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Tag: adoption

To be or not to be — a pit bull

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Whether Diggy is to be or not to be a pit bull will be decided by a judge.

The dog whose smiling face went viral — and led local officials to label him a pit bull and order him to leave town — is going to get his day in court.

Since we last reported on the case, Diggy has been proclaimed an American bulldog by a local veterinarian, but Waterford Township officials apparently didn’t buy the vet’s pronouncement.

Diggy is a pit bull, they say, based on how he looks — and those are banned in the Michigan township, under its dangerous dog ordinance.

Because Diggy’s owner, Dan Tillery, was cited by local authorities for having a pit bull, the final disposition of the case will be left up to the court.

It’s all a tremendous waste of time — first and foremost because pit bull bans are ill-conceived and just don’t work. On top of that, pit bull isn’t a breed at all. On top of that, a judge is likely to be even worse at determining breed than animal control officials, police, shelters, rescues and even veterinarians are, which is pretty bad to begin with.

And on top of all those things, does either side really want to know?

If they did, you’d think they’d have conducted a DNA test by now.

diggy4Tillery, a musician, adopted the dog from Harper Woods-based Detroit Dog Rescue earlier this month and posted a photo of Diggy and himself that went viral and was shared by news outlets nationwide.

The media coverage led the Waterford Police Department to drop by a few days later, take a look at Diggy, proclaim him a pit bull, and tell his owner that he had three days to get the dog out of town.

The dog had been listed as an American bulldog when he was in Detroit’s city animal shelter. He was pulled from there by Detroit Dog Rescue, which, in at least one Facebook post, labeled him an American bulldog-pit bull mix. On the official adoption papers, though, Detroit Dog Rescue listed him as American bulldog.

After the police department’s ultimatum, Tillery had the dog assessed by a local veterinarian who judged him to be American bulldog — though he apparently did so without conducting a DNA test.

That wasn’t good enough for local authorities, who, though they relaxed that three days to get out of town part, are still insisting Diggy is a pit bull and must leave.

Tillery met Monday with Waterford Township officials, and posted on his Facebook page that the prosecutor was sticking to the decision to have Diggy removed from the community.

A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. in Waterford’s 51st District Court.

“My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family,” Tillery said in the post. “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”

diggyWaterford Township Prosecutor Margaret Scott said that the township will now simply wait to allow the court to determine whether Diggy falls within the ban.

“We’re not going in and removing the dog, we’re not destroying the dog — it is a pending violation,” she told the Oakland Press.

Tillery and his dog have seen an outpouring of support from dog lovers and those opposed to Waterford’s breed-specific legislation. More than 50 supporters showed up at a Waterford Board of Trustees meeting to ask officials to remove the dangerous dog ordinance from its books.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the town to lift the ban.

Strangely, amid all the debate and national news coverage, DNA testing hasn’t been mentioned. If Tillery has pursued it, he’s staying quiet about it.

While some of the companies offering DNA tests — via blood samples or cheek swabs — skip around the pit bull question, a few of the tests do identify the breeds commonly associated with pit bulls.

certOne even offers a “pit bull exemption certificate” in cases where a dog is determined to be made up of 87 percent or more of non-pit bull breeds.

That may or not impress Waterford officials, or the judge, as such tests aren’t conclusive.

It’s still a possibility — that one side, or the other, or the judge, could pursue having the test done.

It would at least add some factual material to all the guesswork going on, at least a little foundation for the strident and unending Internet debate that is mostly — much like pit bull bans themselves — sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(Photos of Diggy by Dan Tillery)

NY law will require educational institutions to find homes for dogs used in research

Dogs used in scientific research would need to be considered for adoption before they can be routinely euthanized under legislation passed this week in New York.

The measure — focused on beagles because they are most commonly bred for research use — has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law, WGRZ reports.

The Research Animal Retirement Act — also referred to as the “Beagle Freedom Bill” — would require all educational institutions that use dogs or cats in research to establish adoption programs.

The law would mandate that a veterinarian determine whether a beagle or other animal that is no longer useful to researchers is medically suitable for adoption. If approved for adoption, the animal would then be shipped to a shelter or given to an interested owner.

Similar laws have been passed in Nevada, California, Minnesota, and Connecticut.

“This bill, once it is signed into law, will mean that research animals will have a chance at a second life,” said one sponsor of the legislation, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan.

“All animals, being freed of their testing responsibilities, should be afforded the opportunity of a loving, forever home to live the remainder of their days,” said another, Sen. Phil Boyle, R-Suffolk County.

The The Beagle Freedom Project — whose work is featured in the video above — has mounted campaigns in several more states to get the law passed.

The New York law requires publicly-funded higher education research facilities to take reasonable steps to provide for the adoption of dogs and cats when they are no longer being used for scientific research.

While federal laws regulate animal research, they do not protect dogs and cats from being euthanized when their services are no longer needed.

Some research facilities, however, have instituted their own adoption programs.

“These dogs and cats deserve to live normal lives as companion animals once their time in the laboratory ends,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

“People who have adopted former research dogs and cats can attest to the resilience and affection of these animals once they are given the chance to flourish in a home environment,” he said.

How to erase a smile: Michigan dog whose photo went viral is now an outlaw

smileydogA dog whose smile went viral this month on the Internet has been deemed an outlaw — based entirely on his looks.

Diggy was adopted by Michigan musician Dan Tillery, and a heartwarming photo of the two of them with big smiles on their faces (left) has been shared widely on social media.

But once Tillery brought the dog home to Waterford Township, they were met with a frown.

The township bans pit bulls, and when police received “several complaints” about Diggy — not based on any bad behavior, just based on his looks — police officers visited Tillery’s home.

“Based on their observations, it was determined the dog was part pit bull/pit bull terrier,” Police Lt. Todd Hasselbach said.

Listen more closely to his remarks and you can hear they are oozing something very close to what, in the human community, we’d call racism.

He confirms that Diggy is being judged based on looks alone. He says any percentage of pit bull in Diggy — no matter how small — makes him a pit bull. And he says Diggy can’t be permitted to live in Waterford Township because of the “zero tolerance” ordinance, which has been “in effect for many years.” As if that makes it right.

Sounding like a lawman from the old west, or maybe more like a 1960’s sheriff from the deep south, went on to say Diggy has three days to get out of town.

diggyAll that would be a pretty troubling series of events, in my view, whether Diggy is a pit bull or not.

And he may not be.

Diggy was picked up as a stray earlier this year by Detroit Animal Care and Control, which classified him as an American bulldog.

Detroit Dog Rescue, the only no-kill shelter in the city, later pulled Diggy from the facility and put him up for adoption, according to ABC News’ local affiliate WXYZ.

Tillery and his girlfriend adopted Diggy after seeing a photo posted on the nonprofit rescue group’s Facebook page. In that post, Diggy — then named Sir Wiggleton — was described as a “2 year old American bulldog/pit bull mix that loves the water and is just a big goofball.”

In the week after his adoption, Diggy became an internet sensation after Tillery posted a photo of him smiling with his new dog.

Owning a pit bull in Waterford is an ordinance violation that can carry a $500 fine. Police didn’t cite Tillery but told him he had until today to relocate the dog to another town.

diggy2Waterford police said if a veterinarian deems Diggy to be an American bulldog or another permitted breed, with no pit bull in him, then he can stay — but they say it has to be a vet of the police department’s choosing.

Kristina Millman-Rinaldi, executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, said the organization already had a vet deem Diggy an American bulldog, and called the Waterford Township city clerk’s office beforehand to make sure there were no restrictions on that breed.

Waterford Township defines pit bulls as dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American Staffordshire terriers.

And the ordinance allows police officers to make that call — based on the dog’s looks and their previous experience with pit bulls.

An online petition to lift the dangerous dog ban in Waterford has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.

He’s Gumby, dammit

gumby1

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.

gumby2

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)

Shelter gave away boy’s service dog

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When the Humane Society of Tampa Bay sent a Weimaraner home with a new adoptive family, it didn’t realize it was giving away somebody’s service dog.

And now that Delilah has been rehomed, the agency says, it’s too late for an autistic boy’s family — who relied on the dog for six years to help detect eight-year-old Zack’s oncoming seizures — to get him back.

“He lost his best friend,” Zack’s mother, Michele Carlisle, told WTSP. “He doesn’t understand and he asks me for her all the time.”

Carlisle and her three sons moved from Alabama to Brandon, Florida, last August — and within days of the move Delilah ran off.

The family posted flyers, searched the streets, and checked the shelter closest to them every weekend, but found no signs of Delilah — not until November when they spotted her on the Humane Society’s adoption page.

Carlisle called the agency — only to learn the dog she recognized as Delilah had been adopted back in August, apparently within a week of her arrival at the shelter.

According to the Humane Society, Delilah was turned into the shelter (she had no tags nor a microchip) on Aug. 11 by someone who found her on the street; and she was placed with a new family on Aug. 15.

delilah1That’s four days — one day more than the amount of time shelter’s are legally required to hold unidentified strays before allowing them to be adopted.

“If a dog has no identification then it’s not legally their property after three days. That’s what the county has put into play,” said Dr. Nicole Cornett, the veterinarian for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “We ideally want them to go to the home that they came from, but if we can’t find that home we’re lucky enough to find another home, someone who will love them and take care of them.”

The Humane Society says it contacted Delilah’s new owners and explained the situation, but they did not want to give the dog back.

Carlisle wants to plead her case to them, but the Humane Society won’t share details about the new owner.

She said Delilah was trained to detect Zack’s oncoming seizures.

“She would pace and would go crazy and start making noises and circling him and I knew that Zack was in trouble. They had this bond almost like she was his mom,” she said.

“I just want them to be reunited, even one time,” she added. “I think if (the new owner) saw the bond between Delilah and Zack she would change her mind.”

(UPDATE: That owner did change her mind. Details here.)

(Photos courtesy of Michelle Carlisle)

More than 500 dogs and cats find homes during massive N.C. adoption event

sanford

In less than two days, the ASPCA found new homes for more than 500 dogs and cats seized from an unlicensed North Carolina shelter less than two months ago.

Potential adopters arrived early and in large numbers Friday morning, with a line stretching around the warehouse in Sanford that served as a temporary shelter for the dogs.

Just hours into Saturday, the planned third day of the event was canceled because all the animals had been adopted.

The dogs and cats were among more than 600 seized in January by Hoke County deputies and the ASPCA from The Haven – Friends for Life, an unlicensed no-kill shelter located in Raeford, N.C.

Since then, the animals have been held at the temporary facility for evaluation and veterinary care.

Adoption fees were waived during the event, and each animal was micro-chipped and spayed or neutered.

By Friday evening, more than half of the animals were adopted, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

Just a few hours into Saturday, all the dogs had been adopted, and the event closed early when the final cat was adopted Saturday afternoon.

Lynn and Carl Draus arrived Friday morning with a photo they had taken of a dog off their TV screen during a news report about the event.

Wandering through the rows of cages, they managed to find her.

“I feel in love with her just from the picture,” Lynn Draus told WRAL. “I didn’t know she was a puppy, but I just had a feeling that was the one I was going to get. So, we came here, and we were asking everybody where she’s at, and we found her.”

“The ASPCA is pleased to report that after an overwhelming successful two-day adoption event in Sanford, all 524 available cats and dogs were adopted into safe and loving homes,” the organization reported in a news release.

“The remaining cats and dogs who were not made available for adoption, as well as the 68 farm animals, will be placed with the ASPCA’s network of animal welfare agencies across the country to be made available for adoption.” the release said.

ASPCA officials have called the seizures from The Haven the largest companion-animal raid they’ve conducted nationwide in the last 20 years.

Authorities charged husband and wife Stephen and Linden Spear with four counts of animal cruelty and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, stemming from an animal medication not authorized on the property.

The Haven failed state inspections for more than a decade but was never shut down.

(Photo by Shannon Millard / Fayetteville Observer)