A homeless Knoxville man plans to hitch his two huskies to a homemade dog sled made out of a lawn chair and a skateboard and travel 2,200 miles across the country to Venice Beach, California.
Georgie Cutright says the purpose of his journey is to see the country, spread some joy and, for once in his life, finish something.
“I’ve never actually finished anything in my life, you know?” Cutright, 41, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “This is something that’s going to be really incredible to do, and it’s something that I’m really, really adamant about finishing.”
How adamant the dogs who will power his “urban dog sled” — Sarah and Lobos — are is another question.
He could face some questions as well from local authorities as he makes his journey, and possibly animal welfare advocates, given the dogs will be running the distance of two Iditarods, on pavement no less.
Cutright says he plans to outfit the dogs in booties and take multiple breaks, though, and that — given the trip is partly about sharing his love for his rescued dogs — they will be treated well.
Currently living out of his van, Cutright has been training his two dogs on the streets of Knoxville, and drawing crowds when he does so. He plans to sell the van to finance the trip, which he hopes to start soon.
“I was sitting on a skateboard and holding Sarah’s leash one day when she took off,” he told the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.
He held on to the leash and rolled along behind them. After that, he says, he learned to balance on a chair atop the long skateboard as the dogs pulled him.
He uses his shoes as brakes and has taught the dogs commands: “Yah” to get them to speed up, “Whoa” to slow down,” and “hard right” or “hard left” for turning.
Cutright says he will take country roads that parallel Interstate 40, camping in a tent at night.
Originally from Mattoon, Illinois, Cutright said he became homeless two years ago after he lost his job as a carpenter. He said he’s been unable to secure another steady job because of a felony conviction for an armed robbery when he was 18.
A friend will be making the trip with him.
Cutright has already secured his first sponsor: HeadQuarters skateboard shop, which donated multiple sets of wheels and bearings for the journey.
He said he will stay in motels when he can, and in people’s homes when they offer to put him up.
Cutright said he got Sarah off Craigslist from a woman who was moving, and acquired Lobos from the police department in Venice Beach when the dog’s homeless owner was arrested.
“I just want people to know that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. Anybody can, even a homeless guy.”
(Photos: Kevin Kilhoffer / Journal Gazette & Times-Courier)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 20th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2, 200 miles, animals, cross country, dog, dog sled, dogs, george cutright, georgie cutright, homeless, homemade, huskies, knoxville, lawn chair, makeshift, pets, pulling, skateboard, sled, tennessee, trip, urban dog sled
And it wasn’t even his dog.
Copps was taking care of a friend’s dog, named Carbon, when the dog — an accomplished dock diver — jumped in the lake. Copps and two friends were hitting balls on a golf course when they noticed a 7-foot alligator making a beeline for the dog.
Without fully thinking about his actions, Copps said, he jumped in and yelled and splashed to distract the gator, and his friends hollered as well.
The alligator bit Carbon’s left thigh, but the dog managed to get out of the lake.
“By the time I gathered my senses, the dog was out of the water and I’m in it up to my chest, just feet from the gator,” Copps said, recounting the late January incident in an interview with the Naples Daily News.
Copps hurried ashore and, with his friends, Brian and Yuliya Vail, loaded the dog on a golf cart and took him to a vet. Carbon was treated for scrapes and puncture wounds.
“The dog was really lucky,” said Dr. Lon Miyahira, the veterinarian who treated Carbon “When I hear alligator bite or attack, I expect worse. It’s hard to recommend jumping into the water, but it’s probably why the dog was not badly injured.”
Copps said Carbon was sore and bothered by the cone he was required to wear after the attack, but within a week he was running around the house.
Copps, who lost his own dog, a yellow Lab, in 2015, is looking after Carbon for a few months while his owners are on a cruise.
Friend Yuliya Vail described his actions as heroic: “I think most people would freeze. He jumped in …That gator could’ve drowned Carbon. We could have watched him die.”
(Photo: Copps and Carbon on a return visit to the vet, by Luke Franke / Naples Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alligator, animals, bitten, black lab, dog, donald c. copps, donald copps, florida, gator, golf course, injured, labrador, lake, naples, pets, rescues, saves, wildlife
It’s the second company this week to recall canned dog food due to concerns about metal fragments, and the third canned dog food recall this month.
Blue Buffalo’s CEO said in a statement on the company’s website that it is recalling the food as part of its “mission of bringing transparency to pet foods.”
(That from a company that paid $32 million last year to settle a lawsuit about its deceptive advertising.)
It’s kind of hard to find the “transparent” company’s statement on the company website, so here is the link.
“My father, brother and I founded Blue Buffalo with the mission of bringing transparency to pet foods, and so, even though it is highly unlikely that you will have a product affected by this problem, we felt that we needed to voluntarily withdraw the product from retailers and let you know that we were doing this,” CEO Billy Bishop says in a letter to customers.
The recalled product is Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables. The cans have a “best by” date of Aug. 3, 2019 and the UPC is 8-40243-10017-0
PetSmart this week announced recalls of both the Blue Buffalo product and cans of Grreat Choice chicken and rice dog food.
In both cases, the companies said there had been no reports of illness or injury as a result of the possible contamination.
In both cases, the lots came from suppliers not identified by the companies or in news reports. Dog food companies commonly outsource their manufacturing to multiple manufacturers.
Also this month, Evanger’s announced a recall of its Hunk of Beef canned dog food after some of it was found to contain a sedative used to euthanize animals.
That contamination led one dog to die and at least four more to become ill in Washington state.
Yesterday, the FDA announced another dog food brand, Against the Grain, was recalling some cans of its Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs amid concerns it contains the same sedative.
Against the Grain appears to be a sister company of Evanger’s.
Food Safety News reported they may share manufacturing facilities and ingredients, and that the founders of Against the Grain are listed as the son and daughter of Evanger’s owners Holly and Joel Sher.
Chelsea Sher, who serves as vice president for exports at Evanger’s, is listed as owner of the Against the Grain trademark.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 16th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: against the grain, animals, blue buffalo, canned, cans, dog, dog food, dog food recalls, dogs, drug, euthanasia, fda, food & drug administration, fragments, health, metal, pets, petsmart, recall, recalled, recalls, safety, sedative
PetSmart has issued a recall on cans of its Grreat Choice dog food after a manufacturer informed the company of consumer complaints about finding pieces of metal that could cause a choking hazard to pets.
The product is sold nationwide at PetSmart retail stores and online at PetSmart.com, Pet360.com, and PetFoodDirect.com.
The dog food was sold between October 10, 2016 and Feb. 7, 2017 and has a “Best By” date of 8/5/19.
PetSmart said in a press release that only one lot of Grreat Choice chicken and rice dog food is affected by the recall.
No injuries or illnesses have been reported, the company said.
The cans have a lot number of 1759338, and a UPC code of 7-3725726116-7.
Neither the manufacturer or PetSmart have given any indication of how the metal pieces ended up in the food.
Customers who have purchased the recalled food are advised to stop feeding it to their pets and bring any remaining cans to a PetSmart store for a full refund or exchange.
For more information, consumers can contact PetSmart customer service at 1-888-839-9638 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. CST
Posted by John Woestendiek February 15th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, canned, cans, chicken and rice, choking, dog, dog food, dogs, fda, grreat choice, hazard, health, metal, pets, petsmart, pieces, recall, recalls, safety
A New Mexico animal shelter has produced a pretty brilliant two-minute parody of “The Bachelor” with women vying for the attention of a handsome cur named Stewart.
“… With Valentine’s Day it just seemed like the perfect time to do that,” said Jamie Merideth, a former TV news videographer who went to work last year as a videographer for the Santa Fe Humane Society.
“We’re trying to find these animal forever homes and it just seemed like a good platform to do that,” she added.
The video’s message, of course, is that the love of your life may be waiting for adoption in an animal shelter.
But the video’s beauty also lies in its highly professional, and highly hilarious, execution.
Most of the “actresses” work at the humane society.
They play the roles of a hair stylist, an art therapist, a professional dog walker and an attorney — all oozing drama and reflecting the kind of cattiness the program is known for as they compete for Stewart’s affections.
Stewart, the ever so hunky bachelor, was a shelter dog in real life. His owner (who’s also in the video) adopted him from the Washington Humane Society before moving from Maryland to Santa Fe.
He represents the 100 or so dogs available for adoption at the Santa Fe shelter on any given day.
“He’s an amazing bachelor. He has the look, just very handsome,” Merideth told KRQE.
The video was posted Friday on the humane society’s Facebook page.
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, located on a four-building campus on a 100-acre lot, has long been regarded as one of the most progressive in the country.
Now we know it’s packed with some pretty talented humans, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 13th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adopting, adoption, affections, animal shelter, animals, bachelor, date, dates, dogs, facebook, new mexico, parody, pets, rose, santa fe humane society, shelter, television, the bachelor, valentine, valentines day, video, women
America is going to run out of dogs.
That, stunningly, was the conclusion of a Mississippi State University study funded by (and this is the important part) an organization that represents the American Kennel Club, the American Pet Product Association, PetSmart, breeders and other pet industry leaders.
The study disputes oft-cited figures from the leading animal welfare organizations, which estimate between 1.9 million and 2.5 million dogs are euthanized by shelters every year.
Instead, the study says, fewer than 780,000 unwanted dogs are being euthanized a year, many of them dangerous or damaged, and America will soon not to be able to meet the demand for dogs through shelter dogs alone.
Not that it currently does, or ever has.
The Pet Leadership Council funded the study, then hired additional analysts to “interpret” (read, spin) the results.
As a result, the message they are putting forth is not that progress is being made in reducing the numbers of unwanted animals that end up euthanized (the reality), but that America is going to run out of dogs (the new myth).
In a press release, the PLC says it is “welcoming” the study’s findings — as opposed to saying they paid for it — and that those findings show a need for more “responsibly bred” dogs.
“Mississippi State’s study will also have a significant impact on the national conversation about responsible pet ownership,” said Mike Bober, President of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and consultant to the PLC. “Without this concrete data as a starting point, it has been all but impossible to discuss solutions because we couldn’t agree on the scope of the problem. This data also provides valuable information for those contemplating legislation that impacts the availability of dogs in their communities.”
Here are the far from solid numbers the study came up with.
American shelters are taking in 5.5 million dogs a year, about half of which end up euthanized. America, based on census figures, ownership patterns and the life-span of dogs, needs about 8.1 million dogs a year to maintain current levels of ownership.
With only 2.6 million dogs being adopted out of shelters each year and far fewer transferred or euthanized, “that means millions more must come from other sources.”
Meaning breeders. Meaning large scale puppy mills and store bought dogs and all those other things that helped lead to the dog overpopulation problem in the first place and are better off gone.
“It’s a total myth for anybody to say or think that every American who wants a dog can go to a shelter and find one,” said Mark Cushing of the Animal Policy Group, the lobbying firm that “crunched the numbers.”
“Increasingly the ones we are euthanizing are very sick or dangerous,” he added.
So shelter dogs are going to run out, they’d like to have you believe, except maybe for the dangerous and sick ones you wouldn’t want in the first place.
That’s not only balderdash, it’s the kind of fear tactics that have become so common in the world of politics and persuasion — somehow even more loathsome when applied to the world of homeless dogs.
The study seems to assume that shelters are the only source of homeless dogs, when in fact rescue groups, formal and informal, have become an increasingly popular option and are finding homes for more and more dogs. Nor does it seem to address the number of non-professionally bred dogs being born, despite more spaying and neutering. Nor does it address the hundreds of millions of unwanted dogs in other countries in need of homes.
The Pet Leadership Council commissioned the study as a follow-up to a survey it previously commissioned on dog ownership rates and where people get their dogs. A lobbying group that advises the council then used the study to extrapolate that Americans wanted more than 8 million dogs in 2016 and will want more than 9.2 million by 2036, the Washington Post reported.
The study suggests that euthanasia estimates by the Humane Society of the United States and the No Kill Advocacy Center, both of which say about 2.5 million animals are killed in shelters each year, may be based in large part on animals other than dogs.
The research was funded by the Pet Leadership Council, which represents organizations including the American Kennel Club and the American Pet Products Association; PetSmart and other large retail stores; and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which is the legislative and lobbying voice of the pet industry.
Mike Bober, the president and CEO of PIJAC, which regularly lobbies on behalf of commercial-scale dog breeders and pet stores at the legislative level, said the study shows dog breeding and retail sales must remain protected under state and federal laws.
“Adoption can’t be our only option when it comes to helping Americans find their ideal, lifelong companions,” Bober said. “Responsibly bred puppies are an essential part of the equation.”
The industry push comes at a time that “adopt, don’t shop” campaigns urging consumers to shun breeders and pet stores are showing some results.
According to the Humane Society, more than 200 localities have passed “puppy mill” laws in the past two years that sometimes make it illegal for pet stores to source dogs anywhere other than shelters and rescuers. A similar state-level law is under consideration in New Jersey.
Breeders and pet-store owners see such legislation as misguided, saying there are not enough dogs in U.S. shelters to fill annual consumer demand.
“Our concern was that so many very different estimates have been generated by a number of entities that have often led to conflicting conclusions,” said Bob Vetere, president and chief executive of the American Pet Products Association. “It is important to have a solid understanding of the facts before making decisions impacting the supply and availability of healthy dogs.”
The study’s findings were presented Tuesday at the North American Veterinary Community conference in Florida. While the Pet Leadership Council issued a press release about the study Wednesday, it has yet to be published in a scientific journal.
The study is based on a telephone survey of 413 shelters, out of an estimated 7,100 shelters nationwide.
Using data from the surveyed shelters, the researchers concluded that more than 5.5 million dogs enter shelters each year, about 2.6 million get adopted, and that fewer than 780,000 are euthanized. The remainder are returned to their owners, or transferred to other rescues or shelters, the study said.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 10th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, akc, american kennel club, american pet product association, animals, breeders, demand, disinformation, dog, dog shortage, dogs, euthanasia, lobbying, lobbyists, misinformation, mississippi state university, pet industry, pet leadership council, pet sales, pet stores, pets, petsmart, puppy mills, research, shelter, shelter dogs, shortage, spin, statistics, supply, veterinary school
Four dogs in Washington state became sick on New Year’s Eve after eating the food, and one died, the Wheeling, Illinois-based company said.
Tests on a deceased pug named Talula found the drug pentobarbital, a sedative, in the dog’s stomach. The owner’s other pugs were sick after consuming the food, but survived.
It’s the first recall in the company’s 82-year history.
Evanger’s has ended its relationship with a beef supplier and promised to guarantee the safety of its products in the future, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The pentobarbital was detected in one lot of Hunk of Beef Au Jus, and company officials are stumped on how it got there.
Pentobarbital can affect animals that ingest it by causing drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and death.
On the family-owned company’s website, a video has been posted in which members of the Sher family, which owns it, explain that pentobarbital can be found in other dry pet foods if they are made with euthanized cow meat.
“We were unaware of the problem of pentobarbital in the pet food industry because it is most pervasive in dry foods that source most of their ingredients from rendering plants, unlike Evanger’s, which mainly manufactures canned foods that would not have any rendered materials in its supply chain,” the owners said.
They added that once an animal has been euthanized there are no regulations requiring veterinarians to tag the meat as such, allowing the meat to find its way into the food chain.
Although only one lot was found to be affected, the company has recalled five lots, distributed to retail locations and sold online in Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. They were manufactured the week of June 6 – June 13, 2016, and have an expiration date of June 2020.
The recall applies to lot numbers starting with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB, and 1816E13HB, The second half of the barcode reads 20109, which can be found on the back of the product label.
Evanger’s says all of its meat suppliers are USDA approved, and that it is still investigating how the substance entered their raw material supply.
Consumers who still have cans with the lot numbers should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-847-537-0102 between 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Central Time, Monday – Friday.
Evanger’s has apologized on its website, promised transparency and posted several updates for customers.
“We are sorry we let you down, but we will make a better pet industry because of it,” Evanger’s owners wrote. “First and foremost we are pet parents,” they wrote.
The Sher family said they paid veterinary bills for the four pugs in Washington state and made a donation to a local animal shelter.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 9th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apology, death, dog, dog food, dogs, drug, euthanasia, evangers, fda, health, hunk of beef, pentobarbital, pets, pug, recall, recalled, recalls, safety, sick, usda