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Rottweilers and pit bulls and chows, oh my!

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For years, there were only two ways for an unclaimed pit bull, Rottweiler or chow to get out of the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro, N.C.

One was for a rescue group to step in, take custody of the dog and find it an adoptive home.

The only other alternative was euthanasia.

Due to “liability concerns,” the shelter had a policy against allowing pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows to be adopted — instituted by the non-profit group that managed it for 15 years.

That group was ousted last year, and last week the Guilford County Board of Commissioners reversed the long-standing rule.

The old policy was established under the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that ran the shelter until last year — when its licensed was revoked after an investigation into charges of animal cruelty. The county assumed management of the shelter.

Last Thursday, the Board of Commissioners voted to change the policy that prevented the adoption of certain breeds, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

According to the shelter’s director, Logan Rustan, about 8 of every 10 dogs in the shelter at any given time are pit bulls.

“A lot of our cages stay empty because I cannot put these three breeds on the floor, and that’s most of what we get,” Rustan told the commissioners. “If I can have this approved … I guarantee when I get back today I can fill the adoption floor, fill it full, with adoptable animals.”

Rustan said the shelter had worked with area rescues to find pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows adoptive homes, but was often left with adult pit bulls that could not be placed.

The change in policy is in keeping with recommendations from the state Department of Agriculture, which has urged the shelter to give more consideration to a dog’s temperament than to its breed when assessing its adoptability.

(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Trainer tries to find dog by zapping her

millerIf you’ve ever been unable to find your car at a shopping mall, you’ve probably done this: You pull out your key, hit the remote alarm button, and then follow the sound of the blaring horn.

A man in Oklahoma decided to use a similar hi-tech strategy to locate a missing dog. He walked through the neighborhood, repeatedly punching the remote that operates the dog’s shock collar, assuming any reaction that produced might help him track her down.

And the man was a dog trainer, no less.

His strategy resulted in one woman being bitten, and in animal cruelty charges being filed against him.

Lukas Miller, who owns the Sit Means Sit franchises in Oklahoma City and Edmond, called Edmond Animal Services after the two-year-old boxer mix chewed through a leash and ran off while being trained.

Miller admitted that, as he searched, he repeatedly triggered the remote, according to a News9 report.

What he didn’t know is that the dog, named Nala, had stopped outside a house, where a woman, seeing the dog in pain, went to her aid.

“She’s an animal lover, so first her instinct was to come outside to see if the dog was OK. As soon as she came outside, the dog got aggressive and lunged at her,” said the woman’s husband, Justin O’Feery.

O’Feery said his wife quickly realized an electronic training collar around Nala’s neck was being activated. When she tried to remove it, the dog bit her.

Miller and the animal services officer arrived at the home after the dog bite had been reported to 911.

“We don’t blame the dog one bit. We’re not mad at the dog. We are mad at the trainer,” O’Feery added.

A spokesperson for Miller said Nala, who he was training for the dog’s owner, was being taken for a bathroom break when she chewed through her leash and ran off.

He called animal control and began searching for the dog immediately because she had a reputation for being aggressive with humans and other dogs. It was Nala’s first training session, the spokesperson said.

A lawyer representing the dog trainer said he plans to fight the charge. A court hearing is scheduled for later this week.

According to the Sit Means Sit website, Miller was an Air Force fire protection specialist for eight years before becoming a dog trainer.

Sit Means Sit says it sometimes uses a “a proprietary remote electronic training collar” that gives dogs a “slight tingle” when necessary to get their attention. The collar works for up to half a mile.

According to the spokesperson, Nala, after being held in quarantine, finished up her training sessions, and that her owner was “super happy” with the results.

Harley dishonored? You won’t be seeing this

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Allegations of wide-scale voter fraud may not effect the presidential race, but they have kept a one-eyed Chihuahua from appearing on the tail of Frontier Airlines jets.

The Denver-based airline announced Monday that it has suspended its “Mascot on the Tail” contest because it had been “compromised” by fraudulent voting.

“We have determined that the contest has been compromised by fraudulent activity and ineligible voting that has created an unfair environment for all participants,” the airline said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”

The contest, launched in March, invited universities, high schools and other organizations to campaign and vote for their mascot to appear on the tail of some Frontier planes.

Given that getting themselves free publicity (and gathering as many email addresses as possible) were the real reasons for Frontier to hold the contest, and given online contests aren’t exactly the epitome of the one-person-one-vote ideal, the airline’s explanation came across as a little hollow, and a little suspect.

Especially to those supporting Harley, a one-eyed Chihuahua who was the mascot of National Mill Dog Rescue.

Harley3Harley, a puppy mill survivor and the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog for 2015, was among the top vote-getters in the contest (voting was scheduled to end April 30) when it was abruptly called off.

“Once entered, Harley quickly gained tremendous support thanks to you – his fans – and he also gained the support of several news stations, animal welfare organizations and even celebrities,” a statement on on Harley’s Facebook page says.

“Over the course of a week Harley reached over 37,000 votes and was in first place. He was well ahead of all other contestants…It soon became clear that Harley had an excellent chance of winning the contest. Then, suddenly, Frontier Airlines suspended the contest. Their explanation was that there was voter fraud and they blamed international voters.”

Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner said the airline did not suspend the voting due to the possibility of Harley winning, the Denver Post reported.

Instead, the contest was halted due to “several” instances of fraud, including cases of ineligible, non-U.S. residents voting, he said.

Faulkner did not pinpoint any particular contestant that was benefiting from “fraudulent” voting.

The airline plans to send $20 travel vouchers to everyone who voted in the online contest as “a token of good will,” he added.

Harley’s supporters freely admit to campaigning heavily for their candidate. They saw it as a way to educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills and honor the memory of Harley, who passed away last month at the age of 15.

Creating a social media buzz, and spreading the word about the contest served them well, and served Frontier Airlines well.

harley2So is there some other reason — other than wanting to be certain their online voting process was pristine and ethical — behind Frontier’s decision to terminate the contest?

We’d hate to think politics were involved, or that some airline big wig thought the image of a one-eyed dog might besmirch their shiny jets.

Other mascots competing in the contest included Colorado State University’s Cam the Ram; University of Colorado’s Ralphie the bison; University of Florida’s Albert and Alberta Gator; and the University of California Santa Cruz mascot, Sammy the Slug.

Harley, a little dog who came to represent perseverance and resiliency, was the only contestant with a message — and maybe that frightened the airline. Maybe they were afraid of losing any unethical breeders they had as passengers.

Michele Burchfield, marketing director for the National Mill Dog Rescue, said Harley’s high number of votes were the result of his message and an active social media and e-mail campaign that caught on with puppy mill opponents across the country.

“If Frontier opens up the contest again, we would be thrilled to enter him again and honored to have him on the tail of a plane knowing that our voting is legitimate and honest,” Burchfield said. “We did everything we could to bring this honor to him.”

“This little guy could get a million votes in a month if he needed it,” she said.

What is the “truth” about Just Pups?

Police investigating the source of a stench in Paramus found 67 puppies packed in a van parked behind Just Pups, a North Jersey pet store.

The pups — some covered in feces — were seized early Monday and taken to a North Jersey animal hospital, where 15 of them were determined to be in need of medical treatment.

Found locked in steel crates, the puppies were scheduled to go to other stores in the Just Pups chain. They had come from the Missouri breeding kennel of store owner Vincent LoSacco.

That’s him in the video above — responding last week to allegations of animal cruelty filed by the New Jersey SPCA in connection with the chain’s largest outlet in East Brunswick, N.J.

Last week, East Brunswick’s council unanimously voted to revoke LoSacco’s license at that store, prompting him to post a video he called “The Truth About Just Pups.”

Despite the scrutiny, LoSacco still apparently saw no problem with leaving 67 puppies in a parked van in Paramus on a night that temperatures dropped to 35 degrees.

Authorities said that about 3 a.m. Monday, Paramus police officers approached the van and detected the stench of urine and feces.

The officers, hearing whines coming from inside the van, opened an unlocked sliding door and found the dogs.

paramus1Police said the temperature inside the poorly ventilated van was 38 degrees, and that some of the crates did not contain food or water. The small crates held two to four puppies each.

LoSacco on Monday told NorthJersey.com that the van was temperature controlled, and leaving puppies parked in the van overnight was not an uncommon practice.

“It’s not unnormal to leave them in the van, as long as they have air conditioning or heat — depending on the season — and food and water,” LoSacco said. “It’s the same thing with the pet store. People aren’t there 24 hours.”

He denied that the cages were overcrowded, and suggested that any dogs who were covered in feces got that way when police officers loaded the van onto a flatbed truck to transport it.

paramus2As of Monday night, four pups remained at the vet’s office. The rest — golden retrievers, Labradors and terriers — were transferred to Tyco Animal Control, which has contracts with more than 20 municipalities in Bergen and Passaic counties.

The incident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force, Paramus police detectives and the Paramus Health Department.

The Paramus was closed Monday pending the investigation. It reopened Tuesday.

paramus3Paramus Mayor Richard La­Barbiera said the store had been the subject of complaints in recent weeks from residents about unsanitary conditions and animal cruelty.

The mayor said a Paramus inspector visited the store in response to the complaints and found some unsanitary conditions, but no signs of cruelty. The store was closed for about 24 hours while those sanitary conditions were addressed.

Just Pups has four New Jersey locations — in Paramus, East Hanover, East Brunswick and Emerson, according to its website.

“Just Pups is the only puppy or pet store that you can shop at where you have a 100% guarantee that 100% of our puppies have come from reputable breeders only,” the website says. “..We have never ever purchased a single puppy from a questionable source or a puppy broker.”

In February, LoSacco’s attempts to renew his license for a Just Pups location in Valhalla, N.Y., were denied, according to the New York Daily News.

The charges filed by the NJSPCA against the East Brunswick store came after three dead dogs were found in the store’s freezer on Feb. 29. In total, 267 animal cruelty charges were filed by the NJSPCA, alleging, among other things, that LoSacco exposed puppies to illnesses by commingling healthy and sick animals.

An online petition calling for that store to be shut down and for a state Department of Health investigation into all Just Pups locations has gathered nearly 160,000 signatures.

(Photos: Paramus Police Department)

He’s Gumby, dammit

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What, if you’re a shelter, do you do with a dog who has been returned by seven different adopters, a dog who keeps running away from every home he’s placed in, a dog whose behavior — though never aggressive — makes him, to say the least, a handful?

If you’re the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, you conclude — after 11 tries — that maybe the shelter is where he wants to be.

Gumby, a 7-year-old hound with well-documented skills as an escape artist, has become a permanent resident of the no-kill Charleston Animal Society.

They view it not so much as giving up as giving in — to what Gumby seems to want.

A look at his record seems to support that view.

His first visit to the shelter came after he was picked up as a stray in September 2014.

He was adopted and stayed at his new home three days, before ending up at the shelter again. His second adoption lasted only six days.

His third adopter seemed committed to keeping him, but Gumby kept running off and was brought back to the shelter as a stray — once by a citizen, once by animal control. His third adopter surrendered him back to the shelter, worried that the dog’s continued escapes might lead to injuries or worse.

gumby3In March of 2015, a fourth family — even after being warned of his escape skills — took him home.

That adoption lasted four months, but ended when Gumby was brought back in as a stray.

In August of last year, he was adopted a fifth time.

But less than two months later, he showed up at a another shelter, about 30 miles away.

His sixth adoption didn’t last long, either. He was returned due to his irrepressible personality, to put it nicely.

In December, he was adopted a seventh time. In January he was returned to the shelter, according to a report in Barkpost. The adopter told staff that, on top of being difficult to housebreak, Gumby had escaped 3 times in less than a month — once running through the owner’s screen door.

Adding it all up, Gumby had been returned to the shelter 11 times and lived in seven different homes — all in less than a year and a half.

It was starting to seem that Gumby didn’t want to be anywhere but the shelter.

Not that his behavior has always been exemplary there.

On March 5, Kay Hyman, the director of community and engagement for the Charleston Animal Society, posted a photo of Gumby on the shelter’s Facebook page

He’s pictured lying contentedly next to a former feather pillow — one that he must have felt needed further investigation.

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Staff at the shelter say hounds are known for having stubborn streaks, and often those raised as hunting dogs become bored when they have no hunting to do. It’s not unusual for those that haven’t made the grade as hunting dogs to be abandoned and show up as strays.

Given his record, the shelter finally decided in March to just keep Gumby. He seemed to adore the staff. He was good with other dogs. And it was the one place from which he hadn’t repeatedly tried to escape.

Staff members hope that Gumby, as a permanent resident, can continue to have a calming influence on new arrivals — especially fearful ones.

Donya Satriale, a behavior team leader at the shelter, may have put her finger on what was going on with Gumby.

Gumby, she suggested, might see the shelter as a place where “he knows he has work to do.”

(Photos: From the Charleston Animal Society Facebook page)

A boy and his service dog are together again

zachanddelilah

An autistic boy has gotten his service dog back — and, with her, a little bit of himself, according to his mother.

“I’ve already seen him coming out and expressing himself again and being verbal,” Michele Carlisle said after her son Zach reunited with Delilah, the service dog that was lost, placed in a shelter and adopted out to another home.

“He started talking and he was talking to her the whole way home, and I was like, ‘Oh my God! He’s back. Zach’s back!'”

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay announced Friday on its Facebook page that Zach and Delilah had been reunited after eight months apart.

Last August, shortly after the Carlisle family moved from Alabama to Brandon, Florida, Delilah — Zach’s service dog for six years — ran off.

She was found without identification and taken to the humane society’s shelter, where, four days later, another family adopted her.

Michele Carlisle — though she’d been checking shelters in the weeks after Delilah disappeared — learned later that a photo of the dog had appeared on the humane society’s website months earlier.

When the humane society learned it had accidentally adopted out a service dog, it contacted Delilah’s new family, but the family declined to return her, saying she had bonded with her new family in the months they’d been together.

But WTSP reported that after seeing news reports on the boy’s difficulty coping without Delilah, they changed their mind and decided Delilah should be with him.

Zach has autism and suffers from seizures. Delilah serves as his therapy dog, alerting the family to upcoming seizures, comforting Zach and helping him overcome his social anxiety and tendency not to speak.

When the two were reunited at the humane society, Zach, 8, was talking plenty: “Is it her?” he whispered to his mother. “It is! Oh, my God… Best day ever.”

Delilah, newly equipped with a microchip, sniffed Zach, jumped up on him and licked his face.

According to his mother, Zach doesn’t often speak to people around him, but freely shares his feeling with Delilah.

Michele Carlisle thanked the family for returning her.

” … I really do appreciate them doing the right thing and coming forward and bringing her back, so that we could be reunited because that was huge,” she said.

“They never wanted to take a dog from a family that needed it,” said Dr. Nicole Cornett, the veterinarian for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “They just felt that with everything that happened that it would be in the dog’s best interest and in Zach’s best interest to give them back.”

You can see a video of the reunion here.

(Photo: WTSP)

Dogs looking skeptical

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These dogs appear to share a common expression, something akin to what we humans might call skepticism.

But the German photographer who put together the collection of outtakes from photo sessions in her studio calls it, “Dogs questioning the photographer’s sanity.”

And who’s to say they aren’t?

Elke Vogelsang, also known as Wieselblitz, is a photographer of dogs who specializes in portraits — but not the kind of portraits dog owners traditionally look for.

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Instead, she likes to capture them mid-expression — even though she knows what we humans see in those expressions may not be what the dogs are expressing at all.

“I usually prefer the pictures, which don’t look like that one portrait the owner would hang on his wall. I like the outtakes, the bewildered, quirky expressions,” she said in a post on Bored Panda.

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What the photos she posted had in common, she said, is that “the dogs look like they think that the photographer lost her mind.”

“With my dog portraits I try to explore the different expressions and characters of dogs. It’s all about emotions and personality. I love the challenge to get funny, silly or sometimes even melancholic expressions.

“Of course, these are snapshots, a moment in time, captured in a fraction of a second. Often we have our own interpretation of those expressions. The dogs appear to be laughing or smiling or they look sad. Like all dog lovers I’m guilty of humanizing them. But yes, dogs do feel all emotions humans feel, too.”

For more information on Vogelsang and her photography, visit her website or Facebook page.