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
Police in new York hope a surveillance video will help them find three men who tossed a bag containing a dog and four puppies in a secluded industrial area and then set it on fire.
Just after midnight on Monday, a van stopped on 91st Street near Ditmas Avenue in Canarsie, police said. Three men got out and tossed a large black garbage bag near a trash bin.
Four dogs were later found inside the bag, WABC reported.
“I couldn’t stand to look at it. I don’t even like to talk about it. It was a horrible thing to do to a dog,” said Sammy Omar, a beverage distributor who found the remains. “It was torture. The puppies were all burned up.”
Investigators are not sure if the dog were alive or dead when the bag was dumped and set on fire.
An ASPCA spokesperson says the dogs were taken to Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in Manhattan for a necropsy.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, burned, canarsie, ditmas avenue, dogs, dumped, fire, investigation, necropsy, new yorik, pets, police, puppies, surveillance, trash bag, video
Caught raiding a chicken coop in rural Wyoming, a blue heeler named Bo was shot twice, tossed in a barrel, doused with gasoline and set on fire.
According to the Washakie County Sheriff’s Office, an 18-year-old neighbor shot the dog — after returning home and finding it was going after the family chickens.
Then, thinking Bo was dead, he asked his father what to do with the dog’s body.
“I said, ‘Burn it,’” the father, Mike Gerber, told the Casper Star-Tribune. ” …We have had other predators come around — and even our chickens that the dog had killed — how we got rid of them was we just burned them.”
His son, Wesley Gerber, dragged the dog to a burn barrel in the front yard, doused the dog with gasoline, and threw in a match.
“The next thing you know, the dog comes popping up out of there in flames,” Mike Gerber told the newspaper. Bo ran around in a circle, and then home.
Ben and Abby Redland, Bo’s owners, said when Bo ran into the house “there was this terrible smell … His hair was melted and fallling out. He was still smoldering.”
Bo was rushed to a vet. Bullets had grazed his cheek and back, and he had third-degree burns over most of his body. “Bo was in such shock, the vet didn’t think he’d make it,” Abby Redland told the Los Angeles Times.
Since the incident — back in December, in rural Worland, Wyoming, 150 miles north of Casper — three-year-old Bo has fully recovered, though he has a few scars.
The Redlands have taken out a restraining order on the Gerbers. And they’re pushing to change Wyoming law and introduce measures that require those who shoot pets to at least contact the animal’s owners.
“I wish it never happened,” Mike Gerber said. “The decisions being made were made fast. Maybe if they would’ve been thought through more clearly, we would’ve done things differently.”
(Photo: By Abby Redland, via Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby redland, animals, ashes, barrel, ben redland, blue heeler, bo, burned, chickens, dog, dogs, doused, gasoline, mike gerber, neighbor, pets, property, shot, survival, washakie county, wesley gerber. shooting, worland, wyoming
Officials in Pennsylvania believe they have found the source of that pit bull corpse that turned up in Chester County — a dogfighting operation they say operated out of a home in West Brandywine.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the arrests of a husband and wife Wednesday.
He described their home as “a house of pain and horror for the dogs that lived there. The defendants’ dogs lived by one rule: Fight and win, or die.”
Hogan said five young children also lived in the home, one of whom was bitten by one of the dogs. In retaliation, that animal was hung with a coaxial cable, he said.
The Unionville Times reports that, according to the criminal complaint, the father, who referred to the animals as “livestock,” acknowledged killing at least 10 dogs by hanging or electrocution, and said the couple was “planning on making the training and fighting of pit bull dogs a family business.”
Six living dogs were recovered from the home and are in the custody of the SPCA, according to the York Daily Record
The investigation began after two abandoned pit bulls were found — one, who had been burned, dead in cage; another maimed and burned but still alive, alongside a road. That second dog, Radar, is recovering under the care of the Chester County SPCA.
The younger of the pit bulls was found on the same road the Santiago’s lived on, just miles away.
Santiago was first identified as a suspect when he was arrested on drug charges as part of Operation Silent Night, an operation aimed at curbing violent crime in Coatesville. Neighbors had complained about large numbers of people visiting the property, many from out of state and most bringing dogs with them.
“When we got into that home, what we found was a nightmare,” Hogan said. “This was a full-scale operation of not only dog fighting, but dog training, dog breeding and dog killing.”
They discovered a treadmill, tools used to encourage aggression, and an arena in the basement, with blood-spattered plywood barriers set up around the fighting area. Up to 16 pit bulls were kept in the home at one time, Hogan said.
Santiago and Acampora are charged with more than 30 counts of animal cruelty, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiracy to commit animal cruelty. Both were being held in Chester County Prison.
(Photos: Unionville Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrests, bodies, brandywine, burned, chester county, coatesville, corpses, cruelty to animals, district attorney, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, father, five children, injured, maimed, mom, mother, operation, pennsylvania, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, pop, spca, tom hogan
A crated dog was set on fire Friday night in West Brandywine Township, Pa., , the Chester County SPCA reports.
The dog was the second to be found fatally burned in Chester County in just over three months.
Wagontown Fire Chief Todd Ziegler was driving on Manor Road about 8 p.m. Friday, when he stopped to investigate what looked like a brushfire near Route 340. He discovered the burning body of a dog in a crate and called his department, which put out the fire.
A necropsy on the dog was planned at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
On June 9, the charred remains of a Yorkshire terrier mix between 3 and 5 years old was found in the 300 block of Coates Street in Coatesville. The 15- to 20-pound dog had been burned, then placed in a trash bag.
A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in that case, Chester County SPCA spokesman Rich Britton said Saturday.
Tips about both attacks can be reported anonymously by calling the SPCA at 610-692-6113, ext. 213, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, burned, chester county, chester county spca, coatesville, crate, crated, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, fire, necropsy, pennsylvania, pets, second, set, spca, two, university of pennsylvania, veterinary, west brandywine township, yorkshire terrier
Commissioners in Fairfield County Ohio voted unanimously to stop gassing dogs to death at the county shelter in Lancaster — but not until after allegations surfaced that some dogs who survived the gas chamber were being incinerated while still alive.
In a 3-0 vote, the county commissioners yesterday approved immediately switching the euthanasia procedure at the dog shelter to lethal injection, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The campaign to euthanize by injection in Fairfield County had gone on for more than 10 years. Fairfield County was among about 10 of the state’s 88 counties that still use gas to euthanize dogs. It’s also where, witnesses say, there have been instances where dogs who survived the procedure were cremated while still clinging to life.
Fairfield County Dog Warden Mike Miller has said he euthanizes four to six individually caged dogs at a time with carbon monoxide because it is cheaper than injection and avoids the liability of someone getting hurt. The dog carcasses are then burned in the crematory located next to the gas chamber, the Dispatch reported.
The Dispatch story makes no mention of the alleged burning of live animals, but in a piece on Examiner.com, written by Ariel Wulff, a correspondent we know and trust, says citizens at the commissioner’s meeting spoke of some cases where dogs came out of the shelter alive, only to be thrown into the incinerator with the dead:
“… Eyewitnesses and former workers at the shelter have said that the gassing is fraught with problems; from overfilling the gassing cage with as many as twice the allotted animals, to untrained workers being forced to euthanize, and animals being burned alive.”
The shelter has destroyed more than 180 dogs this year.
Wulff also authored a post at PetPardons.com, which has additional disturbing details, and recounts the shelters other problems over the years.
Other reports say as many as 16 animals have been gassed at once, and that exceeding the limit of six animals at a time is probably the reason some dogs survived the procedure.
(Photo courtesy of PETA)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alive, allegations, animals, burned, claims, commissioners, dog, dogs, ended, euthanasia, fairfield county, gas, gas chambers, gassing, halted, incinerated, ohio, pets, shelter, stopped, survivors
The Pennsylvania SPCA has upped the reward to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever doused a young female pit bull with gasoline and set her on fire last weekend.
The dog, named Chloe, died Sunday, about an hour after she was discovered on the 700 block of Gray Street in East Germantown and taken to an animal hospital in central New Jersey.
“This is an extreme case of animal abuse,” said Lisa Germanis, head veterinarian at the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Shelter Hospital.
Chloe was originally taken to the PSPCA shelter. But the extent of her burns and injuries led to her transfer to a rescue facility in Lambertville operated by Animal Alliance NJ.
Investigators say the dog appeared to have been doused with an accelerant and set on fire.
She suffered extreme burns on her entire body.
Veterinarians at the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Shelter Hospital evaluated Chloe, treated her burns and gave her pain medications before transferring her.
Investigators with the PSPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Department say they located the dog’s owner and believe Chloe lived near the location where she was discovered.
According to NBC10 in Philadelphia, investigators also believe there are multiple witnesses who have information on the people or person responsible. Authorities ask that anyone with information call the Pennsylvania SPCA Anti-Cruelty Hotline at 866-601-7722 (SPCA).
Posted by jwoestendiek June 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, accelerant, animal alliance, animal cruelty, animals, burned, chloe, cruelty to animals, dog, doused, gasoline, new jersey, pennsylvania, pets, philadelphia, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, pspca, reward, set on fire, soaked, spca, torture
Firefighters extinguishing a trash fire in Coatesville, Pa., found the charred body of a small dog Saturday, and investigators suspect the fire may have been set in connection with abusing the animal, or to cover it up.
The dog appeared to be a male Yorkshire terrier or Yorkie mix and was 3 to 5 years old. He weighed about 15 pounds and had silver, black and tan coloring. The dog’s owner is unknown.
“Foul play is suspected. Coatesville Detective Kevin Campbell told the Delaware County Times. “This dog was dumped in the middle of nowhere.”
Campbell said it hasn’t been determined whether the dog was killed in the fire or killed before it was set. A necropsy is scheduled.
Chester County SPCA spokesman Rich Britton showed reporters a photograph of a dog that he said likely was similar in appearance to the burned animal. “If this turns out to a criminal act, let me tell you, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to do everything we can with the Coatesville Police Department to bring this person to justice,” Britton said.
Both Coatesville police and Chester County Animal Protective Services are investigating the incident.
“In the eight years that I’ve been here I’ve never seen something so horrific,” Animal Protective Services officer Craig Baxter said. “How someone could do this to a small animal is beyond my belief.”
Animal Protective Services officer Cheryl Shaw emphasized that unwanted animals can always be brought to the SPCA’s shelter. “We’re not going to judge anybody. Please, if you don’t want your animal or can’t keep it for whatever reason, bring it to us,” Shaw said.
Investigators asked that anyone who is missing a dog similar to the burned animal or who has any information call the Coatesville Police Department at 610-384-2300 or the Chester County SPCA at 610-692-6113, ext. 213.
(Photo: Chester County SPCA spokesman Rich Britton holds a picture of a dog he says is similar in appearance to the one found burned in the fire; by Michael N. Price / Delaware County Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, burned, chester county, chester county spca, coatesville, dog, dogs, fire, found, mix, pennsylvania, pets, rich britton, spca, yorkie, yorkshire terrier
In a poor shanty town in Lima, Peru, a deaf and mute boy is helping dogs, and proving actions speak louder than words ever will.
According to this report, posted on Care2 by Rosemary Underhay, who works with Vida Digna, a Peruvian animal welfare association, they first noticed the boy in a line of people waiting to get medical care for their animals.
“In the line there was a small boy, deaf and unable to speak, who used sign language to tell us we needed to see something urgently,” she writes.
“He disappeared for a while and then returned with a small, cold, miserable puppy covered in an angry, itchy mange and with a nasty, festering wound caused by scalding water, probably thrown at him to scare him away from market stands.”
Every week, the neighbor and the deaf boy were back in the line with the dog, named Milo, so his progress could be checked.
Two months later, as the program came to an end, Milo had completely recovered. By then, many were interested in adopting him. He now lives in a happy home, not far from the boy who helped him.
The boy, meanwhile, continued to bring in other strays in need of help, Vida Digna says.
“We always see him on our programs because he brings us strays. He wants us to give him an injection along with the dogs (the anti-mange injection), and the vet pretends to get ready an enormous syringe.”
Underhay said they don’t know if the boy is in school. Half of all school-age children there are not, because their parents cannot afford it.
“… We always try to make it clear to him that he is changing his world, by turning suffering into happiness,” Underhay wrote.
“We feel that the message is very strong, that people who are living permanently with those terrible constraints still want their animals to be well-cared for. People love their animals. The animals of the poor are often ill-cared for simply for lack of information and money. We teach above all, but provide services at prices most can pay for, even if only bit by bit. That is our work.”
Click this link to make a donation to help provide care for the animals in Peru’s shanty towns.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boy, burned, burns, care, care2, clinic, deaf, dogs, happiness, helps, lima, medical, milo, mute, peru, pets, poverty, rescue, rosemary underhay, scalded, shanty town, shelter, strays, suffering, veterinary, vida digna
Closing arguments were made today and the jury deliberated for less than an hour before pronouncing the brothers not guilty of a crime that led the city to reexamine and strengthen its animal welfare laws and procedures.
Phoenix — the name the dog was given after her rescue — was euthanized days after she was found, on fire, by a Baltimore police officer.
The first trial for the Johnson brothers ended in a hung jury in February 2011.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein issued the following statement after the verdict:
“While I respect the jury’s decision, I am disappointed we didn’t achieve the outcome that we fought for during two challenging trials. Animal cruelty is a serious crime of violence, and those who commit it too frequently commit subsequent crimes of violence against humans. As we demonstrated in this case, we are dedicated to vigorously prosecuting individuals accused of this appalling offense.”
Defense attorneys for the Johnsons focused their defense on whether police mishandled the investigation and some of the evidence.
Craig Beyler, a fire protection engineer, called to the stand as an expert, testified that police mishandled clothing seized from the Johnsons’ South Baltimore home by mixing two pairs of jeans and a pair of sneakers in one bag. The clothing contained traces of an ignitable substance that could not be identified, but Beyler said it could have been a common chemical used in sneakers that might have transferred from the shoes to the jeans.
Prosecutors’ arguments linking the brothers to the burning centered mainly on a police surveillance video recorded from atop a pole near the crime scene.
No DNA, fingerprints or other forensic evidence connected the suspects to the crime.
A police sergeant identified the brothers in the video, in which two young men can be seen walking the dog minutes before the burning, and running away from the scene afterwards. A bystander, Tiera Goodman, told police soon after the incident she too saw the brothers run from the scene.
But Goodman refused to testify in the retrial. A video of her testimony from the first trial was played instead.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, burning, cruelty to animals, died, dogs, doused, euthanized, Gregg Bernstein, johnson, killed, not guilty, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, retrial, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, verdict