Tag: animal welfare
Some long called for changes may be coming at Baltimore County’s animal shelter.
After more than a year of pressure by animal advocates for improvements, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced yesterday that the shelter in Baldwin, Md., will be shifting from the “narrow view” of it being a place for dangerous animals and focusing more on caring for animals and getting them adopted.
That’s exactly the sort of change we called for in yesterday’s ohmidog! post — the one suggesting local governments ditch their use of the term “animal control” and become animal protection departments.
Baltimore County hasn’t announced any formal plans to do that (maybe it’s not too late to work that in), but the county executive did outline future steps to add more employees, expand low-cost spaying and neutering services, cooperate with a program aimed at neutering feral cats and increase the shelter’s focus on getting animals adopted.
Kamenetz said he’ll hire a volunteer coordinator and a foster care coordinator at the shelter – two areas animal advocates have been critical of. He also announced that a new Facebook page will be set up devoted to promoting adoptable animals, and that the shelter will be receiving guidance from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, commonly known as BARCS.
The changes will be included in his next budget for Animal Services — a division of the county health department — and would go into effect at the start of the next budget year on July 1, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“We think we’re moving in the proper direction in a deliberative manner,” Kamenetz said.
Animal advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland complained to the county last fall that shelter volunteers were banned from taking pictures, in violation of their First Amendment rights. The county has been working with the ACLU on training shelter employees on the rights of volunteers.
Earlier this month, the County Council passed a bill creating an animal services advisory commission to review the shelter’s operations. The 11-member commission has yet to be appointed.
In a statement released by the county executive’s office, Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins praised the proposals as “bold steps to upgrade animal services in Baltimore County.”
The county already is building a new shelter on its current site, scheduled to open in August.
Our hope would be — in accordance with the proposal we put forth yesterday, and in accordance with the new focus Kamenetz spoke of — that the sign in front of it reads Animal Protection, or Animal Services … anything but Animal Control.
(Photos: Protest sign from WJZ; Kamenetz from Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 27th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, advocates, animal control, animal control division, animal services, animal shelter, animal welfare, animals, baltimore county, budget, changes, county executive, dogs, feral cats, focus, funding, improvements, kevin kamenetz, pets, promised, reform, shelters, tnr, volunteers
I have a simple and modest proposal — one that would involve only a name change, a slightly new way of thinking, and maybe some new stationery.
It has long been in the back of my head, but was brought to the forefront by recent cellphone videos gone viral — one (it used to be above but was removed from YouTube) of a dog being dragged through the halls of an animal control department in California; one (below) of a police officer slapping and otherwise berating a homeless man in Florida.
Both are examples of what can go wrong — and often does — when you give one group power over others. Both are about control.
Seeking, seizing and holding “control,” necessary as it sometimes seem in a so-called civilized society, almost always leads to bad things, including most of the dog abuse that occurs in our country. We get a little too caught up in the whole idea of having control — over our fellow man, over other species, over other nations, over nature itself.
Those put in control, as today’s videos show, tend to lose control when they see their control being threatened.
Hence, I propose that we do away with the term “animal control” and rename all those county animal control offices “animal protection” departments — protection being what they are mostly about, or should be mostly about, in the first place.
I’m not suggesting doing away with regulating and enforcing in the dog world — only that those doing it go under a different moniker, which, just maybe, would allow them to be seen by the public, and see themselves, less as heavy-handed dictators, more as noble do-gooders.
And animal control offices do do good. They operate shelters, find dogs new homes, rescue strays from the streets and abusive situations. The new name would put an emphasis on that, and take it away from “control.”
The term “animal control” is archaic — not much better than the even more outdated “dog warden” — yet most counties continue to use it. Employees see it on the sign when they pull into the parking lot, when they walk through the front door, on their memos and their paychecks. It’s a constant reminder, even though most of their duties are aimed at helping dogs, that they are, above all, strict enforcers and inflexible bureaucrats.
A simple name change could help fix that.
I, for instance, would love working as an animal protection officer; I’m not sure I’d want to be an animal control officer — even though most of what they do is about protecting animals. The name change could attract job applicants who see the mission as helping dogs, and possibly help weed out those who see all dogs as nuisances, and control as paramount.
In addition to improving employee self-esteem, it could help change the negative public perceptions that come with being the agency that tickets dog owners for leash-less or unlicensed dogs, euthanizes dogs when their facilities get too crowded, and sends the “dog catcher” out on his daily rounds.
There’s no reason — assuming a stray dog is being captured humanely, and treated humanely in a shelter, and put up for adoption — that the “dog catcher,” traditionally portrayed as a villain, can’t become a dog savior in the public view.
Having “Animal Protection Department” written on the side of the truck, instead of “Animal Control Department,” would go a long way toward that.
A simple shift in emphasis, and in how some agencies present themselves to the public, is all I’m talking about. It wouldn’t be only a matter of spin, though. Being an animal protection department would require actually protecting animals — and seeing that as a primary mission.
It wouldn’t make the world a kinder place overnight, and it wouldn’t keep cranky police officers from slapping homeless people — like I said it’s a modest proposal — but it could be a start, at least in the dog world, to a new way of thinking both about and among the government employees we entrust those duties to (and pay the salaries of).
They would be more about helping and educating, less about controlling.
A handful of agencies have at least worked “animal protection,” or “animal care” into their names, but most can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the term “control.”
Thus you have, for instance, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.
Maybe they think losing “control” would be a sign they are losing control.
The term “control” might be appropriate when it comes to those agencies dealing with things like disease and traffic.
But not for those dealing with our family members.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: agency, animal control, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, change, control, controlling, county, department, dog catcher, dog dragged, dog warden, dogs, duties, enforcement, government, hesperia, homeless, local, los angeles, mission, name, name change, office, pets, police, proposal, purpose, regulation, rescues, shelters, slapped, videos
Once there was a Raven, an alligator and a dog, and the latter two were allegedly abused and neglected by the former.
Apparently that’s all the information officials think we’re entitled to as the curious case of Terrence Cody continues not to unfold.
Even with news of his indictment — the former Baltimore Raven faces 15 charges — what is alleged to have transpired in the Baltimore County home of Cody isn’t being shared with the public.
The charges include two counts of aggravated animal cruelty with a dog, five counts of animal abuse or neglect with the same dog, five counts of abuse or neglect in connection with alligator, and one count of illegal possession of an alligator, according to Deputy State’s Attorney John Cox.
But what exactly Cody is accused of doing, or neglecting to do, in connection with both animals is being left to our imaginations.
That, especially given he was in the NFL, leaves us free to picture the worst — as in staging fights between the two species, as in maybe the alligator went unfed until it tried to eat the dog, as in maybe Cody used them both to attack a girlfriend on an elevator, as in who knows what.
That’s a disservice, to the public and to Cody.
“Ban Terrence Cody From the NFL for Allegedly Feeding His Dog to His Pet Alligator!” says a headline on the website Care2. Clicking on a link to a petition, though, readers are informed “Terrence Cody did not feed his dog to his alligator as the author of the petition has falsely indicated. New info reveals that his dog passed away as a result of worms, after being severely neglected by the ex-Ravens player.”
When there is an information void, our imaginations, and sometimes our websites, are only to happy to fill it.
Once an indictment is revealed, some details should be released by authorities that go beyond “he did something illegal to this animal and to that animal.”
Imagine if law enforcement and prosecutors had taken that no-details approach in the Michael Vick case. Imagine if they had said, “We seized all these dogs because something bad was going on, but we’re not going to say what until the story unravels in court — if it even goes to court.
News that Cody, 26, was being investigated for animal cruelty came out the same day the Ravens announced he was being released from the team.
The Ravens didn’t go into the allegations, and coach John Harbaugh, in announcing Cody’s termination, said only that the “threshold of tolerance” had changed in the NFL. “It’s a privilege to play in the National Football League. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Ravens. There’s a standard to uphold there, and we expect them to.”
Cody was officially released from the team Monday — the same day the indictment came out.
The indictment says the felony aggravated animal cruelty charges (they carry a maximum three-year sentence) stem from the death of his Presa Canario.
Through the indictment, the public learned there was an alligator involved as well — though not necessarily in connection with the dog’s death. In addition to five counts of abuse or neglect of the alligator, Cody was also charged with one count of possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of marijuana.
The investigation was started after Cody took his dog to a veterinarian.
Peter Schaffer, Cody’s agent, told the Baltimore Sun that Cody took the dog to a vet for treatment of worms, and that the dog died there. He didn’t share any additional details, either.
“This is all a result of the NFL allowing players to be convicted before they’re tried,” Schaffer said. “If Terrence wasn’t a public figure, they wouldn’t have ever charged him. It’s just ridiculous.”
Cody, having played in only one game last season, wasn’t too major a public figure, and maybe that’s why law enforcement and prosecutors think they can get away with providing virtually no information about what transpired.
He was a nose tackle, not a quarterback, and possibly authorities thought the case could pass quietly under the radar.
The alligator twist probably kept that from happening.
Other than informing us that Cody turned himself in and was released on $10,000 bail, and dutifully reporting the few details officials have released, there hasn’t been much digging, it seems, by the news media.
The NFL has said it would look into the case only if Cody signs with another team, according to a Baltimore Sun report.
Manwhile, the news media, and the animal welfare community, should be demanding some details.
One, because we have a right to know. Two, because animal cruelty cases shouldn’t be swept under rugs. It is through exposure that problems can be addressed and changes can occur.
What, exactly, is Terrence Cody alleged to have done? Why, exactly, aren’t law and order types letting us know? And, while the dog died, and while Cody will be a Raven nevermore, what has become of the alligator?
Posted by John Woestendiek February 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alligator, animal cruelty, animal welfare, baltimore, baltimore county, baltimore ravens, charged, details, dog, indicted, indictment, investigatio, law enforcement, presa canario, prosecution, public, ravens, released, right to know, team, terrence cody
She has been called “America’s deadliest DA,” “the queen of death” and “one tough cookie.”
But Lynne Abraham, the former Philadelphia district attorney who sent hundreds of humans to death row, has a soft spot for animals.
And one supporter thinks that’s worth highlighting as Abraham runs for mayor of the City of Brotherly Love — so much so that he produced a campaign ad for her, at his own expense.
It all goes back to 2007, when the ad’s producer, Bill Whiting had to deal with a horrific situation: Some neighborhood kids took his dog, Edna. They held her for ransom, tortured her as Whiting listened over the phone, and killed her.
Abraham went after the suspects with her trademark bulldog-like tenacity, and earned Whiting’s undying respect.
“I could never have realized justice without the help of Lynne Abraham who was Philadelphia’s District Attorney at the time,” Whiting said in the video.
A 15-year-old was arrested, tried and punished in the case.
Whiting produced the video himself with the help of some friends who donated their time, according to a Newsworks report.
“The ad cost $14 in dog treats,” Whiting said. “That’s all there was.”
The video highlights her stance on animal cruelty, but also describes Abraham, a Democrat, as “a sharp, fair-minded elder stateswoman” who has the skills and experience to become Philadelphia’s first female mayor.
Whiting said he made the ad out of gratitude, and says he hopes it will “humanize” a woman the New York Times called “America’s deadliest D.A.” because of how often she sought the death penalty. That same 1995 article made note of Abraham’s practice of carrying cans of Little Friskies in the trunk of her official car, doling out portions to street cats in need of nourishment.
She’s hardly the only “hard on crime” public official that goes gooey when it comes to animals. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been called the country’s “toughest sheriff” has a well-known soft spot when it comes to dogs — and it has served to help humanize him a bit.
As for Abraham — it was none other than Frank Rizzo (no softy himself) who first called her “one tough cookie” — she’s seen as a “very no-nonsense, straightforward district attorney,” Whiting said. “But I also wanted people to know that she has an extremely kind heart.”
The case of Edna, was “one of many that is emblematic of Lynne’s strong commitment against cruelty to animals,” Abraham’s campaign spokeswoman, Cathie Abookire, wrote in an email promoting the video.
Abookire said Abraham, as district attorney, appointed Philadelphia’s first prosecutor devoted to animal cruelty cases.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 29th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ad, animal welfare, bill whiting, campaign, da, deadliest, district attorney, lynne abraham, mayor, mayoral, philadelphia, politics, race, supporter, tough cookie
A German photographer is taking some heat — at least on the Internet — for a series of photos capturing dogs in mid-air.
Dogs used in the photo shoot didn’t plummet too far, apparently only a couple of feet or so, after being dropped by their (off camera) owners onto a mattress.
The photos were picked up by more than a few media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which called them “hilarious,” and the Huffington Post, which termed the dog’s faces “precious,” pointed out no dogs were injured and noted, “We’re betting some of them even wanted to go again, since dogs are just awesome.”
Readers, almost unanimously, had, an entirely different view of it. Almost all those leaving comments on the Huffington Post post, called it animal cruelty, with many noting the fear they say is evident in the dog’s eyes.
Nearly 100 dogs and their owners turned up at Christe’s studio after she issued a call for canine models — and none of the owners apparently had any problem holding their dogs in the air and dropping them onto a mattress.
Christe (left) said she was seeking a unique perspective for her dog photos, and that all the dogs who took part seemed to have fun doing so.
“The dogs were dropped by their owners onto a mattress from as low a height as possible, and the impression of flight was enlarged by wind machines,” the photographer explained in the Daily Mail.
But as some commenters noted, even light landings can be hard on small dogs like dachshunds, and — regardless of how far they’re falling — the stress and fear it causes constitutes cruelty, some say.
“It’s actually incredibly dangerous for doxins to jump, let alone be dropped,” wrote one. “Their backs are very fragile and can break. This is more about a photographer wanting the spotlight, than it is art. Shame on you for putting your ego before these dogs’ safety and well being.”
We’d go a step further and say it’s also about websites who pander to dog lovers without pausing to think about what they’re pasting onto their sites — the ones that, in their haste to get more hits, slap an “adorable” label on anything dog-related and share it, failing to apply anything close to critical or responsible thinking.
“I really love animals, and so everything was safe, I would never take a chance on them getting hurt,” Christe said in the Daily Mail article. “…I feel the photographs show off both the grace and elegance of the dogs, which makes them appear in a slightly different way than usual.”
For all those pet photographers who would put a dog at risk so that they may achieve a new artistic perspective, we’d suggest they fling their own selves through the air, or turn their own selves upside down.
Because all those down-to-earth dogs are perfectly happy with the perspective they already have.
(Photos: Julia Christe / HotSpot Media)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airborne, animal welfare, animals, art, cruelty, daily mail, danger, dog, dogs, dropped, fear, flying, flying dogs, german, germany, hazardous, huffington post, internet, julia christe, mid air, perspective, pets, photographer, photography, photos, repsonsibility, risk, risky, websites
Hundreds of Muslims in Malaysia put their dogma aside Sunday so they could pet some dogs.
The event was called “I Want to Touch a Dog,” and it was aimed at addressing concerns among large segments of the Muslim population who think dogs are unclean, unpure and of no spiritual value.
It was organized by Syed Azmi Alhabshi, a pharmacist in his 30s who hopes it will help people overcome their misconceptions, sensitivities and fears of dogs and instill compassion for all animals, according to the Malaysian Insider.
About 1,000 people gathered at Central Park in Petaling Jaya for the event, which was promoted though Facebook.
Roughly half of those present were Muslims, Asia One reported.
Those attending were asked to wear coded colors — yellow for those who wanted to touch dogs, orange for those who just wanted to watch, and red for pet owners and volunteers.
“I came here to learn more about interacting with dogs,” said a mother of two who identified herself as Fatimah. “I’ve never done such a thing before.”
The ‘pettable’ dogs included a purebred Afghan hound, Chow Chows, and mutts.
Organizers also hope the event will help reduce rock-throwing and other abuses directed at dogs as a result of the dim view some Muslims have of them.
“Spent two-three hours of my morning strolling around Central Park and playing with these cute furbabies!” one attendee wrote in a post on Pinterest ” … I always thought that as a Muslim I needed to stay away from (dogs) by all means. Ignorance at its best? Perhaps. This program was a great initiative … to raise awareness about the position of dogs through the Muslim perspective and I even learned the proper way to wash-up after being in contact with a wet dog/their saliva.
“We are all so quick to judge and say that dogs are ‘haram’ because that’s what we’ve been taught all along, but we never bother to learn beyond that. Islam has never taught any of their believers to discriminate against any of God’s creations, so why should we treat these beautiful creatures any differently?”
(Photo: By Aileen Chuah / Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal welfare, animals, awareness, cruelty, dog, dogs, event, i want to touch a dog, islam, malaysia, muslims, pes, petting, religion, tradition, unclean, unpure, view
There are plenty of rescue groups that likely do as good a job saving, rehabilitating and re-homing stray dogs as Hope For Paws.
But there is probably none better than that Los Angeles-based non-profit at documenting what they do on video.
Above is their latest rescue video — that of a pit bull, since named Bunny, found abandoned on some government property. Shy, skittish and — even we’d admit — looking a little intimidating, she was lured in with hamburgers and trapped in a crate.
Not until she’s transported to safety and let out of the crate do we get the answer to the question that — in addition to the beautiful camera work — keeps us watching: How is she going to react, close up, with a member of the species that treated her so rudely?
Therein lies the beauty of the Hope For Paws videos, and the beauty of dogs.
Bunny, who apparently experienced little kindness in life — with the exception of one good Samaritan who would drop her off some food while she was living in the wild — doesn’t just give humans a second chance, she becomes an instant, gentle, trusting and tail-wagging friend.
After a few shy sniffs, she was resting her head on the laps of her rescuers.
Bunny is now up for adoption through Sevadog, an Oregon organization that helps dogs find forever homes. Hope For Paws often teams up with other rescues. In Bunny’s case, three were involved, including the group Rescue From the Hart, which notified Hope For Paws about the dog’s situation.
Hope For Paws went to the site, found the dog and got her veterinary care — shooting video the whole time.
The videos, which get millions of views on YouTube, help raise funds for the organization, and melt our hearts in the process. But they also bring attention to the issue of stray and homeless dogs, and remind us that, no matter how rough shape a being might be in, hope and love can conquer all.
The Internet age has seen us all become more adept at touting ourselves — as individuals, as non-profit organizations, as corporations. There are downsides to that. One is how easy it has become to mislead the masses. Another is the danger that we all end up spending 10 percent of our time on a project, and 90 percent of our time touting what we’ve done.
On the other hand, for a non-profit organization, showing the public what it does, in a way that touches the heart, can be a key to survival.
So, all things considered, we hope the Hope For Paws videos keep coming, and we urge you to take at some of the others by clicking the link in this paragraph.
You’ll see some dogs in pretty horrid shape, like this one found living in a landfill, but you’ll also get transported from sad to happy on your way to the final destination — hope.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animal welfare, animals, bunny, documenting, dog, dogs, fundraising, helpless, homeless, hope for paws, internet, los angeles, pets, public relations, rescue, rescue from the hart, rescue videos, rescues, sevadog, shelter, stray, touting, video, videos