Tag: animal farm foundation
At least 38 dogs entrusted to a Texas pit bull refuge whose mission was to provide them with care and find them new homes never came out, perishing instead from heat stroke, and being buried in a mass grave on the ranch.
Not too much news has been coming out of Spindletop Refuge in Willis, either.
Since authorities last week seized nearly 300 dogs, mostly pit bulls, and removed them from conditions generally described as cramped and unhealthy, there have been a lot more questions than answers.
On Friday, after hours of private negotiations, Spindletop owner Leah Purcell agreed to relinquish ownership of the 287 dogs, and through her attorney, she agreed to terms prohibiting her from future rescue and boarding in the county.
That court action was related strictly to the custody of the dogs. No charges have yet been filed against Purcell, and there has been no clear word that they will be.
Instead, there are a heap of questions unanswered — most of them from rescue groups around the country that sent animals to Spindletop, and now want to find out if they’re still alive, and reclaim them if they are.
On top of that, there’s another all-important one — what led what was once such a highly respected refuge to end up keeping dogs in conditions more like those you’d find at a puppy mill or the home of a hoarder?
Members of at least 50 rescue groups attended a Friday custody hearing in Conroe, but it was behind closed doors that an agreement was reached between prosecutors and Purcell. Except for 11 dogs that belonged to her mother, she surrendered the rest, and custody was awarded to the Humane Society of the United States and Montgomery County.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that a grand jury, also meeting behind closed doors, will decide whether Purcell will face criminal charges.
According to the Houston Press, several rescuers learned Friday then that the dogs they had surrendered to Spindletop — and were told had been adopted — died of heat stroke last summer.
“It was definitely not a sanctuary. Definitely not. Those dogs were left in a living hell,” said former Spindletop employee Brandon Louth, who says he’s the one who contacted authorities about conditions at the refuge.
Of the mass death he said, ”The dogs had suffocated, because the building was not ventilated. The electricity had gone off in the building, and basically I had to bury the dogs, put the dogs in sacks and dig a mass grave for them.”
Officials are still working to catalog all the rescued dogs, and were putting together a website where they’ll be posting photos of all of the dogs. The Animal Farm Foundation, which is helping coordinate the effort, said this week on its Facebook page that approximately 40 dogs have been claimed and returned to owners or places of origin, or will be in the next few days.
They advise those seeking dogs that were in Spindletop’s care to:
“If you have not already done so, please send extremely detailed information about dogs you wish to reclaim to firstname.lastname@example.org and to Constable Tim Holifield at email@example.com . Include a phone number and an email address. Put the word SPINDLETOP in the subject line. Animal Farm Foundation is coordinating the communication with owners and places of origin and schedules appointments for reclaiming dogs.”
At Friday’s court hearing, Montgomery County Constable Tim Holifield assured the crowd that the animals were being well cared for and that the Humane Society of the United States, which assisted in the Spindletop seizure, is committed to not euthanizing any of the dogs.
“It’s especially painful to see people and places that purport to help animals do precisely the opposite,” HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote yesterday on his blog, A Humane Nation.
“We tell people shopping for a dog from a breeder to go see the parents of the dog, to make sure the place is not a puppy mill. With so many of these cases of neglect by those who say they are helping animals cropping up, it’s also wise to do background work or a site visit to any self-described rescue or sanctuary. There are so many good rescue groups and sanctuaries doing important work for animals every day, and every one of them would agree with me on that point … Calling yourself a sanctuary or a Samaritan isn’t enough. You have to act like one.”
It’s also important, we’d point out, to get to the bottom of what happened — what made such good intentions go astray — and for that information to be public. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening with Spindletop, which only increases the chances that, sometime soon, somewhere else, we’ll be hearing the same story again.
(Photo: One of the rescued pit bulls in Texas; by Scott Dalton, via A Humane Nation)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, catalog, custody, deaths, dogs, hsus, leah purcell, location, mass grave, montgomery county, news, ownership, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, private, public, refuge, rescue, sanctuary, seized, spindletop, surrender, texas, wayne pacelle, willis
About 300 dogs found living in cramped and unsanitary conditions were removed by authorities this week from Spindletop Refuge, the largest pit bull rescue organization in Texas.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s department on Tuesday served a search warrant at the refuge in Wills, removing dogs from five buildings, including one two-story structure that housed 80 dogs.
Almost all of the dogs were pit bulls, many of them sent there after being rescued by other organizations.
Teams from the Humane Society of the United States were assisting in relocating the dogs. Animal Farm Foundation said it also plans to assist in rehoming the dogs.
“We share HSUS’s goal of ensuring the best possible outcome for each of the dogs, and we’re grateful that HSUS stepped up to oversee a humane and just outcome for all of these dogs. Once the dogs have been triaged at an undisclosed safe location, Animal Farm Foundation will work with HSUS to individually evaluate each dog for rescue or adoption placement.”
The Montgomery County Police Reporter said the dogs were being taken to an undisclosed location to be evaluated by veterinarians.
No charges have been filed yet.
(Photo: Scott Engle / Mongtomery County Police Reporter)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 300 dogs, animal farm foundation, animal welfare, animals, cramped, crowded, dogs, feces, hsus, montgomery county, pets, pit bull, pitbull, refuge, removed, rescue, sanctuary, shelters, sheriff, spindletop, texas, unsanitary, urine, wills
The Maryland Court of Appeals opinion declaring all pit bulls — and conceivably any dog with any pit bull in it — “inherently dangerous” shouldn’t be interpreted as outlawing the breed.
It applies only to litigation, and law-abiding pit bulls and their owners should have nothing to fear, those who see reason in the opinion will point out.
But there’s a lot to fear. Even though the opinion directly affects only those who get sued, it indirectly affects everyone — in the form of pets being abandoned, overcrowded shelters, difficulty finding rental property and giving Maryland a reputation as a state where beings are judged, discriminated against and persecuted, all based on looks.
It’s definitely a step in the wrong direction, fraught with connotations of racism, or its canine equivalent; and, like most exhibits of intolerance, it shouldn’t be tolerated.
B-More Dog, a group that’s been fighting on behalf of pit bulls for a few years now, is among the organizations offering advice to pit bull owners, aimed at better understanding the opinion, undoing the damage it did and dealing with its after-effects.
The same case that led to the court opinion played a role in B-More dog forming. In 2007, 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was bitten by a pit bull that escaped from its yard. Not long after that, a Baltimore County councilman introduced legislation that would have required pit bulls to be muzzled in public, among other restrictions.
At a rally to protest the proposed law, the founding members of the organization met, went on to fight the legislation and formed B-More Dog to promote responsible dog ownership.
The Solesky family, meanwhile, filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against the owners of the pit bull and their landlord. In 2009, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County ruled that the landlord, could not be held (monetarily) responsible for the dog bite because there was no way she could have known that the dog was “dangerous”.
The Solesky family appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals which found in favor of the Solesky family. Then, the landlord’s insurance company asked the Maryland Court of Appeals to hear the case. Its opinion last week, saying in, effect, that all pit bulls are dangerous and owners and landlords should know that, is the one that has sent some pit bull owners into states of near panic.
“B-More Dog has been in touch the best and the brightest people, both locally and nationally, who fight breed discrimination,” the organization said in a newsletter this week. “We remain confident that breed discrimination laws will be defeated in Maryland and we are preparing for the marathon battle ahead.”
B-more Dog isn’t the only organization that’s working to inform pit bill owners of the court opinion’s implications.
The Animal Farm Foundation put together information for pit bull owners that you can find it here. The Humane Society of the United States has some advice for renters and others that you can find here.
Those organziations and others are also looking at legal options, including the possibility of the Maryland General Assembly passing a law to undo the court decision. More information on this possibility can be found on this HSUS Facebook Page.
B-More Dog is planning a “Rally to Support Dog Owners Across Maryland,” and has scheduled some other events as well.
They’ll be on hand May 12, handing out stickers and more at the Baltimore Humane Society’s Paws on Parade event this Saturday (May 12).
Next Saturday (May 19), they’ll be holding ”Pins for Pits, a family-friendly bowling fundraiser at Country Club Lanes, 9020 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore, from 5-7 p.m.
And on Sunday (May 20), they’ll be holding their regular “Pit Bulls on Parade”
walk at Rash Field at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, starting at 11 a.m.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animal farm foundation, animals, b-more dog, breed-specific, breeds, court, court of appeals, discrimination, dogs, events, general assembly, help, hsus, implications, inherently dangerous, law, litigation, maryland, mixes, opinion, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
The town of Aurelia, Iowa, has declined to settle out of court with James Sak, the former Chicago police officer who says he should be allowed to keep the pit bull mix that helps him cope with the effects of a stroke.
Sak, 65, had to relinquish Snickers last year because the municipality bans pit bulls. He sent the dog to a boarding facility outside Aurelia. Later, an Iowa judge later granted an injunction, allowing Snickers and Sak to reunite (see the video above) and stay together in Aurelia until the case is resolved.
The Animal Farm Foundation, which is helping with Sak’s legal representation, said last week that the town has declined to settle the case, and that a trial has been scheduled for July, 2013, more than a year from now.
Earlier this year, Saks, a stroke victim, was diagnosed with throat cancer. He has been undergoing treatment at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.
“The worst part of my [cancer] treatment is not having my dog here,” said Sak, who is expected to return home after his hospital stay.
“Jim has been so strong throughout all of this. We know his strength comes from knowing Snickers is waiting for him at home, waiting to do his job as his service animal and his support,” said said Kim Wolf, community engagement specialist for Animal Farm Foundation.
Sak suffered a stroke in 2008 that left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to use the right side of his body. He was paired at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago with Snickers, who helps him walk, balance and call from help in an emergency.
“We want everyone to realize that Aurelia’s decision to use taxpayer dollars to put Jim through the agony of a trial, especially while he’s battling cancer, does not reflect the sentiments of every resident of Aurelia,” Wolf said. “The outpouring of support and disbelief from Jim’s neighbors has been huge.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, ban, breed, breed-specific, breeds, cancer, chicago, disability, dog, dogs, hospital, iowa, james sak, kim wolf, law, officer, pets, pit bull, pit bull mix, police, scheduled, service, snickers, stroke, treatment, trial, victim
A vigil is being held in New York Saturday in honor of Nick Santino, the soap opera actor who took his own life after putting his dog down.
Santino, according to friends and family, was distraught and feeling guilty after having his pit bull Rocco euthanized — a step acquaintances say he took after his condo board instituted rules against pit bulls and other restrictions against dogs.
“Rocco trusted me and I failed him,” Santino wrote in a suicide note. “He didn’t deserve this.”
Santino was allowed to keep his dog under a grandfather clause, but according to friends, he was being harassed about his dog by the board and fellow residents.
In response to the incident, the Animal Farm Foundation, in conjunction with the National Canine Research Council, had scheduled a press conference on on the social, financial, and legal challenges and discrimination facing pet owners in New York City, but canceled it in the wake of a police officer’s death in the city.
Instead, it’s coordinating a vigil that starts at 4 p.m. Saturday, outside of One Lincoln Plaza, 20 West 64th St.
“The recent death of Nick Santino and his dog Rocco highlight the important role pets play in American lives, but it also illustrates the social, financial, and legal challenges facing pet owners, especially in urban areas like New York City,” the foundation said in a press release.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, bans, breed, breed-specific, city, condo, discrimination, dogs, euthanized, manhattan, national canine research council, new york, nick santino, pets, pit bull, pitbull, restrictions, rocco, rules, suicide, vigil
Jim Sak, the retired Chicago cop and stroke victim who the town of Aurelia said couldn’t keep his service dog, is getting Snickers back — likely today.
Northern Iowa District Court has granted the motion for a preliminary injunction allowing the dog to come back to town.
Snickers had been banned from the city limits earlier this month because he was a pit bull, and Sak had benn boarding him at a kennel outside town.
The city council of of Aurelia had voted that Sak, though he depended on the dog to help cope with the effects of his stroke, should not be allowed to keep his dog because it was a violation of its breed ban. The city threatened to seize and kill the dog if it remained.
During a two-hour hearing today, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ruled Snickers was an exception to the citywide ban because Sak uses a wheelchair and depends on the service dog.
According to Kim Wolf, Animal Farm Foundation community engagement specialist, Snickers will be returned to Sak’s residence later this afternoon.
Wolf said many came to the hearing to support Sak and Snickers, including strangers who drove hours to be there
“Animal Farm Foundation is thrilled that Officer Sak will be reunited with his service dog, Snickers, and his safety will no longer be compromised,” Wolf said. “This case is a sad example of what happens when cities discriminate against dogs based on breed or appearance.”
“Today I got my peace of mind back,” Sak said after the hearing. “I hope that nobody else has to go through what we went through.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, breed ban, breed-specific, dogs, exception, hearing, injunction, iowa, jim sak, judge mark bennett, keep, pets, pit bull, pitbull, pitbulls, return, returned, ruled, ruling, service dog, snickers, u.s. district court
FOR AN UPDATE on this story, go here:
Some new developments are possible today in the case of that retired Chicago police officer who made the mistake of moving to Aurelia, Iowa.
James Sak, a Vietnam veteran who spent 32 years with the Chicago Police Department, and recently moved to Iowa after suffering a disabling stroke, was told earlier this month that his service dog, because he’s a pit bull, isn’t allowed to live in town.
Today, there’s a hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction, ordering the city to allow Sak to get Snickers back.
Sak moved the dog to a kennel outside of town after the city told him that failure to comply with its orders would result in the dog being seized and killed.
The Animal Farm Foundation, which is paying for the boarding of Snickers and helped Sak line up legal representation, says the city’s actions violate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
The Animal Farm Foundation put together the video above about the case.
The request for an injunction was filed last week, and the hearing is today at United States District Court, Northern District of Iowa, 320 Sixth Street, in Sioux City. It starts at 9 a.m. (central time) in the 3rd Floor Courtroom.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, breed ban, breed-specific, chicago, court, dog, dogs, iowa, james sak, laws, pets, pit bull, pitbull, policeman, retired, service dog, sioux city, snickers, united states district court, vietnam vet
For 32 years after that, he served the city of Chicago as a tactical officer in the police department.
Last month, the retired cop moved to the small town of Aurelia, Iowa, to help serve his ailing 87-year-old mother in law.
And here’s what Aurelia, Iowa, has served him: Notice that his service dog, who helps him cope with the effects of a stroke, can’t live there.
The 65-year-old disabled veteran has shipped Snickers to a kennel outside of town after city officials threatened to seize and destroy the dog, a five-year-old — you guessed it — pit bull.
Days after moving into their new home, Sak and his wife were summoned to a town council meeting after a group of citizens circulated a petition calling for the dog to be removed from city limits.
The council voted December 14 to prohibit the dog from residing within Aurelia city limits — a move the Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) says, despite a local breed ban, violates 2010 guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on breed limitations for service dogs.
Attorneys representing AFF filed a request for a preliminary injunction earlier today, asking a judge to order Snickers immediately be returned to Sak. An expedited hearing was requested, and AFF says it hopes to see Snickers back with Sak by Christmas.
AFF maintains that, because Snickers works as a service animal for a disabled person, the dog is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and should not be subject to the breed ban.
The Department of Justice said last year it “does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks.”
Snickers has no history of aggression or nuisance complaints, the AFF says.
In 2008, Sak suffered a stroke that left him unable to use the right side of his body, and in a wheelchair.
For two years Sak worked with Aileen Eviota, a physical therapist with the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, to learn to live more independently through the use of a service dog.
“Snickers has been individually trained to assist James with tasks which mitigate his disability, including walking, balance, and retrieving items around the house,” Eviota wrote in a letter to the Aurelia Town Council dated December 2, 2011.
The Animal Farm Foundation says it has hired an attorney to represent the Sak family and is paying to board the dog at the out-of-town kennel.
“It’s about the injustice of this man having his service dog taken away — this man who is a Vietnam War veteran and a retired Chicago police officer who has always given back to the community,” said executive director Stacy Coleman.
“This town has taken away this man’s independence, his peace of mind, and his freedom to move about his house, go out in public and keep from having to go to a nursing home with 24-hour care. He’s physically in danger without his dog.”
Aurelia passed its breed specific ban in March of 2008, after a meter reader was bitten by a pit bull, according to the Chicago Sun-Times
Peggy Leifer, Jim’s wife, told the Sun-Times she and her husband weren’t aware of the ban when they moved, and that she’s “appalled and embarrassed by the town I grew up in…They have made our lives a living hell since we got here.”
“They called us to a city council meeting Dec. 14 and voted 3 to 2 to make no exceptions. I had to get him out of the house by the next day. That dog has never been away from us a night in his life. He’s the sweetest, most good-natured dog you’d ever want to meet,” Peggy Sak said.
“I lost my helper,” Jim Sak said. “I’m not looking for special treatment, I just want to be safe, and I need my service dog for that.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, americans with disablities act, animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, breed ban, breed-specific, chicago, cop, council, destroy, disabilities, disabled, dogs, filed, injunction, iowa, jim sak, justice department, officer, pets, pit bull, police, retired, seize, service, service dog, snickers, sought, stroke, threats, town, veteran, victim, vietnam
Novelist Susan Wilson loved all dogs — well, almost all dogs.
As she describes it, “ There was only one type of dog that I never approached, and when the subject came up on town meeting floor, I added my voice to the vote requiring their owners to restrict them behind tall fences.
“That fear wasn’t based on any actual experience, but on the stories of attacks on children and owners and I, like many, accepted the conventional wisdom that pit bulls were bred mean and are unpredictable.”
But while researching her novel, “One Good Dog,” Wilson had an awakening — one she describes in a recent piece in the Huffington Post.
I haven’t read the novel, but apparently its protagonist is a pit bull named Chance — who apparently might not have been so positively portrayed if it weren’t for Jane Rotrosen Berkey, a literary agent who is also founder and president of Animal Farm Foundation, a pit bull rescue in New York.
Wilson, who is associated with the Jane Rotrosen Agency, ended up getting a lesson in pit bulls — and learning the whole “innately evil” thing is a myth.
“Lucky for me, she was more than happy to talk with me and help me overcome a number of misconceptions. Enlisting the help of an animal behaviorist, Bernice Clifford, also of Animal Farm Foundation, I was saved from perpetuating myths and promoting misinformation about the pit bull, even a fictional one.”
As Wilson explains it, she needed a tough but unwanted type for her protagonist dog.
“I needed a dog that was unlikely to be adopted. I needed a tough guy who essentially mirrored my human protagonist in attitude. Not knowing at the outset where the story might go, I also needed a dog that I might be able to sacrifice without guilt. Instead, I got Chance, the philosophical pit bull. And I got a lesson in pit bulls from one of the dog’s strongest advocates.
“What I learned from Jane and Bernice is that people train these dogs to fight and they are good at it because they are doing what their masters want them to do. Once called the nanny dog because they were so good with children, these dogs have become more associated in the public mind with gangs and violence than with family life. That connection has taken the pit bull from “Our Gang” to gangsta.”
(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog! — one of more than 150 to be featured at the upcoming exhibit, “Hey That’s My Dog!”)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, awakenings, book, books on dogs, breeds, dogs, jane rotrosen agency, jane rotrosen berkey, myths, novel, novelist, one good dog, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, prejudice, stereotypes, susan wilson