Since January of 2010, Houston police have gunned down 187 dogs, killing 121 of them.
And last year alone, law enforcement officers in Houston and Harris County shot more dogs than New York City police officers shot in 2010 and 2011 combined.
All of those shooting were deemed by police to have been justified, but it’s not too hard to find families that disgree with that.
The KHOU 11 News I-Team did, and its report this week is more evidence that, across the country, requiring police to be trained in dealing with dogs could save dogs, and their families, a lot of pain.
Colorado passed a law requiring that, and it was signed by the governor this week.
The KHOU report, when it looked at the police-involved dog shootings for all of Harris County found at least 228 dogs had been shot by officers and deputies since 2010, 142 of them fatally.
“If the dog turns and comes at a citizen, or the deputy, they have all right to use lethal force,” explained Dpt. Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Records show Harris County deputies shot 38 canines in the last three-and-a-half years.
When asked if all those shootings were justified, Gilliland said: “The justification is, in that matter, and at that moment the deputy had to choose the decision to use lethal force against that animal.”
Sgt. Joseph Guerra, who works as a cruelty investigator for the Houston Humane Society, said it teaches some officers how to safety interact with threatening dogs. But the training isn’t mandated for all officers.
“A lot of times, officers are not sent to training to get that type of certification to feel comfortable enough to deal with these animals,” he said. “We need to get those officers involved in some mandated training in how to defend before going to deadly force.”
The Arlington and Fort Worth Police Departments started mandatory dog training for officers last fall, and state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the training for officers across Texas.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, arlington, behavior, canines, colorado, dangerous, deputies, dogs, fatal, fort worth, harris county, houston, interact, killed, law enforcement, new york, officers, pets, police, police shooting dogs, shoot, shot, texas, threatening, training
What your dog sees as humpworthy may include other dogs (male and female), your child, your ottoman, your favorite pillow, your house guest, a stuffed animal, your leg, or anything else he — or even she — can latch on to.
It’s one of those canine behaviors we humans find less than endearing, downright embarassing and highly confusing; and, as a result, our reaction is usually to bow our heads in shame, holler at the offending dog, or pretend it’s not happening.
So it’s good to see somebody boldy jumping on the subject — and getting across the point, among others, that the behavior is totally normal.
Julie Hecht, who manages Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York City, explores the ambiguous and often avoided topic of non-reproductive humping in the latest issue of The Bark magazine.
“From tail wagging to barking, dog behavior is riddled with nuance. A wagging tail might convey ‘I’m quite scared’ or ‘This is the best day ever!’ Like tail wagging, mounting is far more complex than it may appear, and there is not one simple explanation. But there are some likely candidates.”
Hecht holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior and welfare from the University of Edinburgh, and she’s an adjunct professor at Canisius College. More important than any of that, she’s not afraid to tackle a subject that offends the more prim and proper among us.
So is humping sexual, or part of an instinctual urge — “must … reproduce … now” — to create offspring? Is it a display of aggression, an assertion of dominance, or just a way to relieve some pent up energy? Clearly, it’s not always and entirely motivated by sexual arousal, Hecht notes, for pillows aren’t usually that arousing.
For nearly as long as ethologists have studied dogs, they have taken note of dogs’ tendency to hump outside of reproductive contexts, she writes.
University of Colorado ethologist Marc Bekoff observed way back in the 1970s that young canids — pairs of three- to seven-week-old wolves, coyotes and dogs — were prone to pelvic thrusting, and that females also engaged in some of that behavior.
“It’s what dogs do. It’s a completely normal behavior,” explains Carolyn Walsh, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who studies the nuances of dog behavior in dog parks. “Both males and females mount, regardless of whether [they are] sexually intact or not.”
It can come from a surge of emotion, anxiety or arousal, Walsh explains.
“Dog parks can be quite stimulating, and for those who are highly aroused physiologically, mounting behavior could easily come out. There can be such a buildup of social motivation and the desire to affiliate that some of that energy spills over into the sexual motivation system. You see sexual behavior coming out, but it’s mostly out of context.”
Hecht also interviewed Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist in New York City, who pointed out, “There are only so many behaviors a dog has access to, and dogs do what is part of their species-typical behavior. It is something they know how to do.”
Many dog owners equate humping to dominance and control, but it can also be a friendly and less than lecherous attempt to get another dog to play. It may be a cry for attention, a way for dogs to gauge the bond they have with other dogs, or to test just how much a play partner is willing to tolerate.
“This is the idea that dogs perform potentially annoying behaviors like mounting to test the strength of the recipient’s investment in the relationship,” said Becky Trisko, a behaviorist and owner of Unleashed in Evanston, Ill., who has studied dog-dog interactions in the dog daycare setting.
“It’s like saying, ‘How much will you put up with?’ ‘How much do you really like me?’”
Despite all the dirty connotations we humans attach to pelvic thrusting, with dogs the behavior seems — while stemming from various emotions — to be more of a celebration of life than anything else. Cooped up in houses all day, a trip to the dog park, or even just seeing the leash come out, can get dogs excited to the point that something else comes out. Humping, or even an erection, it seems to me, isn’t all about sex when it comes to dogs — that’s just how we’re prone to interpreting it.
We humans equate it with sexual lust, but, with dogs, humping might just be a natural way to celebrate, like the high-fiving or chest-bumping of frat boys, or that “woo-hoo” noise girls make when they get together.
Looking at it through a less tainted lens, one could even make the argument that the behavior — humping, not woo-hooing — is more charming than it is revolting.
For the dog, joy is joy; and embarassing as it might be for us to see any overlap between sexual pleasure and just plain happiness, dogs don’t seem to get all bogged down in what might be the appropriate expression of their various happy and excited emotions.
Is that dirty? Or is there a certain purity there? Do dogs have their emotions confused? Or do they have it right?
None of this is to say you should try it at home, at the corner bar, or anywhere else. Civilized society dictates we don’t engage in that behavior. It’s only to say we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape when our dogs hump.
Rather than punishing a dog for exhibiting glee, it makes more sense to gently redirect the behavior. Watch closely at the dog park and you’ll see that many dogs — the humpees, as opposed to the humpers – do that themselves, with a growl or snarl.
My dog Ace does not tolerate it — whether it’s him being humped, or another dog. He feels the need to break it up, and, should he see one dog mounting another, he will generally rush over and do so.
I’m not sure where that behavior comes from.
Maybe he has become too human.
(Painting by Lachlan Blair, from his father Stuart Blair’s blog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, animals, arousal, barnard college, behavior, behaviorist, boys, canines, carolyn walsh, causes, chest bump, children, civilized, control, cushions, dog, dog cognition lab, dog park, dogs, dominance, embarassing, embarassment, ethologist, excitement, female, girls, glee, happiness, high five, humans, hump, humped, humping, humps, humpworthy, instinct, interpretations, julie hecht, legs, male, marc bekoff, mounting, people, peter borchelt, pets, pillows, play, reasons, reproductive, sexual, socializing, society, the bark, urge, woo hoo
Don’t be surprised if you see more canines than cleavage when it comes to this year’s Super Bowl ads.
At least three ads premiering during the 2012 Super Bowl will star dogs.
“You can’t go wrong with a dog,” Robbie Blinkoff, a cultural anthropologist told USA Today. “The dogs are idealized versions of ourselves. The dogs aren’t dogs — they’re us.”
As anyone who’s been following our “Woof in Advertising” series knows, sex may be the quickest way to a consumer’s groin, but the best route to a consumer’s heart (which we’d argue more often controls the purse strings) is through dogs.
Volkswagen is one company that’s shifted to more heartwarming ads, moving away from the mean spirited but funny ones of recent years.
In its 2012 Super Bowl spot, an extended Internet version of which is seen above, a dog sets off to chase a new VW Beetle only to realize he can no longer fit through the dog door.
He undertakes a makeover of his own, drops a few pounds and is off and running — through the dog door and after a shiny red Beetle. In the final seconds, the ads shifts to a Star War themes, in homage to VW’s popular 2011 Super Bowl spot that featured a child dressed as Darth Vader who thinks “The Force” helped him start a car.
“The Dog Strikes Back” will run in the second quarter of Sunday’s game.
Anheuser Busch, meanwhile, will introduce a new dog — a rescued mutt — in its ad for Bud Light. The dog’s name is Weego, and he fetches a bottle of guess what whenever he hears someone say, “Here, Weego.”
Then there’s the controversial Skechers ad, which the company hopes more people will find funny and inspiring than offensive. (Filmed at Tucson Greyhound Park, it has led to protests and a boycott of Skechers by the anti- greyhound racing group Grey2KUSA.)
Skechers, in case you haven’t stayed abreast, featured Kim Kardashian in its Super Bowl ad last year. This year it put its money on an athletic-shoe wearing French bulldog named Mr. Quiggly, who, in the ad, goes up against a group of racing greyhounds.
Leonard Armato, president of Skechers Fitness Group, says the spot is about inspiration — not greyhound racing: “We believe he’ll be the most lovable dog on the Super Bowl.”
As we’ve only seen a snippet of that one, and no sneak preview of “Weego,” we’ve got to go with the VW dog, for now, as most lovable. He’s a pretty magnificent beast, named Bolt, a 3-year-old Australian shepherd and St. Bernard mix.
As for how he achieved that amazing weight loss, you can find the answer in this “Making of The Dog Strikes Back” video:
(To see all of our “Woof in Advertising” posts, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2012, ads, advertising, anheuser busch, beetle, bolt, boycott, bud light, budweiser, canines, cleavage, commercials, controversy, dogs, dogs in advertising, french bulldog, grey2kusa, greyhound, marketing, mr quiggly, racing, selling, sex, skechers, star wars, super bowl, the dog strikes back, tucson greyhound park, volkswagen, vw, weego, woof in advertising
Despite the many lasting impacts of 9-11, America bounced back from the attack, and the dogs involved in the massive search and rescue effort that followed may have proven the most resilient of all.
While many human rescuers are showing respiratory health problems a decade later, their canine colleagues have had minimal setbacks, according to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 9/11 Medical Surveillance study.
The study, funded by a $500,000 donation from American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, monitored the long-term health impacts on 95 search-and-rescue dogs deployed to the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Staten Island landfills.
Researchers also compared their health to a control group of non-deployed search-and-rescue dogs.
“The most striking thing is that many of the humans that responded have developed reactive airway diseases, such as asthma, sinusitis or other chronic infections in their nasal sinuses. The dogs on the other hand have fared extremely well,” said Dr. Cynthia Otto, a principal investigator for the study. ”They’re not developing any problems with their lungs or sinuses. That is a real surprise.”
Those surviving 9-11 dogs who received cuts and scrapes in searching through the debris have long since recovered from those injuries.
Kaiser, now a 12-year-old German shepherd (pictured above), was one of only four dogs in the study that required stitches while working at Ground Zero.
“On our second day there, Kaiser sliced a pad on the pile,” said Tony Zintsmaster, Kaiser’s trainer and a charter member of Indiana Task Force One. “Once he was stitched up and felt better, Kaiser went back to work. He was quite amazing. He was able to adapt to the situation and showed great agility. He seemed happiest when he was on the pile working.”
Zintsmaster, along with other handlers who participated in the study, submitted annual X-rays, blood samples and surveys on their dog’s health and behavior to researchers.
The study found that the average lifespan of deployed dogs was 12.5 years, while non-deployed search-and-rescue dogs lived an average 11.8 years. According to the study, today at least 13 deployed search-and-rescue dogs that were part of the study are still alive.
Because canine and human genomes are similar and most canine diseases also occur in humans, future research could center on learning why the search-and-rescue dogs were able to endure the challenging conditions with minimal respiratory complications.
Identifying respiratory genetic markers in canines could lead to the development of treatments for respiratory ailments in humans, Dr. Otto said.
“The findings may open our eyes to the difference between dogs and people that makes them so resilient. If we could tap into that, we might actually help move human health forward.”
(Photos: By Charlotte Dumas, who tells the story of the remaining 9-11 dogs for her new book ”Retrieved.” )
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, american kennel club, anniversary, attack, canine health foundation, canines, dogs, health, humans, kaiser, remaining, resilience, respiratory, school of veterinary medicine, search and rescue, study, surviving, tuff, university of pennsylvania, world trade center
Given the endlessly rising popularity of dogs, and our increasing emotional attachment to them, medical researchers who use them for experiments can expect stronger and growing opposition to the practice from the public, a leading expert in canine-human interaction told a conference at Johns Hopkins University this week.
James Serpell, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, was the keynote speaker at a conference sponsored by the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The 30-year-old, non–profit center promotes humane science by supporting the creation, development and use of alternatives to animals in research, product safety testing, and education. It seeks ways to replace animals with non-animal methods, reduce the numbers of animals necessary, or refine methods to make them less painful or stressful to the animals involved
Serpell and other speakers both pointed out that after decades of declining, the use of dogs in medical research has increased in the last couple of years.
U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show that the number of dogs used in medical research and testing dropped from 200,000 in 1973 to 66,000 in 2007, said Tanya Burkholder, chief of the Small Animal Section at the National Institutes of Health. Now, she said, the number has risen to about 75,000 a year.
Much of the increase is likely a result of advancements in, and the promise of, gene therapy.
Dogs have always been a valuable research model for scientists, going as far back as Aristotle’s day. Their size, physiology and cooperative behavior have made them convenient models for scientists, who, like Pavlov’s dog, grew conditioned to using them in experiments.
While public opposition to subjecting dogs to medical experiments resulted in the practice dwindling in recent decades, the use of dogs has crept up again in the last two years due to advances in molecular biology, genetics and the sequencing of the canine genome.
Because dogs get about 220 of the same inherited diseases and disorders that humans do — including Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia and retinal degeneration – medical researchers are able to study the underlying genetic defects and, through dogs, seek cures.
This means dogs are being bred to be born with the diseases in colonies at U.S. universities and research institutes and, in the case of South Korea, cloned to be born with the diseases.
No one at the conference went so far as to suggest a halt to using dogs in research, but Serpell warned that the practice does come with risks, and a price.
Dogs evoke protective and nurturing instincts in people, and those have grown stronger as the dog-human relationship has evolved — to the point that dogs are viewed more as family members than family pets. Public opposition to the laboratory use of dogs has continually grown in the last few decades.
Researchers need to be cognizant not just of society’s strong feelings about dogs, but also about dog’s strong feelings for humans, Serpell said. “Many dogs undergo severe distress when contact with a human is limited or thwarted. We don’t give that regard sufficient credence,” he said.
The stronger attachment to dogs is in part due to breeders focusing on creating animals for purposes of human companionship, unlike in the past when they were bred for the work they could do. Serpell noted that baby-like features, for one thing, appeal to humans.
Showing photos of dogs, Serpell pointed to one and said, “This animal looks like it was invented by Walt Disney.”
Our attraction to dogs stems too from the fact that they make eye contact with humans more than any other species, and studies have shown that petting, or even looking, at a dog increases our levels of oxytocin.
“These dogs are turning us on by looking at us,” he said.
Our evolving closeness to dogs has implications for the laboratory, he noted, and perhaps all of society.
Serpell pointed to commentator Tucker Carlson’s recent statement that dogs are the social equals of humans, and that therefore Micheal Vick should have been executed for killing them.
“Lots of people feel the same way,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beagle, caat, canines, center for alternatives to animal testing, cures, disease, dog, dog lovers, dogs, experiments, genes, genetics, humane, james serpell, johns hopkins university, laboratory, love, medcial, medical, opposition, oxytocin, pain, pavlov, products, research, rising, school, stature, status, stress, tests, therapy, treatment, university of pennsylvania, veterinary
A new study confirms the notion that self-control is a limited resource, one that can and does get depleted — in humans and dogs.
And glucose, the study says, is one solution to helping us — whatever our species — stay on task, Miller-McCune magazine reports on its health blog.
The University of Kentucky study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Psychological Science, says the same mechanism that regulates human self-control also operates in canines.
A research team led by psychologist Holly Miller conducted two experiments with canines, observing how much persistence they exhibited when given a task.
In the first, 13 dogs were separated into pairs based on their training history. One from each pair was cued to sit and stay by its owner for 10 minutes, with the command being repeated as necessary. The other was simply kept in a quiet room for that same amount of time.
Afterward, each dog was given a Tug-a-Jug toy, a clear cylinder containing treats that can be accessed via a hole at one end — if the dog manipulates it properly. Each toy contained half a hot dog, too large to fit through the hole.
The dogs that had exercised self-control by sitting in place for 10 minutes gave up and discarded the toy more quickly than the others.
In a second experiment, 22 dogs repeated the first experiment with an additional component: Half the dogs were given a glucose drink prior to grappling with the toy, and half were given a sugar-free beverage.
“Dogs given a glucose drink persisted in interacting with the toy whether or not they had had to exert self-control prior to the test,” the researchers report, adding the glucose apparently replenished the animal’s capacity to keep at the task.
Previous research has shown glucose has a similar effect on humans.
“People can control their own behavior,” Miller said. “When they fail, it is not because they are terrible or weak; it is because they are depleted … If they want better self-control, they can build it. They can encourage their bodies to store more self-control fuel via exercise.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, canines, depleted, dogs, exercise, experiment, glucose, holly miller, humans, news, persistence, pets, replenished, research, science, self control, study, tasks, university of kentucky, willpower
Some of the country’s most athletic dogs competed at the National Finals of the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge at Purina Farms near St. Louis over the weekend.
More than 30 canine athletes jumped, vaulted and dove their way into the records books as they competed in Olympic style events, including agility, Jack Russell hurdle racing, 60 weave pole, freestyle flying disc and the crowd favorite, dog diving.
Among those taking part was Olympian Greg Louganis, who competed with his dog, Dobby, in the small dog agility event.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: agility, canines, challenge, dobby, dog, dog diving, dogs, events, flying disc, greg louganis, hurdle racing, incredible, jack russell, purina, st. louis, weave pole
The gatherings – held the last Friday of every month — each feature a different theme, and benefit a different cause.
This Friday’s “Spring Fling Posy Party” benefits the Anne Arundel County SPCA, and features an opportunity to paint Paw Posies with your pooch — as well as an opportunity to lap up some beverages, enjoy complimentary munchies and socialize (both you and your dog).
The events run from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Weather Rail outdoor patio at Loew’s Annapolis, 126 West St. Admission is free. They are sponsored by Loews and Paws Pet Boutique. Parking is available at Loews for $2.
Here’s the rest of this summer’s line-up:
June 26: Patriotic Pooch Contest, benefits Oldies but Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue
July 31: Canine Ice Cream Social, benefits Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary
August 28: Best Dog Tricks, benefits K9Lifesavers Rescue
Sept. 25: Paws Fido Fashion Show, benefits Modest Needs
Posted by jwoestendiek May 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: annapolis, anne arundel county spca, canines, canines & cocktails for a cause, cocktails, dog, dog friendly, dogs, event, loews, paw posies, paws pet boutique, socialize
Camp Bow Wow may not sound like the place for a romantic getaway — but if you go there Saturday between noon and 3 p.m., you’ll have a chance to win one.
You’ll also have a chance to take home some love — the kind that comes in furry bundles.
Camp Bow Wow in Columbia is holding “Cupids and Canines,” an event that will feature adoptable pets from BARCS, the Maryland SPCA and the Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW). Golden Retriever Rescue, Education and Training (GRREAT) will also be there, providing microchipping.
Also on hand will be Terri Diener, animal communicator; Joy Freedman, animal behaviorist; Lisa Solomon, pet photographer; and Robyn Jacobs, of Pet Tag Creations.
Nature’s Variety will be showcasing their pet food selection and offering free samples, and goodie bags including items from ohmidog! and other sponsors will be handed out as well. There will be a raffle for two romantic getaways at the Harbor View Inn in Annapolis.
You’ll also have the chance to donate to Bow Wow Buddies, Camp Bow Wow’s foundation is to promote the health and welfare of dogs worldwide by focusing on finding foster and lifetime homes for unwanted dogs, promoting humane education and treatment, and investing in research and treatment for dogs devastated by illness and disease.
And, just maybe, Mr. or Mrs. Right will be there, too, or at least Mr. or Mrs. Right Dog.
Camp Bow Wow is at 7165 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, baltimore, barcs, camp bow wow, canines, columbia, cupid and canines, cupids, cupids and canines, dog, dogs, events, maryland, microchipping, ohmidog!, pets, raffle, rescue, romantic getaway, shelter, spca, valentine, valentines day