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Tag: animals

Is artwork an attack on pit bulls?

outofblue3

Whether it’s art, propaganda, or a combination of the two, a memorial to victims of fatal dog attacks is creating controversy as one of dozens of entries in a public art display in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The work  is called ”Out of the Blue,” a reference to how dog attacks — and particularly pit bull attacks, the artist repeatedly points out — usually happen.

outofblue2The display, created by a woman identifying herself as Joan Marie Kowal, consists of more than 30 decorated crosses, representing the number of people killed in dog attacks this year, and images of the victims, many of them children.

The artwork is rubbing some dog lovers, and particularly pit bull lovers, the wrong way, which has led to some demonstrations and the kind of heated, everybody’s an expert debate that follows pit bulls around wherever they go.

Joan Marie Kowal, we suspect, has more experience in badmouthing pit bulls than she does in creating art, but then again artists don’t need credentials in this competition.

Every year, for 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids is opened up to artists in ArtPrize, a competition that awards $200,000 to the grand prize winner.

Downtown becomes “an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters,” according to the  ArtPrize  website. ”Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown … It’s unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”

This year, “Out of the Blue” has proved among the most disruptive.

A week ago, perturbed pit bull owners brought their dogs to Calder Plaza, where the entry is displayed, in hopes of presenting their views and showing that pit bulls — the breed most often mentioned in the memorial — aren’t vicious killing machines.

When they sat down in front of the memorial, Kowal complained they were obstructing the public’s view.

Kowal told MLIVE.com in an email that “visitors can’t even see the art and many have told me the bully breed owners, sitting on the ledges blocking the view of the victims’ biographies and refusing to move, makes them unable to enjoy the piece.”

Grand Rapids Police Lt. Pat Dean said Kowal filed a complaint in late September about people sitting with pit bulls on the stone wall in front of her ArtPrize entry. Police found nothing illegal at that time, he said, and members of the group, while on public property, moved at the request of officers.

Kowal describes the work as “an opportunity to Pay it Forward, and show the good side of humanity. Visitors are encouraged to express their sympathy, respect, and support for the victims and their families by leaving teddy bears, flowers, or memorial decorations in the designated heart-shaped memorial space.”

According to a brief biography listed on the ArtPrize website,  Kowal is an animal lover, who has feral cats and pet squirrels. She attended Grand Valley State University.

Not a whole lot can be learned about her through searching her name on the Internet, and there’s no mention of any previous artistic pursuits.

There was a 2011 MLIVE.com article that mentioned her name, and quoted her as being a supporter of a proposed pit bull ban in Wyoming, Michigan.

Perhaps she became an artist “out of the blue.” Perhaps her anti-pit bull passion needed an outlet.

We support the right for just about anyone to call themselves an artist, assuming they are making some form of art. We don’t have a problem with Kowal expressing herself — either vocally or through her “art” — on the streets of Grand Rapids. By the same token, we have no problem with pit bull owners and their dogs sitting down squarely in front of it, as long as it’s public property. They have the right to express themselves in public, too, whether they’re ArtPrize contestants or not.

So do we. And our opinion is Kowal is pushing her personal agenda under the guise of a non-profit organization’s art competition, and that it’s likely part of a well-plotted effort by those forces intent on painting all members of the breed with the same brush, reinforcing negative stereotypes while playing fast and loose with the facts.

Kowal says she plans to add three more crosses this weekend in remembrance of three other people who died from injuries she says were caused by pit bull attacks.

“That is not my fault that they were all killed by pit bulls,” she said. “I’m just showing the facts.”

Two “new” breeds will debut at Westminster

cotons

What do the Hungarian wire-haired vizsla (below) and the coton de tulear (above) have in common?

At first glance, not a lot.

wirehairedvizsla

The fuzzier version of a Vizsla is a mid-sized dog with what’s been called a “professorial” appearance, while the tiny coton de tulear is a fluffy French breed that resembles a Q-Tip on steroids

Both breeds, newly recognized by the American Kennel Club, will be competing for the first time when the Westminster Kennel Club holds its 139th annual dog show in New York in February.

“Coton is the French word for cotton and that’s what this dog looks like, a little bit of a cotton swab,” David Frei, the host and director of communications for the show, explained to NPR.

“It has got a long white coat, smallish dog; looks more like a toy dog than the non-sporting group that it’s in — fun little dog,” Frei added. “The royal dog of Madagascar, if you will, was exported through the Port of Tulear in Madagascar, ended up in France and other places in Europe before it came to this country and now it’s not really a new breed per se, but it’s new to us.”

Unlike their smooth-coated counterparts, the wirehaired vizsla has an inch-long, rust-colored coat that helps protect it while romping through the brush.

While best known for their hunting abilities, their fuzzy faces — with beards and moustaches and, if you will, Andy Rooney eyebrows — give them a distinguished appearance that belies their playfulness.

The two new additions brings the total number of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club to 192..

(Photos: Vizsla photo from  Fassfields Hungarian Wirehaired Vizslas;  coton de tulear photo,  Nicaise, via Wamiz.com)

Veterinary student stitches “I love you” on canine patient — to impress his girlfriend

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A veterinary student in Poland is facing expulsion after he stitched “I Love You” into the skin of a dog he had operated on — then posted a photo of his handiwork on Facebook to impress his girlfriend.

Staff at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn launched an investigation after becoming aware of the pictures, which have been widely shared on Facebook by horrified dog lovers.

The fourth-year student was not publicly identified.

“Saying you love someone is not a bad thing,” the university’s head of veterinary studies, Andrzej Koncicki, told the Croatian Times.”But the fact this was stitched into the stomach of an animal does seem immoral and unethical behavior from a student of veterinary science … We need to find out more about what happened here.”

The student’s girlfriend defended his actions, saying, “What’s so unethical about it? He’s learnt to sew in order to help and is just showing his skill.”

The university offers a veterinary service for locals including some free treatments to allow students to test their skills, supposedly while under supervision from qualified professionals.

Where the supervision was in this case is among the questions the university says it is looking at.

(Photo: Facebook)

Time to leave? Bella doesn’t think so

Surely you can relate to what Bella, the German shepherd featured in this video, is going through.

Think about that beach vacation you didn’t want to come to an end, or your toddler’s hissy fit when the time came to leave Chuck E. Cheese, or those potato chips you always need one more of.

Sometimes, when something just feels so good, or is so much fun, stopping, packing up and going home is just unthinkable.

Such, seemingly is the case with Bella, who, when informed that her lake visit was over, whined, moaned and carried on in a way that made it clear that — despite what her owner was telling her — it wasn’t quite time to leave.

In posting the video on YouTube, her caretaker noted that, after her performance, Bella got to play in the lake a little longer.

“No dogs’ hearts were actually broken in the making of this video,” she added.

Two days ago, she posted another comment on YouTube, alluding to all the negative comments the video has received about her “ill-trained” dog.

“I thought it was funny. I didn’t realize at the time that half of the world’s population would know her better than I do based on a 2 min video. The true story is she has severe HD and we take her swimming in the pond just about everyday for therapy (it’s good for her hip, and helps burn all of her puppy energy).

“… She’s perfectly trained and I do know this isn’t appropriate behavior. I have found people nor animals are 100% perfect all of the time. You can tell from the tone of my voice that I’m not serious and she knew it as well. That’s why she pushed the limits and I allowed her to do so. It was fun banter back and forth between her, my daughter and I.

“Even after explaining ALL of this, there are going to be a million “dog whisperers” that still know her better than me. I posted this video 5 months ago, not thinking it would ever go viral. Based on the negativity of people that cannot see this for what it was — just a funny video of a dog — makes me wish at times that I had never posted it in the first place.”

Not to read too much into it, and even though it was all in the spirit of playfulness, it still makes me wonder: As dogs become more like humans, are they getting better at manipulating us?

And, given how much we’ve manipulated them, is that only fair?

And, as for all those nasty “expert” commenters who can’t tear themselves away from negatively pontificating on the Internet — because to them it’s just too much fun — I suggest they go jump in a lake.

Pastor finds she can retrieve more souls with her dog, Kirby, at her side

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The Rev. Arlene M. Tully jokes that there are some similarities between her dog and members of her congregation.

“He sleeps through my sermons like everyone else,” the Methodist minister said.

But there is someone that Kirby — the golden-lab retriever mix who is almost always at her side — reminds her of even more:

“Kirby is a living, breathing metaphor for God’s love,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “The way he expresses love is as unconditional as God’s love. He instantly and fully embraces every person that he meets and that is a more accurate metaphor for God’s love than human love.”

Kirby the Ministry Dog attends services at First United Methodist Church in Bangor, Maine. He’s present for church dinners and other functions. He accompanies her on home visits, and trips to nursing homes and hospitals. And everywhere they go together, she notes, Kirby has a way of connecting with people, and getting them to open up.

“He’s a catalyst for those kinds of conversations,” said Tully,

The 2½ -year-old dog was trained as a service dog by Canine Companions for Independence at its campus in Medford, New York.

If Tully tells him to “visit,” Kirby will put his head in the lap of a person. If she says “lap,” he’ll gently place his paw on the leg of the person he’s visiting. When she say’s “push,” he’ll open an automatic door by pushing the button.

Tully, 57, became the church’s pastor in July. While she grew up a Roman Catholic, she left the church as a college student. She worked in restaurant management for 25 years before attending Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.

Kirby, her second “ministry dog,” came to live with Tully in February while she was pastor of Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville, and he’s been helping her reach out to people ever since.

“Together, we have an instant bridge to people that I alone might not have otherwise,” she said.

(Photo: Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News)

Susie named 2014′s “American Hero Dog”

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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)

Dog dragger apologizes after being exposed

dragged

Photos of a dog being dragged by a car in China led to an online campaign to track the driver down, his identity being unveiled, and enough harassment to bring him to apologize for what he did.

The photos of the dragging, and some videos, were posted starting Saturday on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site similar to Twitter, and quickly went viral.

An online manhunt — or what’s sometimes called a “human flesh search” — for the driver led to him being identified, likely through his license plate number.

His name, address and telephone number were shared on Sina Weibo, where there was also talk among users of visiting him and administering their own justice.

Before that could happen, the driver appeared on a Shantou Television news program on Monday admitting responsibility for the incident and apologizing.

He said the dog is a watchdog at his factory, and had bitten people. He wanted to get rid of the dog, but couldn’t kill it with his own hands, according to China Daily.

“I couldn’t see the dog in my rear-view mirror so I wasn’t aware that it was bleeding badly,” the man, identified only as Zheng, said in his public apology. “I apologize for my actions and hope Sina Weibo users would not to reveal or share any more of my personal information,” he said.

Witnesses said that after the dragging  Zheng untied the dog — bleeding and near death — and threw it into some bushes on the side of a busy road in Shantou, in China’s Guangdong province.

An animal rights group has organized a campaign to find the missing dog, a spokesperson for the group told BBC Trending. The driver claims the dog was still alive when left at the side of the road, but volunteers have been unable to find it.

(Photo from Sina Weibo)

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