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Tag: attacks

We have more empathy for dogs than we do for most humans, study says

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People are more empathetic towards dogs than they are their fellow humans — unless that human is an infant, a new study has concluded.

In the study, 240 students were shown fake newspaper clippings about attacks with baseball bats that left the victims unconscious, with a broken leg and multiple lacerations.

Then they were asked questions aimed at gauging their empathy for the fictional victims in the account they had read — either a one-year-old baby, a 30-year-old adult, a puppy, or a six-year-old dog.

While the human infant evoked the most empathy, the puppy trailed closely behind, then the adult dog, with the adult victim finishing last.

The study was published this week in the journal Society and Animals.

The study was similar to one conducted two years ago by Harrison’s Fund, a medical research charity in the UK.

In that one, two printed two advertisements were show to people, both of which asked: “Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?” In one of the advertisements Harrison was a child, in the other he was a dog.

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Harrison the dog got significantly more clicks than Harrison the human, the Times of London reported.

The newer study found people are consistently more distressed by reports of dogs being beaten up than they are by the same reports about adult humans.

The scientists, from Northeastern University in Boston, found that those who who read the report about an attack on a child, dog or puppy all registered similar levels of empathy. When it was a human adult, however, the results were different.

“Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies,’ or family members alongside human children,” the researchers concluded.

Unusually bold attacks see wild cats enter homes to snag dogs

The more we intrude on what was their domain, the more likely we are to have run-ins of the unpleasant variety with wildlife — even inside the safety of our homes.

In the past two weeks, two homeowners say wild cats entered their homes in pursuit of their pets — a mountain lion in San Mateo County, Calif., and a bobcat Plano, Texas.

In the California case, the mountain lion snatched a woman’s dog at night as she, her child and the pet slept in her bed.

Both intrusions were seen as uncommonly bold for the species, and both have served to renew local and regional debates on how best to handle the kinds of predators that, despite development, can still show up in suburban and rural areas.

Some, like the bobcat-encountering woman above, say get rid of them entirely — as in wipe them off the planet, or at least our ritzy suburb. Others favor trapping, tranquilizing, killing, relocating, or poisoning (which can be problematic for dogs, too). Some might favor taking a look at whatever more reasonable steps could lead to a more peaceful alliance.

We’d note at at the outset that, in both cases outlined here, the homeowners had left doors opened — so perhaps for people living in areas where such animals are sometimes sighted, shutting the damn door might be a good and sound first step.

That would have prevented what was a real life nightmare for Vickie Fought, of Pescadero, Calif. She and her daughter awoke to see their dog, a 15-pound Portuguese Podengo sleeping at the foot of the bed they shared, snatched and taken away by what has since been confirmed was a mountain lion.

About 3 a.m., the woman awoke in her home to hear the dog, named Lenore, barking. She glimpsed the shadow of an animal walking through her bedroom, according to NBC

Fought got out of bed and used a flashlight to look for her dog, but saw only large wet paw prints at the entrance of her bedroom.

Officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office collected a drop of blood found on the floor, which was taken to a wildlife forensics laboratory in Sacramento that same day.

Testing showed Monday that the blood included DNA from a mountain lion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the small dog was apparently what the mountain lion was after. Foy said it was the first case he’d heard of a mountain lion walking into a home.

“This person had left the door open, so the animal got in. That problem is fixed,” he added. “They’re not sleeping with the door open anymore.”

Earlier this week, in the suburbs of Dallas, a woman watched as a bobcat chased her miniature pinschers through an open door and into her house.

Plano resident Pat McDonald says she heard a scream and turned to see her female dog, Precious, running in the door. Behind the little dog, she says, was a bobcat. “He came right in,” she said.

McDonald says the large cat raced through her home and jumped on top of a six foot tall display cabinet. It ran back out, but not before biting the dog on the neck. Precious is expected to recover, according to CBS in Dallas.

Officials say it was the first instance they recall of bobcat entering someone’s home.

Does your dog need protective body armor?

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It may make your dog look like he’s a mix of punk rocker and porcupine, but otherwise we won’t poke too much fun at this protective vest, aimed at keeping dogs — especially smaller ones — safe from coyotes and other predators.

It was designed and is being marketed by a San Diego couple that lost their dog to a coyote. They started the business last year.

“Our goal is to help prevent others from experiencing the heartbreak we suffered when our beloved Buffy was killed,” Paul and Pam Mott say on the website for the Coyote Vest.

The basic vest goes for $70. It is made of Kevlar and has a spiked collar area.

coyotewhiskersFor another $20, you can get additional hard plastic spikes running down the sides of the vest. For another $20 you can get the attachable nylon, quill-like “whiskers,” designed to poke the face and eyes of any attacking predator.

And for $60 more, you can add on the “CoyoteZapper,” allowing you to use a remote device to send an electrical jolt to any creature that might be trying to run off with your small dog in its mouth.

“​The CoyoteZapper utilizes a dog training collar capable of delivering a painful shock. But instead of shocking your dog in the neck, it shocks the coyote in the mouth,” the website says.

While marketed as coyote protection, the website points out that the vest, and zapper strips, can also protect your dog from dog park bullies — or even another larger dog at home that may not be treating the smaller one with proper respect.

“…Zapper Strips are attached to either side of the CoyoteVest in such a way that it is practically impossible for a larger dog to pick up your small dog without his mouth touching both of them at the same time. If you push the button on the remote to activate the shock module the voltage will be directed though the Zapper Strips directly into the mouth of the attacker. The shock is harmless, but painful enough to make the attacker let go.”

We’ve never been fans of zapping dogs with electricity, for whatever purpose, and using them as conductors thereof is a little problematic, too — though we’ll admit to briefly wondering whether similar protective wear might be effective in keeping school bullies at bay. (In reality, the outfit would likely only lead to more teasing.)

Effective as the Coyote Vest might be in saving a small dog from a coyote or hawk, we’re not sure — for similar reasons — whether the protective vest, or at least its attachments, belong in a dog park. It could end up drawing attention from curious dogs, including a few who might mistake your little one for a chew toy.

The Motts say the fully equipped vests do draw attention, at least from humans.

When they took their dogs Cody, Scooter and Sparky (yes, Sparky!) to the 2015 Carmel Poodle Day Parade dressed in their vests “everybody thought they were the most adorable ‘punk rock’ costumes created just for fun. They really are a lot cooler looking than we expected.”

(Photos: Coyotevest.com)

Another pit bull ban that didn’t work — at least when it comes to reducing dog bites

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In 2005, Ontario passed a law designed to purge the province of pit bulls.

“Over time, it will mean fewer pit bull attacks and, overall, fewer attacks by dangerous dogs,” attorney general Michael Bryant told the Ontario legislature back then.

Time has proved him wrong — at least in Toronto.

The number of dog bites has been rising since 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 reached their highest levels this century, even as pit bulls neared extinction, according to a report in Global News.

It’s just the latest evidence that pit bull bans don’t work.

160219_dog_tableUnder the Ontario law, pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers — and any dog who had that pit bull “look” — had to be kept muzzled or leashed in public and get sterilized within two months of the bill’s passage.

The law allowed those who already owned pit bulls to keep them under those conditions, but breeding pit bulls, or bringing them into the province, was outlawed.

If you owned a pit bull type dog, and it was born after the law went into effect, your dog was — and still is — subject to being sent out of the province or euthanized.

Ten years after the law’s passage, most of those grandfathered pit bulls are dead or dying.

There were only 338 registered in Toronto in 2014, down from 1,411 in 2005.

By the year 2020, pit bulls are expected to no longer exist in the Canadian province.

But the law’s primary desired effect — cutting down on dog attacks and dog bites — clearly hasn’t been achieved.

In 2004, 567 dog bites were recorded in the city. Reports indicate 86 of those bites came from dogs designated as pit bulls. The only breed with more was German Shepherds, with 112 reported bites.

In 2014, there were 767 dog bites in Toronto — only 19 of them by pit bulls.

In 2014, German shepherds were involved in most of the city’s dog bites, and Labrador retrievers had moved up into second place.

Nobody has proposed outlawing them — at least not yet.

(Photo: Chart from globalnews.ca; photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

The most dangerous dog breed in Liverpool

Jack Russell Terrier Snarling

The breed of dog most often involved in attacks on humans in Liverpool is … the Jack Russell terrier.

In 2015 more canine attacks on humans were reported from Jack Russells than from other breeds often seen as more aggressive, including pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Police data show 71 dog attacks were reported to police in 2015. Jack Russells were responsible for six of the recorded attacks in which the breed of dog was known.

Pit bulls and Staffordshire bull terrier-type dogs accounted for five recorded incidents in 2015, German shepherds were involved in three, and collies were involved in two.

If police seemed to waste no time in compiling the year end statistics, that may be because Liverpool is one of the worst cities in England when it comes to dog bites. The city’s dog attack rate is more than twice the national average.

Jack Russells are known as high-energy dogs who can be very territorial.

Other breeds involved in at least one incident included a Yorkshire terrier, a Rottweiler, a St. Bernard, a French bull mastiff and a Chihuahua.

(Photo: Royalty-Free/Corbis)

Interactive map shows where “dangerous” dogs live in Minneapolis

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The city of Minneapolis has taken protecting its residents from “dangerous dogs” to a whole new level with the publication of an interactive map on its website that pinpoints where dogs that have had run-ins with the law live.

The website lists each dog’s name, breed and their offense — everything from “killed a cat” to “muzzle violations” and bites to humans or other dogs, KARE 11 reported.

It also lists the full names and addresses of the owners, and photos of each dog.

Seems dogs deemed dangerous have about the same rights to privacy as a sex offender — that is, virtually none.

“In order to keep our residents safe, we post pictures of these animals and their addresses,” the website states, referring to dogs, of course.

To see the map and interact with it, click here.

Connie Bourque, of Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, says it’s all about public safety.

“If you live in a neighborhood, you have a visual that lets you know where animals that have had incidents in the past, who have been aggressive in the past. You have a sense of where you would maybe be more cautious based on the fact that you can see that information right on the website.”

Given all the other restrictions those with dogs deemed dangerous face, it strikes me as a little heavy-handed, almost as if it is meant to shame the dog owners.

Under city law, residents whose dogs have been deemed “dangerous,” or “potentially dangerous,” already face a variety of measures, from having their dog exterminated to requirements like liability insurance, sterilization, eight foot tall fences, warning signs posted at the front and rear of their home; and, when their dogs go out, muzzles, three-foot leashes and collars that carry a warning tag.

The new website, as of yesterday, lists 35 dangerous dogs in Minneapolis (compared to 146 people on the map of sex offenders residing in the city).

Unlike sex offender maps, which don’t specify the offense or use photos of the offenders, canine offenders have their photos posted, as well as a brief summary of their dangerous behavior.

Sephy, for example, a beagle from Longfellow, bit a person; Briggs, a Lab mix from near Lake Nokomis, killed a cat; and Bernadette, an American Staffordshire terrier in Loring Park, bit another animal.

It is possible for a dog to be taken off the list, but first it must be proven by their owner that they have received training and have been rehabilitated. A home inspection is also required for that.

Is artwork an attack on pit bulls?

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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.”