The movie based on the story of a dog whose mistreatment led to changes in North Carolina’s animal cruelty laws had its world premiere in Winston-Salem over the weekend.
“Susie’s Hope” kicked off the RiverRun International Film Festival Saturday, and if you missed that showing there are two more — Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre, and Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Main Theatre at UNC School of the Arts.
Susie, a pit bull mix, became a poster puppy for fighting animal abuse when she was found burned, beaten and close to death in Greensboro’s Greenfield Park in 2009.
The woman who adopted her, Donna Lawrence, was once a pit bull victim.
Lawrence began feeding a dog near her home in High Point whose owners had moved away. After several days, the dog attacked her, latching on to her left leg and going for her throat before she was able to push it away and seek help. The wound left her bone exposed, and she’d receive 45 stitches.
She didn’t blame the animal: “I blame the owners who turned their dog into what it was,” she writes on the movie’s website. “Their neglect and abuse made their dog fearful and territorial.”
The attack left Lawrence, a long-time dog lover, with a fear of dogs and nightmares, even after her physical recovery.
“Then one day I met Susie, and she changed my life forever,” Lawrence writes. “So now you can see Susie and I shared something in common: she was a pit bull mix that had been had been tortured by a human and I was viciously attacked by a pit bull just a few months before we met. Our similar experiences allowed us to go from being victims to living victorious lives. I forgave the dog for my wrongful attack, and Susie forgave the human for hers.”
She was found with second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of her body, a broken jaw, her teeth knocked out and her ears all but burned away. Her wounds were infested with maggots and she’d been surviving by eating sticks and drinking from mud puddles.
Lawrence and Susie would go on to foster awareness of animal abuse and push for increased penalties for the crime. Susie would become a therapy dog and a Canine Good Citizen.
In 2010, the state legislature passed Susie’s Law, which increased the penalty for anyone who “maliciously” kills an animal by “intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance, and raised the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. Susie’s abuser received a sentence of 4-6 months in jail for burning personal property and a 4-5 month suspended sentence for animal cruelty.
Susie — though a puppy portrays her in her younger years — plays herself in the movie.
Filmed locally, the movie has some actors you might recognize – Emmanuelle Vaugier, best known as Charlie’s ex-fiance Mia on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” plays Lawrence; Burgess Jenkins (“Remember the Titans”) plays Roy Lawrence; and, in our favorite bit of casting, Jon Provost (Timmy from the TV show “Lassie”) plays state Sen. Don Vaughan, who sponsored the bill that became Susie’s Law.
(Photo: Courtesy of Susieshope.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abused, animal cruelty, animal shelter, animals, attack, burned, dog, dogs, donna lawrence, Emmanuelle Vaugier, felony, film festival, fire, found, greensboro, guilford county, jon provost, lassie, law, movie, neglected, north carolina, park, pets, pit bull, pitbull, premiere, river run, riverrun, set on fire, susie, susie's law, susies hope, timmy, victim, winston-salem
What police describe as a fight between three dogs left one woman bitten and one dog shot at Staten Island’s newly opened Schmul Park over the weekend.
Police officers say they fired shots after one of the dogs “attacked” her owner, but members of the owner’s family say she was bitten while attempting to break up a fight, and that the dog who was shot – her pit bull, named Baby Girl — wasn’t even involved in it.
Witnesses said they heard three to five shots, and WABC reported that police officers shot at all three dogs to prevent the situation from escalating.
But they hit only one, Baby Girl, according to Gothamist,
A brother of the dog’s owner said in a Facebook post that the dog was shot after the incident was already under control, and that Baby Girl wasn’t involved in the incident:
“The bullet entrance and exit wounds show the dog was running away, NOT [TOWARD] the cop like that coward officer claims. The fight was already under control, yet hero cop of the day felt it necessary to pull out her gun and shoot. THIS DOG WASNT EVEN THE ONE THAT WAS FIGHTING.”
The owner’s brother also claims police left Baby Girl unattended in the back of a truck after she was shot, and told the family they couldn’t find her.
Police say three dogs were involved in the incident, and that at least two of them were fighting. When Baby Girl’s owner tried to break up the fight she was bitten on the hand.
“Responding officers tried to help her, and in the attempt to get the dog off her, shots were fired,” a police spokesman said.
The owner was treated for hand injuries at Richmond University Medical Center.
S.N.A.R.R Animal Rescue Northeast, the group that rescued Baby Girl before she was adopted, supported the brother’s account, saying Baby Girl was running away from the two other fighting dogs when she was shot in the stomach.
A post by the rescue group’s founder, Robin Menard, indicates all three dogs belonged to the same family.
“Baby Girl was NOT involved (it was two other family dogs) and was running AWAY from the fight when cops fired 3 rounds. Baby Girl was shot in the stomach. She is now fighting for her life and her adopters are paying for a 6000 surgery. They are doing whatever they can. Baby Girl has never had an issue with people or other dogs. She is best friends with a bunny rabbit… Yes. A bunny!
Donations to Baby Girl’s care can be made through the rescue group and its Paypal account (email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack, baby girl, bite, dog, dogs, Freshkills, law enforcement, new york, parks, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbulls, police, Schmul, shooting, staten island
A Florida sheriff’s deputy plans to adopt the dog he helped rescue after her owner slashed her throat and stabbed her.
The dog, a 70-pound collie-Labrador mix named Amber, was attacked Sunday night, according to the Jacksonville Times-Union.
St. Johns County Deputy Dan Sorrells arrested her owner and then joined an animal control officer in a search for the dog, following a trail of blood and finding her in a thicket of grass, with her throat slashed and stab wounds to her sides.
When he called her name, she came, he said. “She walked right over to me. She showed no aggression.”
Amber was taken to Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Jacksonville. Sorrells plans to pay Amber’s medical and take her home in about a week.
He told deputies the dog needed to be “put down” because she attacked a kitten.
According to Hart’s two roomates, who reported the incident, he became angry when he thought the dog had harmed the cat.
“He called the dog over to him and stabbed it several times,” they told Sorrells. “Then he cut its throat.”
One of the roommates said he tried to help the wounded dog, but that Hart told him to ”back off.”
The kitten, as it turned out, was not harmed.
Amber is believed to be about 4 years old. Sorrells visited her Tuesday and Wednesday. His family has two other rescue dogs.
“This dog will fit in perfectly with them,” he said.
(Top photo: Amber, far left, visits the vet with Sorrells, far right; by Bruce Lipsky / The Times-Union)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopting, adoption, amber, angry, animal cruelty, animals, attack, cat, county, cruelty to animals, dan sorrells, deputy, dogs, florida, law enforcement, owner, pets, sheriff, slashed, st. johns county, stabbed, throat
On top of the jail sentence, he was ordered to spend an additional six months on electronic home monitoring and pay the golden retriever’s veterinary bills, which amounted to $5,000, the Bellingham Herald reported.
The judge also banned Knowles from owning pets or having animals in his house.
At the sentencing, Knowles apologized to the dog’s owners, who since have moved out of state.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Dione Hauger said she asked for the maximum sentence “based on the brutality of the actual crime … on the thought and premeditation that went into it. And it was based on the fact that this was a fairly vulnerable victim.”
Knowles was arrested in March after police found the 3-year-old dog, named Kona, tied to a pole in his garage. Police said he lured Kona to his property with treats. The dog has since recovered from the injuries, which included a skull fracture and broken jaw.
Knowles had reportedly complained to Kona’s owner in the past about the dog’s barking.
At the sentencing, Knowles said the act wasn’t premeditated. “I just couldn’t take the noise any longer,” he said. “He was barking and I just snapped. I can’t explain it.” (Video from the hearing is included in this KBOI report.)
During a search of Knowles’ home, authorities found blood-splattered cutting tools, a hammer, a bloody garbage can and dog treats.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, attack, barking, court, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, golden retriever, hatchet, judge, kona, neighbor, one year, orting, pets, ricky lee knowles, sentence, washington, wire
Police in Osceola, Wisconsin, say a man tied up a teenager he suspected had stolen from him, hung him upside down and commanded his pit bull to attack him.
Police said the 58-year-old homeowner ordered his pit bull to attack the 18-year-old three times — first as part of “interrogating” him, then a second time, then a third time after tying him up, dragging him outside and tying him upside down to the porch rafters.
The 18-year-old was treated at a hospital for for multiple dog bites and released, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.
Police said the young man’s father witnessed, and may have participated in, the “interrogation.”
A third person who saw what was going on at the residence called police.
Charges of false imprisonment, negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, aggravated battery and bail-jumping are being referred to the Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office against the 58-year-old man, who is scheduled to be tried on an unrelated charge of child abuse later this year.
The boy’s father is expected to face similar charges, along with failing to aid the victim in reporting a crime.
The dog is being held at the Fond du Lac Humane Society.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack, bites, dog, dogs, fond du lac, humane society, hung, interrogation, ordered, osceola, owner, owners, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, rafters, wisconsin
District Judge Rob Bare issued a restraining order to halt temporarily the scheduled Monday euthanization of the the 6-year-old mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix.
“We’re thrilled,” said Richard Rosenthal, a New York-based lawyer who heads The Lexus Project, a national group that fights to spare dogs from destruction. Lawyers for the organization filed the motion for the temporary restraining order.
Bare scheduled a hearing for Friday morning on whether Onion should die, or get to live out his life at a sanctuary outside Denver that specializes in caring for large aggressive dogs, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported
Rosenthal said he hopes to negotiate with city animal control officials before then to settle the case and spare Onion’s life.
Rosenthal said the Colorado sanctuary has offered to take Onion. “The dog can stay there as long as need be, including the rest of his life, if it turns out there is an aggression issue.”
“Killing the dog will not bring back the baby,” he added.
Fox News in Las Vegas said the injunction came just hours before the dog was scheduled to be put down Tuesday.
Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan was killed late last month when his grandparent’s dog bit him on the head.
The judge’s order allows both sides to negotiate a settlement by Friday morning. Otherwise, the issue will be heard in district court where Judge Joanna Kirshner will make a ruling.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, attack, bite, child, colorado, court, denver, dogs, euthanasia, jeremiah eskew-shahan, judge, killed, mastiff, mix, nevada, one year old, onion, pets, reprieve, rhodesian, richard rosenthal, ridgeback, rob bare, sanctuary, the lexus project
A group of dog lovers is working to persuade officials in Henderson, Nevada, to spare the life of a mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix who bit and killed a 1-year-old boy last week.
Onion, six years old, is scheduled to be euthanized next week.
“This dog will never harm another soul,” said Les Golden, a Chicago-area dog rescuer who is leading the campaign to spare Onion. “The dog deserves to be saved.”
Golden told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he hopes a flood of supporters calling and emailing Mayor Andy Hafen will persuade him to stay the execution, which could happen Monday or Tuesday after the dog’s 10-day quarantine.
Onion’s family voluntarily gave their pet to animal control officials for euthanization. “For what he did to my son, he deserves to be punished,” father Christopher Shahan said. “I’ve already accepted the fact that he’s dead.”
Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan was attacked by the dog on April 27 after the family had finished celebrating the boy’s first birthday. He crawled over to Onion and grabbed onto the 120-pound dog to help himself stand up, as his family said he had done many times before
Jeremiah’s grandmother, Elizabeth Keller, was leaning over to pick him up when Onion suddenly attacked. Jeremiah’s father and others freed the child about 30 seconds later and he was rushed to a nearby hospital. He died the next day at University Medical Center.
Henderson animal control officers declared Onion vicious, which requires euthanization following the state-mandated quarantine.
“The dog attacked and killed a child,” animal control spokesman Keith Paul said. “It would be irresponsible of us to allow this dog to be adopted out.”
Lisa Kavanaugh, said she would welcome Onion to her 35-acre ranch near Denver called Blue Lion Rescue, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
“If it’s an accident, why not give him a chance?” Kavanaugh said. “He’s never, ever going to get a chance to hurt anybody else.”
Onion had been with the family since he was a puppy and helped Keller through her battle with lung cancer. The dog had never shown aggression toward anyone, family members said.
“I would love him to be in a sanctuary the rest of his life, but what sort of punishment would that be for killing a human being?” the father said.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, attack, baby, bites, blue lion rescue, calls, campaign, child, dangerous, dog bites, email, euthanasia, euthanized, group, henderson, infant, jeremiah eskew-shahan, killed, les golden, mastiff, mix, nevada, onion, quarantine, rhodesian ridgeback, sanctuary, save, shahan, vicious
Well, maybe some of them aren’t, but for the sake of ease, and without regard to fact, let’s just lump them all together and proclaim them stupid.
That’s what they did, with pit bulls.
A troubling 4-3 decision by the state’s highest court last week deemed pit bulls and pit bull mixes inherently dangerous — a ruling that, on top of being ill-informed, could lead to trouble for pit bull owners everywhere.
One judge who went against the majority, Clayton Greene Jr., noted that how harmless a pit bull might be is no longer relevant when it comes to determining liability — a troublesome precedent, in his view.
“Now, it appears, the issue of whether a dog is harmless, or the owner or landlord has any reason to know that the dog is dangerous, is irrelevant to the standard of strict liability,” Judge Greene wrote.
The majority decision singles out pit bulls and declares them all dangerous. It implies that owners of them, and the landlords who rent to those owners, should ignorantly assume, as the judges did, that they are lethal and unpredictable beasts. And it makes suing their owners much easier.
Under previous case law, a victim intending to file a lawsuit after a dog attack had to prove that a dog’s owner, or landlord, knew it had a history of being dangerous. Now, under this new precedent, they can merely show that the owner knew their dog was all or part pit bull. That would be sufficient basis for a claim.
In other words, it’s no longer necessary to prove that a particular pit bull is dangerous, only that it’s a pit bull, or part of it is.
The ruling last Thursday came in the case of a 2007 attack on a child in Towson. According to the Baltimore Sun, 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bill and his family sued the dog owner’s landlord, Dorothy M. Tracey.
The Circuit Court judge threw out the claim, ruling there was no evidence that Tracey had been negligent. The Court of Special Appeals overturned the judge’s decision, and the Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling Thursday. The case will now head back to trial.
At a time when many jurisdictions are becoming more enlightened about pit bulls, the Maryland Court of Appeals decision assures that, in at least one area, they will be treated differently from all other dogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeal court, attack, breed, court of appeals, dangerous, discrimination, dog, dogs, dominic solesky, judges, laws, lawsuits, liability, maryland, mixed, mixes, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, ruling, specific, towson
D.C. animal control officers are seeking the two dogs captured on this surveillance video, chasing a group of youngsters to the top of a car and, later, biting a man who came to their aide.
The incident took place Friday on the 1200 block of Queen Street in Northeast D.C.
“It was scary and amazing,” one of the youths told Fox News.
Andre Hawthorne, a 54-year-old usher at Nationals Park, suffered bites when he used a pocket knife to try and keep the dogs away from the youths.
“When one of the dogs came, I let him have my left arm,” Hawthorne explained. “… And while I stuck him with the knife, then the second dog comes.”
Hawthorne’s stepson came to help him, swinging a baseball bat at the dogs.
“If it wasn’t for him, I might be worse then I am today,” Hawthorne said.
“I’m just glad to be alive,” he added. “But I’m sad that the owner allowed this to happen.”
The dogs and their owner were not home when a D.C. animal control officer visited Monday evening.
The D.C. Department of Health says it has ordered the dogs be impounded and will have animal control officers patrolling the neighborhood until the dogs are taken off the street.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: andre hawthorne, animal control, animals, attack, bite, bitten, camera, car, dc, dog, dogs, pets, security, surveillance, top, video, washington, youths
Eugene Alfonso, 58, of Myakka City was arrested and charged with armed trespass, shooting into an occupied dwelling and cruelty to an animal, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report.
According to the Bradenton Herald, Alfonso fired a shot at the shepherd mix while it was attacking his small dog, but missed.
When the shepherd mix went home, police say Alfonso walked to the house of his 70-year-old neighbor and shot her dog as it stood near the porch.
Charges are expected to be pursued against her as well for the original attack, authorities said.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, attack, charges, dog, dogs, florida, german shepherd, killed, mix, myakka city, neighbors, pets, property, shooting, shot