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Tag: california

After some zigs and zags, Ziggy is home


After a Fresno family shared a post on Facebook about their dog Ziggy going missing, and Ziggy showing up not much later on Craigslist for sale, a good Samaritan said he did what he had to do — buy Ziggy back and return him to his family.

Ziggy, a Maltese, was stolen Friday from a crate in his front yard in Fresno, Calif., his owner, Kris Villasenor, told ABC News.

By Saturday he was returned to the family, by a stranger named Jeremiah Lee.

“I was browsing Facebook the other day and my aunt shared a post about a lost dog,” Lee told ABC News. “I read it and realized that the dog was stolen in my neighborhood.”

Lee made a mental note to keep an eye out for the dog, and followed Villasenor’s post on Fresno’s lost and found pets Facebook page.

When he saw that someone had commented on the post that they had seen the dog listed for sale, and provided a link to the Craigslist ad, Lee took action.

“I texted the number thinking that there was no way that they would respond and just told them that they had broken a little girl’s heart and to do the right thing.”

To Lee’s surprise, the seller answered his text, claiming they had bought Ziggy from a homeless person and had no idea that he was stolen.

While skeptical of that story, Lee met the seller Saturday and paid $40 for the Maltese he had never met.

Lee got in touch with Villasenor through Facebook, informing her he had her dog, and she picked Ziggy up right away.

Villasenor insisted on reimbursing Lee, even though he protested.

“I wanted to help because I would hope that someone would do the same for me,” he said.

“It’s amazing what Jeremiah did just to get the dog back,” Villasenor said. “The kids are super stoked about it. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Shelter break-ins leave four dogs dead

Animal shelter breaks ins — one in Tennessee and another in California — have left four dogs dead and more than a dozen missing.

Three dogs were found dead Sunday – two in a bloodied Jurupa Valley animal shelter, and one on the side of the road – after an apparent break-in at the facility, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

And an East Tennessee animal shelter became the scene of a dogfight last week when a burglar broke in and placed a pit bull and a boxer, both up for adoption, in the same cage.

Shelter staff believe the two normally docile dogs were provoked into fighting by whoever broke in.

The boxer’s injuries were so severe that, after staff discovered him the next morning, he had to be put down.

Sharon Cravens, shelter president at Best Friends Sanctuary in Jamestown, said she believes someone hopped a fence, then unlocked the cage of a pit bull named Sam and placed him in a pen four cages away with a boxer named Bucky.

Volunteers left the shelter around 7 p.m. Thursday. When they returned Friday morning they find both dogs in the same kennel, covered in blood.

“It’s just sad to see that someone would be that evil and put two dogs to watch it for a show, you know, to put them through that,” Cravens told WBIR.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Jamestown Police Department at 931-879-5871.

Over the weekend, in Riverside County, California, shelter staff arrived to work Sunday morning to find a bloody scene.

“We found blood spatter everywhere,” animal control spokemsan John Welsh said. “There were some blood markings that were about 3 feet off the ground. We don’t know exactly what caused that, but we don’t suspect that an animal jumped into the air and caused that blood spatter.”

Two dogs were found dead of undetermined causes. They were described as a 5-year-old Chihuahua who had been recently brought to the shelter and a 6-year-old Yorkshire terrier mix that was brought in the previous night.

A necropsy was expected to determine the cause of their deaths.

About a mile from the shelter, the body of a third dog was located. It was described as an adult German shepherd, and Welsh said dog tags showed it had been from the Jurupa Valley shelter.

At least a dozen other dogs remained missing as of Sunday afternoon.

Several cut locks were placed in a pile inside the shelter, and investigators believe it had been broken into between Saturday night and Sunday morning, KTLA reported.

Some 22 kennels were “essentially busted open, probably with bolt cutters,” Welsh said.

Shelter employees were working with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigators and reviewing surveillance footage.

Dying vet reunited with his lost dog

A homeless veteran whose dog wandered off when he fell asleep on a southern California beach earlier this month has been reunited with his beloved Olivia.

Harry Brown, 53, diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given a year to live, was visiting Long Beach, California to say goodbye to friends family when Olivia, the young brown and white pit bull he describes as his service dog in training, disappeared.

He searched for her for a week, visiting animal shelters and placing a lost dog ad on Craigslist:

“Her name is Olivia and she is the life to me,” the ad read. “…Please help even if you see her just running by. She had a pink service vest, new leash with pink collar … I would offer reward but I am a disabled veteran, have nothing but that little girl. So please, if you can help unite us, I would be forever in your debt.”

olivia“We spent as long as we could trying to find her,” Brown told NBC 4. With an arranged ride for the next leg of his trip, to Phoenix, Brown had to move on.

It was there he got a response to his Craigslist ad: “Your girl is in L.A. County, go get her,” it said.

Olivia had been found wandering the streets of Long Beach, and taken to an animal shelter.

An animal rescue group called Captain Care raised money to pay for Brown’s ticket back to Long Beach and cover the fees required to secure her release.

Brown, who calls Eugene, Oregon home, picked Olivia up Wednesday.

“She’s my life,” admitted Brown, who says he suffers from PTSD and has had problems with alcohol.

Brown has his own Facebook page, and has used it to thank all those who helped him, especially Captain Care.

Donors provided him with a hotel room, new toys, treats and food for Olivia, and a hammock they can share while on the road, according to The Examiner.

Extra donations will be used to help spay and feed Olivia, and help pay for Brown’s continuing cross-country journey to say goodbye to family and friends.

Donations for Brown and Olivia can be made to Captain Care Intervention at

(Photo: Courtesy of Harry Brown)

Burned dog and burned girl are now a team


A Chihuahua that was left at a California shelter after suffering chemical burns as a puppy has found a new home with a 12-year-old girl in Alameda who is still undergoing treatment for burns she received as a baby.

Chloe Levenson, who has been through seven surgeries since being scalded by hot tea, adopted the dog — named Fireman — last week.

They were brought together when a Pittsburg animal rescue group, Umbrella of Hope, decided the traumatized dog might get along best with an owner who had experienced similar pain, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury-News.

While thousands of people applied to adopt Fireman, the group thought the dog, who has some behavioral problems, would be a good fit with an owner who might have some extra compassion for him.

Rescuers found the puppy behind Antioch’s animal shelter on March 30 with severe chemical burns running the entire length of his belly and up to his ears, both of which had to be amputated.

After months of medical care, paid for my Umbrella of Hope, Fireman recovered physically, but was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the burns.

“He had a lot of strings attached,” said Kristy Keusch, who fostered the dog for four months after his release from the hospital.

Fireman didn’t always like being petted. Although he loved having someone rub what was left of his ears, he disliked being touched on his head and neck, Keusch said.

“He punctured me a few times,” she recalled.

She used behavior modification techniques to make Fireman more trusting and less defensive, but she knew that whoever adopted him would have to commit to continuing the work.

When Umbrella of Hope put out some feelers, Shriners Hospital for Children responded and put the organization in touch with Chloe and her family.

After a few meetings, Chloe took the dog home last week.

Although he still growls and nips, Fireman is already letting her touch his head and will cuddle on the couch with Chloe when she watches TV. But he “absolutely hates leashes,” she said.

“I understand him,” Chloe told the organization. “I know what he’s been through, and I think he understands me too.”

(Photo by Kristopher Skinner / Bay Area News Group)

What can brown abuse for you?

A UPS driver in California was caught on a surveillance camera kicking a small dog, then shoving his owner outside an assisted living facility in Atascadero.

“That guy just came out of nowhere, like a tornado,” Tim Paulsen, the owner of 10-year-old Patch, told KSBY.

The video, from May 28, shows Patch running up to the driver, the driver kicking the dog in the chest, and the driver shoving Paulsen when he approached.

Paulsen says he was working at the senior living facility and had brought his dogs with him to comfort Alzheimer’s patients.

Paulsen said the driver told him he’d been attacked by a dog before.

“He was telling me how much he hates dogs and that he would kick me too,” Paulsen said.

UPS corporate officials say they have taken “disciplinary action” against the driver, but declined to disclose details. They say they have contacted Paulsen and apologized.

Paulsen says he doesn’t want the driver fired, but hopes UPS will “reevaluate this driver. He definitely needs some sort of therapy.”

He said the driver is still working for UPS.

Atascadero Police say Paulsen filed battery charges against the driver.

Love those ugly dogs, just not the contest


It was last year I decided that I’d had enough of the “Worlds Ugliest Dog Contest” — a cute little idea that has become too big, too cutthroat and, by putting so much emphasis on appearance, too much like all those beauty contests whose superficiality it was created to counter.

What finally sent me past the tipping point was that last year’s winner, Peanut, was said to look the way he looked at least in part because he had been abused — back before he was rescued by a loving family.

Giving prizes to dogs whose appearances have been mangled by humans — though that’s kind of what happens every year at Westminster — is a bad idea.

Giving prizes to dogs who are deformed, or just plain ugly, was a sweet concept at first. Then, despite its good intentions, it grew into a beast.

So with a nod to this year’s winner, Quasimodo — that’s him above in an Associated Press photo by Noah Berger — we reprint last year’s ohmidog! post on the topic, which asked the question, “Has the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest run its course?”

It seems like every year I’ve teetered a little closer to disliking the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

A cute concept at first — and one that helped remind us what a superficial thing beauty can be — it seems to have grown into a pageant that, despite its focus on “ugliness,” inches ever closer to reflecting many of the same negative traits of purebred dog shows and beauty contests.

As the quirky little contest at the Sonoma County Fair in Petaluma has grown huge, and the title more sought after, there has been a concurrent increase in cut-throat competition, campaigning and hype.

But it’s the choice of this year’s winner that may have finally pushed me into being a fan no more. The title of World’s Ugliest Dog was won by a dog whose unusual appearance is the result of being abused.

And that troubles me.

This year’s winning dog, Peanut, a two-year-old mixed breed, is from Greenville, N.C. He was adopted from a shelter after being found abandoned and severely abused. It is suspected he was set on fire. While he’s healthy now, his eyelids, lips and patches of hair on his body were burned off, which accounts for much of his unusual appearance.

His owner, Holly Chandler, held fundraising campaigns to travel to California and enter Peanut in the contest — all, she said, to help raise awareness about animal abuse.

Given that’s a large part of this website’s mission, too, I have no problem with that cause.

I’m all for celebrating dogs who look different. I’m all for celebrating dogs who have overcome harsh odds. I’m all for abused dogs recovering and becoming rich and famous while their abusers rot in prison.

Where my discomfort comes in, I think, is placing abused animals in a “contest” context and, within that party atmosphere, picking a winner whose looks are the result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.

Abuse, it seems to me, should not be connected to pageantry and cash prizes, no matter how circuitous that link is.

Yesterday, I watched a local TV report about Peanut winning the contest. The anchor people, while noting Peanut had an inner beauty, laughed and joked about his appearance, as I’m sure the crowd did at the contest.

Peanut beat 24 other dogs to win the contest Friday, receiving more than double the votes the second-place dog received.

While his owner seemed sincere in her purpose, and probably did raise awareness about animal abuse, I can’t help but wonder whether we should all be chuckling — even while feeling sympathy and love for Peanut — at his appearance, at his prominent teeth, or his eyes that never close, given it was all the result of a cruel criminal act.

On the other hand, the world should know Peanut’s story — and the contest was a way to make that happen.

Maybe, though, there are better, more dignified ways, such as writing a book, or taking him to schools, or sharing his story with the news media — ways that might avoid the appearance of exploitation and have a little less of the circus atmosphere that seems, in my mind at least, to clash with serious nature of animal abuse.

I doubt there is any danger of people disfiguring their dogs in hopes of winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, but — given the world can be pretty ugly — stranger things have happened.

I think it would be wise, and in good taste, for contest officials to impose and enforce a ban on dogs whose “ugliness” or unusual looks are a result of actions taken by humans — whether those actions are heinous criminal acts or cosmetic steps, like dyeing, taken for amusement purposes.

While the contest’s web page states that “all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy and are ‘naturally ugly,’ Peanut’s victory casts some doubt on how strongly that’s being enforced.

All that said, I don’t find any fault with Chandler entering Peanut in the contest. She was on a mission. She made her point.

Maybe the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, after 25 years, has made its point too. A cute and well-intentioned gimmick with a sweet message, it might be growing into a bit of a monster. Maybe it should fade way before it becomes too Westminstery.

I have problems with contests that award people, or dogs, for good looks and conformity. Maybe I have issues with awarding them for “bad” looks and non-conformity, too.

Definitely I don’t like the idea of people laughing and finding amusement in a dog’s misery, which, in a very distant, removed and indirect way, is what’s going on.

That’s the best I can do at explaining the ill-at-ease feeling Peanut’s victory gives me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Deputy dogs: A good idea is catching on

Natasha Hernanadez, community services officer with the Laguna Beach Police Department, speaks with a dog owner about the Dog Walker Watch program one morning at the Laguna Beach Dog Park on Laguna Canyon Road. The city is asking dog walkers to help be aware of issues in and around their neighborhoods to help fight the rise in residential burglaries. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   dogwalker ? 06/18/15 ? MARK RIGHTMIRE, THE 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)