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
The Animal Rescue Corps, with help from local law enforcement, rescued more than 100 dogs in five different operations in Tennessee last week.
The rescues by the five-year-old non-profit group included 31 dogs being cared for by the homeless man pictured above, who was refusing to get needed medical treatment for himself until he knew all his dogs would be safe.
That was the fourth of five operations — all conducted over one week in rural areas of Tennessee.
The Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) assisted the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in rescuing 21 abandoned dogs on a dilapidated property in Whitleyville. It helped Hardeman County Animal Control remove 19 abandoned dogs from a run down home in a residential area of Bolivar. Next, they joined with officers from Hardin County Animal Control to remove 23 dogs and a cat from a home in Counce.
“Members of the community have been working with this man to improve his way of life and this rescue is part of it,” ARC President Scotlund Haisley told The Dodo. “He wasn’t going to abandon the dogs and accept the help for himself without first finding a group to take the dogs. We are very glad to be able to assist.”
Last Friday, a fifth rescue was scheduled after Macon County Animal Control learned about the work ARC was doing and contacted them about 21 dogs found abandoned in an old country store in Lafayette after a tenant was evicted.
“We take animal abuse and neglect very seriously but lack the resources to do rescues like this. We only have 11 runs in our shelter and we’re already full,” Macon County Animal Control Officer Corey Lawrence told Fox 17. “These animals desperately needed help so we didn’t hesitate to reach out to Animal Rescue Corps for assistance.”
Those dogs, like the others, were placed in shelters or with rescue organizations that will try to find forever homes for them.
Animal Rescue Corps was founded in Los Angeles by Scotlund Haisley. Its mission is to “end animal suffering through direct and compassionate action, and to inspire the highest ethical standards of humanity towards animals.”
With only three full-time staff members, the organization’s rescue operations are almost entirely run by volunteers.
(Photos: By Amiee Stubbs, Animal Rescue Corps)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 13th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal rescue corps, animals, dogs, natchez trace state park, neglect, pets, rescue, rescued, rescues, rural, tennessee
The sheriff of Guilford County is making it clear he disagrees with the district attorney’s decision not to file animal cruelty charges against former managers and employees of the Guilford County Animal Shelter.
Sheriff BJ Barnes took to Facebook to voice his displeasure with the decision.
“We still have missing animals that cannot be identified by records available. We have dead animals stacked five foot high in the shelter freezer with no explanation as to why, the shelter had a crematorium. We still have computers to review, but it seems that criminal charges for abuse are not going to happen,” Barnes wrote.
The DA’s office announced earlier this week that cruelty charges would not be pursued against three employees, all of whom also worked at the Davidson County Animal Shelter and still face charges there.
The three were part of the United Animal Coalition, which ran both shelters until the nonprofit organization’s license was revoked in August, about a month after investigations into the two shelters began.
Barnes said the sheriff’s office presented the Guilford County DA with the “five most horrendous cases of abuse we found at the shelter … I will not go into particulars out of respect for those like me who love animals, but know it involves broken bones, open wounds and some missing body parts,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
Barnes said prosecutors thought it would be too difficult to prove who was actually responsible for the abuse.
“The ultimate decision was the shelter manager’s, but her defense could be she was not told of the situation by her subordinates and the documentation was so poor (also the managers responsibility) that it became one person’s word against the other person’s word, both with vested interest.”
Barnes added, “The atrocities that occurred at the shelter are hidden by poor management, poor oversight by management and the board and poor oversight by both the state and the county. I’m saying this now because since the DA is not going to prosecute the facts can be brought out without fear of hurting the case.”
The sheriff said that the shelter, since its operation was taken over by the county, is “in better shape now … and things have been put back in order. Someone should have to be held accountable for the pain and suffering of the animals at both shelters…”
The DA and Guilford County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the shelter in July, looking into allegations of animal cruelty and financial misappropriation at the shelter. The Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the potential financial misconduct by the nonprofit group running the shelter.
A similar investigation in Davidson County resulted in indictments against the same three employees on felony animal cruelty charges — former shelter director Marsha Williams, her daughter Dana Williams-King and Marissa Studivent, a veterinary technician.
Studivent’s husband told FOX8 he is not surprised that Guilford County decided not to pursue charges against his wife. He said Davidson County should not have, either.
“These charges were unjust and unfair and never should have happened,” Michael Studivent said. “And the fact that Guilford County has turned around and said there’s nothing here — yeah that does validate my point.”
In addition to animal cruelty, Williams faces two charges of keeping a controlled substance at the Davidson County shelter as well as two felony counts of obstruction of justice.
Davidson County officials said Monday they are still reviewing the charges the three employees face there.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal shelter, animals, charges, cruelty, davidson county, director, dogs, dropped, guilford county, indictments, marsha williams, pets, shelters, united animal coalition
A grand jury returned animal cruelty indictments this week against three former employees of the Davidson County Animal Shelter as investigations continue into allegations of abuse there and at the Guilford County shelter.
Arrest warrants were issued yesterday for Marsha Williams, the former executive director of both shelters, as well as her daughter Dana Williams-King. Also indicted was Marissa Studivent, another director of the Davidson shelter.
Williams also faces two felony counts of obstructing the investigation and one felony count of possessing a controlled substance at the Davidson shelter.
Both facilities were managed by the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that took over operation of the Guilford shelter in 1998, and took control of the Davidson shelter in December.
Both shelters had their licenses revoked by the N.C. Department of Agriculture in August.
The indictments stem from claims that the three women neglected to provide humane treatment to a dog admitted to the Davidson shelter in May with a broken back, the Greensboro News & Record reported.
The dog had been diagnosed with paralysis from the shoulders down, but she languished in her kennel for three days with no veterinary care before being euthanized.
That was the incident that sparked an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture, which found abnormally high numbers of animals had died in their kennels at the Davidson shelter.
The Lexington Police Department has been investigating the shelter, as has the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Despite the indictments, those investigations remain ongoing, as does a a separate investigation into the Guilford County shelter, by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.
(Photo: Marsha Williams, by Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal shelters, animals, cruelty, Dana Williams-King, davidson county animal shelter, director, dog, dogs, greensboro, guilford county animal shelter, indictments, investigations, lexington, Marissa Studivent, marsha williams, neglect, north carolina, pets, united animal coalition, warrants