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Archive for December 9th, 2009

Dog miraculously survives Baghdad bombing

One hundred and twenty-seven human lives were lost, but a dog miraculously survived a massive bombing in Baghdad Tuesday — even though the building she was chained to collapsed.

The dog was first spotted chained to a roof railing after the Tuesday bombing, standing on a wall ledge over the collapsed home.

The owner of the dog, Farouq Omar Muhei, returned to his destroyed home and was reunited with the ginger-colored mutt today, the Associated Press reported.

“Lots of neighbors thought I was dead,” he said  after his dog, Liza, was carried down to the street.

Officials initially said Muhei and his family were among the victims. But, to the surprise of neighbors, already marveling over the dog’s survival, he returned with his 14-year-old son, Omar, after being treated for cuts and other injuries. They were the only family members home at the time of the attack.

Only a few portions of the home remained standing — including one section of the roof where Liza was chained. The dog’s water bucket was by her side, but was empty when Muhei’s brother, Fuad, climbed over the rubble to unchain the dog. The dog, waiting calmly, yawned as Fuad approached.

Once carried down to the street and reunited with Muhei, 46, the dog — who he purchased as a puppy six years ago in Baghdad’s main pet market –shook with joy and lapped water from a puddle, according to the AP report.

“After we crawled out of the rubble of our home, I said to my son, ‘the dog is dead’,” said Muhei, who sells candy and small items in the local market. “But my son said, ‘No, I saw her.’ I came back today to rescue my dog.”

America’s toughest sheriff coddles dogs

arpaio_underwearAmerica’s toughest sheriff seems to have a soft spot for pooches.

That, in part, explains why Sheriff Joe Arpaio runs an animal shelter out of the old Maricopa County jail in Phoenix — one complete with air conditioning, a luxury Arpaio has never seen fit to afford the incarcerated humans entrusted to his care.

Arpaio — a strong supporter of the death penalty, cracking down on illegal immigrants and providing the bare minimum, or slightly less, for inmates — has long been criticized for inhumane practices in the county jail, from the use of chain gangs to housing inmates in tents to mandating all inmate underwear be pink.

He once told CNN he was proud of the fact that the no-frills county prison system spent $1.10 each a day to feed its guard dogs, but only 90 cents each to feed its inmates.

His no-kill animal shelter, on the other hand — called MASH (Maricpopa Animal Safe Haven) — offers a cool and comfortable, supportive and nurturing environment for pets.

Prisoners help run the shelter, and news reports recently highlighted the story of two emaciated Rhodesian Ridgebacks who were nursed back to health by female inmates. The dogs were taken in after their owner, 34-year-old Jonathan Eder, was arrested on animal cruelty charges in August, ABC15 in Phoenix reported.

Named Bazzele and Frank, the dogs had been deprived of food and water for so long that the outlines of their rib cages  were “drastically visible.” Bazelle reportedly weighed only 48 pounds, Frank  57.  At the shelter, both have recovered.  Bazzele now weighs 71 pounds and Frank 73. Both are up for adoption for $100 each.

The shelter was created to house and care for animals that, because of abuse or neglect by their caretakers, have been seized by the county’s Animal Cruelty Investigative Unit and must remain in custody until the court cases are resolved. After that, the sheriff’s shelter finds adoptive homes for the dogs.

Arpaio opened the shelter in the First Avenue Jail, which was closed for repairs in December 1999, then reopened for pets after getting refurbished.

“Some critics have said that it’s inhumane to put dogs and cats in air-conditioned quarters when inmates don’t have air conditioning,” the sheriff’s website says. “A good answer came from one of the inmates assigned to care for the dogs. When asked if she was resentful about not having air conditioning, she gestured to some of the dogs and said, ‘They didn’t do anything wrong. I did.'”

It all makes for a fascinating contrast — the touchy feely tone of the sheriff’s animal shelter website versus the record and rhetoric of America’s toughest sheriff.sheriff

Consider the case of Schultz, the mastiff pictured to the left, also known as #1001.

“My owner kept me locked in a crate so I wasn’t allowed to go outside to use the bathroom, they also failed to provide me with the necessary food & water,” he says on the sheriff’s shelter web page that lists available animals. “I was brought to the MASH Unit in August, 2007, in which I received the medical attention and the love I needed to get better and recover …”

You won’t find many testimonials like that from the humans Arpaio oversees.

In Maricopa County, for an inmate to be treated like a dog would, literally, be an improvement — and, contrary as nurturing an inmate would be to the highly popular Arpaio’s philosophy, maybe it would keep some of them from biting again, once they are eventually released from their crates.

Pet pix with Santa — this Saturday

santalolaIt’s time for some good cheer, dammit.

And in that spirit, Santa  invites all pets and their owners — both those who have been good and those who have been bad — to come to Riverside Park in south Baltimore this Saturday to have your pet’s photo taken with his merry old self.

If seeing Santa, and getting a lasting, suitable for framing memory of your pets’ visit with old St. Nick, isn’t enough, there will also be free treat bags, while supplies last, and Santa himself will award a FURminator to the dog who appears in most need of it.

And there’s also the fact that all proceeds go to a very good cause —  the Franky Fund at BARCS, which is used to provide emergency medical care to seriously sick and injured animals so that they may be doctored up and adopted out, as opposed to that nasty alternative Santa doesn’t like to talk about.

Santa will be at Riverside Park between 10 a.m. and noon, assuming he can find a parking space for his sled.

The event is sponsored by BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter), Brazen Tails, Ride Entertainment and the South Jersey Thoroughbred Rescue and Adoption Center.

Photos will be taken by Gail Burton, a freelance photographer who works for the Associated Press covering the Ravens and Orioles. The fee is $10, and the photos will be posted online for easy downloading.

How does Santa know all this? Because he’s Santa. And as for those two or three dogs who — like leaping Lola above — wanted nothing to do with Santa last year, I’m looking into ways to make myself less intimidating and more appealing, including smearing myself with bacon grease.

On another holiday related note, tune in tomorrow (Thursday)  for an ohmidog! quiz, the five winners of which will receive holiday treat bags for their dogs. The quiz will be posted at 9 a.m., and the first five contestants to submit the correct answers win.

Richochet: The dog who surfs for charity

A service dog dropout, Rip Curl Ricki, aka Richochet, is helping humanity nevertheless.

Richochet was born to be a service dog, bred and raised by Puppy Prodigies, a non-profit organization that trains freshly born pups who normally go on, after additional training, to be service dogs.

But, after 18 months of training, Richochet, a golden retriever, failed to qualify — primarily because she couldn’t be broken of her habit of chasing birds

“I still wanted her to do something meaningful with her life,” her owner, Judy Fridono says.

Fridono, and Richochet, found that something — in surfing.

Ricochet’s  journey from service dog training to surfing is documented in the video above. Richochet now enters surfing competitions to raise money for those in need — most recently for quadriplegic surfer, Patrick Ivison.

Here’s her website. Here’s her Facebook page.