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Tag: campaign

In Spain, owners who don’t pick up after dogs may end up cleaning the streets

madridpoop

Dog owners whose pets soil the streets of Madrid could soon find themselves cleaning those streets.

City officials unveiled their “shock plan” this week, saying those who do not clean up after their dogs in the Spanish capital will have to either pay a fines up to $1,700 — or go to work as street cleaners.

Municipal police will test the scheme in the two city districts where un-scooped dog poop seems to be the biggest problem, according to The Guardian.

Madrid and other Spanish cities have been cracking down on scofflaws for years now.

Last year the city of Tarragona announced it would use DNA analysis of dog droppings to track down owners who fail to clean up after them.

El Vendrell, a small town of 36,000 people in northeastern Spain, has tried setting up a canine toilet along one of its main thoroughfares.

And in the town of Brunete a few years ago, volunteers who spotted scofflaws struck up friendly conversations with them, obtaining enough information for city officials to identify them and send them a package marked “Lost Property.” Inside, they would find … you guessed it.

Madrid has launched repeated public awareness campaigns over the years, aimed at getting a handle on the problem, and it has distributed millions of free poop bags.

But, “there is still excrement in the streets, parks and other places,” the city said. Under the new plan, dog owners will have only one way of avoiding the hefty fine — by performing street cleaning duties for a few days.

The number of hours they are required to put in would be based on the size of the fine, the city says.

(Photo: TNT Magazine via The Guardian)

I see a problem and I want it painted orange

orange poop 1

Dog poop is being spray painted bright orange on some forest trails in Oregon to increase public awareness of the problem — as if stepping in it doesn’t make you aware enough.

The campaign from the Oregon State University College of Forestry and local veterinarians is aimed at showing the amount of dog waste owners are leaving behind, and the potential ecological problems that could result.

Both of those are real enough concerns. But — not to question the noble efforts of organizers and volunteers — does spray painting something orange really solve anything?

If so, there are a few things (coming up in a minute) that I want to spray paint orange.

“We’ve been getting dozens of complaints from people noticing the increasing amount of poop on the trails and it’s been getting worse the last couple of years,” explained Ryan Brown, recreation and engagement program manager for OSU Research Forests. “We’re all dog lovers and dog owners and walkers of these trails and we know the opportunity to have dogs out here is super important to the community of Corvallis. And 99 percent of them are really careful and clean up after their dogs. But we want people to be aware that this is causing a lot of problems.”

“There are stream ecology studies happening in the waterways along Oak Creek and anything that gets into the water can drastically change the ecology,” Brown added. “That isn’t natural and it can really throw off the health of the streams and cause certain organisms to grow that aren’t natural to the area.”

So on Saturdays for the past month or so, volunteers had been spray painting any piles of dog poop they spot on trails with heavy duty orange paint, which really isn’t natural either.

Later — in theory, after the orange piles have made their point — volunteers return to pick up the day-glo messes.

orange poop 2On Saturday, about 20 volunteers picked up around 1,000 piles of poop at Oak Creek, Peavy Arboretum, Lewisburg Saddle and Calloway Creek trail, the Seattle Times reported.

I thank them for their service, but I would also note that pollution and annoyances comes in all shapes, sizes and consistencies, from all sorts of human sources, and they regularly taint our air, water and peaceful existence.

Should those get painted orange as well?

What about those signs of political candidates who leave them up for weeks, or months, after the election?

What about the ringing cellphones of people in a theater?

What about those robots who work for companies that call YOU up and ask YOU to hold for an actual representative?

What about utility and credit card companies who, while urging you to go paperless and thereby save trees, send you through the mail pounds of paperwork, credit applications, loan offers, advertising and pamphlets touting themselves?

And, while we’re at it, what about the car windshields of non-handicapped people who park in handicapped spaces, and presidential candidates who spread hate? What about handguns, or maybe just their barrels, and all the lies and bullshit spewed in the course of an average day.

Paint them all orange, I say. You know what that will bring us?

A still troubled, very orange world.

(Photo: Top photo Albany Democrat-Herald)

High tech device promises to tell a dog’s mood — by monitoring the wag of the tail

Yes, ohmidog! pokes cruel fun at “new technology” from time to time, but only when “new technology” deserves it — as is the case with this tail wagging monitor a group hopes to bring to the market.

Some Cornell University graduates have launched an Indiegogo campaign to finance the manufacturing of DogStar TailTalk, which they describe as a translator of dog emotions.

The device consists of a lightweight sensor that wraps around your dog’s tail, monitoring the speed and direction of the tail’s movement with an internal accelerometer and a gyroscope.

Coupled with a phone app, the developers say, it will tell you when your dog is happy, and when his or her tail wag may be a sign of stress.

wagThere’s some hard science behind it — but not much.

Scientific studies conducted in Italy have concluded that the prominent direction of a dog’s tail wag is an indicator of whether he’s happy or feeling anxiety, aggression or fear.

Wagging more to the right is said to be an indication of positive feelings.

The developers of the device say the direction of the wag isn’t always discernable to the naked eye: “Tail wagging is asymmetric and includes complex emotional signals that the human eye cannot recognize.”

We’re not so sure about that, just as we’re not so sure that a dog owner, seeing their dog’s tail wagging upon meeting, say, another dog, will have time to fire up the app to determine whether the meeting is going to go well.

Like a lot of canine-oriented technology — from treat poppers to automatic ball throwers to spy cams — this little gizmo takes over a task and/or responsibility that we should be doing ourselves, thereby growing closer and better knowing our dog, as opposed to distancing ourselves from our dog and giving them the features of robots.

As the goofy video above shows, the device may have some value when used remotely, such as learning the dog really doesn’t like the dog walker at all, but that — again — is something a dog owner should be able to ascertain beforehand without gyroscopes or apps.

The design team says it consulted on the project with “professors from the famous College of Veterinary Medicine in Cornell University.”

We think we smell a class project resurfacing for the marketplace. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Current plans call for the TailTalk app to work with iOS or Android phones, and to include features like the “Happiness Overview” function, which tracks a dog’s emotional status over the course of a day, a week, or a month. The monitoring device will be waterproof and “chew-resistant.” We can only hope that dogs, annoyed by having a tail attachment, don’t inadvertently chew through something other than the device.

So far, the campaign has raised about a third of its $100,000 funding goal.

If all goes according to plan, the TailTalk device will be ready to hit the market in about a year, and we suspect that — just as there are those who are willing to fund it — there will be those willing to buy it.

Because while the dog may sometimes wag his tail, and the tail may sometimes wag the dog, technology seems destined to almost always wag us.

Fiorina shows her (dog-inspired) soft side

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who some critics say comes across as “harsh,” showed her softer side this week by singing about her Yorkshire terrier, Snickers, during an appearance on “The Tonight Show.”

Fiorina, who many believe made the strongest showing in last week’s GOP debate, told Jimmy Fallon she often writes songs about her dogs, and volunteered to sing one of them.

The performance cracked Fallon up, but then what doesn’t?

Fiorina has two Yorkshire terriers, Snickers and Max. She performed one of what she said were four verses of a song she wrote about Snick, the lazier of the two, sung to the tune of “Rock Around the Clock.”

My name’s Snick and I’m lazy
Please don’t take a walk with me
I’d rather stay right here at home instead
I want to lie back down in my nice warm bed
My name’s Snick and you’re gonna have to carry me

It should be noted that Fiorina, in addition to humanizing herself, and showing she has a decent singing voice, also looked pretty good — contrary to what fellow candidate Donald Trump criticized as her un-electable face.

“Look at that face!” Trump was quoted as saying about Fiorina in an interview with Rolling Stone. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

Trump later said he was talking not about Fiorina’s appearance, but her “persona.”

When asked about Trump’s comments in last week’s debate, Fiorina offered a strong rebuke: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

Kind of makes you wonder why, between the two, or for that matter among the entire pack of Republican candidates, Fiorina is the one that gets characterized as harsh.

Wouldn’t have anything to do with her gender, would it?

Would you compromise your “manhood” — or at least your dog’s — for a Harley?

desexTo encourage Australian men who don’t get their dogs neutered because they see it as “unmanly,” a RSPCA campaign is offering up two brand new Harley-Davidsons as prizes in a statewide “desexing” campaign.

RSPCA Queensland officials hope it will result in an extra 30,000 animals being spayed and neutered, 9News reports.

The contest, launched today, is part of an ongoing campaign in Queensland aimed at reducing pet overpopulation.

According to RSPCA Queensland, less than half of Queenslanders sterilize their pets. The vast majority of the 45,000 animals that come under its care each year have not been — as they commonly call it — desexed.

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said the overpopulation of pets is so bad that a five-person household would need to own 30 cats and 10 dogs for every animal to have a home.

Much of that surplus is blamed on the dim view many Australian men hold when it comes to neutering.

“There is a percentage of men out there who think it’s offensive to their sexuality to desex their dogs,” Beatty said.

While RSPCA Queensland is encouraging as many people as possible to sterilize their pets voluntarily, mandatory desexing is another possbility — and one Beatty would like to see.

Desexing was almost made compulsory under the former Bligh government and officials in the current administration are saying they’d be willing to take another look at it.

As part of the campaign, nearly 200 vets have reduced their spay and neuter fees for three months.

Left for dead, pit bull’s tail is still wagging

theia2

She was a truck stop dog — or at least that’s where she seemed to spend most of her time.

Having no real home, and no official owner, she could most often be found at a truck stop in Moses Lake, Wash., taking advantage of the kindness of truckers and others who would pat her on the head and toss some food her way.

Sometime in February, she appeared to have met the fate of many a wandering stray. She was hit by a car on the highway and injured so severely that someone thought it best to put her out of her misery.

She was struck on the head with a hammer and left in a ditch.

A few days later the white pit bull mix —  dirty, limping and emaciated — showed up at a farm outside of town, with her tail wagging.

A farmhand took her to Moses Lake Veterinary Hospital, and the owner-less dog’s plight ended up being posted on Facebook.

When Sara Mellado, a Mose Lake resident, read the post, she offered to provide the dog a temporary home. Mellado, whose German shepherd had died just two weeks earlier, named the dog Theia.

“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” Mellado said. “She’s a true miracle dog, and she deserves a good life.”

Since then, Mellado has made several trips to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, where Theia has been treated for leg injuries, a dislocated jaw, and multiple fractures in her nasal bones that are believed to be a result of the hammer blows.

“When I brought her home, she hardly slept because breathing was such a chore,” said Mellado.

The veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment, and a GoFundMe campaign started by Mellado has, as of today, raised $12,000 — $2,000 more than its goal.

The money will be used to pay for Theia’s nasal passage surgery which will inolve installing  a stent to help reopen her nasal passages.

The surgery is scheduled for April 22, according to Washington State University News.

(Photo: Washington State University News)

Are we animal lovers just too gullible?

bennett

I would no more stereotype animal lovers than I would pit bulls, and yet I have to ask the question:

Are we an overly gullible lot, more likely to be taken advantage of by greedy and unsavory types?

As a rule, yes. As scammers and schemers have realized, our overflowing empathy and eagerness to help an animal in need often overrule our powers of deductive reasoning, leading us to whip out the checkbook and contribute to some pretty suspicious “causes.”

We are going to use the Grieving Rottweiler as our example here — not to say that the owner of that dog (who is asking dog lovers to help him buy a house so he can rescue more dogs) is a scammer or a schemer, but only because his fundraising drive, as explained by him, is so full of conflicting information, question marks and red flags.

We raised questions about it earlier this week, after Brett Bennett of Seattle posted a video of his Rottweiler, Brutus, appearing to mourn the death of his fellow Rottweiler, Hank. His YouTube post links to an indiegogo page aimed at raising money to buy “a house in the country.”

“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks. Instead, he urges people to give Hank’s death some meaning, and honor the dog’s legacy, by making cash contributions so he can buy a house and some acreage in the country.

The viral video of “Brutus grieving” was nearing 4 million views yesterday.

Between the summary he posted there, his indiegogo page, his Rottweiler rescue website, and what he has posted on his Facebook page (which disappeared the day before yesterday), one has to wonder about what a tangled web he has woven — lie-wise — since he first started trying to raise money through his dogs. (Not to mention how a man who describes himself as homeless can be so active on the Internet.)

That Facebook page included photos of Rottweilers fighting, him recounting a plan to sell his Rottweilers to drug dealers, background information on the dogs that vastly differs from what he has stated elsewhere and this warning to a commenter who questioned his motivations:

“F— off, you tweaker white trash c—.”

Bennett raised over $6000 in January to help him and his dogs find a rental property. Then, a week after Hank died, he started another fundraiser to raise an additional $100,000 to help him purchase a home.

As it turns out, one woman has been raising questions about him for a while — Anne Fromm, who, in an attempt to spread the word about his activities, started this “Social Media Scammer” Facebook page.

It points out some of the many discrepancies in the online accounts Bennett has provided, including in the story of Hank’s death.

“Ask WHY he never took the dog to the vet if it was dying, instead videotaped it, for the tearjerker points and the funds that poured in. Is the dog even dead? Or will he show up miraculously in a few more months when Brett needs more money?”

Fromm points out that Bennett has said the dogs are twins, from the same litter. Yet he has also said one was 2 and one was 4 when he took them in.

Bennett said he awoke to find Hank dead, but he also says, in another account, that he held him in his arms when he was dying.

Mainstream media outlets have carried the video of the “grieving Rottweiler,” and helped catapult it to viral-ness, but none apparently had the time to look into its veracity.

As of yesterday, as far as I could see, only this blogBuzzfeed and Seattle Dog Spot had questioned Bennett’s accounts and actions.

Seattle Dog Spot reported that records from VCA Animal Hospital show Bennett took Hank to be cremated on January 22, but the video of Hank’s death was uploaded on January 20. “What did he do with the body of a 150-pound Rottweiler for 2 days?” the blog asks.

That form also showed an address for the homeless man.

Seattle Dog Spot also reported a text message exchange in which Bennett told someone who was questioning how he spent donated money, “They gave me money and I am using the money to pay off my legal matters and for my everyday bills. I can pretend to spend it on whatever these gullable (sic) people will believe.”

Those are just a few of the disconcerting conflicts in Bennett’s story, all of which anyone with enough time could have found on the Internet.

But, dog lovers being trusting and good-hearted sorts, few did.

Dog lovers tend to believe, and they tend to react, and they tend to want to save, if not the world, at least its dogs — all admirable traits.

Schemers and their schemes, in addition to taking money from them, stand to also take away something even more important — their faith.

Do we need something that protects those so committed to protecting, say a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Lovers?

No, but dog lovers do, unfortunately, need at least a tiny grain of cynicism within, enough to consider the possibility that what on the surface appears to be a worthy cause might not be.

When it comes to fund-raising drives being conducted by individuals, and all we know about those individual comes from what they’ve posted online, we need to exercise due diligence — or at least a little diligence — to separate those who are pretending to care about dogs from those who are seeking only our dollars.

(Photo: Bennett, Hank and Brutus, as pictured on the Rottweiler Twins Animal Rescue website)