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Tag: american humane association

Susie named 2014′s “American Hero Dog”

susie

Susie, the abused North Carolina dog who inspired a law, a movie, and a nonprofit organization, has been named the American Humane Association’s 2014 American Hero Dog.

Susie, found with burns over most of her body in 2009, received a standing ovation at the AHA‘s black-tie awards gala Saturday night in Beverly Hills, where she was one of eight finalists competing for the prize.

“I’m just blown away,” Donna Lawrence told TODAY.com after learning her dog had won. “There were so many amazing dogs with great stories. When they called Susie, I just wanted to cry.”

In 2009, Susie was found with severe second and third-degree burns over most of her body in Greenfield Park in south Greensboro. Her ears were burned off and she had a broken jaw and teeth. She was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter and eventually nursed back to health.

She was adopted by Donna and Roy Lawrence — just 10 months after Donna was attacked while trying to help a neglected pit bull that had spent much of its life tied to a tree in her neighbor’s yard in High Point, North Carolina.

When the man who was convicted of setting Susie on fire was sentenced to probation, outraged dog lovers launched a campaign for tougher penalties for animal cruelty and abuse.

“Susie’s Law,” which made animal cruelty a felony in North Carolina, went into effect in 2010, signed by then-governor Bev Perdue.

Donna Lawrence went on to establish Susie’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that fosters awareness of animal abuse. In 2013, the story was made into a movie, also called “Susie’s Hope.”

Susie is now a certified therapy dog and visits schools, hospitals and churches to bring messages of kindness, respect and responsibility to children and adults.

Other finalists in the Hero Dog Awards, included:

Bretagne, one of the last known surviving search dogs who worked at Ground Zero in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

Kai, an arson dog who has worked more than 200 fire investigations in San Antonio

JJ, a little dog with a powerful nose that can detect when his human, ther  a girl named KK Krawczyk, is about to have a life-threatening reaction due to a rare illness

Kota, a law-enforcement K9 who sustained multiple fractures while responding to a burglary in progress but who kept trying to help his police officer partner apprehend a suspect

Xena the Warrior Puppy, a dog rescued from extreme abuse who went on to help a little boy with autism in profound ways

Chaney, a military dog who served multiple tours sniffing out explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan

Xxon, a guide dog who helped an Air Force sergeant continue to serve active duty and regain independence after being blinded by explosives in Afghanistan.

The Hallmark Channel will air the awards show on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time).

(Photo: American Humane Association)

Pit bull wins national “hero dog” award

elle

Elle, a 5-year-old pit bull who helps children become more confident about reading, has been named the 2103 Hero Dog by the American Humane Association.

But it wasn’t just her listening skills that won her the honor. She also helps teach children about dog safety, and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes – “something a pit bull knows too much about,” the association noted in announcing the award.

The therapy dog and her owner started a reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales”  that helps students at two North Carolina schools — Vaughan Elementary in Macon and Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids — become stronger readers. Students take turns reading out loud to Elle for 20 minutes.

“She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear,” Leah Brewer, 42, told TODAY.com.

Elle and the other finalists for the American Humane Association award attended a ceremony Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It will air as a 90-minute special on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.

After a six-month natonwide search, 141 dogs from across the country were nominated. More than one million Americans cast votes for the eight finalists online. Those results, along with the choices of a panel of celebrity judges and animals activists, were combined to determine the winner.

Among other nominees were Carlos, an explosive detector dog who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan; John D, a rescue dog who uses his scenting capabilities to detect cancer in patients; Cassidy, a three-legged dog who visits rehabilitation centers to comfort children with disabilities; and Lola, a rescued guide dog who connects her deaf owner to the surrounding world.

“Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association.

“As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has been often been unjustly maligned. We hope that Elle’s story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed.”

(Photo: American Humane Association)

The shocking truth about elephant star

Movie star electric shocked from Animal Defenders on Vimeo.

Tai, the 42-year-old Asian elephant who stars in the new movie “Water for Elephants” may not have been harmed in the making of that particular film — but he learned the tricks he does in it by being repeatedly shocked with electricity, an animal welfare organization says.

Animal Defenders International said a six-year-old video of Tai being trained has been posted on the Internet, shows trainers administering electric shocks as they teach him tricks.

“Water for Elephants,” a romantic drama set in a 1930s-era American circus, stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. It is premiering this month.

Tai, supplied by Have Trunk Will Travel of California, plays the role of Rosie, an elephant who is brutally attacked with a bull hook by by the circus owner.

The American Humane Association monitored production of the movie — and it, as well as the producers, stars, and trainers have said Tai was treated with nothing but kindness during the movie’s making.

A representative of the American Humane Association stated during the making of the movie, “all these animals have been treated fairly and humanely throughout the entire course of their training.”

Gary Johnson, a founder of Have Trunk Will Travel claimed: “Tai was never hit in any way at all,” according to ADI.

ADI, however, says video filmed at Have Trunk Will Travel in 2005 clearly shows Tai being shocked as part of his training.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “We were uncomfortable with the message of this film, but the more we saw the repeated assertions that this elephant has been treated with love and affection and never been abused, we realized that we had to get the truth out. The public, the stars and the filmmakers have been duped. This poor elephant was trained to do the very tricks you see in the film by being given electric shocks.”

ADI said it was sending copies of the video to the film’s stars and makers.

“I believe that Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson will be horrified to learn what Tai went through,” Creamer said.

ADI has also contacted American Humane Association, urging them to re-evaluate how they assess the use of animals in films. ADI is also calling for a boycott of the film.

Numerous animals were permanently harmed in the making of this nasty and perverted film

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The American Humane Association is urging Congress to act immediately in light of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down a federal law that prohibited videos, photographs and other depictions of acts of cruelty to animals for commercial gain.

The association — which bestows the “No animals were harmed” disclaimer on movies — says a new law is needed to “protect animals from the type of horrific cruelty this law was meant to prevent.”

The law, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, was intended to prevent the creation and sale of dogfighting, other animal fighting, and “crush” videos that show real and intentional harm to animals for “entertainment” purposes.

“Deliberately killing animals for entertainment has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” said American Humane’s interim president and CEO, George C. Casey. “Americans are within their right to keep blatant animal torture and killing out of the marketplace, and the Supreme Court should have made that the priority over the supposed protections of those who take sick pleasure in this material.”

The American Humane Association, whose mission is to protect both children and animals, says the connection between violence to people and violence to animals is undeniable, and many studies indicate that animal maltreatment is “part of a complex constellation of family violence.”

The Supreme Court Monday ruled on the case of  Robert J. Stevens, who was convicted of selling videos of dogs fighting each other and attacking other animals. The court ruled the law was overly broad, and that such depictions are protected by free speech.

Stevens, who made the video “Catch Dogs and Country Living” — sounds almost civilized, don’t it? – was the first to be prosecuted under the federal law.

Until then, we’ll settle for the “Pawscars”

bonecrusherUntil the Academy Award folks wise up and start giving awards for canine performances, we have the “Pawscars” — unofficial honors from the American Humane Association given to commend those films that, in their making, have treated animals well.

The American Human Association, which bestows the  “No Animals Were Harmed” disclaimer seen during movie credits, monitors the use of dogs and other animals on more than 1,000 productions each year.

This year, the association singled out three movies that excelled in keeping safe the animals involved in the productions – ”Avatar,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.””

For Best Alien Animals, the association praised “Avatar,”’ which used computer generated images created with the use of real horses with sensors attached to their joints and facial areas.

For Best Newcomer, the association picked Uno, a Neapolitan mastiff who appears in ”Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Uno, who is believed to have been abused before she was adopted, gained confidence and trust during the making of the movie, where she did her job with the help of a patient owner/trainer.

For Best Cameo, the association singled out Bonecrusher, the family bull mastiff of director Michael Bay (above) who appeared in Bay’s movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

The association didn’t limit honors to dogs. It also singled out such non-Academy Award nominated films as “The Hangover,” in which a tiger appears; “Did You Hear About The Morgans?” in which a bear plays a big role; and ”The Proposal,” which includes a scene in which the family dog is snatched by an eagle.

To achieve the effect, the movie had a trained eagle scoop up a sack made of green-screen material, into which the dog was later inserted. In reality, the dog and the  eagle were never even in the same shot together.

Also recognized was the chase scene in ”Hotel For Dogs.” Near the end of the film, the main characters release all the dogs from the shelter, which then chase the teens’ van down the street to the hotel. Trainers rehearsed the dogs for several weeks for the scene, which involved the most dogs ever filmed in a single scene on an American Humane-monitored film.

Should dogfight videos be protected speech?

Should the sale of videos depicting dogfighting and other animal cruelty be protected by the First Amendment?

That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on today in the case of Robert J. Stevens, author and producer of several films about pit bulls and dogfighting.

Stevens, 69, says he had nothing to do with the dogfights themselves. He only made and sold tapes showing them — tapes he says had educational and historical value. He was convicted and sentenced to 37 months under a 1999 federal law that bans selling “depictions of animal cruelty.”

The law was struck down last year when a federal appeals court overturned Stevens conviction on First Amendment grounds.

The  case has divided animal rights groups and free-speech advocates, according to the New York Times.

At issue is whether the court should designate a category of expression as so vile that it deserves no protection under the First Amendment. The last time the court did that was in 1982, with child pornography.

The law was enacted in 1999 in response to the sale of  “crush videos,”  which showed small animals being stomped on by women.

The law applies to recordings of “conduct in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded or killed.” It exempts materials with “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.”

News organizations, including The New York Times, filed a brief supporting Stevens, arguing that the 1999 law “imperils the media’s ability to report on issues related to animals.”

In a brief supporting the government, the Humane Society of the United States said that “gruesome depictions of animal mutilation targeted” by the law “simply do not merit the dignity of full First Amendment protection.”

The American Humane Association also supports the federal government’s position. “This is a case about animal cruelty, plain and simple,” said American Humane President and CEO Marie Belew Wheatley. “… While many parties may argue the technicalities and interpretations of the law, the real focus should be that it is immoral, it is inhumane and it should be illegal to exploit, torture and kill animals for someone’s twisted sense of ‘entertainment’ and someone else’s profit.”

“While acts of animal cruelty have long been outlawed,” the brief for Stevens said, “there have never been any laws against speech depicting the killing or wounding of animals from the time of the First Amendment’s adoption through the intervening two centuries.” The brief also notes that Stevens’ sentence was 14 months longer than that of Michael Vick.

No animals were harmed — or so they say

Five recent movies have slapped the “No animals were harmed” disclaimer on their end-credits without the permission of the organization that trademarked the phrase.

The American Humane Association, which monitors movie productions in which animals appear, says the five movies used the disclaimer without its approval.

The association has sent the studios and distributors connected to each production a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the unauthorized disclaimers be removed immediately from the theatrical and DVD versions of the movies.

The association identified the movies as:

Adam by Olympus Pictures, Deer Path Productions, Serenade Films, Vox3 Films.

District 9 by WingNut Films Limited, Key Creatives and LLC/QED Intl.

Easy Virtue by Ealing Studios, Fragile Films, Endgame Ent., Odyssey Ent.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Number 9 Films.

Shrink by Ignite Entertainment, Ignite Productions, Ithaka Entertainment and Trigger Street Productions.

American Humane said the registered disclaimer, when properly obtained, assures the public that animal actors used in productions were not killed or injured in any way, and that their well-being and safety were monitored by the association’s certified animal safety representatives.

The 130-year-old organization said the movie companies are misleading the public and creating “a significant breach of trust with audiences” by inserting the credit without authorization.

Some of the studios and producers have indicated they will remove the illegitimate credit, while others are making excuses or taking no action, American Humane said.

“We encourage filmmakers to work with American Humane, and for distributors to verify the legitimacy of the ‘No Animals Were Harmed’® credit, before approving and finalizing any film prints for theatrical release or DVD distribution,” said Karen Rosa, American Humane’s vice president in charge of its Film & TV Unit.  “Viewers, too, should always look for the ‘No Animals Were Harmed’® end credit, and they can check our website to see what rating we assigned to films, based on their use of animals, and to find out how the animal action was achieved on films that we monitored.”

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