting, you’re upsetting Barkley!” “This is always more effective than saying, ‘Stop hitting your brother,’ ” the mother said. (Barkley made no comment.)

Animals often sense these expectations and act on them. In a video recording of another family discussed in the paper, the cat jumps on a woman’s lap when it senses an impending argument with her husband. “And it works,” Dr. Walsh said. “It reduces tension in both; you can see it happening.”

“She’s my first child,” said Adrienne Woods (right), a cellist in Los Angeles, of Bella, the Husky puppy that she and her fiancé just got. “The biggest upside is this sense of inner peace. I feel like a grandma, like I have a companion I’ve been wanting for 30 years.”

Yet pets can also raise tension, as millions of couples learn the hard way. The Animal Planet show “It’s Me or the Dog” is built on such cases. And Cesar Millan, a dog behavior specialist, has become a celebrity by helping people gain control over unruly hounds, bringing order into households with uncertain lines of authority.

Perhaps more often, pets become a psychological wedge not from lack of boundaries but because family members have diverging views of what a pet should be. And those views are shaped by cultural inheritance, more so than people may realize.

In a study of dog ownership, Elizabeth Terrien, a sociologist at the University of Chicago (left), conducted 90 in-depth interviews with families in Los Angeles, including Ms. Woods. One clear trend that has emerged is that people from rural backgrounds tend to see their dogs as guardians to be kept outside, whereas middle-class couples typically treat their hounds as children, often having them sleep in the master bedroom, or a special bed.

When asked to describe their pets without using the word “dog,” people in more affluent neighborhoods “came up with things like child, companion, little friend, teenage son, brother, or partner in crime,” Dr. Terrien said. In neighborhoods with a larger Latino immigrant population, owners were more likely to say “protector,” or even “toy for the children,” she found. “In those neighborhoods you’ll sometimes see kids yanking around a dog on the leash, pushing and playing, the sort of behavior that some middle-class owners would think of as abuse,” she said.

Such differences often emerge only after a family has adopted a pet, and they can exacerbate the more mundane disagreements about pet care, like how much to spend on vet bills, how often to walk the dog, how the animal should interact with young children. The fallout from such conflicts isn’t hard to find: Most everyone knows of couples who have quarreled over pets, or even divorced, because her spaniel nipped at his Rottweiler.

And there are countless single people out there all but married to some hairy Frida or Diego — banishing any potential partner who doesn’t fall quickly, and equally, in love.

The reason these feelings run so deep is that they are ideologies, as well as cultural and psychological dispositions. In the summer of 2007, David Blouin, a sociologist at Indiana University, South Bend (below), conducted extensive interviews with 35 dog owners around the state, chosen to represent a diverse mix of city, country and suburban dwellers.

He found that, as a rule, people fall into one of three broad categories of beliefs concerning pets. Members of one group, which he labels “dominionists,” see pets as an appendage to the family, a useful helper ranking below humans that is beloved but, ultimately, replaceable. Many people from rural areas — like the immigrants Dr. Terrien interviewed — qualified.

Another group of owners, labeled by Dr. Blouin as “humanists,” are the type who cherish their dog as a favored child or primary companion, to be pampered, allowed into bed, and mourned like a dying child at the end. These include the people who cook special meals for a pet, take it to exercise classes, to therapy — or leave it stock options in their will.

The third, called “protectionists,” strive to be the animal’s advocate. These owners have strong views about animal welfare, but their views on how a pet should be treated — whether it sleeps inside or outside, when it should be put down — vary depending on what they think is “best” for the animal. Its members include people who will “save” a dog tied to tree outside a store, usually delivering it home with a lecture about how to care for an animal.

“These are ideologies, and so protectionists are very critical of humanists, who are very critical of dominionists, and so on,” Dr. Blouin said. “You can see where this can create problems if people in a family have different orientations. Every little decision about the pet is loaded.”

Up until, and including, the end: Couples may not only disagree over when to put an animal down but also have vastly different emotional reactions to the loss. “For someone who’s been treating the pet like a child, it can feel like the loss of a child — and of course children are not supposed to die before their parents,” Dr. Terrien said. It’s an end-of-life crisis, which often begins a lengthy period of grieving. Whereas for the partner who sees the pet differently, the death may bring relief.

None of which is to say that a resourceful pet — using the combined power of cuteness, doleful stares and episodes of getting stuck in boxes or eating crayons — cannot bridge such opposing religions. But family therapists say that, usually, four-legged diplomats need some help from the two-legged kind to succeed.

“Families either figure it out and manage these differences,” Dr. Terrien said, “or they give up the pet — which happens far more often than people think.”

Easing the Way in Therapy With the Aid of an Animal
March 15, 2011
We’ve all seen guide dogs that can direct blind people around obstacles
and tell them when it is safe to cross the street. Perhaps you also know of guide dogs for the deaf, which can alert people to a ringing phone, a doorbell or a smoke alarm, or dogs that can warn people with epilepsy of an incipient seizure, giving them time to get to a safe place before they lose consciousness.

Dr. Marty Becker, veterinarian and author (with Danelle Morton) of “The Healing Power of Pets” (Hyperion, 2002), tells of a golden retriever named Dakota, who was able to warn his master, Mike Lingenfelter, that a heart attack was imminent and alert Mr. Lingenfelter to the need to leave a stressful situation and take preventive medication. “This dog is leading me through life,” Mr. Lingenfelter told Dr. Becker. “All I’m doing is following the dog.”

In recent decades, there have been countless such stories of animals helping to improve and even preserve the lives of children and adults with all manner of diseases and disabilities. Trained dogs are being used to help keep children with autism safe and to break the “freeze” that can afflict people with Parkinson’s disease when they try to walk. And dogs, cats, bunnies and birds are often brought to schools and institutions, as well as to hospitals and nursing homes, where they help to relax and inspire residents and distract patients from their health problems. But the use of animals to enhance health can go well beyond individual cases and group settings. A growing number of psychotherapists are using therapy animals to facilitate treatment, especially treatment of children with emotional, social and even physical problems.

Among the pioneers is Aubrey H. Fine, psychotherapist and professor at the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, whose extensive successful use of therapy animals in treating children is documented in “The Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy” (Elsevier/Academic Press, 2010).

As Dr. Fine describes one of his first and most inspiring cases, 5-year-old Diane was brought to him because she recoiled in fright from strangers, and though she spoke at home, she refused to speak to anyone else, including her kindergarten teacher. A trained therapy dog named Puppy eventually broke the back of her selective mutism. Diane was petting Puppy, smiling and content, when Dr. Fine gave the dog a signal to walk away. Diane was crestfallen, and seeing the girl’s distress, Dr. Fine told her that all she had to do to get the dog back was to say, “Puppy, come.” Softly, the child said, “Puppy, come, please come, Puppy.” That incident became the bridge Dr. Fine needed to help the child overcome her socially disabling problem.

He tells of another troubled child who finally began to speak about being physically abused when Dr. Fine told him that the misshapen therapy animal he was playing with had been rescued from an abusive home where it had been seriously injured.

In another case in which a child was told where — and where not — to touch the therapy animal, the child opened up about being inappropriately touched, sexually abused, by a family member.

“Children are more likely to reveal inner thoughts to the therapist because the animal is right next to them and helps them express themselves,” Dr. Fine said in an interview.

In early work in a social skills program for hyperactive children, Dr. Fine found that they could be more easily taught how to behave calmly if allowed to handle his pet gerbil. “I realized this approach can have a tremendous impact in teaching because it helps to change how we relate to other beings,” he said.

Although the field of animal-assisted therapy has grown a lot in the last four decades, experts readily acknowledge that it suffers from a lack of well-designed research that can establish guidelines for safety and effectiveness in various situations. For example, although using dolphins to treat autistic children has received considerable media attention, at least two studies found no evidence of benefit and considerable risk of harm to the animals and to the children, said James A. Griffin of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations insists that members limit service and therapy animals to domestic species trained for the job. And the Delta Society, which provides training programs for the animals, will not certify wild or exotic animals like snakes, ferrets, lizards and wolf-hybrids. However, the Delta Society says it “is constantly expanding the range of species included in the Pet Partners program” when there is adequate research to document the safety of their use.

To help give the field a firmer scientific footing, the Mars company, a leading producer of pet foods, initiated a research partnership with the national institute branch of which Dr. Griffin is deputy director. Among continuing studies:

• The effects of therapeutic horseback riding on children and adolescents with autism. If safe and effective, riding is less invasive than medications used to treat common symptoms like irritability and hyperactivity.

• A large epidemiological study to document the overall public health effects on children and adolescents of living with dogs and cats.

• A study to determine whether therapy animals can help children with behavior disturbances attributed to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder develop better self-regulation, self-esteem and social behavior.

• Studies using survey and genetic tools to help select the most effective cats or cat breeds to work with autistic children.

Dr. Griffin acknowledged in an interview how difficult it can be to design a scientifically valid study using animals because “it can’t be a blind study — you know if the patient has a therapy dog.” But he described one recent study in which the patient, a young boy with autism, served as his own control. When he was with the therapy dog, levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the child dropped; the levels rose when the dog was taken away, and dropped again when the dog was returned. The next step would be to coordinate biochemical changes with behavioral effects — is the child calmer and easier to handle when with a therapy animal?

Dr. Fine emphasized the challenges of working with therapy animals as well as documenting its effectiveness. He said, “You can’t just bring in any animal to a therapy setting. The animal has to be very well trained, reliable, obedient and have the right temperament. It can’t be overly anxious or easily startled. And the therapist has to know how to use it as a therapy adjunct, in combination with good psychotherapy. The animal is there to help support what I’m doing, to act as a catalyst and not a distraction. And, of course, animal-assisted interventions have to be safe for everyone involved — the patient and the animal.”

Forget the Treadmill. Get a Dog.
March 15, 2011
f you’re looking for the latest in home exercise equipment, you may want to consider something with four legs and a wagging tail.

Several studies now show that dogs can be powerful motivators to get people moving. Not only are dog owners more likely to take regular walks, but new research shows that dog walkers are more active over all than people who don’t have dogs. One study even found that older people are more likely to take regular walks if the walking companion is canine rather than human.

“You need to walk, and so does your dog,” said Rebecca A. Johnson, director of the human-animal interaction research center at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine (right). “It’s good for both ends of the leash.”

Just last week, researchers from Michigan State University reported that among dog owners who took their pets for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise. Nearly half of dog walkers exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise.

The researchers tracked the exercise habits of 5,900 people in Michigan, including 2,170 who owned dogs. They found that about two-thirds of dog owners took their pets for regular walks, defined as lasting at least 10 minutes. Unlike other studies of dog ownership and walking, this one also tracked other forms of exercise, seeking to answer what the lead author, Dr. Mathew Reeves, called an obvious question: whether dog walking “adds significantly to the amount of exercise you do, or is it simply that it replaces exercise you would have done otherwise?”

The answers were encouraging, said Dr. Reeves, an associate professor of epidemiology at Michigan State. The dog walkers had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activity than the other subjects, and they were more likely to take part in other leisure-time physical activities like sports and gardening. On average, they exercised about 30 minutes a week more than people who didn’t have dogs.

Dr. Reeves, who owns two Labrador mixes named Cadbury and Bella, said he was not surprised. “There is exercise that gets done in this household that wouldn’t get done otherwise,” he said. “Our dogs demand that you take them out at 10 o’clock at night, when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. They’re not going to leave you alone until they get their walk in.”
But owning a dog didn’t guarantee physical activity. Some owners in the study did not walk their dogs, and they posted far less overall exercise than dog walkers or people who didn’t have a dog.

Dog walking was highest among the young and educated, with 18-to-24-year-old owners twice as likely to walk the dog as those over 65, and college graduates more than twice as likely as those with less education. Younger dogs were more likely to be walked than older dogs; and larger dogs (45 pounds or more) were taken for longer walks than smaller dogs.
The researchers asked owners who didn’t walk their pets to explain why. About 40 percent said their dogs ran free in a yard, so they didn’t need walks; 11 percent hired dog walkers.

Nine percent said they didn’t have time to walk their dogs, while another 9 percent said their dogs were too ill behaved to take on a walk. Age of the dog or dog owner also had an effect: 9 percent said the dog was too old to go for walks, while 8 percent said the owner was too old.

“There is still a lot more dog walking that could be done among dog owners,” Dr. Reeves said.

And the question remains whether owning a dog encourages regular activity or whether active, healthy people are simply more likely to acquire dogs as walking companions. A 2008 study in Western Australia addressed the question when it followed 773 adults who didn’t have dogs. After a year, 92 people, or 12 percent of the group, had acquired a dog. Getting a dog increased average walking by about 30 minutes a week, compared with those who didn’t own dogs. But on closer analysis, the new dog owners had been laggards before getting a dog, walking about 24 percent less than other people without dogs.

The researchers found that one of the motivations for getting a dog was a desire to get more exercise. Before getting a dog, the new dog owners had clocked about 89 minutes of weekly walking, but dog ownership boosted that number to 130 minutes a week.

A study of 41,500 California residents also looked at walking among dog and cat owners as well as those who didn’t have pets. Dog owners were about 60 percent more likely to walk for leisure than people who owned a cat or no pet at all. That translated to an extra 19 minutes a week of walking compared with people without dogs.

A study last year from the University of Missouri showed that for getting exercise, dogs are better walking companions than humans. In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted-living home, some people selected a friend or spouse as a walking companion, while others took a bus daily to a local animal shelter, where they were assigned a dog to walk. To the surprise of the researchers, the dog walkers showed a much greater improvement in fitness. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just 4 percent among the human walkers.

Dr. Johnson, the study’s lead author, said that human walkers often complained about the heat and talked each other out of exercise, but that people who were paired with dogs didn’t make those excuses.

“They help themselves by helping the dog,” said Dr. Johnson, co-author of the new book “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound,” to be published in May by Purdue University Press. “If we’re committed to a dog, it enables us to commit to physical activity ourselves.”

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The Creature Connection
March 15, 2011
ashert is a gentle, scone-colored, 60-pound poodle, a kind of Ginger Rogers Chia Pet, and she’s clearly convinced there is no human problem so big she can’t lick it. Lost your job, or bedridden for days? Lick. Feeling depressed, incompetent, in an existential malaise? Lick.

“She draws the whole family together,” said Pamela Fields, 52, a government specialist in United States-Japan relations. “Even when we hate each other, we all agree that we love the dog.” Her husband, Michael Richards, also 52 and a media lawyer, explained that the name Bashert comes from the Yiddish word for soul mate or destiny. “We didn’t choose her,” he said. “She chose us.” Their 12-year-old daughter, Alana, said, “When I go to camp, I miss the dog a lot more than I miss my parents,” and their 14-year-old son, Aaron, said, “Life was so boring before we got Bashert.”

Yet Bashert wasn’t always adored. The Washington Animal Rescue League had retrieved her from a notoriously abusive puppy mill — the pet industry’s equivalent of a factory farm — where she had spent years encaged as a breeder, a nonstop poodle-making machine. By the time of her adoption, the dog was weak, malnourished, diseased, and caninically illiterate. “She didn’t know how to be a dog,” said Ms. Fields. “We had to teach her how to run, to play, even to bark.”

Stories like Bashert’s encapsulate the complexity and capriciousness of our longstanding love affair with animals, now our best friends and soul mates, now our laboratory Play-Doh and featured on our dinner plates. We love animals, yet we euthanize five million abandoned cats and dogs each year. We lavish some $48 billion annually on our pets and another $2 billion on animal protection and conservation causes; but that index of affection pales like so much well-cooked pork against the $300 billion we spend on meat and hunting, and the tens of billions devoted to removing or eradicating animals we consider pests.

“We’re very particular about which animals we love, and even those we dote on are at our disposal and subject to all sorts of cruelty,” said Alexandra Horowitz, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College. “I’m not sure this is a love to brag about.” Dr. Horowitz, the author of a best-selling book about dog cognition, “Inside of a Dog,” belongs to a community of researchers paying ever closer attention to the nature of the human-animal bond in all its fetching dissonance, a pursuit recently accorded the chimeric title of anthrozoology.

Yet how our animal urges express themselves is a strongly cultural and contingent affair. Many human groups have incorporated animals into their religious ceremonies, through practices like animal sacrifice or the donning of animal masks. Others have made extensive folkloric and metaphoric use of animals, with the cast of characters tuned to suit local reality and pedagogical need.

Before long, humans were committing wholesale acts of anthropomorphism, attributing human characteristics and motives to anything with a face, a voice, a trajectory — bears, bats, thunderstorms, the moon.

Whereas wild animals like wolves will avert their eyes when spotted, dogs and cats readily return our gaze, and with an apparent emotiveness that stimulates the wistful narrative in our head. Dogs add to their soulful stare a distinctive mobility of facial musculature. “Their facial features are flexible, and they can raise their lips into a smile,” Dr. Horowitz said. “The animals we seem to love the most are the ones that make expressions at us.”

Dogs were among the first animals to be domesticated, roughly 10,000 years ago, in part for their remarkable responsiveness to such human cues as a pointed finger or a spoken command, and also for their willingness to work like dogs. They proved especially useful as hunting companions and were often buried along with their masters, right next to the spear set.

Yet the road to certification as man’s BFF has been long and pitted. Monotheism’s major religious texts have few kind words for dogs, and dogs have often been a menu item. The Aztecs bred a hairless dog just for eating, and according to Anthony L. Podberscek, an anthrozoologist at Cambridge University, street markets in South Korea sell dogs meant for meat right next to dogs meant as pets, with the latter distinguished by the cheery pink color of their cages.

As a rule, however, the elevation of an animal to pet status removes it entirely from the human food chain. Other telltale signs of petdom include bestowing a name on the animal and allowing it into the house. Pet ownership patterns have varied tremendously over time and across cultures and can resemble fads or infectious social memes.

Harold Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, describes in his book “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat” how the rapid growth of the middle class in 19th-century France gave rise to the cartoonishly pampered Fifi. “By 1890, luxury and pet ownership went hand in hand,” he writes, and the wardrobe of a fashionable Parisian dog might include “boots, a dressing gown, a bathing suit, underwear and a raincoat.”

In this country, pet keeping didn’t get serious until after World War II. “People were moving to the suburbs, ‘Lassie’ was on television, and the common wisdom was pets were good for raising kids,” said Dr. Herzog in an interview. “If you wanted a normal childhood, you had to have a pet.”

Pet ownership has climbed steadily ever since, and today about two-thirds of American households include at least one pet.
People are passionate about their companion animals: 70 percent of pet owners say they sometimes sleep with their pets; 65 percent buy Christmas gifts for their pets; 23 percent cook special meals for their pets; and 40 percent of married women with pets say they get more emotional support from their pets than from their husbands. People may even be willing to die for their pets. “In studies done on why people refused to evacuate New Orleans during Katrina,” said Dr. Herzog, “a surprising number said they could not leave their pets behind.”

Pets are reliable from one year to the next, and they’re not embarrassed or offended by you no matter what you say or how much weight you gain. You can’t talk to your teenage daughter the way you did when she was 3, but your cat will always take your squeal. And should you overinterpret the meaning of your pet’s tail flick or unflinching gaze, well, who’s going to call you on it?

“Animals can’t object if we mischaracterize them in our minds,” said Lori Gruen, an associate professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University. “There’s something very comforting about that.”

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Illustration: Christopher Silas Neal

Pets for working people
Just because you work like a dog doesn't mean you can't have one too. Here's how to pick the perfect pet.
By Emily Hughey Quinn

March 14, 2011
or animal lovers, there's no feeling like coming home to a wagging tail or a furry nuzzle. Unfortunately, a demanding work schedule has a way of keeping people from having pets.

There's good news for hard-working employees who dream of having an animal sidekick: Even if you're gone all day, you still can have a furry friend.

"There are options," says Adam Goldfarb (right), director of the Pets at Risk Program for The Humane Society of the United States. "Depending on your resources and how you manage your lifestyle, there are certainly ways to keep your pets happy even if you're gone a long time."

Lower maintenance pets

Goldfarb, for example, has two rabbits. "They're most active at dusk and dawn, which a lot of times is a really good schedule for someone working," he says. "As long as you give the rabbit plenty of time to exercise, then a rabbit can be a really good fit."

The next best option, says Ernie Ward (below left), author of the new book, "Chow Hounds" (HCI, $14.95), is a cat.

"When it comes to the fast-track life, perhaps no other pet is better suited to the urban lifestyle than a cat," says Ward, who's the resident vet for the "Rachael Ray Show."

"Cats typically require less walking and interaction than dogs, meaning you have more time to watch 'American Idol' together. Cats are often completely comfortable living indoors, even in tiny apartments."

However, Goldfarb cautions against labeling either cats or dogs one way or another. "There are a lot of stereotypes of the differences between cats and dogs, but the reality is that there is a variety of personalities in both cats and dogs," Goldfarb says.

He recommends going to your local shelter and talking to the adoption counselors there. He says they'll know the animals well and will be able to find your ideal pet based on your lifestyle and personality.

Puppy love

And, yes, dogs are an option for hard-working canine lovers of the world. "When it comes to dogs, a bit more planning is necessary to ensure your best friend has the best life," Ward says. "If, for example, you'll be at work late, you'll need to arrange to have your canine companion taken out for a walk and potty-break during the day."

Monica Leighton, president of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, says the first step to selecting a pet sitter is making sure the sitter is a professional, as well as bonded and insured.

"Watch closely how the sitter interacts with your pet and make sure your pet is comfortable with the sitter," Leighton says. "The sitter you choose will be caring for two of the most precious things in your life: your pet and your home. A true professional pet sitter should not have any issues with the pet parent asking a lot of questions as well as interviewing multiple sitters before deciding who they want to entrust the care of their pet to."

Regardless of who's walking your babies by day, not all dogs make for workingman's best friend.

"Don't even think about a Great Dane, Border Collie, Golden Retriever, Boxer or Lab," says Bruce Kasanoff, co-founder of DrawTheDog.com, a website that turns true and often destruction-centered dog tales into humorous cartoons. "They are the most popular breeds featured in our DrawtheDog.com cartoons, which means these breeds have 1,001 creative ways to teach you not to ignore them."

Regardless of whether you choose a dog or a cat, if you work a lot, Kasanoff has a piece of adoption advice. "Really, really old dogs," he says. "Seriously. Go to the pound and adopt a nine or 10-year-old dog no one else wants."

Goldfarb backs him up.

"If you're not going to be home for 10 hours a day, a puppy or a kitten is not a good fit for you," Goldfarb says. "They're balls of energy, they're learning about the world and they're either going to destroy your home or become very frustrated."

"The take-home message for stay-at-home dogs is that you need to provide them with some physical activity outlet each day to ensure a healthy mind and body," Ward advises. He warns that breeds such as Labs will need to be walked at least 30 to 45 minutes per day while purse-pets such as Maltese may need much less trail time.

Selecting a pet sitter

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters website, petsitters.org, is one resource for finding a professional pet sitter through a zip code locator. "Your veterinarian and local chamber of commerce may also be a good resource as far as knowing some of the sitters in your area," says Monica Leighton (below right), president.

Some important things pet parents should look for in a pet sitter:

• Are they bonded and insured?
• Can they provide you with contact information from other clients who will be a reference to their service?
• Is the sitter certified?
• Have they had pet first aid training?
• What are the sitter's policies and procedures?
• Does the sitter have an emergency plan if they were to become ill?
• Does the sitter have a disaster plan if rough weather were to strike?

Which pet is right for me?

The consensus among animal experts is that there's no textbook answer when it comes to finding the perfect career-friendly pet. The best plan is to assess your lifestyle and compare it with the temperament of the pet you're considering. And, if you're adopting from a shelter, it's important to discuss your lifestyle with the shelter employees, who can help you find an animal companion.

While cats are considered a generally safe bet if you're out of the house for long hours, don't count out a dog.

"It's certainly possible. A healthy, happy dog sleeps up to 18 hours a day anyway, and if they've been properly trained they can hold their bladders for quite a while too," says Jonathan Klein, dog behaviorist and owner of the Los Angeles-based I Said Sit! Personalized Dog Training School. He concedes you can even teach your dog to use a 'pee-pee pad' for those extra long days you're away from home.

Klein outlines some key factors to consider when choosing a dog:

• Exercise needs
• Size
• Natural temperament
• Coat (short-haired dogs may shed more when running around the house and long-haired dogs tend to lose their hair during brushing.)
• Is your living arrangement suitable?
• Are you financially prepared to care for your dog? (Food costs can run upward of $75/month for big dogs, plus vet bills if your dog gets sick or injured.)

"How you pick your dog really depends on what appeals to you. I suggest listing all the types of dogs you're considering and jump on the Internet to look into the specifics of the breed," Klein recommends. "The dog needs to fit in to your lifestyle. For example, if you'd like to have a companion on your daily jog, consider a breed that will take to that kind of activity."

Hempstead reassigns animal shelter director over abuse video
March 14, 2011

The acting director of a Long Island animal shelter has been reassigned after a YouTube video surfaced depicting her and other shelter workers mocking a kitten that’s to be euthanized.

Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery says the acting director, Pat Horan, was removed from her position Monday while officials investigate. He insists the video is at least 17 years old because one of the employees depicted has not worked for the town in that time.

He said Horan, who earns more than $92,000 annually, was not available to comment. He did not know if she had an attorney. She does not face criminal charges.

The video shows employees, including Horan, laughing and making obscene gestures while preparing the kitten to be euthanized.

The shelter is being investigated for alleged abuse by workers.

Click on image above for video

Blind man keeps his old guide dog after it loses its sight... and then gets a new one who now leads them both around

11th March 2011
fter six years of loyal service, Graham Waspe was devastated when his guide dog Edward was left blind after developing cataracts.

But his devastation turned to joy when his replacement Opal turned out to be a real gem. Mr Waspe's new dog is not just aiding his owner to carry out everyday tasks, but also helping Edward to get around.

Mr Waspe, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, received his new dog last November after Edward developed the inoperable problem which resulted in him needing both eyes removed.

And the two-year-old bitch has stepped in where Edward left off as they tour their old haunts together.

While Edward is well know across the schools and community groups of Suffolk, Opal is now building his own reputation as their owners give talks about the Guide Dogs charity, training for such special dogs and the incredible ways they help their owners.

Graham said: 'Opal's been great for both of us. I don't know what we'd do without her.'

And his wife Sandra, 58, said that despite the loss of his eyes, Edward still loved nothing more than to be around children, have his tummy tickled and receive lots of attention.

The eight-year-old has been retired for four months but the loss of his eyesight has shown no sign of slowing him down.

Sandra said: 'We were both devastated and cried buckets on the night they told us they were going to remove his first eye.
'Graham said then "do you think he will ever be happy again?" and then they said they would have to remove the second eye.' She added: 'He is still very popular - just as much, if not more than before. People ask lots of questions about how he copes and he is probably more famous now because even more people stop to talk to him.'

Sandra said Opal had arrived shortly after Edward retired and the two dogs got along fine.

'Opal arrived far quicker than expected because, sadly, a couple of people in the Stowmarket area with fairly young guide dogs had died,' she said. 'We got Opal on November 12 and she started training with Graham on the 16th and they were qualified in early December.'

Mr Waspe has limited vision in only one of his eyes following two separate incidents earlier in his life and coped without a guide dog until 2004.

As well as carrying out their school visits to raise awareness, the Waspes also do vital fundraising and run a local group.

Top, Albanpix
Above, Alex Fairfull

Nina In New York: I Am One Of Them
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City

By Nina Pajak
March 9, 2011
ecently, my husband and I adopted a one-year-old dog. He’s a Black Lab/Pit mix, and he’s pretty much the best boy in the world.

This isn’t my first walk around the block (ha ha) when it comes to Manhattan dog ownership. But Luke was elderly by the time we came to care for him, and he was grouchy and aloof. Not to mention plagued with OCD, eczema, deafness, renal failure, recurring mini-strokes, and incontinence. So I operated outside the bounds of dog culture in New York. I was just a civilian with a Spaniel then. Now because my puppy, Gus (left), is sweet and playful, I am one of Them.

I have been absorbed into a community of people who are bonded by two commonalities: we all have dogs, and we all prefer those dogs to the group of humans into which we’ve been thrust. We meet every morning in the park and stand together for up to an hour. We talk a lot about the weather and the state of the ground (icy, muddy, dusty, oy!). We talk about the dogs, to the dogs and, shamefully often, on behalf of the dogs, imagining aloud what they’d want to say if they could talk while being mounted for the tenth time (“he’s like, ‘the least you could do is buy me a drink!’”). We know all the dogs by name, but rarely know one anothers’. We don’t even recognize each other around the neighborhood unless we’re with our pups, but we all recognize the dogs regardless of who is walking them. When my brother was dog-sitting recently, he was shocked to hear a woman yell “HELLO, GUS!” from all the way down the block. When my brother explained who he was, she just sort of blinked at him. She was saying hi to her friend Gus. No need for chit chat.

Don’t get me wrong—these people all seem perfectly nice, intelligent, and good-natured. We let a few personal details slip out incidentally now and again. One time, I actually heard a guy ask after another guy’s family. It was major.

And yet, in spite of all this weirdness, in many ways we’re more intimate than I am with my longtime co-workers or acquaintances. We dress like barely-groomed bums, and sometimes I don’t even brush my teeth before I go (shhh). We freely behave like nerds who communicate via our pets. Frequently, we just stand in contented silence. This world sprang up out of nowhere—one day I didn’t have a dog, and the next I’m hanging out with people fifteen to forty years my senior and saying things like, “Buddy, apologize to that dog for attempting to impregnate his face. At least go for the right end! Ha ha ha!” I don’t know who I’ve become. I fear that owning this animal has caused me to lose my already tenuous grasp on social acceptability. It happened quite easily, really.

Too easily. Today, as I found myself standing dumbly among the other park-goers, it occurred to me that perhaps much of this awkwardness is radiating from me. Maybe I’m the only one who remains nameless. Maybe I’m the oddball who keeps making up dialogue for my dog. Perhaps it’s I who is incapable of conversation unless it’s about dog poop or puppy behavior.

In that case, I think I think I found my crowd.

Pet Oxygen Masks Help Save the Day
A fire department uses innovative gear to rescue pets
By Margo Ann Sullivan

March 6, 2011
anuary 16, 2008, developed into a fateful day for Zoe, a Chihuahua struck by a car outside an Austin, Texas shopping center, and for Temple Thomas (left with Zoe), district commander of the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service. Thomas, an EMS supervisor, happened to drive right past after the accident. He didn’t see the cars hit the dogs, but he noticed a crowd gathered in the parking lot. He went to see the reason and discovered a little brown pile crumpled on the ground.

Zoe and another little dog, who also was run over, lay motionless. Bystanders said traffic had stopped for the two Chihuahuas, both off the leash, as they crossed the street, but one car drove around and sped into the dogs.

One dog was beyond help, Thomas said. “One dog was just crushed,” he said, but he couldn’t tell if the other Chihuahua was still alive. “Zoe was just lying there,” he said. “I couldn’t tell if she was breathing.”

Thomas had a pet oxygen mask in the car. He had never used it before, but he grabbed the device, opened Zoe’s airway and delivered a blast of oxygen. “Her eyes opened, and she started to respond,” he said.

Pet oxygen masks work because the muzzle fits properly over the animal’s face and better directs oxygen into the animal’s lungs, according to Boston firefighter Steve MacDonald, the public information officer. With a human mask, much of the oxygen escapes into the air.

The Boston Fire Department just received 60 pet oxygen masks in October due to two grants from the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association and the Wellpet Foundation, MacDonald said. The Boston firefighters haven’t used the masks in the field yet, he said, but the devices are expected to improve animals’ chance to survive a fire or an accident.

“Animals require oxygen as soon as possible when they’ve inhaled smoke, and the sooner the better,” said Brian Adams, spokesman for MSPCA-Angell. “At our hospital, we do treat a number of victims of smoke inhalation,” he said, and the ones that receive oxygen at the scene have a better chance than animals that have to wait. “Those are the moments that are incredibly crucial in saving an animal’s life,” he said.

That first look from Zoe won his heart, Thomas remembered. “We clicked,” he said, “the minute she opened up those big brown eyes.” Neither dog had a tag, so it was unclear if Zoe’s owner would come forward. But Thomas made a promise. “If no one claims her, she’s mine,” he said.

Meanwhile, he picked up both dogs and rushed Zoe to Austin’s emergency animal hospital. She stayed in intensive care four days, and he visited her every one of them. When she was ready to be discharged, he paid $250 for the adoption fee and took her home. The hospital wouldn’t charge him for the veterinary bill, he said.

Thomas used the pet oxygen mask again two days after he saved Zoe. This time, he treated a dog rescued from a house fire.

Pet oxygen masks are not new, but Susan Curtis, executive director of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, believes only about four or five state associations (Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, besides Massachusetts) are working to equip rescue workers with pet oxygen masks.

So far, her association has helped 150 Bay State communities buy a pet oxygen mask. The goal is to deliver a mask to all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns and then to equip all the fire departments, she said.

The Wellpet Foundation contributed $2,267 for the Boston Fire Department’s 35 oxygen masks and the association delivered 25 more masks, Adams said.

The Boston fire commissioner arranged for the financial assistance after an employee mentioned pet oxygen masks could save animals’ lives, MacDonald said. The employee didn’t want to be named, he said. “She has a German shepherd, and she’s a pet lover."

As for Zoe, she became a celebrity in Austin, Thomas said. She even accompanied him to an award dinner, a black tie event. Waiters brought Zoe her own plate, he said. "Now, she's a little diva," he said.

Photo, top left, courtesy of Temple N. Thomas
Above right: NYDaily.com

For sea dogs, swim skills aren’t required

March 6, 2011
ive years ago, when Regina Jordan and her husband, Ed Bacon, were looking to add another crewmember to their yacht, they searched for a surefooted and able-bodied addition. With four legs.

For more than 20 years, the couple had been living on the Prelude, a 54-foot cutter-rigged ketch built in 1980 docked at the West 79th Street Boat Basin. They were searching for a small dog to bring onboard for additional companionship. Regina met a 4-pound Maltipoo on the Broadway and 79th Street subway platform who happened to be for sale. About one month later, Ollie (short for Oliver Maxwell Bacon) joined the couple onboard the Prelude.

Ollie fits in well with his sea-loving owners — despite disliking the water. Yes, he can swim. He’d just rather not. When the couple assessed Ollie’s ability in their son’s pool, he was able to paddle just fine, but swam right out.

Luckily, Jordan says it doesn’t make a difference if their new first mate is skittish about the water. “We were not concerned because there’s no way even a Portuguese water dog or Schipperke should go in the Hudson,” assures Jordan, who mostly sails locally. “It’s a dangerous river with strong currents.”

The couple, who charter local trips on the Prelude (allnycyachts.com), credits Ollie with bringing in business. “People fawn all over [him],” Jordan says. “We joke around and say that we have to check pocketbooks to make sure he’s not in there!”

Ollie isn’t the only canine resident at the Boat Basin. Author and teacher Leslie Day is spending her 36th winter onboard the 43-foot Marine Trader powerboat she shares with her husband, Jim Nishiura. Also onboard are the couple’s three pets: their terrier, Sadie; cockatiel, Paulie; and African Gray parrot, Einstein.

Like Ollie, Sadie doesn’t love the water, though she can swim with human help, a characteristic her owner discovered by testing her skills in a small Catskills river. Day agrees with Jordan that the Hudson is too dangerous for a dog, anyway. Thankfully, the terrier instinctively avoids jumping into the river, but, according to Day, “is happy to be wherever we are.”

It wasn’t necessary for Louie, a Wheaten terrier mutt, to have sailor self-confidence right from the start, either. When Brooklyn couple Alicia Collins and Brian Nisbett decided to ditch their Park Slope neighborhood (they docked their sailboat at Sheepshead Bay) for St. Thomas, bringing along Louie was a no-brainer.

“It was more an issue of developing his sea legs when the time came. We taught him how to swim before we left on our big trip, using cheese as a motivator,” says Collins.

Louie remains a cautious swimmer, which suits Collins just fine. “I worked at a veterinary clinic in St. Thomas, and we were always pulling painful sea urchin quills out of poor, unsuspecting labs and retrievers,” she says.

Perhaps more important than a pup’s skills in the water is its owner’s ability to go with the flow. “When we started cruising, I was sure he was going to get eaten by a shark,” Collins recalls. Luckily, he wasn’t, and as a precautionary measure, Collins and Nesbitt keep him in a life jacket that is attached to the boat while sailing.

More than just a friendly companion, the pooch has proven himself a useful crewmember with a sixth sense for the shore’s location. “During really long passages, Louie can smell the land before we can see it. He’ll run up the bow and point his nose toward the land,” says Collins. “At first we thought he was crazy, but when we saw he was on course, it was kind of cool. I was like ‘Way to go, Lou.’ ”


Dog ate toes of diabetic Ore. owner as he slept
5 March 2011
dog ate three of his owner's toes as the diabetic man slept, most likely out of instinct to help remove diseased flesh, animal experts say.

James Little, 61, called 911 on Tuesday to say his dog had eaten the body parts while he was sleeping. He told The Associated Press on Friday that he is "doing fine." Little suffers from diabetes, of which one symptom is numbness in the hands or feet.

The dog, a Shiba Inu, was acting on its instinct to remove diseased flesh and does not appear to be dangerous, said Douglas County Animal Control Deputy Lee Bartholomew (below right).

Dogs have been known to eat dead or diseased human flesh. A family's dog in Illinois ate the toes off a 10-year-old girl's left foot while she slept last December. She had a sore on her foot. In August, a dog in Michigan bit off most of its owner's infected big toe after the man passed out from alcohol. The man had diabetes, and the animal was apparently attracted to a festering wound.

Little has given up ownership of his dog, putting it up for adoption pending an examination and a standard 10-day quarantine to determine it does not have rabies, Bartholomew said.

"We are going to find a new home for it," Bartholomew said.

The dog was taken to Roseburg's Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center, where executive director Wendy Kang (left) said the animal is healthy but appears anxious.

Little was in fair condition at a hospital and expected to be released later Friday.


Dog Saves Man's Life by Biting Off Toe: Jerry Douthett Has Best Hangover Ever
August 4, 2010
Michigan man says he has his dog to thank for saving his life by chewing off his infected big toe as he lay in a drunken stupor.

For months, Jerry Douthett had refused to see a doctor for the festering digit, in spite of his wife's pleas and her suspicion that he had out of control diabetes. About two weeks ago the couple went to a bar, where Douthett told the Grand Rapids Press that he drank four or five beers.

"Jerry had had all these Margaritas, so I just let him sleep," his wife Rosee, a registered nurse, told the paper. "But then I heard these screams coming from the bedroom, and he was yelling, 'My toe's gone, my toe's gone!'"

Kiko, the family dog, had suddenly become a surgeon.

"It wasn't an aggressive attack. He pretty much just ate the infection, so he saved my life," Jerry Douthett said.

He was treated at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids where physicians said he had type 2 diabetes and was suffering from a dangerous toe infection. Surgeons amputated what was left of the digit.

"Maybe he thought it was not part of Jerry's body," Rosie told the Grand Rapids television station WOOD-TV, "that it was a dead animal laying on the bed. But he chewed off the infected part so he knew when to stop, which was great."

Jerry Douthett says Kiko, a white terrier with brown ears, is a hero. Now that he knows he is diabetic, he has given up drinking.


Family Dog Chews Off 10-Year-Old Girl’s Toes
December 30, 2010
uthorities investigated a “bizarre” incident last week in which a 10-year-old girl’s toes were chewed off by the family dog while she slept in their south suburban home.

Around 7 a.m. on Dec. 22, the girl yelled that her foot was bleeding when her mother came into her room to wake her up for school, the Joliet Herald-News is reporting. The woman saw all of the toes were missing from the girl’s left foot and administered first aid while her husband called paramedics.

Crete firefighters and Will County Sheriff’s deputies responded and the victim was transported to St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Dyer, Ind. According to reports, the girl suffers from spina bifida, which “causes numbness in her lower extremities (and she) has basically no sensation beneath the waist.”

She has also had a sore on her left foot for more than a year that will not heal, despite being examined by doctors and specialists.

The girl’s father told police nothing was out of the ordinary and the girl’s foot was intact when she went to bed around 9 p.m. the night before. The family’s 2-year-old black Labrador Retriever has always slept at the foot of the girl’s bed.

Crete firefighters had the 44-year-old man check the dog’s mouth and muzzle, but did not find any trace of blood.

The family said the dog has never been aggressive toward the girl or other people, and deputies noted the animal “showed no aggression” toward them while they were in the house.

A Will County Animal Control Center officer examined the dog. On Tuesday, they reported the animal had been brought in for a 10-day observation since records showed it was overdue for vaccinations.

Animal Control “determined that the dog was acting true to its nature by removing the wound from the victim as it would in the wild” and the incident was not a violation.

The dog was described as non-threatening and will not be put down.

The Department of Children and Family Services was also notified to document the incident, but told sheriff’s police they did not plan to investigate.

Click on diagram above right for Spina Bifida information at

Mugsy becomes a local celebrity when featured in Las Vegas community newspaper article promoting adoption of dogs.
By Cathy Scott, Best Friends staff writer

March 3, 2011
A once-homeless wire haired terrier mix has a new friend and a new home on a lake, all because he was available for adoption at Sniffany & Company, a former puppy store that now holds events to adopt out shelter dogs and puppies.

One-year-old Mugsy (left) – rescued from death row at a local shelter and taken to Sniffany in the Summerlin neighborhood of Las Vegas – was in the right place at the right time when Joe Trimboli stopped in.

Joe wasn’t looking for a second dog when he dropped off Caesar, his family’s Bichon, to be groomed at Sniffany. In fact, after their second dog passed away earlier in the year, they’d decided not to get another dog so they could devote all of their attention to Caesar. But after meeting the friendly, handsome Mugsy, Joe went home and told his wife, Susan, “You have to see this dog.”

So, Susan stopped by the boutique pet store, too. “I drove there to meet Mugsy, and the next thing I knew, he was in my car.”

But it wasn’t an immediate home-sweet-home kind of moment. “We took him home, did a sleepover, and he marked all over the house,” Susan says.

Still, they didn’t have the heart to return a shelter dog. Plus, there was just something about Mugsy. They knew a home was an adjustment for him, so they worked hard on housetraining and getting him into a regular routine.

“He’s a hyper dog, and everything was new to him,” Susan says.

Caesar (right), who’s the senior dog in the household at 10 years old, has taken on the role as big brother to his new companion.

“Mugsy cuddles up with Caesar,” Susan says. “When something frightens him, Mugsy runs to Caesar for comfort and protection. They sleep with us at night. And on walks, they’re side by side. They’re inseparable.”

On one of Mugsy’s first walks around The Lakes community in Las Vegas, where the family lives, Mugsy spotted a goose for the first time and got spooked.

“He’s afraid of the geese,” Susan says. “The first time he saw the geese he was petrified. He practically wrapped himself around a pole trying to hide from them.” Today, he simply hides behind Caesar when the geese become too active for his liking.

Shortly after Joe and Susan adopted Mugsy, the View, a local community newspaper, wrote a feature story, spotlighting Mugsy, about adopting shelter canines instead of buying puppy mill dogs. “I went outside to get the paper,” Susan says, “picked it up and there he was, on the front page. I said, ‘That’s our Mugsy.’ He became a celebrity on the block. Neighbors brought gifts over.”

Today, not only people visit Mugsy, but canines too. “We have friends who bring their doggies over for play dates,” Susan says. “Mugsy’s a happy dog.”

Ordinance aims to reduce sale of animals, increase adoptions
By Heidi M. Sfiligoj, Best Friends Network volunteer

March 3, 2011
n Feb. 15, Lake Worth, Florida, became the first city on the East Coast to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores.

The city commission unanimously approved on second reading an ordinance prohibiting the retail sale of dogs and cats. The ordinance is viewed as a preventive measure, since no pet stores in the city currently sell dogs or cats.

According to the ordinance, no pet store “shall display, sell, trade, deliver, barter, lease, rent, auction, give away, transfer, offer for sale or transfer, or otherwise dispose of dogs or cats.”

The ordinance does not apply to animal shelters or rescue organizations. Pet stores may also still provide space for animals from such organizations for the purpose of getting them adopted.

The new law does not prevent local breeders from selling animals, but they must be bred and raised on the premises of the seller, not obtained from puppy mills.

Buyers must also receive a "certificate of source" telling where the dog or cat originated from and if the breeder is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Those found to have a falsified certificate of source will pay $2,500 in damages for each instance.

The fact that the ordinance does not limit anyone’s free choice likely helped increase its chances of getting approved.

“People can buy any breed of dog from any local breeder providing that they can show the dog was born and raised on their property. This is one time where breeders and animal advocates are working together for the benefit of local breeders and shelter dogs, and [working] against puppy mills,” says Don Anthony, communications director of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), which worked with Lake Worth city commissioners to get the law passed.

“We’d love to see cities all over Florida ban the sale of dogs and cats raised in puppy mills or the like,” he says.

Goals of the ordinance

The ultimate goal is to decrease the sale of pets raised in puppy mills and kitten factories and increase the number of animals adopted from local shelters.

The new rule also aims to stop money from leaving Lake Worth and being funneled to states with puppy mills.

“The fact that there’s one less place to purchase an animal (the pet shop) means that more people will adopt from shelters,” says Don.

More people adopting from shelters should, in turn, help lower the euthanasia rate. Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, which serves Lake Worth, euthanized 3,686 dogs and 10,176 cats in the year that ended Sept. 30. Any euthanasia rate higher than zero is too high, says Don.

A growing movement

Lake Worth has joined a number of North American cities in banning the retail sale of dogs and cats, including: Albuquerque, New Mexico; West Hollywood, California; Hermosa Beach, California; South Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Austin, Texas; El Paso, Texas; and Richmond, British Columbia.

As more cities ban pet sales, and news about such bans spreads, more people across the country are learning the truth about where the majority of animals sold in pet stores come from and the horrors of the puppy mill industry. Don notes this spreading message should result in more people making the decision not to buy from pet stores, even if they live in a city that still permits the retail sale of cats and dogs.

When fewer mill animals are purchased, fewer are bred. “It’s simply a case of supply and demand. Less demand means fewer will have to be supplied,” Don says.

How you can take action

Animal advocates can take one or all of these steps to push for pet store sale bans in their cities:

Attend a city commission meeting. Take copies of the Lake Worth ordinance to an upcoming city commission meeting in your city. Use the time allotted for public comment to tell them why laws like these are important, and then pass out copies of the ordinance.

Get the word out. Speak out against puppy mills and discourage others from buying animals from pet stores. Visit Best Friends' puppy mill initiatives for materials you can download and print.

Organize a peaceful pet store demonstration. Follow zBest Friends' tips on how to do so.

Contact local officials. Explain why a retail pet sale ban should be approved in your area. Ordinances that prohibit the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores will benefit the local economy, shelter dogs and local breeders.

Photos courtesy of Arkyan as seen on Wikimedia Commons and of Kobe (pictured above right) and Crystal (pictured above left), available for adoption from Lake Worth, Florida-based SADSAC, courtesy of

Clickon Kobe and Crystal pics for adoption info

Dog Lovers Want to Loosen Proposed Leash Laws
A line has been drawn in the sand dunes.

March 3, 2011

In the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties, two passionate adversaries are facing off: animal lovers against, well, more animal lovers. Proposed rules could ban dogs or require them on leashes in the national recreation area, a bounty of land controlled by the National Park Service that includes the Marin Headlands; Crissy Field, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston in San Francisco; and Milagra Ridge and Mori Point on the peninsula.

Dogs currently run loose in many areas, but that practice could end based on recommendations in a huge new federal study that shows that dogs are messy and disruptive to natural inhabitants. That assertion has infuriated dog owners, who are escalating a fight. But the dispute has also raised a larger question: If national parks are for connecting people with nature, then how much does nature need to be protected from us?

“Ninety-nine percent of San Francisco has been destroyed irrevocably,” said Brent Plater (right), executive director of the Wild Equity Institute, a nonprofit conservation organization that wants dogs to be restricted. “This is really the last space we’ve set aside,” he said of the parks. In fact, Mr. Plater said that the current proposals did not go far enough and that dogs should be limited to fenced-in areas in the parks.

The city of San Francisco is itself a threat to nature, according to Mr. Plater. While he does not advocate for the removal of residents and structures, he said several species of local wildlife — including mission blue butterflies and western snowy plovers — were at risk of extinction if dogs’ activities in the parks were not curtailed.

Martha Walters, co-founder of the Crissy Field Dog Group, called such views “environmental extremism” and said nature, people and their pets could coexist.

The debate over dogs in the national recreation area started in 1972 when the United States Department of the Interior began assuming control of the properties. In recognition of the need for public access to nature near San Francisco, the land was designated an urban “recreation area.” And rather than banning dogs off-leash, which is policy at all other national parks, the tradition of allowing dogs to romp free that predated federal management was allowed to continue. But complaints about unruly dogs and their waste, both from environmentalists and other park visitors, have grown over the years, according to the Park Service. Decades of arguments and lawsuits ensued. At one notorious 2001 public hearing, angry protesters reportedly spit on their foes.

Unable to strike a compromise, the Park Service developed its own dog plan. Almost 2,000 pages long, it makes the case for leashing or banning dogs nearly everywhere. Off-leash play would be allowed in only seven relatively small areas with strict new rules: owners must maintain control and visual contact at all times.

Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman for the Park Service, said that despite the recreation area designation, federal law required that “we’re held to the same standards” as other national parks regarding the obligation to preserve nature.

Kenneth S. Weiner, a top environmental lawyer who has been hired by the Crissy Field Dog Group, disagreed. “The law requires some degree of consistency,” Mr. Weiner said, “but allows flexibility.”

The proposed rules, which became public in January, are only a draft. Members of the public have until April 14 to offer their opinions online (hundreds of comments have already been submitted) or at a series of public meetings that started this week. “We will certainly be in a listening mode,” Ms. Picavet said.

Experts familiar with the Park Service questioned that assessment and said that in previous cases, the preferences cited in draft reports were almost always adopted, regardless of public opinion.

“The draft concerns us a lot,” said Jennifer Scarlett (left), a veterinarian and co-president of the San Francisco S.P.C.A. “Dog owners can be the best advocates for the outdoors and the environment.”

Now, Dr. Scarlett and other dog owners are determined to persuade the Park Service to change its position. Nearly 300 attended the first public meeting Wednesday at the Tamalpais High School gym in Mill Valley. An even-larger crowd is expected Saturday at the Seven Hills Conference Center at San Francisco State University beginning at 11 a.m.

Please note: except for service animals, no dogs are allowed. No spitting either.

Photo: Scott James/The Bay Citizen

Selden Teenager Charged With Killing Ex-Girlfriend’s Dog
March 3, 2011 9:22 AM
Long Island teenager is facing animal cruelty charges for allegedly beating and killing his ex-girlfriend’s dog last month.

Suffolk County police say Vincent Maio (left), 18, of Selden, is accused of throwing the 5-year-old Pomeranian, named Foxy, into a nightstand and punching it in the head.

Officials said the dog died after suffering multiple rib fractures and a punctured lung in the Jan. 31 incident. Court records show Maio was arrested on Tuesday.

Suffolk County SPCA chief Roy Gross told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall the dog had been abused before this incident.

Photo credit: Police Handout

Hundreds want pup that survived being put to sleep
Wall-e the dog remained alive after two lethal injections, kept ‘prancing around’
By Kristi Eaton

March 2, 2011
undreds of people from the United States and Canada want to adopt an Oklahoma dog that survived an attempt to euthanize it.

The puppy was one of five stray dogs that Sulphur animal control officer Scott Prall (left) put to sleep Friday — or so he thought. Prall found one of the dogs alive Saturday in a trash bin set aside for dead animals and took it to veterinarian technician Amanda Kloski.

"He was prancing around. He heard me drive up, and he looked up and saw me," Prall said Wednesday. He said he initially found the stray dog near the animal shelter Friday and tried to kill it by injecting the dog with two lethal doses of a sedative in a foreleg and the heart. Each dose should have been enough to kill the dog, and the second injection was meant to ensure it worked.

Kloski noted the dog's survival on a pet adoption website, drawing the attention of Marcia Machtiger of Pittsburgh, who donated $100 so Kloski could board the dog for a week.

A girl from Sulphur named the puppy Wall-e, after a Disney movie character, and Machtiger posted Wall-e's story on her Facebook page. She and Kloski are sorting through hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from people wanting to adopt the lucky dog.

"So many people are interested," Kloski said. "Now we're going through and trying to find the adoption applications for the best home." Wall-e will be placed in a foster home at the end of the week while the search for a permanent home continues. Both Kloski and Machtiger said they have never seen so many people want to adopt one animal.

Machtiger said people are interested in the puppy because his story is unique. "Having been euthanized basically twice. It's a resurrection and a will to live and a medical anomaly," she said.

Sulphur is about 80 miles south of Oklahoma City.

Photo: PetFinder.com

Greenwood Lake rescuers pull 2 dogs from icy lake; 1 survives
By Alyssa Sunkin

March 1, 2011
illage police and firefighters battled partially frozen Greenwood Lake Monday to rescue two dogs who fell into the lake's icy waters. One dog, however, didn't make it.

First responders were called to an arm of the lake near Sterling Avenue and Waterstone Road at about 10:39 a.m. to rescue two pet dogs who strayed from their Polk Avenue home and fell into the lake through a hole in the ice, police Chief John Hansen said. He didn't know the exact breeds, but Hansen described one dog as looking like a Saint Bernard mix and the other similar to a Jack Russell terrier.

It took officials in ice rescue suits 20 minutes to pull out the two dogs. While the larger dog survived the plunge into the frozen lake, the smaller dog perished.

Hansen said the larger dog appeared to be fine, resuscitated by dog biscuits that an ambulance corps member had on hand. The Warwick Valley Humane Society checked the dog for injuries and was expected to release it to the owner.

Hansen said the owner had been looking for the dogs for more than an hour, but hadn't reported them missing to police, who went to the lake in response to a 911 call.

The Polk Avenue home, while geographically close to the edge of the lake, is perched atop a steep hill. Hansen said the dogs traveled far to end up in the lake.

ED BAILEY/For the Times Herald-Record

Dolphins Splashing Saves Dog’s Life

MARCH 1, 2011
s a vacationing Sam D’Alessandro loaded up his boat on a Marco Island, Florida canal the morning of February 21, some furious splashing drew his attention. It was dolphins.

“They were really putting up a ruckus, almost beaching themselves on the sandbar,” D’Alessandro told the local NBC affiliate. “If it wasn’t for the dolphin, I would never have seen the dog.”

The dog turned out to be Turbo, an 11-year-old Doberman who spent an estimated 15 hours treading in the cold waters of the canal after sneaking out the open gate of his yard the previous night. Sam called 911 as his wife, Audrey, set up a ladder and climbed into the canal.

“When I got down into the water,” Audrey says, “the dog came right over to me and stayed by my leg the whole time.”
After firefighters helped Turbo to shore, “the dog just laid down,” Sam says. “The dog was exhausted.”

Minutes later, Turbo was reunited with his human mom, Cindy Burnett, who had spent many frantic hours searching for Turbo.

“I searched and searched and called his name,” Burnett told the TV station. “I drove through this street at least five or six times.”

Thank goodness for magical endings. “If it wasn’t for that dolphin,” Sam says, “that dog would be in doggie heaven right now because we would have never seen it.”

Another notable dolphin rescue happened in 2007, when surfer Todd Endris says bottlenose dolphins saved him from sharks by forming a protective ring around him.

Dolphin photo by Ricardo Liberato via Flickr.


Thanks Be to Dogs: The Benefits of Owning a Pet

What new research reveals about the health benefits of having a dog
February 24, 2011

It's a fact: Dogs make people happy.

"Parker just makes everything better," said my pal Mere, about her Yorkie.

Yes, most dog owners would agree that life is better with a furry best friend. Dogs can seem like good buds even if they're not your own. One friend told me that, during a recent breakup, the guy she'd been dating seemed more upset about not seeing her dog anymore than not seeing her. Mike, another buddy, swears that all of his friends enjoy spending time with his two white German Shepherds almost as much -- or even more than -- as with him! I think he may be right. I give the dogs so much love when I see them that my clothes get covered with swaths of white fur. Doesn't bother me a bit -- always puts me in a good mood, in fact.

That's why I wasn't surprised to read that research suggests many pet owners are happier and healthier because of the critters they share a home with. One fairly recent study done in a Midwest college town surveyed a large group of university students and adults in the community. Pet owners reported several common physical and emotional health perks that come with having a dog or a cat. Here are a few:

• Providing companionship: The biggest benefit, many felt, was that their furry friends fended off feelings of loneliness.

• Staying active: Many liked how having a pet kept them physically active. Although we tend to think of only dogs needing regular walks and cats being more self-sufficient, even cat owners kept moving because of their feline friends.

• Coping with stress: Several study participants said they felt their pets made it easier to get through difficult times.

Maybe you've noticed similar changes in yourself and your life since becoming a dog owner. Take a moment from time to time and appreciate all the wonderful things your pet and pup brings to your life, even if it means having to forgive him for any shoes or favorite personal belongings he's destroyed!

Missouri Legislature Moves to Weaken/Repeal Puppy Mill Reforms
February 25, 2010
s our loyal readers know, the puppy mill reforms ushered in by Missouri’s Proposition B—arguably last year’s most significant legislative victory for America’s dogs—are in serious peril. Several state-level senators and representatives have made good on their promises to attempt to water down Prop B or repeal it entirely.

Proposition B, now known as the Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act (PMCPA), is slated to go into effect this November, and has national implications. It ensures that dogs at Missouri’s large-scale, commercial facilities, which supply more than 40 percent of dogs sold in pet stores around the country, receive basic, humane care. Missouri Senate Bill 113 threatens to wipe out all of the meaningful improvements outlined in the PMCPA, and could be voted on by the full Missouri Senate at any time.

If passed, SB 113 would:

• Undo critical veterinary care requirements and replace them with old standards, which require only that a veterinarian visit a site but doesn’t require examination of even a single dog.

• Undo the requirement that dogs have constant access to water.

• Allow cages to be stacked on top of one another.

• Allow dogs to be kept in wire-floored cages only six inches longer than the dogs themselves.

• Give breeders up to 180 days to correct a violation, while the dogs continue to suffer.

• Allow breeders to keep as many breeding dogs as they want while lowering the standard of care required for those dogs.

The ASPCA is asking Missouri citizens to contact their state senators immediately to express their opposition to SB 113 and any effort to weaken or repeal the PMCPA.

If you don’t live in Missouri but want to help, please spread the word by sharing this article via Facebook and Twitter.

My Life as a Dog

February 22, 2011
ike any self-respecting Irish Catholic boy from Boston, I covered the walls of my childhood bedroom with Red Sox paraphernalia, images of Jesus and photos of the Kennedy brothers.

Yes — Jack, Bobby and Teddy. Unnaturally handsome for politicians, they had a look in their eyes that said, “Let’s save the world from nuclear annihilation ... right after this game of touch football.” From a young age I decided that if the Red Sox wouldn’t take me, surely the Kennedys would.

That’s why, when I moved to Washington five years ago to attend graduate school at Georgetown, I resolved to get a job with Senator Edward Kennedy. I hoped to become an assistant at least, or an adviser or perhaps even — dare to dream — a speechwriter.

Instead, I became Splash, the senator’s Portuguese Water Dog.

Having begged my way into an internship with the senator, I spent most of my time making copies, keeping records and answering phones. But then on a quiet winter afternoon when there was not much else going on, my supervisor came to me with an apologetic look on her face.

The senator, she explained, had recently written a children’s book called “My Senator and Me.” The book depicts a day in his life from Splash’s perspective. Someone — I’m not sure who — suggested including an e-mail address where curious young readers could reach the supposedly computer-savvy Splash.

That’s where I came in. Someone had to reply to Splash’s e-mails, in his voice, lest the children think the dog had let the thrill of being a published author and Washington power broker go to his head.

I’d taken Splash on walks on more than one occasion. Once, near the Russell Senate Office Building, we happened upon a mysterious pile of pellets that appeared to be some kind of fertilizer. Splash lurched toward them and devoured a mouthful before I could stop him. As I ferociously tugged on his leash, a headline ran through my head: “Intern Returns Poisoned Dog to Living Legend.”

But beyond Splash’s indiscriminate eating habits and love of tennis balls, he was little more than a furry mystery to me. What would he say in response to the hundreds of e-mails that came to him from children across the country? School simply hadn’t prepared me for this.

Most of his messages went something like this:

Dear Splash,

My teacher read us your book. You are so cute! Can you come over and play with my dog? What kind of dog food do you like? My mom says your senator is a great man. I hope he feels better.

After checking with the senator’s assistants on Splash’s preferred dog food brand, and then reading the book myself to better prepare for my role, I answered every single e-mail, ending each reply with the mandatory “WOOF WOOF!! Splash.”

My feelings on this assignment were conflicted, to say the least. On the one hand, I was impersonating a dog. On the other, I was heartened by the warmth that people from so many other states felt for the senator from mine.

In time I found a strange satisfaction in writing back to these puppy-crazed children, one that I never got from answering the office phones. None of Splash’s correspondents cared about or even knew Senator Kennedy’s position on the estate tax, or whether he’d invoke cloture on a resolution to incrementally finance the defense budget. In fact, a simple “Woof!” seemed to be all the constituent outreach they needed to be assured that the senator was on their side.

Of course Senator Kennedy demonstrated his loyalty to the youth of America in many ways. He pushed to finance Pell grants for college scholarships and to ensure all children were covered by health insurance, and fought to lower the voting age to 18.

Today would have been Senator Kennedy’s 79th birthday. In December, Splash died, a little more than a year after his master.

Reading that sad news, I remembered the “liberal lion” sitting at his desk while Splash slobbered away on a grimy tennis ball in the corner. It was an image that had soothed nervous interns and disarmed even Kennedy’s fiercest critics in Congress. Then I remembered the letters to Splash, and I realized those children felt the same way that I had as a kid in Boston, and still do — that we were all a small part of the Kennedy family.

Colin H. P. Buckley is a presidential management fellow with the federal government.

Photo: Sen. Kennedy's dog Splash approaches Nicholas Davis, 9, right, while Kennedy reads to children at the Knight Children's Center in Boston.
Credit: Chitose Suziki / Associated Press.

And the 'Pawscar' Winner Is...
American Humane Association puts an animal-centric spin on the Oscars

February 28, 2011
s Hollywood stars like Colin Firth and Natalie Portman bask in praise for their newly-won Oscars, some Academy Award-nominated films have also received a more unique honor. Films such as "True Grit" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I" earned the "Pawscar," an unofficial, animal-centric spin on the Oscars awarded by the American Humane Association.

The "Pawscar" shines the spotlight on those films who have earned an important distinction: the "No Animals Were Harmed" disclaimer from the American Humane Association.

The nonprofit's Film & TV Unit started the award three years ago as an internal point of recognition. But the word got out and the Pawscar took on a life of its own.

A crucial part of the industry for over 70 years, the Film & TV Unit dispatches Certified Animal Safety Representatives to the sets of approximately 2,000 productions annually, ranging from student films to the biggest blockbusters that Hollywood offers.

So drumroll please, as we present some of this year's "Pawscar" winners:

Best Villain -- "Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore"
Forget Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader. For a portrait of pure evil, look no further than the diabolical villain Kitty Galore in "Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore." Although Kitty Galore herself was created by computer-generated imagery (CGI), props and special effects, she was real enough to give moviegoers nightmares. Don't be fooled though -- this project was a mixture of CGI and live action and, therefore, called for American Humane Association's Certified Animal Safety Representatives to ensure the safety and well-being of all the animals involved.

Best Human-Animal Bond -- "Secretariat"

You thought the only purpose of a racehorse was to run in circles while sweating the last 50 bucks in your savings account? Well, try giving one of them (a horse, that is) a hug for a change! In one of our favorite films of the year, "Secretariat," Diane Lane exemplifies the beauty of the bond between people and animals in this true story about Penny Chenery, who fought to keep and protect one of the fastest racehorses in history, despite all the odds. To top off this feel-good movie, American Humane Association's Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media was strictly implemented and abided by at all times.

Best Effort to Protect an Animal -- "Shutter Island"
During the filming of Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," American Humane Association safety representatives and the trainers took extra steps to make sure that all that foot-'n-rat action was on the up and up with no one, and no rat, ever in any danger. Not everyone is attracted to Leo, or his cheesy feet -- the rats never took one bite, and, of course, were protected from any harm.

Best Supporting Arachnids -- "Salt"

Unlike arachnid actors from such gems as "Them," "Earth vs. the Spider" and "Tarantula," the little fella in "Salt" was a little more subtle in his performance. It wasn't just the way he crawled around that jar Angelina Jolie had him in, but the important role he played in the film. Angelina had to carefully interact with her eight-legged co-star with the help of American Humane Association safety reps, who instructed her on how to gently hold and touch the spider. Now that's method acting!

Best Perception vs. Reality -- "True Grit"
So you think it'd be tough to play Rooster Cogburn? As Jeff Bridges played the infamous character in the Coen Brothers' Western "True Grit," he's a cantankerous one-eyed lawman. Well, imagine being the horse he rides! In a scene that's beyond heart-wrenching, Cogburn rides Little Blackie to the nearest town in an attempt to save a snakebitten Mattie from near death. Basically, the perception is that he rides Little Blackie until she can ride no more. The scene was enough to make you cry -- until you see the reality in the American Humane Association certification that "No Animals Were Harmed" in the making of this movie.

Best Recurring Character -- "Harry Potter" Series
Hedwig, the beloved owl in the world-famous "Harry Potter," is more than just a magical creature who has protected Harry through his many trials. She has also been a friend to young Harry, having seen him through childhood, over the rough terrain of puberty and into adulthood. And all that time, someone was watching over Hedwig as well -- American Humane Association's Certified Animal Safety Representative Jan Caputo.

For the past 10 years, she has been committed to protecting all the animals in the "Harry Potter" series.

Fabulosum, Jan!

Nearly 80 percent of the animal actors in one of this year's "Pawscar" winners came from shelters.

"Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,"

Filet Mignon? Winner Turns Up Nose

February 17, 2011
It’s not every day that Max Klimavicius, the owner of Sardi’s, personally cuts a customer’s filet mignon into bite-size pieces. Then again, not every customer has just won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The chef had cooked the steak until it was medium rare, lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper, then served it on a silver platter to Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound who was making her victory lap after winning Best in Show on Tuesday night. But 12 hours into her newfound fame, Hickory was already developing a reputation as a hard-to-please celebrity. She was having none of the filet mignon, despite the ministrations of Klimavicius (right) and her handler, Angela Lloyd.

“She has a good appetite,” Lloyd told a crowd of about a dozen photographers and cameramen who were waiting, a tad impatiently, for their promised photo opportunity. “This is not part of her regular diet.”

Upon learning that the winner was a Deerhound, had Klimavicius considered serving his guest venison? “That’s a good question,” he said with a laugh. “A very good question. Well, you see the tradition is filet mignon on a silver platter.”

Winning Best in Show at Westminster is a little like being named Miss America — the victory kicks off a one-year reign in which the dog is often whisked from one celebrity appearance to the next.

In 2008, Uno the Beagle (left) set a new standard for Best in Show winners. He was feted at a White House Rose Garden ceremony, fetched the first pitch at major league baseball games and rode aboard the “Peanuts” float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

More recent Best in Show winners have not kept pace. Stump, the 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel (right) who won Best in Show in 2009, continued his dotage at the home of his handler in Houston. Sadie, the Scottish terrier who won last year, made appearances at the Macy’s Flower Show and a few other events before retiring to give birth to a litter of puppies, said David Frei, the kennel club’s director of communications. “It was time for her to go do something else,” he said.

Hickory appears to be headed down a similar path. Lloyd and the dog’s owners, who live in Flint Hill, Va., have said they plan to breed her this year, and although Lloyd said they would like to participate in some events, Hickory has what might be called a John Madden limitation: she does not fly.

Uno, by contrast, had a celebrity arrangement with Midwest Airlines that allowed him to ride in his own seat, complete with a ticket and boarding pass.

“This is a very sensitive breed,” Lloyd said as Hickory surveyed the room at Sardi’s with a slightly melancholy, soulful expression. “Sight hounds are very sensitive. Little things can affect them. You’ve got to do what’s best for the dog.”

Frei said the expectations for a Best in Show winner were highly dependent upon the breed. “You want to see a dog that is enjoying itself and exuberant, but that isn’t correct for every breed,” he said. “This is what a Scottish deerhound is supposed to be like — laid-back, intense when it comes to doing its job, coursing down antlered game in this case.”

Hickory sat quietly as she rode in a limousine van to various television appearances Wednesday morning, Frei said. “She just sits there, looking around,” he said. “It’s not like Uno, who was bouncing off the walls and roooo-ing at everybody. It’s probably not fair to compare all dogs to Uno because he was pretty unique.”

Apart from refusing the filet mignon, Hickory kept up her end of the bargain Wednesday. She rested her head in the lap of a television reporter for “Extra,” and did not bite his face when he made kissing noises at her.

Despite getting about three hours of sleep, Hickory had a busy afternoon ahead of her, including more television appearances and a visit to pediatric oncology patients. O n Thursday morning, she and Lloyd are scheduled to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Toward the end of the appearance at Sardi’s, Hickory circled restlessly near a leather banquette, apparently looking for a spot to lay her head. “She’s really ready for a nap,” Lloyd said. “This is prime time for deerhound nap time.”

Photo Credits
Hickory photo-op: Mike Segar/Reuters
Hickory at Sardi's: AP/MARY ALTAFFER
Lloyd and Hickory: AP

Letters to the Editor
February 20, 2011

For Want of Loving Home
To the Sports Editor:

Re “Dog Show’s Rare Breeds Are Glimpse of History,” Feb. 14:

It’s silly to fret about rare dog breeds becoming extinct because of the lack of popularity while tens of thousands of dogs — mutts and purebreds alike — sit in animal shelters, waiting for homes. Breeders’ attempts to save certain breeds doom homeless dogs by producing puppies who fill homes that could have gone to dogs in shelters. Dogs don’t care what they look like, what breed they are, or what their papers say. They just want a loving home.

Lindsay Pollard-Post

Norfolk, Va.

The writer is a staff writer for the Foundation to Support Animal Protection, known as the PETA Foundation.

Fake Dogs on Parade?
To the Sports Editor:
Re “For Familiar Breeds, a Lack of Respect,” Feb. 16:
For many of us there are two categories of dogs: real ones and fake ones.

If Westminster judged on this basis, a real dog could at least end up in second place.

T. L. Armstrong
Newtown, Conn.

Puppy placebos
New Yorkers are trying ‘emotional support’ dogs instead of pills

February 27, 2011
fter Upper West Side resident Patricia Bear was hit by a truck three years ago, she couldn’t get out of bed for three full months. But recovering wasn’t just a physical challenge for the then-65-year-old interior decorator. It was a psychological one as well. “I was extremely fearful,” she recalls. “When I went out on the street, it was very scary. I’d think, ‘I’m going to get flattened again!’ ”

Then, she says, something “clicked.” A friend of hers had dealt with extreme claustrophobia, which prevented her from traveling, until she got an emotional-support dog, whose mere presence distracted her, made her chill out, and allowed her to step outside again. With that in mind, Bear adopted a Cockapoo she named “Izzy,” then had her trained and certified as an emotional-support service dog. Izzy now accompanies Bear all over town — even to showrooms for her work.

“I don’t think my recovery would have been anywhere near as complete without her,” Bear says. Having the dog at her side makes her less anxious about being on busy city streets again. Izzy projects a sense of tranquility and and is trained to never cross the street against a light. “She makes me stop at every corner,” Bear says. “She keeps me safe.”

When most people think of service animals, they think of seeing-eye dogs for the blind. But increasingly, animals of all kinds are being certified to help people with emotional disabilities, as well as physical. So many animals are being certified, in fact, that the Department of Justice recently ruled that starting March 15, only dogs (and in some cases, trained miniature horses) will be recognized as service animals under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Still, Bear and others attest to the fact that pooches can work wonders when it comes to mental health and do things that no pills can.

“People are realizing how helpful dogs can be,” says Stacy Alldredge (right), who trained Izzy. Alldredge is the founder and owner of Who’s Walking Who, the city’s sole provider of training and certification for the growing group of emotional support dogs.

“Service dogs for the blind and the deaf have been around for years. Now we’re seeing that dogs can be even more supportive — especially for anxiety disorders,” Alldredge says.

Calm canines are helping kids with autism learn to communicate, soothing soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, and acting as de-facto therapists for stressed-out New Yorkers who are coping with everything from grief to panic attacks.

Typically, clients who seek out Alldredge’s services already have their dogs as pets. Once their therapists state, in writing, that their dog is providing a service beyond simple companionship, Alldredge assesses the dog’s temperament, then goes through rigorous obedience training to ensure that the dog can stay serence in all circumstances. The process can take months, and costs a minimum of $600.

Alldredge says she gets calls from would-be clients almost every other day, but that she’s so careful in her screening, she’s only certified a fraction of those who’ve reached out.

Three years ago, when Frederick, who lives in Gramercy, battled alcoholism and bipolar disorder, both his psychiatrist and his therapist recommended he get a dog. The mixed Labrador/pit bull pup decreases Frederick’s severe mood swings, primarily by making him “less self-involved,” Frederick says.

“When I have tantrums around the dog, it affects him. And it hurts me to see it hurt him. It helps me see what I do. He’s brought something