It seems like every year I’ve teetered a little closer to disliking the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.
A cute concept at first — and one that helped remind us what a superficial thing beauty can be — it seems to have grown into a pageant that, despite its focus on “ugliness,” inches ever closer to reflecting many of the same negative traits of purebred dog shows and beauty contests.
As the quirky little contest at the Sonoma County Fair in Petaluma has grown huge, and the title more sought after, there has been a concurrent increase in cut-throat competition, campaigning and hype.
But it’s the choice of this year’s winner that may have finally pushed me into being a fan no more. The title of World’s Ugliest Dog was won by a dog whose unusual appearance is the result of being abused.
And that troubles me.
This year’s winning dog, Peanut, a two-year-old mixed breed, is from Greenville, N.C. He was adopted from a shelter after being found abandoned and severely abused. It is suspected he was set on fire. While he’s healthy now, his eyelids, lips and patches of hair on his body were burned off, which accounts for much of his unusual appearance.
His owner, Holly Chandler, held fundraising campaigns to travel to California and enter Peanut in the contest — all, she said, to help raise awareness about animal abuse.
Given that’s a large part of this website’s mission, too, I have no problem with that cause.
I’m all for celebrating dogs who look different. I’m all for celebrating dogs who have overcome harsh odds. I’m all for abused dogs recovering and becoming rich and famous while their abusers rot in prison.
Where my discomfort comes in, I think, is placing abused animals in a “contest” context and, within that party atmosphere, picking a winner whose looks are the result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.
Abuse, it seems to me, should not be connected to pageantry and cash prizes, no matter how circuitous that link is.
Yesterday, I watched a local TV report about Peanut winning the contest. The anchor people, while noting Peanut had an inner beauty, laughed and joked about his appearance, as I’m sure the crowd did at the contest.
Peanut beat 24 other dogs to win the contest Friday, receiving more than double the votes the second-place dog received.
While his owner seemed sincere in her purpose, and probably did raise awareness about animal abuse, I can’t help but wonder whether we should all be chuckling — even while feeling sympathy and love for Peanut — at his appearance, at his prominent teeth, or his eyes that never close, given it was all the result of a cruel criminal act.
On the other hand, the world should know Peanut’s story — and the contest was a way to make that happen.
Maybe, though, there are better, more dignified ways, such as writing a book, or taking him to schools, or sharing his story with the news media — ways that might avoid the appearance of exploitation and have a little less of the circus atmosphere that seems, in my mind at least, to clash with serious nature of animal abuse.
I doubt there is any danger of people disfiguring their dogs in hopes of winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, but — given the world can be pretty ugly — stranger things have happened.
I think it would be wise, and in good taste, for contest officials to impose and enforce a ban on dogs whose “ugliness” or unusual looks are a result of actions taken by humans — whether those actions are heinous criminal acts or cosmetic steps, like dyeing, taken for amusement purposes.
While the contest’s web page states that “all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy and are ‘naturally ugly,’ Peanut’s victory casts some doubt on how strongly that’s being enforced.
All that said, I don’t find any fault with Chandler entering Peanut in the contest. She was on a mission. She made her point.
Maybe the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, after 25 years, has made its point too. A cute and well-intentioned gimmick with a sweet message, it might be growing into a bit of a monster. Maybe it should fade way before it becomes too Westminstery.
I have problems with contests that award people, or dogs, for good looks and conformity. Maybe I have issues with awarding them for “bad” looks and non-conformity, too.
Definitely I don’t like the idea of people laughing and finding amusement in a dog’s misery, which, in a very distant, removed and indirect way, is what’s going on.
That’s the best I can do at explaining the ill-at-ease feeling Peanut’s victory gives me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(Photo: From Holly Chandler’s Gofundme page)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014, abuse, animal cruelty, animals, awards, awareness, beauty, burned, competition, contest, contests, dogs, peanut, petaluma, pets, set on fire, sonoma county fair, ugliest, ugly, world's ugliest dog
Those who think this website contains too much distressing dog news (which it does, because the world does) might want to skip this story.
“Beyond the human imagination,” is how the sheriff of Parker County, Texas, described it.
But, obviously, it wasn’t — at least not for the human who shot and killed a mother dog and then left her body in a crate with her nursing puppies.
Sheriff Larry Fowler said yesterday an arrest has been made in connection with the incident, which came to light when a school bus driver found the crated animals Wednesday morning in Springtown.
The mother dog had an apparent gunshot wound to the head and was found in in the crate with 10 puppies that were less than two weeks old, according to Fox News
“These puppies were left defenseless and still nursing on their deceased mother,” the sheriff said.
He added, “Parker County does not have an animal problem. We have a people problem. It’s hard to imagine that someone would be so cruel as to execute any animal. But to kill a dog with nursing babies and leave such a gory picture is beyond human imagination.”
On its Facebook page, the Sheriff’s Office reported the arrest over the weekend of Tammy Green Douglas.
Douglas, 44, was jailed early Sunday morning on charges of animal cruelty, but freed after posting $3,000 bond Sunday afternoon, according to a press release issued last night.
The dead dog was described as a four-year-old brown heeler-shepherd mix named Aowa. She’d been shot with a 9 mm handgun, while in the crate, the sheriff’s office said, and the puppies were later placed inside with her.
Investigators were led to Douglas by a tipster who showed them a text message she allegedly sent: “I did what I did and I would do it again — if need be.”
According to an affidavit filed in connection with the case, Douglas acted out of revenge because Aowa had killed another dog that got too close to the litter, KVUE reported.
The 10 puppies were taken to the Angels & Outlaws Second Chance Bully Ranch.
The organization reports on its Facebook page that the puppies have been placed with two surrogate pit bulls who will help nurse them until they can be put up for adoption.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abuse, angels & outlaws, angels & outlaws second chance bully ranch, angels and outlaws, animal cruelty, animals, arrest, corpse, crated, cruelty to animals, dead, dog, dogs, dumped, investigation, killed, larry fowler, left, mother, news, nursing, parker county, pets, puppies, pups, sheriff, shot, tammy green douglas, texas
The dog, named Scottie, belonged to a Germanton couple.
Early this month, they were out of town when they received a call that Scottie had been killed, according to Fox 8.
A necropsy showed the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds, but Scottie also had cuts on his legs, trauma to his brain and pancreas, and broken ribs. Authorities believed the dog was dragged, possibly by a four-wheeler.
Scottie’s owner, Joy Caudle, said they found ATV tracks on their property, near where Scottie was dumped.
Fur-Ever Friends of NC initially offered a $4,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of the 3-year-old dog. The Humane Society of the United States has contributed another $5,000.
“This was a horrible, horrible crime,” said Lois Smith, a Fur-Ever Friends board member. “This was a friendly family pet that had never shown any ill will to anyone.”
Anyone with information about the crime is encouraged to call Crimestoppers at 336-727-2800.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, atv, australian shepherd, beaten, cruelty, dogs, dragged, forsyth county, fur-ever friends, furever friends, germanton, hsus, humane society of the united states, joy caudle, killed, north carolina, pets, press conference, reward, scottie, sheriff, shot, torture, winston-salem
(Warning: The video above, which begins after a commercial message, is graphic and disturbing)
In January, a pit bull named Tiger was surrendered to a Louisiana shelter by an owner who complained the dog was behaving aggressively.
Last month, sheriff’s officers in St. Bernard’s Parish arrested the man seen in the video above, Asani Woods — Tiger’s owner.
And people wonder why some pit bulls turn mean.
Woods was videotaped beating Tiger in December. She was surrendered in January, and put down at the shelter that month.
In March, the video was found on cellphone of a man arrested on drug charges — a friend of Woods.
An investigation led to the arrest late last month of Woods, 21, of Violet, on charges of animal cruelty, according to the Times-Picayune
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann released the video, which shows Woods scolding the dog for getting into the trash, choking her, hitting her with boxing gloves and slamming her to the ground.
Pohlmann on Monday called the video “graphic” and “disturbing … In my 30 years of law enforcement I never saw an incident such as this captured on video.”
He added, “You hear often times about pit bulls attacking individuals, you know, well, this is probably one case where you would like to see the pit bull defend himself, with such a brutal attack.”
Woods was arrested March 28, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and was being held in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Under questioning from sheriff’s officials, Woods said he was only disciplining his dog: “Yeah that was me. What you going to arrest me because I beat my dog because it shit and pissed all over my house?” Woods is reported to have said to the arrresting officer.
The video was found on the cell phone of a drug suspect who was one of Woods’ neighbors. Johnny Dominick, 21, admitted videotaping the beating, the sheriff said.
In addition to drug counts, Dominick was charged with aggravated cruelty.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, aggression, animals, arrest, asani woods, beating, brutal, cellphone, cruelty, disturbing, dog, dogs, euthanized, graphic, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, sheriff, surrendered, tiger, video
Nearly three months ago, authorities in Las Vegas dropped an investigation into a man’s complaint that his neighbor was abusing his dog.
Last week, though, that same dog owner was arrested — thanks to the persistent efforts of the neighbor who, after his earlier complaint led nowhere, went on to videotape the man mistreating his dog and than gave the evidence to officials.
Charged with felony cruelty to animals was Roy Cozart, 30, who beat his pit bull, Kilo, with a rock and the handle of a hammer and threw him against a wall, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson announced Friday in a press release.
“Animal abuse is a serious offense that will not be tolerated,” the district attorney said. “We take all allegations of abuse very seriously and pursue criminal charges when appropriate.”
But as KTNV pointed out in a news report, the initial complaint against the neighbor came months ago.
While authorities apparently didn’t see the original complaint as that serious, they now say Kilo was abused multiple times between July 15 and Oct. 13.
The difference, this time, was apparently the video.
Even after that, though, an animal control investigator who later visited Cozart’s home, reported that the dog, though he had cuts and bruises on his face, “appeared happy.”
It wasn’t until a week later that the dog was seized and examined by veterinarians who said they saw signs of abuse. Kilo is now in a foster home and is reported to be doing well, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“We are thankful the D.A. has taken animal cruelty seriously and has brought the appropriate charges against Roy Cozart,” said Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals. “We are confident that policies and procedures addressing serious allegations of cruelty will improve as more animal cruelty cases are prosecuted under Cooney’s law,” she said.
Cooney’s Law was passed by the Nevada State Legislature in 2011 making animal cruelty a felony. It’s named after a 3-year-old beagle from Reno who was killed when her owner cut her stomach open, thinking that a mouse crawled inside the dog. The owner was charged with a misdemeanor under the law in effect at the time.
Now it’s a felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
That’s progress, but only if the law is swiftly and strongly enforced.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal, animal control, animal welfare, animals, arrest, arrested, cellphone, clark county, cooney's law, district attorney, dog, dogs, enforcement, evidence, felony, investigation, kilo, las vegas, law, misdemeanor, neighbor, nevada, nevada voters for animals, owner, pets, pit bull, steve wolfson, video
As part of its continuing effort to make Saturday morning television less cartoony and more educational, CBS is premiering a show whose host rescues a dog every week.
We applaud (almost) everything about that idea.
In the show, called “Lucky Dog,” dog trainer Brandon McMillan will rescue, train and find homes for 22 dogs in 22 weeks.
McMillan, who is said to have trained as many as 10,000 dogs — some for television and movie roles — will choose a dog each week from a shelter, bring him home, train him and find him a good home, according to the Associated Press.
The show, produced by Litton Entertainment, airs Saturday mornings (check your local listings) and is targeted to teens 13 to 16 years old.
According to McMillan, he will not pick any dogs for the show who have abuse in their past — something he says he can detect in his first 30 seconds with a dog.
While he works with those dogs on his own time, he says they won’t appear on “Lucky Dog” because “the viewers that watch this show are not going to want to see a dog that’s been in a fight. This is a family show.”
We — though liking the basis for the show — think that kind of thinking is wrong, and a cop-out, and a missed opportunity for educating an age group that needs to be educated about animal abuse, at least by 13, if not sooner.
“Lucky Dog” is one of four new shows replacing Saturday morning cartoons at CBS, at least in part to fulfill the network’s requirement for educational television.
And it sounds as if — much like the cereal ads it will appear amid — it will be heavily sugar-coated.
But at least it’s educational.
McMillan, 36 , said he will likely choose dogs he “makes a connection with,” then train them so they are proficient in seven common commands — sit, stay, down, come, off, heel and no.
McMillan will choose the family each dog will go to by evaluating emails he receives at his Southern California ranch — the Lucky Dog Ranch — and checking out the house and yard where the new dog will live. He’ll also spend a couple of hours training the family.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, abused, animals, brandon mcmillan, cbs, childrens, dog, dogs, educational, lucky dog, network, pets, programming, programs, rescue, saturday morning, shelters, television
For any family that has feared their dog might not adjust to a new human baby in the house, here’s a story that shows dog and babies can, and usually do, mix quite well — and that dogs might not be the biggest worry.
It was a 22-year-old babysitter who was abusing Finn, the seven-month-old son of a South Carolina couple.
It was the family dog, Killian, who helped catch her.
Benjamin and Hope Jordan moved to Charleston last year, and, after a background check, hired a babysitter to help care for their son.
After a few months, they began noticing that Killian behaved strangely when the babysitter arrived.
“We started to notice that our dog was very protective of our son when she would come in the door,” Jordan told Live 5 News. “He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.”
Based on that, the parents decided to leave an iPhone under the couch and record what was going on while they were at work.
When they listened to the audio recording that night, they heard cussing, slaps and crying.
“It started with cussing,” Jordan said. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up … To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day…”
Charleston City Police arrested Alexis Khan a few weeks later. She pleaded guilty to assault and battery earlier this month in Charleston County Circuit Court and was sentenced to one to three years in prison.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, arrest, baby, babysitter, behavior, child, child abuse, conviction, dog, dogs, finn, killian, pets, protection, protective, south carolina