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Tag: alabama

Students surprise teacher with a new puppy

After losing his ailing golden retriever, an Alabama high school teacher is spending the holiday season with a new puppy — purchased for him by the senior class at Clements High School.

Troy Rogers, a history teacher at the high school in Athens, was presented with the 8-week-old golden retriever puppy last month.

The school’s 90-student senior class raised nearly $700 through donations from students and teachers after learning that Chip, Rogers’ beloved golden retriever, had disappeared from his family’s home.

“Coach Rogers doesn’t have children so his dog was like his child,” said Haleigh Moss, one of the students who organized the donations. “He treats us like we’re his own children and he does so much for us. We just wanted to do something great for him in return.”

Rogers said his students asked about his missing dog nearly every day.

“They would ask if we had found Chip and I’d say, ‘No we haven’t yet. Thank you for asking,’ and we’d start our teaching day,” Rogers told ABC News.

Rogers said the elderly dog had recently gone blind and been depressed before wandering off, presumably to die.

clementineThe students began raising money when it became clear Chip wasn’t returning.

“When he first walked in the room he was just shocked from the students,” recalled student Miranda Ezell.

“Then he saw her, and you could tell he teared up and his face turned red. You could see the excitement in his eyes.”

Rogers and his wife decided to name the dog Clementine, after the school mascot.

Rogers, a 20-year teaching veteran, said he plans to make a donation to the senior class fund to repay the students for their generosity. He has also created a private Facebook page for Clementine, called “Clementine’s Adoration Society,” so the students can watch her develop and grow.

“I think a lot of people don’t give teenagers the credit they deserve for the good hearts and kindness they have,” Rogers said. “I’m never surprised by how good they are.”

(Photo: From Troy Rogers’ Facebook page)

Another greyhound track bites the dust

mgp

Alabama will be down to its last greyhound track when live dog races come to an end at Mobile Greyhound Park later this month.

Dog races at the park will cease Aug. 16 due to declining public interest in the “sport,” Wind Creek Hospitality announced Monday.

That will leave Birmingham Race Course as the only track in Alabama with live greyhound racing.

Alabama is one of just six states where greyhound racing remains legal and operational. Forty states have declared it illegal, according to Grey2K USA.

Since 1973, Mobile Greyhound Park has offered live dog racing, but revenues from betting have declined steadily since 1987.

In 2009, PCI Gaming Authority — an enterprise of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — purchased controlling interest of the track for a reported $10 million. They had hoped to diversify their funding streams, but state laws prohibited other forms of gaming at the track.

According to PCI, about 30 employees will be affected by the end of live dog racing. The company has offered to “assist each team member with locating and applying for opportunities at other Wind Creek Hospitality facilities …”

In a statement, it said it will also assist kennel owners with the relocation, adoption and ongoing care of about 400 greyhounds who still “provide service” at the track.

Those at the peak of their racing careers will probably move on to other tracks, while the majority will be put up for adoption.

Inquiries about adopting a greyhound from the track can be emailed Darla Dean, the president of Alabama Sighthound Adoptions in Mobile, at ALsighthounds@gmail.com. The fee to adopt is $225.

“That’s how we do it in the country”

chickenA woman who duct-taped a dead chicken to a dog’s neck to teach it not to kill chickens defended the practice by saying that’s how they’ve always done it “in the country.”

The unidentified 74-year-old woman was cited for animal cruelty after a neighbor reported her to authorities and posted images of the dog on Facebook.

The woman is from Phenix City, Alabama, but was house sitting for a daughter in Columbus, Georgia, when the incident occurred.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said police went to the home Monday after a complaint from a citizen.

The mayor described what happened this way: “The dog kills the chicken … So she said that she duct-taped the dead chicken to the dog to, quote, ‘Teach it a lesson not to kill her chickens.'”

The woman told police that’s what people do in the country to train dogs not to kill chickens, the mayor told the Ledger-Enquirer.

Apparently, the woman had brought the live chicken with her from Alabama.

It wasn’t immediately confirmed if the dog, described as a pit bull, belonged to her or her daughter.

The incident set off a lengthy Facebook debate after Columbus resident Hannah Gillespie posted pictures of the dog:

Gillespie said in the post that the dead chicken remained taped to the dog’s neck for at least nine hours.

The ongoing Facebook debate took a dramatic turn when a someone claiming to be the woman in question posted, in a message to all the critics, that she had taken the dog to be euthanized.

Gillespie later commented on Facebook that the dog was still alive, and remained in the woman’s custody.

Muttcracker? Sweet!

One of the ballerinas in this year’s Birmingham Ballet rendition of a Christmastime classic can’t turn her head, manages her pirouettes despite a fused spine, and finds her inspiration in bacon flavored treats.

Her name is Pig, and she is one of the dogs featured in “The Mutt-cracker Suite,” which the Alabama ballet company has been putting on for five years to raise money for the Birmingham Humane Society.

Pig, who wears a pink tutu throughout the performance, was born with a rare affliction known as short spine syndrome.

Despite that, “She’s a petite, dainty package of joy,” said Cindy Free, director of the Birmingham Ballet.

pigtheunusual“We love having her in the show. She was perfect for the [role],” Free told Inside Edition.

A portion of every ticket for “Mutt-Cracker” goes to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.

Pig plays the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy’s on-stage companion, and she’s one of 29 dogs in this year’s production.

The three-year-old border collie mix also appeared in last year’s “Mutt-Cracker” production.

“She has been working on her pirouettes since last year, and she’s gotten them pretty well,” Free said, “especially if you offer her bacon-chicken strips.”

You can learn about Pig at the Pig the Unusual Dog Facebook page.

(Photo: Facebook)

Feel-good story about homeless man’s reunion with dog took some strange turns

patrick

Getting your Huntsvilles confused is one thing, but one website really screwed the pooch when they published a story about a good Samaritan who helped reunite a homeless man and his dog.

In September, in Huntsville, TEXAS, Wilma Price was driving through a Walmart parking lot when she saw a homeless man holding a sign that said, “Dog in pound. Need help.”

Price, who runs a rescue called Mr. K’s Pet Shelter, stopped to find out his story. She learned the homeless man, named Patrick, had been arrested and jailed for trespassing, and that, because of that, his dog ended up in the animal shelter.

She took Patrick to the shelter, and paid the $120 necessary for him to get his dog — named Franklin — back.

The story was picked up by the website Life with Dogs, CBS News, People.com and many more.

Dozens of other websites reprinted or rewrote it — most of them doing a decent job of passing along the facts.

Then there was the Alabama Observer.

patrick2It reported that the story took place in Huntsville, Alabama, that the dog’s name was Wilbur, that the homeless man’s name was Mark Spencer, and that the good Samaritan’s name was Elizabeth Masterson.

The story had no links to actual news sources, and little attribution.

It wasn’t the only website to get the facts askew, but it was the only one that appeared to be making up entirely new names for everyone involved. At least three other websites published versions of the story with those erroneous names.

One wonders what might be the motivation for substituting illegitimate names into a legitimate story.

Might the exact same story have happened with different people at a Walmart in Huntsville, Alabama? Clearly not. Might the website be trying to cover its rear, legally? Maybe. Might there be something more nefarious going on, such as diverting donations intended for Patrick (whose last name isn’t Spencer) to some guy named Mark Spencer? We hope not. Might a computer program be doing the website’s writing? Highly possible.

Apparently, a bogus Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for Patrick was launched by someone neither Wilma nor Patrick knew, and, using photos from Wilma’s Facebook page, it raised $3,000 before the page was removed from Go Fund Me.

That’s $3,000 Patrick and Franklin didn’t get. Wilma Price, meanwhile, started a campaign for him too, and it has raised more than $15,000 for Patrick on GoFundMe.

Price said Patrick has been helping her organization with rescue efforts since the two met, and her Facebook page documents their adventures together.

Snopes.com looked into the story and couldn’t figure out how or why the Alabama Observer version had new names inserted into it.

There is no contact information on the Alabama Observer’s web site, and no description of who operates it. Snopes reported it appears to accept stories submitted by users, as opposed to having its own reporters or freelancers.

We think there’s a good possibility it’s one of those websites that runs news stories through computer programs that rewrite them (with mixed results, or should I say “stirred outcomes?”).

How else could you explain the opening of this recent Alabama Observer story about clown sightings in Ohio?

“The developing rash of reported dangers including clown-faced villains has law authorization offices crosswise over Ohio and somewhere else attempting to recognize true blue dangers while cautioning deceptions are no giggling matter.”

(Photos courtesy of Wilma Price)

Wolfdog: A treasure among the trash

He goes by the nickname “Wolfdog.” Lives in Alabama’s great outdoors. And he spends most of his time, along with his dog, Bandit, picking trash — copious amounts of trash — out of the waterways.

It’s not a job. He doesn’t get paid. He says he does it out of his love for the planet and its wildlife.

“I’m not asking anybody for anything. I’m not a charity case. I ain’t a bum. I’m not a mooch,” says 55-year-old Cliff Skees. “But I do care about the environment. I care about wildlife. I care about human beings, but human beings, they take one look at me and they say, ‘Well, he’s just a piece of trash, you know.’

“Maybe I am. But then again, maybe I ain’t. I can look myself in the mirror and say I’m trying.”

We’ll go so far — despite the hard times he’s gone through in life — to cast a vote for “ain’t.”

And to point out that, most likely, a lot of those people who see him as “trash” are the same ones who so casually discard it, cluttering the waterways around Mobile, Alabama.

Skees is an unpolished gem, first discovered four years ago by Ben Raines, an environmental reporter for the Mobile Press-Register.

At the time, Skees was living the woods and was commonly seen with Bandit, gathering garbage from the shores from a canoe with these words painted on the side, “Be a critter, please don’t litter.”

Raines wrote a story back then about the man and his mission. He followed along as Skees — and Bandit, too — scooped up trash from the water and returned it to their base, where 140 bags full of garbage, stacked and numbered, sat.

“It was a startling sight, and a testament to just how trashy we Alabamians are, for even with that much trash picked up, so much more remained along the river banks,” Raines wrote.

Recently, Raines ran into him again — and found out that, while Skees’ mission remained the same, his situation has improved somewhat. You can read that second story here.

After the first story appeared, someone donated a pontoon boat to Skees, and he turned it into his base of operations.

Raines happened upon Wolfdog and Bandit again last week at a boat ramp on Chickasabouge Creek.

“They both looked prosperous and had a certain spring in their collective step. I immediately had the feeling some good fortune had come their way,” Raines wrote.

“Mr. Ben!” Wolfdog shouted, “You’ve got to see my rig. Things are different these days.”

bandit

Wolfdog then showed off the houseboat he had fashioned from the pontoon boat — one complete with solar panels, an electric motor, and other features that he fashioned out of recycled materials and some “backwoods hillbilly ingenuity.”

“The woodwork is top notch. Glossy marine varnish shines from every surface. There’s a bed, a table, a propane stove and several small windows. The framing for the insulated walls is aluminum, to better resist rotting. Everywhere you look, the craftsmanship is meticulous,” Raines reported.

An anonymous donor gave Skees the old 1979 pontoon boat after the first article appeared, apparently to support his one-man cleanup mission.

While friends donated items to the houseboat project, Skees receives no support for his efforts to keep the waterways clean — except that which Bandit supplies. When they are out in the canoe, Bandit will leap off to collect cups and plastic bottles in his mouth.

Wolfdog says he hopes to set a Guinness World Record for picking up trash, and he still dreams of finding some support from the local environmental groups.

“I can’t get nobody to help me. That’s what breaks my heart the worst. I can’t even get a thank you,” Wolfdog said. “I think they look at me and they see trash…

“I won’t give up. Get discouraged sometimes. But my best work, the best of my work, don’t come nowhere close to what I leave behind … There’s just no comparison. No comparison. Not nowhere close.”

Skees says it was on his first canoe ride that he fell in love with the solace of canoeing.

That trip is also when, seeing trash in the water, cleaning it up began his calling.

“For certain for sure,” he said. “There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to talk about it.”

If you are interested in helping Wolfdog and Bandit with their mission, contact Raines at braines@al.com.

(Photo courtesy of Wolfdog)

Pit bull reunited with owner’s loved ones

mckenzieandkai

A dog who ran off after a car accident in Alabama that killed her owner was found after a three-day search and driven more than 700 miles home to be reunited with the accident victim’s family in Arkansas.

Sgt. Jonathon Whaley and another officer were at the scene of the single-car accident that killed the driver and injured the passenger when they learned that the victim’s dog — a pit bull named Kai — had also been in the car, but ran off after the crash.

Police in Dothan, Alabama, said Mckenzie Amanda Grace Catron, a University of Arkansas student, was driving the car when it ran off the road and into a telephone pole last Saturday. Catron, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger, also 19, was rushed to an area hospital.

The two were on a spring break trip.

Once hearing from witnesses that there had been a dog in the car, too, Sgt. Whaley said, “We felt we needed to find the dog. We were going to do whatever we needed to do to reunite this dog with this family.”

Dozens of community members felt the same way, Fox 5 in Atlanta reported.

For days, police, firefighters and volunteers searched the area around the crash for Kai. They posted flyers, and started a Help Find Kai Facebook page, through which they stayed in touch with Catron’s family in Arkansas.

One of the volunteers was Benjamin Irwin, a Dothan attorney and animal lover. He and his wife offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who found the missing dog.

“We just really wanted this family to have this piece of their family back, something to help remember their daughter,” he told Al.com.

kairescueKai was found Monday, after two days of searching.

Irwin and another volunteer spotted her from afar.

Joined by others, they pursued her for more than a mile before capturing her in a shed.

“Over the city blocks and miles of both running and driving we found mutual friends who eventually jumped in and helped as well,” Irwin said. “Once our number was up to eight people we were able to get Kia to relax enough … to grab her collar.”

After Kai was taken to an area vet, Sgt. Whaley and his wife Ashley, offered to take her back to Catron’s family in Bentonville, Arkansas — a 12-hour drive.

Kai was reunited with Catron’s family Tuesday, and Kenzie Catron’s funeral was held Thursday.

No one collected the reward money, and Irwin said it would be donated to the animal shelter in Arkansas where Kai was originally adopted.

(Photos: From the Help Find Kai Facebook page)