In lovely Laguna Beach, California, the police department is seeking out dogs and their walkers to help take a bite out of crime. The department has launched its own local version of a national campaign known as Dog Walker Watch, variations of which are now operating in more than 1,300 cities. It enlists those who are out on the streets anyway, to serve as extra eyes and ears, reporting any suspicious activity or unusual behavior to authorities. The Orange County Register reports that 20 dog owners have been trained so far this summer, and the police department is looking for more. Natasha Hernandez, the department’s community service officer, has set up a stand at the Laguna Beach Dog Park to spread word about the program, handing out brochures and poop bags emblazoned with the police phone number. She has also posted fliers at pets shops and approached many professional dog walkers and sitters. One of those who signed up is Diane Berger, who walks her neighborhood daily with her golden retriever, Casey. “It’s an amazing idea,” she said. “We kind of have responsibility to help out. It’s our community. If we want to keep it safe, we can’t always expect others to take care of it.” As part of the training, the police department makes a point of telling dog owners to stay alert, and to call when they see anything suspicious. The program stresses that calls to police aren’t bothersome. The idea was hatched a year ago in Pennsylvania by Matt Peskin, the Register reported. “I realized there are 75 million dog walkers in the country,” Peskin said. “If you could train a percentage to become even more aware, you’d have the perfect eyes and ears in the community.” (Photo: Diane Berger walks with Casey, her 8-year-old golden retriever; by Mark Rightmire / Orange County Register)
In lovely Laguna Beach, California, the police department is seeking out dogs and their walkers to help take a bite out of crime.
The department has launched its own local version of a national campaign known as Dog Walker Watch, variations of which are now operating in more than 1,300 cities.
It enlists those who are out on the streets anyway, to serve as extra eyes and ears, reporting any suspicious activity or unusual behavior to authorities.
The Orange County Register reports that 20 dog owners have been trained so far this summer, and the police department is looking for more.
Natasha Hernandez, the department’s community service officer, has set up a stand at the Laguna Beach Dog Park to spread word about the program, handing out brochures and poop bags emblazoned with the police phone number. She has also posted fliers at pets shops and approached many professional dog walkers and sitters.
One of those who signed up is Diane Berger, who walks her neighborhood daily with her golden retriever, Casey.
“It’s an amazing idea,” she said. “We kind of have responsibility to help out. It’s our community. If we want to keep it safe, we can’t always expect others to take care of it.”
As part of the training, the police department makes a point of telling dog owners to stay alert, and to call when they see anything suspicious. The program stresses that calls to police aren’t bothersome.
The idea was hatched a year ago in Pennsylvania by Matt Peskin, the Register reported.
“I realized there are 75 million dog walkers in the country,” Peskin said. “If you could train a percentage to become even more aware, you’d have the perfect eyes and ears in the community.”
(Photo: Diane Berger walks with Casey, her 8-year-old golden retriever; by Mark Rightmire / Orange County Register)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 25th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, california, dog, dog owners, dog walker watch, dog walkers, dogs, laguna beach, law enforcement, neighborhood watch, orange county, pets, police
Another police dog has died after being left in a police vehicle — this time one in Alabama whose purpose wasn’t law enforcement, but “community engagement.”
Mason was left by his handler in a hot patrol car without its air conditioning turned on June 18, and died the next night.
His handler, Corporal Josh Coleman, said he forgot that he’d left Mason in the car after attending a hurricane preparation conference in Gulf Shores.
A city press release offered little explanation of how that happened.
“On Thursday, June 18th, while transitioning between duties, Mason’s handler Corporal Josh Coleman forgot that Mason was still in the back seat of his patrol car. On discovering Mason’s absence Cpl. Coleman located him in the vehicle.”
The press release gave no indication of how long Mason was left inside the car.
Al.com reports that the dog had entered the conference with Coleman, and had his picture taken at the event.
WISH-TV quoted a police sergeant as saying that Coleman left the dog in the car after the conference.
“He was going to take care of some paperwork in his office and he straight up forgot him,” says Woodruff. “Left him in the car.”
At some point, Coleman “discovered” him in the car. Mason was rushed to a local veterinarian, then transported to a vet in Penascola.
His condition seemed to be improving Friday morning, but died later in the evening.
The Gulf Shores Police Department acquired Mason on November 17, 2014, and had celebrated the dog’s third birthday on June 9.
While it was reported by some news outlets that Coleman would not face criminal charges, WISH reported the case will go to a grand jury. Coleman also faces “sanctions” from the police department and city.
According to the city press release, the department’s K-9′s usually travel in vehicles equipped with remote heat alarms, water bowls, and other protective measures.
“Because Mason’s duties did not include long periods in a vehicle, those protective measures were not available in his handler’s car,” it said.
The Gulf Shores Police Department might want to give that policy a second look — so its next “community relations” dog, if they get one, doesn’t turn into another public relations nightmare.
(Photo: Gulf Shores Police Department)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 24th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, animals, car, community engagement, community relations, dead, dog, dogs, gulf shores, heat, heat deaths, K-9, killed, law enforcement, mason, patrol, pets, police, summer, vehicle
A man in a wheelchair who witnesses say was trying to save his dog was struck by a train and killed Friday.
Jim Boswell, an amputee who lived at a mobile home park in Wheatland, Calif., was said to be a quiet man in his 60’s, and a good friend to his dog, who was also killed.
Boswell had left his prosthetic leg at home and taken his wheelchair to a store down the road, his dog at his side.
“He had just come in,” said Rachel Sewell, an employee at Big Al’s Market. “We had literally just helped him less than five minutes before it happened.”
After he left the store, around 7:45 p.m., she and others in the neighborhood heard the squeal of train brakes.
While no one witnessed the accident, CBS 13 in Sacramento reported that they think the dog got away from Boswell who then tried to catch him before the train roared through.
Neighbors say Boswell and a female relative who acted as his caretaker had been living in the mobile home park a few months.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accident, amputee, animals, california, death, dog, dogs, jim boswell, killed, one legged, pet, pets, saving, tracks, train, wheatland, wheelchair
Can we go ahead and bury the robot dog, once and for all?
It was an inane idea from the get go — thinking that Americans or people from any other reasonable country would want a pet with batteries.
The robot dog is the antithesis of dog — a soul-less collection of moving metal parts that, while it may obey your every command; while it may not pee, poop, drool or shed; while it might even make you laugh; isn’t ever going to lead to any sort of real bond.
I suspect the same is true as well of those who came up with and developed the idea.
A robot dog is to dog what a light bulb is to the sun.
Turn it on, turn it off. You might be seeing a harsh and glaring light, but you are not seeing “the” light. Only dogs can provide that.
It’s not surprising that robot dogs are burning out.
It is surprising that an Australian researcher recently suggested that robotic dogs could begin replacing real dogs as pets in the world’s largest cities in as little as 35 years.
Jean-Loup Rault, writing in the journal, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, says burgeoning populations in big cities won’t leave much room for man’s best friend in the future — and he predicts that living, breathing dogs will disappear as digital technologies “revolutionize” the human-animal relationship.
Rault is wrong, and here’s why.
True, robots are on the rise. We will increasingly rely on them, or something close, to wash our dishes, vacuum our floors and do all those other tasks that take up time we could spend online, or, better yet, actually living life.
But we will never really connect with them — not even sex robots.
Anyone who does, probably should see a psychiatrist or, if they only want to pretend someone is listening to them, a robot psychiatrist.
Even in a world increasingly falling in love with material things, and increasingly falling in love with technology, and increasingly finding its social life on the Internet, the rise and fall of the robot dog shows us that — even when we can predict and control something’s every move, and put it in the closet when we tire of it — a mechanical canine just can’t compete with the real thing.
Dogs — though technology has messed with them (always with bad results) — are the antidote, I think, to technological overload. They are the cure. They keep life real. They lead to real bonds, real emotions, happiness and pain.
Overall, they soothe us, while technology often does the opposite.
Anyone who thinks a robot dog is going to lower their blood pressure, as dogs do, provide eye contact that stirs the soul, or be comforting to play with or pet is caught up in self-delusion.
What is hoped for by companies that make such devices, or provide us with Internet-based fantasies, or come up with ideas like pet rocks and the Tamagotchie, is that we all find self-delusion a happier place to be, and stay there, and spend our money there.
Production ended eight years ago, and the Japanese company stopped servicing the robots last year.
Sony introduced the Aibo in 1999, and by 2006 had only sold 150,000 “units.” according to the New York Times.
Given it was not providing much profit, the company decided to put Aibo down.
Despite that, and the failure of many of the robotic/digital pets that preceded and followed it, Jean-Loup Rault, on the faculty at the Animal Welfare Science Centre at the University of Melbourne, suspects they have a future.
“Pet ownership in its current form is likely unsustainable in a growing, urbanized population. Digital technologies have quickly revolutionized human communication and social relationships,” he says.
“We are possibly witnessing the dawn of a new era, the digital revolution with likely effects on pet ownership, similar to the industrial revolution which replaced animal power for petrol and electrical engines.”
He points to the popularity, or at least former popularity, of devices like the Tamagotchie, and Paro, a robotic baby seal used by medical professionals, and Aibo, which never really became popular at all. He points to games and apps that allow people to keep fake farm animals. He points to the movie, “Her,” in which a man falls in love with his computer’s operating system.
“Robots can without doubt trigger human emotions,” he concludes, perhaps a little too quickly.
“The pace of artificial pet development, and underlying research, remains in its infancy with much to be discovered,” he notes. “At present, artificial pets can be described as mediocre substitutes for live counterparts. Yet, quick technological progress is to be expected …”
He concludes with a quote from Nikola Tesla: “Let the future tell the truth.”
I, for one, am not willing to do that. I don’t trust the future one bit, or those who are trying to take us there too quickly — and at the expense of what is pure and real and true.
Much more than the future, I put my trust, and faith, in dog. Real dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aibo, animals, bond, delusion, digital, dog, dog-human, dogs, emotions, future, internet, Jean-Loup Rault, ownership, pet, pets, reality, relationships, robot, robotics, social, society, sony, technology, truth, virtual
When Mary Murphy died in San Francisco 35 years ago, a provision of her will named her dog, Sido — but not as what you might call a beneficiary.
Murphy asked in her will that Sido, an 11-year-old part collie, part sheepdog, be killed.
Murphy didn’t want her dog languishing in a shelter, or ending up as part of a laboratory research project, and she feared that even if she did get adopted, her new family might not be as loving and caring as she had been.
In short, she thought Sido would be better off dead.
It all made for a fascinating little story (with big implications) back in 1980, with the case ending up in court and making it onto the June 17 broadcast of the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.”
It was animal advocate Richard Avanzino who, after the terms of Murphy’s will became known, took up Sido’s cause, and took in Sido, serving as the dog’s foster parent until things got straightened out in court. At the time, he was head of the San Francisco SPCA.
“There’s no justification for her life to be taken,” Avanzino said at the time. “She’s committed no crime. The only crime that she committed was that she loved totally her master and for that she’s been condemned to die.”
Today, Avanzino considers Sido the original poster child for the no-kill movement.
“Sido was just the quintessential champion for animal rescue,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful for the time that I had with her but more importantly for the great role she played in telling America that we can be a no-kill nation.”
“I took Sido into my home realizing that the lawsuit would probably take months to resolve the outcome and Sido joined my family as a foster pet,” Avanzino told CBS News this week from San Francisco.
Avanzino fought in court for Sido’s life, arguing that the dog wasn’t “property.”
At the same time, he and others lobbied state politicians to work on a measure that would save Sido’s life.
A bill was drafted, passed and sent to then-Governor Jerry Brown to consider.
The judge’s ruling came the same day the governor signed the bill.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jay Pfotenhauer — whose name, CBS pointed out, translates to Paw-Slapper from German — decided that the killing of pets as personal property no longer had validity and that pets have rights.
Sido was spared, and spent the next five years as a member of Avanzino’s family.
On Sido’s 16th birthday, just hours before the cake was to be cut, Sido had a stroke and was rushed to UC Davis Veterinary School. She died three days later.
Avanzino says he believes Sido’s case served to inspire animal lovers, and help stem the number of euthanizations across the country.
In 1980, 16 million dogs and cats were killed in shelters; today that number is closer to 2.7 million.
(Photos: Courtesy of Richard Avanzino)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1980, animals, case, cbs, court, dog, dogs, dogs as property, euthanize, flashback, history, law, legal, maddie's fund, mary murphy, news, pets, property, put down, report, richard avanzino, ruling, san francisco, san francisco spca, will
There’s a new “fastest dog on two feet,” Guinness World Records reports.
While Jiff, a pomeranian who once appeared in a Katy Perry video, is listed in the 2015 Guinness World Records as the fastest dog to walk on two legs, a new two-legged runner has laid claimed to at least part of the title.
Konjo, a Papillon-Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix from California, wrested the title away from Jiff after scooting 5 meters on front paws in 2.39 seconds, breaking Jiff’s record of 7.76 seconds.
Jiff still holds the record for being the fastest while using only back paws.
Konjo started walking on her front feet when she was a puppy, explains her owner, Julia Pasternack.
“My theory as to why she started doing this is that her center of mass resides primarily in the front, allowing her better balance,” Pasternack said.
Growing up in a two-story home, Konjo probably became used to putting all her weight on her front feet when she went down stairs.
All the positive affirmation she received when walking on just her front paws while on level ground probably led her to continue to demonstrate the talent, Konjo’s veterinarian thinks.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 18th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, fastest, front paws, guinness world records, jiff, konjo, paws, pets, pomeranian, rear paws, records, running, two legs, walking
The board of a ritzy Manhattan co-op is requiring some residents undergo testing of their blood and spit to determine if they are pure enough — and of the proper type — to live there.
As of last month, dog owners living in the luxury tower at 170 West End Avenue must have their veterinarian sign off on the canine’s pedigree and, if the pet is a mix, detail the percentage of each breed, according to DNAInfo.com
The policy is designed to purge the building of any pedigrees the board deems troublesome.
And the board deems many breeds troublesome — 27 in all, including the Pomeranian and the Maltese.
Residents were informed of the new policy a few months ago.
The board policy says the 27 breeeds were chosen based on “documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness.”
In the case of mixed breed dogs, the co-op board is requiring owners to have their pet undergo a DNA test. If the test shows a dog to be made up of more than 50 percent of one of the outlawed breeds, it will have to leave the building.
Initially, they wanted to require mandatory DNA testing of all dogs, but they amended the policy to require the testing “at the board’s discretion.”
The latest version of the policy, issued on May 26, says that if a dog’s breed is unknown “the board at its sole discretion may require a resident to perform DNA testing.”
The 484-unit, 42-story cooperative is one of eight buildings that comprise Lincoln Towers, a 20-acre property near Lincoln Center managed by FirstService Residential. Each building has its own co-op board and makes its own policies.
The board policy also requires that residents register their dog and provide a mugshot of the canine.
The list of banned breeds includes St. Bernards and German shepherds, pit bulls, basset hounds — and even the tiny shih tzu.
“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one resident said of the new policy. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”
(Photo: From NYcurbed.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 17th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 170 West End Ave., animals, banned, board, breed bans, breeds, co-op, discrimination, dna, dog, dogs, german shepherd, Lincoln Towers, maltese, mandatory, manhattan, mixed breeds, new york, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, policy, pomeranian, racism, shih-tzu, st. bernard, testing, tests