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To be or not to be — a pit bull

diggy3

Whether Diggy is to be or not to be a pit bull will be decided by a judge.

The dog whose smiling face went viral — and led local officials to label him a pit bull and order him to leave town — is going to get his day in court.

Since we last reported on the case, Diggy has been proclaimed an American bulldog by a local veterinarian, but Waterford Township officials apparently didn’t buy the vet’s pronouncement.

Diggy is a pit bull, they say, based on how he looks — and those are banned in the Michigan township, under its dangerous dog ordinance.

Because Diggy’s owner, Dan Tillery, was cited by local authorities for having a pit bull, the final disposition of the case will be left up to the court.

It’s all a tremendous waste of time — first and foremost because pit bull bans are ill-conceived and just don’t work. On top of that, pit bull isn’t a breed at all. On top of that, a judge is likely to be even worse at determining breed than animal control officials, police, shelters, rescues and even veterinarians are, which is pretty bad to begin with.

And on top of all those things, does either side really want to know?

If they did, you’d think they’d have conducted a DNA test by now.

diggy4Tillery, a musician, adopted the dog from Harper Woods-based Detroit Dog Rescue earlier this month and posted a photo of Diggy and himself that went viral and was shared by news outlets nationwide.

The media coverage led the Waterford Police Department to drop by a few days later, take a look at Diggy, proclaim him a pit bull, and tell his owner that he had three days to get the dog out of town.

The dog had been listed as an American bulldog when he was in Detroit’s city animal shelter. He was pulled from there by Detroit Dog Rescue, which, in at least one Facebook post, labeled him an American bulldog-pit bull mix. On the official adoption papers, though, Detroit Dog Rescue listed him as American bulldog.

After the police department’s ultimatum, Tillery had the dog assessed by a local veterinarian who judged him to be American bulldog — though he apparently did so without conducting a DNA test.

That wasn’t good enough for local authorities, who, though they relaxed that three days to get out of town part, are still insisting Diggy is a pit bull and must leave.

Tillery met Monday with Waterford Township officials, and posted on his Facebook page that the prosecutor was sticking to the decision to have Diggy removed from the community.

A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. in Waterford’s 51st District Court.

“My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family,” Tillery said in the post. “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”

diggyWaterford Township Prosecutor Margaret Scott said that the township will now simply wait to allow the court to determine whether Diggy falls within the ban.

“We’re not going in and removing the dog, we’re not destroying the dog — it is a pending violation,” she told the Oakland Press.

Tillery and his dog have seen an outpouring of support from dog lovers and those opposed to Waterford’s breed-specific legislation. More than 50 supporters showed up at a Waterford Board of Trustees meeting to ask officials to remove the dangerous dog ordinance from its books.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the town to lift the ban.

Strangely, amid all the debate and national news coverage, DNA testing hasn’t been mentioned. If Tillery has pursued it, he’s staying quiet about it.

While some of the companies offering DNA tests — via blood samples or cheek swabs — skip around the pit bull question, a few of the tests do identify the breeds commonly associated with pit bulls.

certOne even offers a “pit bull exemption certificate” in cases where a dog is determined to be made up of 87 percent or more of non-pit bull breeds.

That may or not impress Waterford officials, or the judge, as such tests aren’t conclusive.

It’s still a possibility — that one side, or the other, or the judge, could pursue having the test done.

It would at least add some factual material to all the guesswork going on, at least a little foundation for the strident and unending Internet debate that is mostly — much like pit bull bans themselves — sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(Photos of Diggy by Dan Tillery)

Dog racing in Arizona is a thing of the past

tgp

Seventy-two years after it opened, Tucson Greyhound Park saw its final dog race Saturday night.

The track’s popularity had been declining for decades, but it wasn’t until Arizona’s legislature passed a bill earlier this year ending dog racing that its demise was sealed.

The park had been struggling since casinos opened in Arizona, offering gamblers a faster form of gratification.

“It’s no mystery,” said Michael Racy, a spokesman and lobbyist for the track for over 20 years. “As more casinos have opened, it’s gotten tougher and tougher.”

Phoenix closed its greyhound track more than seven years ago.

The owners of Tucson Greyhound Park, Joseph Zappala and Philip Robert Consolo Jr. of Florida, are still evaluating what to do with the property, Racy told the Arizona Daily Star.

The 60-acre facility will remain open for now, offering simulcast racing.

Even before the bill was passed, dogs began leaving the facility, most of them going to rescues.

Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption has taken in about 50 dogs since April, and Arizona Greyhound Rescue has taken in about 20.

Greyhound racing remains legal in five states.

(Photo: Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star)

Is the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest getting too ugly?

sweepee

A Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mix with malformed legs and an “oozing sore” won this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

SweePee Rambo took home the title Friday night at the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, beating out 15 other malformed and/or offbeat pooches, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Saturday.

wurtzJudges in the contest, now in its 28th year, take into account bad appearance, bad odors, poor complexion and a host of other maladies, inherited and acquired — some of which, maybe, we shouldn’t be laughing so hard at.

Or even with.

I’ve already noted my growing dicontent with the contest, starting two years ago, when the winner was a dog whose appearance was believed to be a result of abuse — albeit abuse inflicted by a previous owner.

That — and the fact that the once-cute and well-intentioned little contest has become big business — led me to stop regularly reporting on it, at least in that cutesy manner that chuckling anchorpeople cover it with year after year.

Somehow the party atmosphere at the event — all the pageantry and hype — seems especially wrong when the appearance of some of the contestants is a result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.

There’s no evidence that SweePee — who is mostly hairless, blind in both eyes, has to wear diapers and has a tongue that sticks out — was mistreated. Still, I’m not sure an oozing sore should be celebrated:

“Judge Neal Gottlieb seemed particularly impressed with a sore on SweePee’s leg, noting dogs get extra points for ooze,” the Press Democrat article said.

I get what the contest was, originally, all about. But I also get what it has become, which is a little too big, a little too cut-throat and a little too prone to bestowing awards on the most disabled dog.

Owner Jason Wurtz, 44, of Encino, won a trophy and $15,000. He says he will use the money to pay for the removal of a tumor that recently popped up on SweePee’s gum line.

(Top photo by Peter Dasilva / EPA; bottom photo by Alvin Jornada / Press Democrat)

Ugliest dog contestant sports Trump’s coif

Himisaboo

Though we’ve become less than enamored with the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, and while we’ve never been fans of Donald Trump, we couldn’t pass this one up.

It seems one of this year’s contestants might be gaining voter support based on his Trump-like hairstyle.

His name is Himisaboo. He’s half-dachshund, and the other half is believed to be either Chinese Crested or Xoloitzcuintli. He hails from Payette, Idaho.

The look, his owner says, is entirely natural — though in past ugly dog competitions (he has been in four) he has sported a mohawk style cut on the one spot of his body where he has hair.

“We figured whether people loathe the Donald or love the Donald, a vote for Himisaboo is a vote for a dog that looks like Donald Trump,” owner Heather Wilson told KBOI 2News.

The contest — open to online voting — wraps up tonight when the winner will be announced.

In online voting, Himisaboo was running in second place as of yesterday.

(Photo: World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, Sonoma-Marin Fair)

Chilling out with some golden retrievers

Finding the heat a little oppressive?

This video is guaranteed to cool you down, refresh your soul if you’re a dog lover, and fill you with joy if you’ve got a soft spot for golden retrievers.

Kim Sirett, a dog walker in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, took a dozen of her clients dogs and her own golden to the Nainamo River for a swim day earlier this month.

“I grew up with Golden Retrievers and they are all about swimming. If I have five of them on a hike, they congregate at the water and just stare at me to throw a stick,” said Sirett, who operates Pooch Pack Adventures.

“I just thought it would be such an easy, fun day if I had only Golden Retrievers on my hike — all my troubles would go away.”

It’s the fifth year she has organized an annual swim for the dogs, and the largest one so far, according to the Vancouver Sun

She loaded the retrievers, and one yellow Lab, into her van, drove to the river and released them.

Sirett, who specializes in 2-hour off-leash adventure hikes, worked as an executive in the pet industry for 10 years before ditching that job and becoming a dog walker.

She posted a video of the special adventure on YouTube this week.

If you’re impressed with how she leash-lessly controlled a dozen dogs, check out what she did last year:

To raise awareness for victims of domestic violence, she organized “40 Dogs on a Log for a Cause.”

More than $3,000 was raised for Haven Pets and Families. The program helps pay for the care of pets whose owners are afraid to leave abusive situations and seek shelter because they would have to leave their pets behind.

China’s dog meat festival opens to protests

The annual dog meat festival in the Southern China city of Yulin opened yesterday — despite what was probably the heaviest barrage of criticism and protest in its history.

As vendors slaughtered dogs and cooked their meat in dozens of restaurants across the city, animal welfare activists attempted to disrupt the opening of the 10-day festival.

Some bought dogs from dealers to save them from being slaughtered. Others argued with local residents, and police were intervening to prevent physical confrontations, according to news reports.

“We came to Yulin to tell people here dogs are our friends. They should not kill dogs in such a cruel way and many of the dogs they killed are pet dogs,” said Yang Yuhua, a volunteer from the central city of Chongqing.

While most of the meat used at the festival comes from farm dogs raised for that purpose, critics say strays and stolen pet dogs often end up in the mix.

One day into the festival, local residents were complaining that outsiders were ruining the tradition.

“It’s been a tradition for years for us to celebrate the festival. We can’t change it simply because they (animal lovers) love dogs,” a local resident told The Associated Press. “They don’t want us to eat dog meat. We eat dog meat to celebrate the festival, but since they’ve come here, they’ve ruined our mood completely.”

Promoters say eating dog meat during the summer helps ward off the heat and maintain a healthy metabolism.

More than 10,000 animals are killed each year for the summer solstice festival, which has become a focal point for those seeking to halt the tradition of eating dog in China and other Asian countries.

An estimated 10 million to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China.

This year, the list of celebrities speaking out against the practice grew.

Matt Damon, Pamela Anderson, Minnie Driver and Joaquin Phoenix were among those appearing in a video (above) produced by the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.

Yulin’s local government has sought to distance itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.

“The so-called dog-meat eating festival has never been officially recognized by government or by any regulations or laws,” said an official reached by telephone at the city government’s general office.

“We hold meetings every time before the so-called festival, discussing counter measures such as deploying local police, business and sanitary authorities to inspect and deal with those who sell dogs,” he said.

Between those efforts and the international criticism that seems to increase every year, some organizations say the number of dogs killed for the event might be decreasing.

Recycled Chihuahua survived compactor

packer

Here’s a Chihuahua that has every right to tremble.

He arrived at a Maryland recycling center last week in a truck whose contents — cardboard and paper — had been compacted en route.

Mark Wheeler, an operations manager at the Montgomery County Recycling Center, said the dog fell out as the truck was unloaded.

“The route drivers pack trucks to get every little last bit of paper in them,” Wheeler said. So those who found him were amazed to see he was alive.

“If he’d been commingled with bottles and cans, he wouldn’t have fared as well,” Wheeler told the Washington Post.

Wheeler said the box the dog was hidden in when he was disposed of might have protected him, or provided him with an air pocket. The box was among the first items loaded, so it wasn’t compressed as tightly.

The six-pound dog’s only injury appeared to be a cut on his nose.

Wheeler took the dog home to live with his family.

They named him Packer — in honor of the truck he arrived in.

Wheeler’s wife, Johnna, is a veterinary nutritionist. She suspects the dog was discarded by a breeding operation. Packer is about six, isn’t housebroken, and shies away from human touch.

But the Wheelers say, with help from their other two dogs, Packer seems to be becoming more comfortable.”

“Based on his behavior, I can tell he was in a cage with a concrete floor, and he was taken out to breed, and put back in,” Johnna Wheeler told WJLA.

(Photo: WJLA)