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Tag: celebrities

China’s dog meat festival opens to protests

The annual dog meat festival in the Southern China city of Yulin opened yesterday — despite what was probably the heaviest barrage of criticism and protest in its history.

As vendors slaughtered dogs and cooked their meat in dozens of restaurants across the city, animal welfare activists attempted to disrupt the opening of the 10-day festival.

Some bought dogs from dealers to save them from being slaughtered. Others argued with local residents, and police were intervening to prevent physical confrontations, according to news reports.

“We came to Yulin to tell people here dogs are our friends. They should not kill dogs in such a cruel way and many of the dogs they killed are pet dogs,” said Yang Yuhua, a volunteer from the central city of Chongqing.

While most of the meat used at the festival comes from farm dogs raised for that purpose, critics say strays and stolen pet dogs often end up in the mix.

One day into the festival, local residents were complaining that outsiders were ruining the tradition.

“It’s been a tradition for years for us to celebrate the festival. We can’t change it simply because they (animal lovers) love dogs,” a local resident told The Associated Press. “They don’t want us to eat dog meat. We eat dog meat to celebrate the festival, but since they’ve come here, they’ve ruined our mood completely.”

Promoters say eating dog meat during the summer helps ward off the heat and maintain a healthy metabolism.

More than 10,000 animals are killed each year for the summer solstice festival, which has become a focal point for those seeking to halt the tradition of eating dog in China and other Asian countries.

An estimated 10 million to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China.

This year, the list of celebrities speaking out against the practice grew.

Matt Damon, Pamela Anderson, Minnie Driver and Joaquin Phoenix were among those appearing in a video (above) produced by the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.

Yulin’s local government has sought to distance itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.

“The so-called dog-meat eating festival has never been officially recognized by government or by any regulations or laws,” said an official reached by telephone at the city government’s general office.

“We hold meetings every time before the so-called festival, discussing counter measures such as deploying local police, business and sanitary authorities to inspect and deal with those who sell dogs,” he said.

Between those efforts and the international criticism that seems to increase every year, some organizations say the number of dogs killed for the event might be decreasing.

This year’s Super Bowl ads left me cold


This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was disappointing — and not just because there weren’t enough commercials with dogs in them.

I counted two ads in which dogs played a significant role, compared to nearly a dozen featuring celebrities, among them Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Helen Mirren, Amy Schumer, Anthony Hopkins, Seth Rogen, Christopher Walken, Kevin Hart, Willem Dafoe, Liam Neeson, Ryan Reynolds and Drake.

woof in advertisingThat seemed to be the theme — if there was one — to this year’s ads: Let’s get some overexposed celebrities and expose them a little more.

And throw in a dizzying amount of special effects.

Yes, there was that stampede of dachshunds, all in hot dog costumes, making a mad dash for the Heinz family of condiments:

And there were those dogs scheming on how to get their paws on some of the Doritos displayed in the grocery store.

Neither of those knocked me out, and they pale in comparison with some of the far more funny, far more human, dog ads of previous Super Bowls.

Several other ads featured dogs in small supporting roles — in an ad with singing sheep, and in one where a town seems to occupied nearly entirely by clones of Ryan Reynolds (as if we’re not already seeing enough of the real one of him).

Then, too, a dog was part — and I do mean part — of my least favorite dog-related Super Bowl ad.

Mountain Dew, in an ad for its new beverage, Kick Start, unveiled a puppy-monkey-baby that looked like it would be more at home in a bad acid trip. I can only assume its creators had a little too much Kick Start during their creative process.

I didn’t keep a tally, but I’m pretty sure monstrous or otherwise fictional creatures far outnumbered dogs in this year’s ads — just as special effects far outnumbered moments of humanity, and flash far outdistanced substance.

I won’t show you the worst of them — that pink blob of bulging intestines wandering the stadium in search of a free bathroom. Nor will I mention the name the prescription drug it advertised. I’ll just remind you that Super Bowl ads cost $5 million per spot — and that’s just for the time.

Throw in the production costs involved with having a celebrity or animated intestinal blob tout your product and you’ll begin to understand why you probably won’t be paying bargain prices for anti-diarrhea meds or your next Hyundai.

All in all, Super Bowl ads this year left me unimpressed, feeling a little cold, and feeling a little old. They often left me creeped out — and I include the “Super Bowl babies” in that group. (Is the NFL so hard up for something to brag about that it must boast that the big game makes people copulate?)

This year’s ads left me longing for some of those ads of previous years — when dogs were dogs, and men were men, and internal organs stayed inside us.

Not being a big fan of talking dogs, dogs in costume, or dogs being part of some monstrous hyperactive multi-species hybrid, I didn’t really have a favorite dog ad among them.

Instead, I’d have to give this year’s top honors to the Subaru ads featured during the Puppy Bowl.

(You can find more of our Woof in Advertising posts here.)

Sandra Bullock sure knows how to pick ’em

bullockWe’re not much for celebrity worship — believing as we do that dogs are far more worthy of such adoration — but we do from time to time, on slow news days, check to see the latest movie star gossip, especially when it involves dogs.

So we were chagrined to learn that the lovely and talented Academy-Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock, who divorced her philandering husband Jesse James in 2010, has now taken up with what we think may be another loser.

We base that theory on one act alone — but one that may speak volumes.

In 2012, Radar Online reports, Bryan Randall, who Bullock has been seeing for about two months, smeared dog feces over a neighbor’s door.

Sane, even-tempered, non-bullies don’t engage in that kind of behavior.

Randall reportedly had become irate with a neighbor for allowing his dog to poop in front of his building.

That neighbor, John Stacer, said that shortly after his dog did his business, Randall approached him.

“He was videotaping me and said, ‘pick up your dog’s shit, asshole.’”

Stacer had no desire to argue or tangle with the hunky model and photographer.

randall“He is a big guy and I was scared to go any closer so I called my dog back toward me and took him upstairs.”

Stacer said he planned to go back outside later and clean up the mess, but before he got a chance his girlfriend came home and noticed dog feces spread on the door.

He cleaned up the mess in his doorway, and his girlfriend sent Randall a message telling him such behavior was unacceptable.

Randall responded with a message telling her “10 days from now this will play out differently … He will see another side as soon as my kid is out of state.”

Stacer sought and was granted a temporary restraining order against Randall.

Radar Online says it “obtained disturbing court documents” describing the whole incident. (It is good to know they have Sandra’s best interests at heart.)

Bullock, while she may have a preference for bad boys, is known as quite the dog lover, and has adopted some special need pets, including a three-legged dog, and a two-legged one.

Puparazzi: Celebrity’s dogs are fair game

finn seyfried

Are members of the paparazzi shifting their focus?

These days they seem to be shooting lower — if indeed it’s possible for them to go any lower — and focusing more and more on celebrity dogs.

It’s ridiculous, but understandable: Dogs, unlike celebrities, have to go out. Dogs, unlike celebrities, don’t object to photos being taken of them in an ungroomed state. Dogs, unlike celebrities, don’t file lawsuits.

But the even bigger reason is this: Dogs are more instinctual and spontaneous than most humans, and thus are more likely to do something outrageous — or at least something that the photographer sees as outrageous.

That, when you come right down to it, is what a paparazzo is after.

So when Amanda Seyfried’s dog, Finn, appeared to be humping another dog at the park, the image was captured and published on numerous tabloid websites (and now, for scholarly discussion purposes, on this one.)

On TMZ.com, the photo was under the headline: “AMANDA SEYFRIED’S DOG RAPES OTHER DOG.”

(Maybe dogs should file lawsuits.)

When a dog humps another dog, it’s generally not news, just as it’s generally not news — not even tabloid news — when a dog poops, pees, drools or scratches him or herself.

True enough, Anne Hathaway made the news (or at least the Huffington Post) when her dog pooped — but that was because the actress promptly packed up the poopage and placed it on the windshield of the car belonging to the photographer who was following her and Esmerelda as they went for what was supposed to be a leisurely walk.

Hathaway may have felt she’d gotten vengeance, but she actually fell straight into the trap.

A celebrity doing something outlandish makes for a much better photo than a celebrity just walking down the street.

That’s the biggest reason celebrities are stalked with cameras — either because they have just done something outrageous or embarassing, or in hopes they will, once spotting the photographer, do something outrageous or embarassing.

I, for the record, have great respect for photographers. Some of my best friends are photographers. But photographers whose sole purpose is to track down, follow and provoke celebrities are even worse than humping dogs. They are annoyances, hard to shake off and best avoided, getting their kicks, and paychecks, by exploiting other people’s fame and America’s seemingly incurable addiction to celebrity.

As the paparazzi becomes more puparazzi (or pawparazzi, your choice), a celebrity’s dog, it seems, is falling under the same category as a celebrity’s unfashionable sweat pants, overflowing bikini/Speedo, or botched plastic surgery — fair game.

And while I have no major problem with them aiming their cameras at celebrity dogs out in public, the photographers and those who publish their images ought to keep in mind that, when it comes to dogs, pooping, peeing and humping are mostly natural behaviors that — while maybe one requires some slight correcting — don’t call for felony charges or 30 days in rehab.

One of the foibles of humans is that we like to build people up and then see them get knocked down — enjoying both their rise to glory and their fall from it.

We do it all the time with members of our own species, and especially with celebrities.

Let’s not do it to our dogs.

(Photo: SplashNewsOnline.com)

Kinky Friedman’s dogs are … well, kinky

Three years ago, author and musician Kinky Friedman had six dogs — not counting the 50 or so awaiting homes at his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.

Today, he’s down to two — Chumley and Brownie, who, though brothers, spend an inordinate amount of time making out.

The dogs who have passed, though, aren’t far away. Just outside Kinky’s front door, a couple of decades worth of pets are buried in a colorful, well-tended garden, including his beloved Mr. Magoo, whose gravesite is topped with all of “Goo’s” favorite stuffed toys.

On our Monday visit to Utopia Ranch, we got to meet and spend some time with the author of  “Roadkill,” “God Bless John Wayne,” “The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic,” and more than 25 other books — including his most recent, “Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files.”

You might think all that writing wouldn’t leave him time for anything else, but Kinky, from appearances, likes to stay busy. He ran for governor of Texas in 2006, capturing about 12 percent of the vote, writes a column for Texas Monthly, and, with help from friends, funds Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. Next month, Kinky, along with two members of his band, the Texas Jewboys, start a west coast tour.

In between performing tunes like “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” ” and “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,”  Kinky, 65, often referred to as the “Mark Twain of Texas,” will also be selling his wares at the concerts, including two of his more recent books, “Heroes of a Texas Childhood” and “What Would Kinky Do?” He’ll be hawking his cigars, as well.

Kinky, who was an infant when his family moved from Chicago to Texas to start a summer camp for Jewish children, spoils his dogs, in life and death — from grilling them steaks to interring them in the blooming shrine he has created at his front porch, the centerpiece of which is the grave of Magoo, who died at age 14

He has a long history of rescuing pets, starting in New York City in 1979, when he found a kitten a shoe box while walking through Chinatown. He took it home and named it Cuddles.

In the summer of 1996, he found another cat, Lucky, while driving from his parents’ ranch to Medina. The cat, found in the middle of the road, had been shot. He took the cat to a veterinarian, paid for the surgeries and amputation of an injured leg, then took Lucky home.

Because he traveled frequently, Friedman turned to friend Nancy Parker-Simons to babysit his pets, and that arrangement evolved into Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. In 1998, the rescue operation started on Parker-Simon’s seven acres in the town of Utopia. Three years later, it moved to the Friedman ranch.

In fact, it was another rescue that led to Friedman’s highly popular series of detective novels. In the mid-1980s, Kinky rescued a woman being robbed at a midtown Manhattan ATM. Based on the experience, he created the character Kinky Friedman the detective. After that, he branched out into children’s books, memoirs, historical reflections and, most lately, “Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files.”

In it, Friedman recounts the connections many of his celebrity friends have and had with their pets — how Beach Boy Brian Wilson, on the “Pet Sounds” album, closed one song with the barking of his two dogs, Banana and Louis; how Dr. John’s dog, Lucy, once ate menthol-flavored condoms; about Fats Domino’s bichon Frise, Winnie the Pooh, who perished in Hurricane Katrina; Billie Holliday’s boxer, Mister, who would sit backstage while his master sang;  Tom Waits, who had his pet white rat stuffed upon its demise; and Jim Nabors who on the eve of every Fourth of July would fly his four Staffordshire Terriers from Honolulu to Maui, where they wouldn’t be bothered by fireworks.

He deals with his own pets as well in the book, from their daily hijinks to their bedtime rituals:

Then we all go back to bed and dream of fields full of slow-moving rabbits and mice and cowboys and Indians and imaginary childhood friends and tail fins on Cadillacs and girls in the summertime and everything else that time has taken away.

“It shows the animals in the lives of great and famous people, and the importance they attach to their pet,” Kinky said.

Friedman gave me two of his books, and autographed them for me, but he didn’t have any of his newest. So after hanging out with him for an hour or so — a period in which his cigar rarely left his mouth — I drove up to Kerrville to buy a copy at Wolfmueller’s, a new and used bookstore worth checking out if you ever pass through.

Kinky was supposed to be going there, but wasn’t going to be able to make it.

“Tell them I’m not coming today,” he told me.

I bought the book, passed on the message, ate some Mexican food and headed back to Bandera, where my own dog was spending the day in the air conditioned offices of the weekly newspaper, the Bandera Courier, the editor of which has been supplying me with dogsitting, story ideas and Texas-sized hospitality.

But that’s another story.

(To read all of the installments of “Dog’s Country,” click here.

Jesse James reports CinnaBun has been found

His wife still hasn’t come home, but his dog has — in fact, as it turns out, Jesse James’ pitbull, CinnaBun, never left the premises.

Though reported lost — for the second time in two months — CinnaBun was  in a storage room at James’ West Coast Choppers the whole time.

An update on the West Coast Choppers website reads: “We rarely go into our storage room in the production building but CinnaBun found her way in somehow. She’s back in the office and in high spirits.”

A missing dog report had been filed March 15 with HomeAgain, a company that monitors microchips in pets. HomeAgain sent emails yesterday to residents in the Long Beach area — in the vicinity of West Coast Choppers, where James kept CinnaBun.

James’s wife, Sandra Bullock, recently moved out of the couple’s home amid reports that James had an affair with a tattoo model.

CinnaBun runs away, and Bullock, too

cinny2Little more than a week after she was on top of the world, Sandra Bullock has reportedly left the residence she shares with Jesse James, and reports are that James’ dog CinnaBun has gone missing again, too.

HomeAgain, a company that monitors microchips in pets, tolds TMZ that a report was filed March 15 with the company that CinnaBun had turned up missing.

HomeAgain sent emails yesterday to residents in the Long Beach area — in the vicinity of West Coast Choppers, where James kept CinnaBun.

“I am asking for your help in finding my lost dog, CinnaBun,” the emails read. 

CinnaBun, a pit bull, went missing at the end of January and wasn’t found for nearly a month.

Sandra-BullockMeanwhile, James has broken his silence on reports that he cheated on his Oscar-winning wife, telling People magazine he used “poor judgment”.

James, a custom motorcycle manufacturer who married Bullock five years ago, said he took responsibility for his actions. But he stopped short of admitting that he had an affair.

Bullock, 45, pulled out of the London premiere of  “The Blind Side” on Wednesday after the celebrity magazine In Touch Weekly published claims by a model that she slept with James last year.

“It’s because of my poor judgment that I deserve everything bad that is coming my way,” James said in a statement to People.

Bullock, who received the Oscar for best actress last week for her work in the  “The Blind Side,” has reportedly moved out of the home she shared with James.

(An update to this story can be found here.)