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Archive for 'Muttsblog'

Speak softly and …

We like a dog that is big.

And we like a dog that thinks big.

This one — currently enjoying his moment of viralness — qualifies on both grounds.

Out for a walk, he apparently spotted a stick he liked (more like a tree limb) and decided to bring it home.

Apparently there was no inner voice telling him he was being overly ambitious.

Apparently no outside voices advised him of that, either.

We’re not sure if he (if indeed he’s a he) dragged it all the way home or not, because we couldn’t find any story behind the video.

Nevertheless, because it seems to say something (you decide), we share it here.

$1.26 million awarded to family of dog shot and killed by police officer in Maryland

vern

A jury has awarded $1.26 million to a Maryland family whose dog was shot and killed by police in 2014 — the largest award ever in the U.S. for such a case, according to the law firm that represented the family.

According to a press release from the Hansel Law firm in Baltimore, the verdict came after a three-day trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.

“The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well,” said Cary J. Hansel, the attorney for Michael Reeves of Glen Burnie.

Reeves’ four-year-old retriever, Vern, was shot by an officer responding to a burglary call in Reeves’ neighborhood.

Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price claimed he was attacked by Vern, but forensic evidence presented at the trial led the jury to conclude otherwise.

vern2Vern was a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The breed is the state dog of Maryland.

The officer encountered the dog in the family’s front yard, and the officer said the dog barked and ran toward him.

During the trial, the officer admitted that the dog did not bite or injure him before he fired his weapon. The officer also said no other steps were taken to deal with the dog before the dog was shot two times, the Capital Gazette reported.

A necropsy performed at the request of Anne Arundel County police showed that one bullet entered the dog’s sternum, and another bullet entered the dog’s side, at a time when the dog’s body was perpendicular to the gun.

Attorney Hansel said that evidence contradicted Price’s testimony regarding how the shooting occurred.

An internal investigation by the police department earlier determined the dog had behaved aggressively. Price remains with the police department.

The jury found that Price was not attacked by the dog, that the shooting violated Reeves’ constitutional rights, and that it was committed with gross negligence.

Reeves got Vern in 2009 and took a year off work to train him. He declined to comment after the verdict.

The $1.26 million verdict includes $500,000 in monetary damages and $760,000 in damages for the anguish caused by the shooting.

The firm says the award was the largest ever in a case of a dog shot and killed by a police officer.

The Department of Justice estimates that about 10,000 dogs are shot by law enforcement officers every year in the United States.

Rhode Island lawmaker introduces bill that would ban pet leasing

Calling the practice “alarming, cruel and absurd,” A Rhode Island lawmaker is introducing a bill to ban pet leasing companies.

Rep. Charlene Lima said she’ll be introducing legislation that prohibits any business or individual in the state “from renting, leasing, or in any other way offering a live animal for sale as a ‘forever pet’ other than by a full outright sale.”

The ban would be similar to the only other such law in the nation, in Massachusetts, which was passed nine years ago when one of the first dog leasing companies planned to open offices there.

lima“I think a lot of people didn’t have any idea that this was going on, and this practice must be stopped in Rhode Island. I found it absurd and cruel,” the lawmaker said. Lima said she learned about the practice from a television news report.

The NBC 10 I-Team reported earlier this week that such pet leasing programs are being offered at Family Pet Center in North Providence and The Perfect Puppy in Scituate and West Warwick.

The programs require consumers make monthly lease payments. At the end of the lease, consumers must buy out of the contract to keep their pet.

Lima’s proposed law would make leasing a pet an animal cruelty violation, punishable by fine or imprisonment, according to a press release posted to her Twitter account.

Pet stores offering such programs would be subject to losing their licenses, and the lending institutions that arrange the financing — usually at outrageously high interest rates — could be subject to fines.

Lima said the companies “prey on the emotions of the less affluent by inducing them to enter into high interest loans, the so called lease/rent pet agreements …

“If someone is induced into spending more on an expensive pet than they can afford by these ridiculous payday lender type pet rental or lease agreements, how can they hope to afford the medical, food and other costs associated with responsible pet ownership? Ultimately, if they are unable to keep up the payments the ‘forever pet’ is repossessed much like a used car.

“This is cruel to the animal and the pet owner. It must be stopped now.”

The NBC 10 I-Team report found several complaints about pet leasing programs on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

When it sent a producer into both stores undercover, employees discouraged her from applying to the lease programs, and one told her she should adopt.

Both Family Pet Center and The Perfect Puppy offered financing through a pet leasing company called Wags Lending. The Perfect Puppy also offers leasing through another company called Nextep Funding.

Including interest, the report said, a consumer could easily spend $2,000 on a $1,000 dog over the course of a two-year lease. Even after 24 monthly payments, the consumer still has to buy out the contract to keep their pet.

(Learn more about the shady history of pet leasing here.)

Dumping their dogs when they depart Dubai

dubai

The sort of people who go to live and work in Dubai are typically not seeking a forever home.

They’re generally not long-range planners; they’re more like get-rich-quick-ers and what’s in it for me-ers.

Given that, it’s not surprising that Dubai — a city where 90 percent of the population comes from somewhere else, and most of them move on after a few years, and many of them often leave their pets behind — there’s a growing homeless dog problem.

“I believe a lot of people just think, ‘I’m going to be in Dubai for three years so let’s get a dog for three years,'” Fiona Myers-Watson, a volunteer at the Stray Dogs Centre, told The Guardian.

“You see people coming here and buying into the lifestyle,” she added. “You get a nice villa that you’d never be able to afford at home, get a Porsche on credit because the bank will easily give you a loan, spend AED 600 on brunch every Friday, and get a cute little dog to go with it all.”

dubai2Despite the financial prosperity they’re enjoying, and the riches they may depart with, many of them don’t see fit to bring their dog along when they leave.

Some of these abandoned dogs end up in the Stray Dogs Centre, less than an hour’s drive from Dubai’s pristine gated communities.

The rudimentary shelter operates at maximum capacity, with 123 dogs, about a quarter of which are believed to be abandoned pets.

It’s not unusual, Myers-Watson said, for a dog to simply be left in the home being vacated, such as one left last year in a villa in Jumeriah Islands, where rentals cost about AED 250,000 a year.

As summer approaches, Dubai’s animal shelters brace for a seasonal surge in dumped pets.

“Summer is our worst period because there’s a mass exodus of expats,” said Alister Milne, manager of K9 Friends, the United Arab Emirate’s longest-established dog shelter. The rate of abandoned dogs doubles or even triples most summers.

Mahin Bahrami, founder of the Middle East Animal Foundation, estimates that at least 40 percent of Dubai’s dumped dogs, cats and small pets are the result of owners leaving the country.

“The expats here often don’t think or plan ahead,” she said. “It’s just about what they want right now: ‘I want a cat right now, and then we’ll see.'”

The Guardian reports that unwanted cats, dogs, rabbits and birds are often left to fend for themselves, locked in empty houses, dumped on the street, or driven out into the desert.

The Dubai government has taken steps to encourage expats to bring their pets with them or find them new homes when they relocate.

Dubai has effectively eradicated rabies, and pets can be exported to most countries, including the UK and the US without a lengthy quarantine.

(Photos by Hannah Bass / The Guardian)

Veteran who videotaped killing of her support dog found dead in suspected suicide

rollins2The North Carolina veteran who videotaped herself and her boyfriend killing her emotional support dog has been found dead of suspected suicide.

Fayetteville Police Department Lt. Todd Joyce said Marinna Rollins was found dead in her apartment Sunday.

Her death is being investigated as a suicide, the Fayetteville Observer reports.

Rollins was 23.

Rollins and her 25-year-old boyfriend, Jarren Heng, were charged last month with cruelty to animals after investigators say they tied the pit bull mix to a tree and shot it multiple times with a rifle, laughing while they videotaped it.

They later posted the video on Facebook.

Rollins was scheduled to appear in court on the charges next week.

Court documents show Rollins received a medical retirement from the Army in January, and family and friends says she struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a traumatic experience while serving in South Korea.

The slain dog had been adopted by from the Cumberland County Animal Shelter by Rollins’ estranged husband. When he was deployed to South Korea, he left the dog in Rollins’ care. She changed the dog’s name from Huey to Camboui and had him certified as an emotional service animal.

Rollins and her boyfriend, Jarren Heng, 25, who is an Army special operations soldier, were charged with animal cruelty and conspiracy in April after the video surfaced on Facebook.

The dog’s body was found in a wooded area in Hartnett County.

Rollins was out on bail of $25,000. Heng remains out on bail in the same amount and has a May 16 court date.

Friends who had been unable to reach Rollins found her dead in her apartment.

Other than calling it a suspected suicide, authorities wouldn’t comment on the cause of death.

Dog leasing: A deceptive and disgraceful practice that needs to come to an end

Historians debate whether P.T. Barnum ever really said there is a “sucker born every minute,” but never in history (I’d argue) has it been clearer than now how true that statement is.

Maybe that sucker birth rate has increased, and one is born every 10 seconds nowadays. Maybe, it’s the number of charlatans that has increased. Maybe it’s all the modern-day tools at the schemer’s disposal — Internet, infomercials, ever-slicker and more deceptive marketing techniques.

Maybe it’s our own increasing gullibility. Maybe, with our shortening attention spans, we more easily fall for double talk, and accept bald-faced lies as hard truths, and hear only what we want and have time to hear. Maybe it’s our own failure to investigate.

In any case, today, maybe more even than in Barnum’s day, you can sell anybody anything. And you can lease them even more — even a family member.

We’ve written about dog-leasing outfits several times before, going back to 2007 — when the unsavory concept first popped up.

They’ve been through many variations since then, some in the guise of do-gooders, some clearly sleazy, but all ugly at their core.

Why? Because they are all based on the concept that dogs are disposable, here to serve as many masters as we deem fit — not permanent family members, but beings to be passed around by us as need be and in the name of profit.

My earliest recollection of such a company was one called Flexpetz.

It was greeted in the media as a mostly cute idea when it debuted in 2007 — a way for people who weren’t in a position to own a dog to rent one for a few hours, a few days, or share one regularly with another client.

Making it more palatable was its claim to be hooking up dogs in need of humans with humans in need of dogs — albeit it on a temporary basis, and albeit it without much screening, of the dog or the human, or the environments they were headed into, or the reasons people needed to borrow a dog. And albeit for profit. Pretty big profits.

Flexpetz established offices in London, and had plans to open 120 locations in the U.S.

Fortunately, early on, some localities saw it for what it was — slave dogs on call to serve multiple masters. In 2008, after hearing Flexpetz planned to open a location in the city, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting dog rentals.

Then the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would prevent companies like FlexPetz from setting up shop anywhere in the state.

Representative Paul Frost, a dog-owner who filed the bill, says the business model promoted the idea of “disposable pets .. I am not against business growth or the entrepreneurial spirit. But there is an ethical line you have to keep in mind.”

Flexpetz would go on to close in 2008, but the concept would live on, in numerous variations. And that ethical line Frost noticed seemed to become harder for people to see.

Hannah the Pet Society was founded in Oregon in 2010, and put a new twist on things. The society promised to match you up with a dog, and provide that dog with what it called “Total Lifetime Care” — from dog food to boarding, from veterinary care to funderal arrangements.

All for a start-up fee and “low” monthly payments.

But, contrary to what many thought, those signing up for dogs weren’t really becoming their new owners. Hannah retained ownership of all the dogs it placed, which meant that it could reclaim them, or reassign them, or even euthanize them, whenever it pleased.

In 2016, Seattle Dog Spot exposed some of the questionable practices at Hannah, and an investigation began into complaints against the company that included unnecessarily euthanizing three dogs.

Many of the shelters and rescues providing dogs to the outfit terminated their relationship with them, and the state Department of Justice began looking into the 10 complaints and two lawsuits filed against the company since 2012.

Hannah stopped sourcing and placing pets in 2016.

Today, the biggest name in dog leasing is Wags Lending, another company that’s been accused of not making it clear to customers that they were leasing dogs, and wouldn’t own them when the lease period expired.

As one customer complained, he and his wife signed up to make 27 monthly payments of $95.99 for their bichon frise — totaling $2,687 for the dog, whose store price was $495.

Upon closer inspection of the contract they’d signed, they also learned that, even then, they wouldn’t own the dog.

The dog, unless the San Diego couple forked over yet more money at the end of the lease period, would have to be returned to Oceanside Puppy — the store they leased it from.

Three years later, the horror stories keep coming. Bloomberg did an excellent piece on the seamy side of pet leasing earlier this year.

Here are two more from last week –one from WSB in Atlanta, one from WKMG in Orlando.

It has been well documented by now how Wags does business. But maybe enough repeated exposure will get the message across that this is bad business — not just for dogs, but for the customers who fall for it.

Much like dog cloning, dog leasing never took off in a big way, but it lingers, unfortunately, with new customers being duped, and dogs being placed, repossessed, reassigned and bounced around by a company that cares far more about financing than it does Fido.

No matter how respectable looking a front, or website, they put up, they are basically predators — loan sharks cloaking themselves in cute puppies.

And any pet store selling commercially bred dogs that promotes or refers customers to the service (as many do) is behaving in an equally scummy manner.

The problem is being scummy and doing something technically illegal are two different things.

If the laws aren’t there to drive these people out of business for good, or sue them for everything they are worth, then do what Boston and Massachusetts did nine years ago: Outlaw dog leasing.

Preferably now.

Trainer’s license revoked after racing greyhounds test positive for cocaine

derbylane

A well-known trainer in Florida has had his license pulled after five of his racing greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.

Malcolm McAllister, a 40-year veteran of the dog-racing circuit who has been called “a wonderful patiarch of the industry,” had his license revoked by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on April 26.

The 70-year-old trainer at Derby Lane issued a written statement denying any knowledge of how the drugs wound up in the five dogs, underlining the last four words: “It was not me.”

He does not plan to dispute the findings and has waived his right to a hearing.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last week on the findings of an investigation by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing.

A sample collected from Flying Tidalwave on Jan. 11 later tested positive for cocaine and benzolecgonine, a compound created when cocaine is metabolized by the liver. A week later, a sample collected from P Kay Sweetmissy would later test positive for benzolecgonine and ecgonine ethyl ester, another cocaine metabolite, records show. Three days later, on Jan. 21, samples collected from four dogs — Kiowa Wellington, Roc A By Sevenup, Flying Microsoft, and another from Flying Tidalwave — would later test positive for cocaine metabolites.

mcallisterAll the dogs were from the kennels of McAllister, and he was listed as official trainer.

In a written statement included in the case file, McAllister expressed “great sadness and disbelief” and denied any knowledge of how the drugs wound up in the dogs’ systems.

Although he was listed as the trainer, he said he was in the process of hiring a new trainer for the kennel and had four “helpers” working for him when the incidents took place

“One of these undesirables had to have either dropped or administered the cocaine,” he wrote.

Greyhound racing is illegal in forty states, and four more have closed tracks and ceased live racing. Only six states still allow pari-mutuel dog racing. They are Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Iowa and West Virginia.

Racing greyhounds routinely receive random drug tests, and finding drugs in their systems is not unheard of. But so many positive tests over a short time span at one kennel at a single track marked a first, said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, a nonprofit industry watchdog group that seeks to ban racing entirely.

“I’m not sure which is worse, that these were attempts to fix races or that individuals who are responsible for the dogs are doing cocaine,” Theil said. “Both of those are very grave scenarios and raise serious questions about the welfare of the dogs and the integrity of the races at Derby Lane.”

Theil said officials should investigate further to find out how the drugs got into the dogs’ systems.

McAllister began his career in 1980 in Phoenix. He and his wife Barbara, who died in 2014, came to Florida’s Derby Lane in 2005 and dominated for years. During his time at Derby Lane, McAllister has racked up more than 5,400 wins and more than $900,000 in stakes prize money, the Times reported.

Derby Lane issued a statement Friday, saying “Derby Lane promotes responsible racing and provides individual kennel facilities for each greyhound operation contracted to race in St. Petersburg … In a perfect world, there would be no need for rules, but those that don’t comply are dealt with and are not welcome to race at Derby Lane…

“For fans that celebrate the greyhound breed that truly is ‘born to run’ our track will continue to offer responsible racing despite efforts from animal extremists that champion not only the end of the sport, but the end of pet ownership as well.”

(Photos: Derby Lane, and McAllister, from Tampa Bay Times)