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Tag: advocate

Activist’s guide dog, Ruger, dies in New York

Ruger, a yellow Lab who helped his blind owner fight for the rights of guide dogs in New York, died this week of natural causes.

For nearly a decade, Ruger was at the side of Kevin Coughlin as the two went up against taxi drivers, restaurants and other establishments that illegally denied them entry.

Coughlin, 48, undertook several high-profile cases against businesses in the city that to refused to open their doors to guide dogs, including two complaints against the Taxi and Limousine Commission for refusing Ruger a ride.

In 2002, Coughlin filed a discrimination complaint against a coffee shop  for throwing his dog out, leading to a $1,000 against the owner.

The “CBS Evening News” once followed Coughlin and Ruger with a hidden camera and recorded business owners and taxi drivers giving him a hard time because of his dog.

Ruger, who had retired as a guide dog in 2008 and was living in Warwick, N.Y., died Wednesday at the age of 13, the New York Times reported.

“After losing my vision, I truly felt like I wasn’t going to experience joy again,” Coughlin, who became blind in 1997 as a result of a genetic condition, said Thursday. “But Ruger was just so full of joy. It was this in-your-face, all encompassing feeling. That was the biggest gift. He allowed me once again to experience joy.”

Mr. Coughlin held a retirement party  for Ruger in 2008, but has not seen him since. He said it would have been too difficult emotionally.

Coughlin has been working with a new guide dog, a black Lab named Elias, but Coughlin’s e-mail handle remains “misterruger.”

Vick heads home, may work with HSUS

Michael Vick left prison and is headed home today — and he hopes to team up with the Humane Society of the United States in a program aimed at eradicating dogfighting among urban teens.

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle said Tuesday that he recently met with Vick at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., and that Vick, who requested the meeting, wants to work with the group once he’s out of federal custody, according to Sports Illustrated.

Vick is returning to Hampton, Virginia, where he will serve the final two months of his 23-month prison sentence for dogfighting under home confinement. Vick is expected to be released to supervised probation July 20 after receiving two months off his term for good behavior.

“He indicated that he’s tremendously remorseful about this, and now he wants to be an agent of change, to work to end dogfighting and to specifically get young kids to cease any involvement in these activities,” Pacelle said.

“Sometimes folks who are reformed can be particularly strong advocates,” Pacelle said, adding the Vick would be expected to do more than simply record anti-dogfighting public service announcements. “We agree that he’s got to put boots on the ground and hit the issue hard and do it over a long time.”

Pacelle elaborates on the unlikely alliance today on his blog, Humane Nation.

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