If some of the bulging biceps, shaved heads and never-ending tattoos you see on Animal Planet’s new series, “The Guardians,” look familiar, that may be because they are.
The Guardians, when it comes to both personnel and concept, is a reincarnation of Rescue Ink, the National Geographic Channel program that featured burly and biker-esque “heroes” rescuing dogs in need.
Rescue Ink, the rescue group on which the old reality show was based, underwent a splintering about six years back. Its website remains in existence, but, on TV, it exists only in reruns.
Guardians of Rescue, put together by former Rescue Ink co-founder Robert Misseri, formed not long after that, and now it’s the focus of a six-episode Animal Planet series. It premiered last month, and airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m.
As was the case with Rescue Ink, its members seek out the most heart-wrenching of animal abuse and neglect cases, and do whatever it takes to correct the situation, making sure the cameras don’t miss a second of it.
As with Rescue Ink, some of the tales they tell seem to get a little embellishment — in the name of dramatic license, or, to take a cynical view, evoke more financial support from viewers.
In the video above, for example, the Guardians of Rescue say the Long Island dog they are so dramatically freeing of its chains, is being freed for the first time in 15 years.
Once released, he doesn’t behave too much like a dog that spent 15 years on a chain; instead he trots up and happily greets those who are watching.
Still, this being reality TV, we have to take their word for it.
“The poor dog had spent his whole life attached to a heavy chain,” Misseri told the New York Post.
The dog, a Lab-chow mix named Bear, is now at Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue in Port Jefferson Station, waiting to be adopted.
According to a New York Post feature earlier this month on the group — one that strangely makes no reference to its roots in Rescue Ink — the Guardians of Rescue is a slightly more diverse collection of animal lovers.
“The Long Island-based group counts ex-military personnel, retired police detectives, carpenters, electricians and even former convicts among their unpaid volunteer ranks,” the Post reported.
Rescue Ink’s members spawned a TV show, a book, and some criminal charges.
Member John Orlandini, who ran the Long Island shelter they took over, was charged with grand larceny and accused of personally profiting from public donations. In 2014, though, a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial.
Some of those questioned whether the group was more focused on achieving fame and fortune than rescuing dogs.
A lot of those concerns show up on this Facebook page, created to inform the public that the group — even though people are continuing donating to it — is no longer in existence.
The group fractured in 2010, with about half of its members leaving, including Misseri.
“(Rescue Ink) was an organization I started,” Misseri told a blogger for Newsday. “I was against doing a TV show at the time, but there was another guy who was the face of the show and it got to his head. I refused to go on and subsequently National Geographic shut it down…”
Clearly, he had no objections to a TV show this time around.
Animal Planet is billing the show this way:
“Though they may be an eclectic team – ex-military personnel, retired police detectives, former FBI investigators, carpenters, electricians and even former convicts and gang members – they unite in their passion and dedication for animal advocacy. With this group, first impressions are not always what they seem. When an animal is in need, their tough facade washes away and clients see their true love and compassion come forth.”
Let’s hope, this time around, the pack of tough guys with hearts of gold stay out of trouble, keep the hype and exaggeration to a minimum, cool it on the self-promotion and portray what they do with some honesty.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 2nd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animal, animal planet, bear, chained, dog, dogs, guardians of rescue, national geographic, neglect, rescue, rescue ink, rescued, robert misseri, series, television, tethered, the guardians, tv, unchained, video
Spurred on by a viral video of a Long Island dog trainer viciously poking a crated pit bull with a broomstick, two New York legislators are calling for state regulation of dog trainers.
On Monday, Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman-elect Missy Miller and members of the Nassau County SPCA proposed a law that will require a license for dog obedience trainers.
The proposed legislation was announced at the home of Tommy Marrone, the Oceanside man who posted the video online.
(The video was removed from YouTube yesterday for violating its policy against “violent or graphic content.”)
“I am horrified by the animal abuse that has taken place in our backyard,” Kaminsky said. “… What happened in Oceanside can happen anywhere, and it is our job to protect consumers and their dogs from devious and abusive practices.
“When consumers send their pets to training school, they have no assurance of the trainer’s credentials or professional experience – and that’s simply unacceptable,” he added. “By creating streamlined licensing practices for dog obedience trainers, we are protecting our four-legged family members who cannot speak and shield themselves from abuse.”
The proposed legislation will deny licensing to any individual convicted of animal abuse and allows for enforcement of violations by police officers and professionals who specialize in detecting animal abuse, such as the SPCA.
“I treat my pets as members of my family. We simply cannot allow another animal to be abused and have a duty to protect innocent consumers,” said Assemblywoman-elect Miller, who intends to sponsor this legislation in the Assembly.
The call for regulation is in response to the furor created by the video of a man abusing a pit bull, according to LongIsland.com.
The man in the video is reported to be Brian De Martino, the owner of NY Dogworks. DeMartino runs the business out of his home.
The video was recorded by De Martino’s girlfriend, and was originally made public by Marrone, a former NY Dogworks customer.
“My dog was beat worse than that dog,” Marrone told PIX11 News. Marrone said that he’d posted the video online in an attempt to warn others.
On Monday afternoon, Nassau County police and building inspectors visited DeMartino’s home — just hours after DeMartino appeared in court on charges of assaulting the woman who recorded the video.
PIX11 News reports that De Martino is being investigated for illegal use of his home, operating without a permit, and possible animal abuse charges.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 22nd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, assemblywoman, broomstick, crate, crated, cruelty, dog, dog trainers, dogs, legislation, legislature, long island, missy miller, nassau county spca, new york, ny dogworks, obedience, pets, pit bull, proposal, senator, Todd Kaminsky, tommy marrone, train, trainers, training, video, viral
Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons handed John Burrow a sentence of 30 days in jail and 100 hours of community service, cleaning the cages at Cumberland County Animal Control.
A light sentence — but one with a twist:
Ammons also ordered Burrow to keep a photo of the eight-month-old pup in his wallet for the next two years, while serving his probation, according to WTVD.
Police said Burrow, a paratrooper, used parachute cords to tie the legs of the pup, named Riley, and looped the rope around his muzzle before throwing him into MacFadyen Pond around Thanksgiving in 2014.
The dog’s body washed ashore on Jan. 2, 2015.
Yesterday’s sentencing followed a guilty plea by Burrow.
Investigators said Burrow told them the mixed lab-shepherd pup had run away from home several times, and he and his wife could not afford the veterinarian bill after the dog was hurt during a previous escape.
Kelsey Burrow told Cumberland County sheriff’s investigators then that Riley had stood on a privacy fence and opened the latch on the gate.
Investigators said she put false posts on Facebook saying Riley was suffering from organ failure, and told a friend in a Facebook message that the dog died while undergoing surgery.
Kelsey Burrow has been charged as an accomplice and is still awaiting sentencing.
In court Tuesday, John Burrow, 24, apologized, the Fayetteville Observer reported.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “so very sorry, and sorry to Riley. I did love Riley. I did love that dog. I have no excuse.”
As part of the plea arrangement, Burrow agreed not to own another animal during his probation period.
(Photos: WTVD and the Fayetteville Observer)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, court, cruelty, cumberland county, dog, dogs, drown, drowned, drowning, fayetteville, felony, jail, jim ammons, john burrow, judge, justice, kelsey burrow, lenient, macfadyen lake, north carolina, pets, photo, probation, riley, sentence, superior court, wallet
When you’re homeless, you can run into a lot of Catch 22’s — those can’t-win situations that, even when you’re taking steps to improve your life, tend to make things appear even more hopeless.
Having a dog is a perfect example.
To a homeless person, having a dog (or, in the case of our Monday post, a cat) can have numerous benefits: Protection, for one. It can instill a greater will to survive and succeed. It can provide some self-esteem, emotional security, and companionship for sure — the kind that comes without judgment.
While some segments of society may be repulsed by the sight of you, your dog will always be thrilled.
But having a dog when you’re homeless can also be a tremendous obstacle — keeping you from being admitted to homeless shelters, finding the money to feed it, and making already problematic chores, like going to the bathroom, even more problematic.
Still, it’s not unusual that, when given a choice between shelter and their dog, the dog often comes first — as has been the case so far with a recently homeless woman and her boxer mix, named Cow, featured in a two-part series in the Toledo Blade this week.
“She is my whole world, my rock. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” 51-year-old Diann Wears said of her dog.
Wears, who in earlier stages of her troubled life worked as a prostitute and was addicted to crack, said it is her first time living on the streets.
“It’s totally new to me and totally scary, I’m not gonna lie,” she said. “But Cow and I, we have each other, and she gives me a lot of love and support.”
She says she tried to find an apartment that her Social Security and Supplemental Security Income would cover, but “they either turned me down because of Cow, or because I don’t make enough money.”
She has no intention of parting with Cow, she said.
Toledo’s homeless shelters — like most across the country — do not allow pets, and she was rejected, she said, by a YWCA shelter that provides haven for women fleeing domestic violence and their pets.
“They don’t think I’m in danger from my ex,” Wears said.
So Wears and Cow remain without shelter — unless you count the overhang of the bus station’s roof.
Having a dog, Wears noted, makes simple tasks, like attending a free meal, more difficult. She either has to leave Cow outside, leashed to her shopping cart, or find a friend she trusts enough to watch him.
Sometimes, she says, it’s hard to simply find a place in the shade to rest — without being told to leave, either because of the dog or because she is loitering.
She often sits on the grass at St. Paul United Methodist Church, where the pastor allows her to stay as long as neither she nor Cow causes any trouble, the Blade reported. (You can find part two of the series here.)
“We don’t bother anybody, but people judge us anyway because we’re homeless,” Diann said. “Or they’re afraid of Cow, even when she’s just lying there.”
Wears said Cow provides her some protection during the night.
Unsure as she is of the future, she is committed to two things — keeping Cow by her side and not going back to her abusive boyfriend.
“It’s hard out here, but I’m away from that at least I’ll take my chances out here. I have my dog and we’ll survive one way or the other, some kind of way.”
(Photo: The Toledo Blade)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animals, benefits, boxer, catch 22, choice, cow, diann wears, dilemma, dogs, homeless, homeless shelters, mix, obstacles, ohio, paradox, pets, shelters, toledo, toledo blade
A deaf boxer in Florida is helping abused children be heard, by helping them get through the trauma of testifying in court.
Karl, a 5-year-old therapy dog, was born deaf, but that might actually assist him in calmly and quietly performing his duties with the Orange County K-9th Circuit Program.
“He doesn’t hear all the noise,” said Karl’s owner and trainer Joanne Hart-Rittenhouse told News 13. “So he’s not going to react to yelling, banging, all the other things that can happen during a case.”
Karl’s presence helps children summon the courage to face the microphone and speak — usually as the accused watches.
“One of the questions a child had asked me, the person who had hurt her that was in the courtroom with her, If he comes over and tries to hurt me, will Karl protect me?’
“I doubt very much that he would do anything,” Hart-Rittenhouse said. “But if that’s what made the child feel better, then absolutely, he’s going to protect you.”
“Most of them won’t testify, won’t go through a deposition, if they don’t have a dog beside them,” she added.
Karl’s owner stays in the courtroom, hearing the testimony that Karl will never hear, and Karl stays available to the children even after the court case is over.
“We’ll be there as long as the child wants Karl to stay in their life,” Hart-Rittenhouse said. “He’s helped a lot of children.”
Karl is one of six therapy dogs providing support through the non-profit Companions for Courage that works in courtrooms and hospitals.
The Ninth Circuit is the first Florida circuit to utilize both pet therapy dog teams and professionally trained handlers.
(Photos: Amanda McKenzie, News 13)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 15th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, boxer, cases, children, companions for courage, courage, court, courts, deaf, dogs, florida, k-9th circuit program, karl, orange county, orlando, pets, prosecutors, support, testify, testifying, testimony, trauma, trials, victims
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.
Judges 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)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 27th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, california, chihuahua, chinese crested, contest, deformity, disabilities, dog, dogs, marin, oozing sore, petaluma, pets, sonoma, sweepee, ugliest, world's ugliest dog
If you live in North Carolina, and you care about dogs and other animals, here’s a number to program into your cell phone.
It’s the state’s new Animal Welfare Hotline and it’s now in service, fielding calls from citizens who have seen animals being mistreated.
“As a pet owner, I understand how important it is that our animal companions get the care they need,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in announcing the new hotline. “I encourage North Carolinians to use this new tool if they have information to report about animals being harmed.”
The Attorney General’s Office will review animal welfare complaints submitted via the hotline and refer them to the appropriate authority. North Carolinians can report animals experiencing physical harm under the care of an individual, pet shop, kennel or animal shelter.
Complaints can also be filed by mail: P.O. Box 629, Attention: Animal Welfare Hotline, Raleigh, NC 27602.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 7th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animal cruelty hotling, animal welfare, animal welfare hotline, animals, attorney general, complaints, cruelty, dogs, hotline, neglect, north carolina, north carolina animal welfare hotline, pets, roy cooper