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Charges dropped against veteran in Georgia who broke car window to save dog

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Authorities have dropped the charges filed against a veteran who was arrested after breaking a window to save a dog left inside a hot car in a shopping center parking lot.

Michael Hammons, 46, an Iraq War veteran who lives in Athens, Ga., used a leg support from his wife’s wheelchair to smash out the window of a Mustang.

At the insistence of the angry dog’s owner, who said she’d only let the dog alone for five minutes, Hammons was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Thousands subsequently came to his defense online and called Hammons a hero, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which announced last week it will be awarding Hammons its Compassionate Action Award.

PETA officials noted that temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees — even on a mild, 78-degree day like Saturday, May 9, when the incident took place.

A local Ford dealer in Athens offered to replace the broken window for free, WXIA in Atlanta reported.

Current Georgia law allows someone to break a window to save a person, but not an animal. Hammons arrest led to a call to change that law, as a handful of other states have.

“The laws need to be changed to protect the animals, not necessarily the people,” said Mark Martin, a pet store owner who rallied around Hammons’ cause. “We are the voices for the animals; they can’t speak for themselves.”

Ken Mauldin, district attorney for the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.

Making a splash at the Triad Dog Games

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Ace and his bladder stones stayed home, but the camera and I went to the Triad Dog Games over the weekend and found that, in its second year, the event is making quite a splash.

Held this year at Tanglewood Park, outside Winston-Salem, the two-day event featured dock diving, agility contests, flying disc competitions, dachshund races and flyball and agility demonstrations.

The event raises money for The Sergei Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to families needing help to pay for their pets veterinary care.

The dock-diving dogs were drawing the biggest crowd. Some of the dogs entered into the  competition –  run  by Ultimate Air Dogs! — were seasoned leapers, while others were newcomers who seemed content just to cool off.

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Then there was Petunia, a bulldog who wasn’t part of the diving competition, but managed to find some relief from the heat all the same.

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You want to put what where?

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Seems like Ace and I, as we keep piling on the years, take turns these days experiencing health problems — from the pesky to the potentially fatal.

Saturday was his turn again.

He woke me up about 5:30 a.m. to be let outside, not all that unusual. But then he declined to come back in. He just wandered about the backyard, stopping here and there, straining to pee, but to no avail.

Once he did come back in, he wanted out again two minutes later, where he again attempted, unsuccessfully, to complete the task.

As I do with my own ailments, I got on the Internet to Google the possibilities — urinary tract infection, stones of some sort, or some other kind of obstruction that was blocking him from doing what he needed to do.

Given it was already 10 a.m. when I called his vet, and that they close at noon on Saturday, I wasn’t too surprised when I was told all slots were filled. But I was promised that a vet would call me back.

When he did, about 30 minutes later, I told him Ace was struggling to pee and that, to my knowledge, he hadn’t been able to all morning. Otherwise, he seemed fairly normal, and not in pain, not even when I pushed and prodded around his abdomen.

The vet — not the one I usually see at the practice — told me that, while I might have to wait around for an opening, I could bring Ace in. And he told me I probably should. If I waited until Monday, and Ace went all that time without peeing, he’d likely be dead by then.

After taking some X-rays, the vet showed me what he said were bladder stones — faint little circles, and some not so little, inside his bladder. He said it would take some testing to determine which kind of stones they were (some are more easily treated than others). The first priority though, was to get that obstruction cleared and that bladder drained, so he suggested a catheter.

I winced at the word. It has only been a few months since I was treated to that process while in the hospital for bypass surgery. Of all the highly intrusive things they did to me (okay, for me) the installation of the catheter remains my most traumatic memory. The mere word gives me shivers.

Why, I wondered then, and still do, would they install this device into a person without knocking him out — good and out — first?

I would not wish it on my worst enemy, much less my best friend.

Ace, his tail tucked between his legs rather than in its normal full and upright position, was ushered to a back room, and I stepped outside to pace and worry. I didn’t exactly “feel his pain,” but I did remember mine.

As soon as I stepped back into the office, only about five minutes later, the vet and a technician came into the waiting room with Ace and said things were flowing again. Ace, thanks to the catheter, had peed, and peed some more, and one little stone came out in the process.

The vet tech took Ace outside and he peed some more. His curled-up tail, which had been in the down position all day, was up — generally a sign that all is right with the world, or at least his world.

While the emergency was over, the ailment remains. Tests of his urine this week will determine whether the stones still inside his bladder are of the struvite variety, which can sometimes be treated with a therapeutic diet, or calcium oxalate stones, which require surgical removal to totally get rid of them.

Whatever the case, I’m sure Ace will handle what’s ahead in a far more classy and stoic manner than I would.

These days, we both grunt a bit now when settling down, or getting up. We’re both a little slower. We both have to shift around a bit to get comfortable, then stretch ourselves out when we get back up again.

But somehow he is better at this aging thing than me. It has been almost three years since he, now 10, surpassed me, now 61, according to most formulas for comparing dog years to human years. Now, as a large dog, he’s aging much more quickly than I am — even though you wouldn’t know it to look at us.

This week’s medical agenda includes the testing of his urine, whatever steps are deemed necessary for him after that, an echocardiogram on me to assess how my heart is working after quintuple bypass surgery, and another visit to my physical therapist for a continuing back and shoulder problem, now being treated by something called “dry needling.”

I’ll spare you the details of that. Suffice to say, for me — and even for my dog — getting old is getting old.

(A special thanks to Brian LeFevre at Winston-Salem’s Ard-Vista Animal Hospital for working Ace into his schedule and getting things flowing again.)

Depp’s dogs back in LA

pistolJohnny Depp’s dogs are safe, sound and back in Los Angeles.

Depp bid a temporary farewell to his two Yorkshire terriers, Boo and Pistol, before they boarded a private jet in Coolangatta, Australia, for the trip home, according to the Daily Mail.

Depp, who is in the country filming the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, had been accused of failing to declare his two dogs to customs officials — a violation of Australia’s strict quarantine laws — when he flew them into Queensland last month on his private jet.

After photos of the dogs in Australia were posted online, Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce gave the actor 50 hours to transport the pups back to the U.S., and said they would be euthanized if they remained.

The actor had brought the dogs into the country last month after he returned to California for surgery on a hand he injured during filming of the fifth installment of the movie. The Australian government provided a $20 million tax incentive to producers of the film, entitled “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”

After receiving the ultimatum, Depp notified the Australian government Friday afternoon the he was shipping the dogs back to the U.S.

The Department of Agriculture in Australia says Depp could still face fines as high as $340,000 for violating the quarantine procedures.

The Daily Telegraph reported that transporting the dogs back to Los Angeles could cost as much as $400,000.

(Photo: Pistol, in a photo posted to Twitter by Depp’s wife, Amber Heard)

Going out to eat with your dog is close to becoming legal in New York

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Dogs in the state of New York could soon be joining their humans for dinner at restaurants — without it being against the law.

A bill passed by the New York Senate Wednesday — by a 60-0 vote — would change state health law to give restaurants the option of allowing pet owners to bring dogs into outdoor dining areas, the New York Times reported.

The State Assembly is now reviewing its version of the same bill.

Dogs, under the revised law, would have to be accompanied by a diner, and restaurants that decide to allow dog would have to provide an alternate entrance to their patios, so dogs don’t walk through indoor dining areas.

Dogs will have to be on leashes, and would not be allowed into outdoor areas where food is being prepared.

The bills specifically forbid communal water bowls, requiring dogs be served water in disposable containers.

And, in what is sure to be the toughest of the new law’s requirements, restaurant servers would be prohibited from playing with dogs.

The bill is similar to one passed in California last year. As with that one, restaurants remain free to ban dogs from their outside areas if they so choose.

“With a large percentage of New Yorkers being dog owners, many restaurants would like to accommodate their guests and permit canine companions to join them,” said Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau County), a sponsor of the Senate measure.

In the Assembly, Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is the sponsor of the similar bill.

“People consider dogs and other animals to be just another member of the family,” said Rosenthal. “When you sit down to dinner, it’s your husband, your partner, your wife, your kids and your dog.”

“An overwhelming number of New Yorkers who have dogs take them everywhere they go,” she added. “So this is just another option for them to take their animals with them when they dine out.”

(Photo: New York Daily News)

Johnny Depp pirates his dogs into Australia; officials say they must “bugger off” or die

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Clearly, Johnny Depp broke the law when he smuggled his two Yorkies, Boo and Pistol, into Australia, where he’s filming yet another “Pirates of the Carribbean” sequel.

But must government officials, in enforcing Australia’s strict quarantine laws, be so heavy-handed and snarky about it?

“If we start letting movie stars — even though they’ve been the ‘sexiest man alive’ twice — to come into our nation, then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody?” said Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”

Is it just me, or is there a little bit of pirate envy bubbling up in those remarks?

joyceJoyce, that’s him to the left, has ordered Depp to get the dogs out of the country by Saturday. If they are still in the country after that, he says, they will be put down.

Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, are accused of not declaring Yorkshire Terriers Boo and Pistol to customs officials when they flew into Queensland by private jet last month, the BBC reported.

Joyce says the country’s animal quarantine laws — aimed at keeping rabies out of the country — applied to everyone.

“Mr. Depp has to either take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them,” Joyce told reporters on Thursday.

“He’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs. He can put them on the same charter jet he flew out on and fly back out of our nation.”

There has been no immediate comment from Depp or Heard, but plenty of online reaction from animal lovers and Depp lovers.

An online petition to save the “cute dogs” had received nearly 5,000 signatures by late on Thursday local time in Australia.

“Have a heart Barnaby! Don’t kill these cute puppies,” it appealed.

deppdogsThe dogs illegal entry into the country was uncovered after a grooming salon on the Gold Coast posted pictures of them on its Facebook page.

“The dogs have been ordered into quarantine and the owners have been advised the dogs must be exported within 72 hours,” said a statement on the agricultural ministry website.

“Just because he’s Johnny Depp doesn’t make him exempt from Australian laws,” Joyce said.

“The way this works is if we are going to make an excuse for Johnny Depp because he’s got a private jet and brought in his dogs then I suppose you have to start making exemptions and excuses for everybody.”

When Joyce was asked if his tough stance might affect Depp’s view of him, he replied: “I don’t think Mr. Depp will be inviting me to the grand opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean.”

deppanddogOther government officials backed Joyce’s tough stand, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who said Depp could face large fines for breaching quarantine procedures.

“As people know when they come in on a commercial flight … you need to make declarations,” he said. ” … People will sometimes make false declarations, if they get caught out, there’s a big fine attached to it, and no different to the same cards that people would need to fill out if they’re coming in on private jets.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the agriculture minister could have been a little more tactful with his message.

“Barnaby’s right but I would put it to him this way – diplomacy is key,” Tate is quoted as saying on ABC.net.

“I want to see Johnny Depp coming back to the Gold Coast, enjoy his experience here … so that he’ll have good words to say and make sure our film and television industry thrives here,” the mayor said.

Dog in Montana shot while in owner’s arms

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A dog in Montana took a bullet intended for his owner — a bartender in Hamilton who had apparently offended a customer earlier in the night.

Joe Lewis, 29, who cuts wood and serves drinks at the Rainbow Bar for a living, returned home from work early Saturday and carried his pit bull, Jackson, outside. The dog had recently had a toe removed and was wearing a cast.

While he was holding the dog four shots rang out.

The first hit the dog in the head. The second hit Lewis in the ribs and exited his back. He was treated at a hospital and released. His pit bull died. Lewis’ brother, Mike, said the first bullet would likely have struck Lewis in the head had he not been carrying the dog.

According to The Missoulian, Lewis had an altercation with a customer earlier in the evening. The customer ordered a “red beer” and became angry because it contained Clamato juice (rather than the more traditional tomato juice), which he said was contrary to his religion, Judaism.

According to court records, the customer, who is also a neighbor of Lewis, told another neighbor that he was going to retaliate and kill Lewis.

Monte Hanson, 59, has been charged with attempted deliberate homicide and animal cruelty,

lewisandjacksonMike Lewis said his brother was recovering at home but was “pretty broken up about his dog …Anyone who knows him knows he’s not your average animal guy. He takes his animals very, very seriously.”

Lewis’ family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses and buy another dog. By yesterday it had raised $3,200.

“Jackson was a purebred red-nose pit,” Mike Lewis said. “Those dogs are not easy to come by.”

(Photos courtesy of Lewis family)


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