They are respectable pets by day — upstanding AKC members, dog show winners, a therapy dog and even an actor among them.
At night, though, about once a week, they hit the grimy streets and trash-filled alleys of New York — terriers and dachshunds, along with their owners — tracking, cornering, capturing and killing rats.
You can call them superheroes, you can call them vigilantes, you can call them (as PETA has) participants in a “twisted blood sport.”
For its part, the The Ryder’s Alley Trencher-fed Society, or RATS, describes itself as a group of New York dog owners who are simply letting their dogs pursue what has been bred into them.
“Terriers have an innate sense to do this, it’s in their genes,” said Richard Reynolds, who founded the group. It has been around more than 25 years, and has its own Facebook page.
The group goes out as often as possible, sometimes invited to problem areas by citizens, sometimes responding to informal requests from city officials, The New York Post reported last week. The service is provided for free.
As the dog owners see it, they are giving their dogs a chance to fulfill what they were born to do.
“They think hunting is just fabulous,” Dr. Trudy Kawami, who started taking her wire-haired dachshunds to Prospect Park 30 years ago to sniff out rodents with the group, told
Usually, about eight dogs take part in the hunt. The dachshunds tend to go into closed areas and flush rats out of garbage bags, while the larger terriers seem more interested in the actual attack.
Reynolds told The Post that half the dogs are show champions, one is a therapy dog and another has a role in the film “Five Flights Up,” alongside Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman.
There is always a veterinary technician present, since rat bites are common.
“It’s all about keeping happy, healthy working dogs, and as long as we do that, everything is fine,” Reynolds said.
(Photos: RATS Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 27th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alleys, animals, behavior, bites, bloodsport, breeds, city, dachshunds, dog, dogs, dogs hunting rats, instinct, kill, killing, new york city, pests, pets, rat, rat hunting, rat hunting dogs, richard reynolds, rodents, Ryder’s Alley Trencher-fed Society, streets, terriers, track, trash, urban, vermin
For the second time in five months, Railyard Dog Park in downtown Denver has been closed due to an unhealthy accumulation of dog poop.
Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Scott Gilmore said officials shut down the park Wednesday after rangers came across nearly 40 separate piles of dog feces that owners had failed to pick up.
If you’re wondering why those rangers, given they were already tabulating piles of dog poop, couldn’t just pick them up in the process, well, it’s not their job.
The better questions is why dog owners are neglecting to do it.
“It is not the responsibility of Denver parks staff to pick up after people’s dogs,” said Gilmore. “We’ll get bags and empty trash cans, but I won’t have my staff pick up dog poop from people who are not picking up after their pets.”
Park staff does monitor the park’s condition though, and uses a color coded system — green, yellow and red — to notify park users as to its state.
Early Wednesday, a code red was declared and the park was closed, according to the Denver Post
Gilmore said the shut down could remain in effect for a while. “If it snows as much as it could snow, it might be a couple of weeks before we can reopen,” he said.
Joseph Marrone, who lives in the Riverfront Park Community, said he might try to recruit volunteers to clean things up, as he did when the park closed in August.
Marrone, who uses the park four times per day for his two dogs, said owners failing to clean up after their dogs is an ongoing issue.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 6th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accumulation, amounts, city, closed, colorado, denver, dog park, dog poop, downtown, environment, excrement, feces, park, parks and recreation, pick-up, poop, railyard dog park, rangers, riverfront, scott gilmore, shut down, unhealthy, unscooped poop
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)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 27th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campaign, city, cleaners, cleaning, community service, dog, dog poop, dogs, excrement, feces, fines, law, madrid, pets, pick-up, poop, scofflaws, shock plan, spain, street
Eclipse knows where she wants to go. And she knows how to get there.
So maybe the fact that the black Lab-mastiff mix regularly boards a Seattle city bus — by herself — to get to the dog park shouldn’t be that surprising.
The 2-year-old dog often jumps on the bus alone — most of the drivers know her by now — roams the aisles, greets her fellow commuters, finds a seat, and watches for the bus stop near the dog park, where she gets off, about four stops later.
“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater told KOMO as she rode the bus through downtown Monday. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”
Local radio host Miles Montgomery is among though who were dazzled when they figured out what the dog was doing.
“It doesn’t really appear to have an owner. The dog gets off at the dog park. I just look out the window and I’m like, ‘did that just happen?'” Montgomery asked. “She was most concerned about seeing out the window, and I couldn’t figure out what that was. It was really just about seeing where her stop was.”
As it happens, Eclipse does have an owner, Jeff Young, who lives with her in an apartment near the bus stop at 3 Ave. W. and W. Mercer Street in Belltown.
They started off going to the park on the bus together. Then one day, when Young was finishing up a cigarette, the bus pulled up and Eclipse ran and jumped aboard without him.
That has happened numerous times since — Eclipse being a somewhat impatient dog, and Young being a man who likes to finish the cigarettes he starts, apparently.
Apparently, too, the duo is not big on leashes.
“We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Young. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.”
“She’s been here the last two years, so she’s been urbanized, totally. She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog,” he added. “Probably once a week I get a phone call. ‘Hi. I have your dog Eclipse here on 3rd and Bell,'” he recounted. “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bus, city, commuter, dog, dog park, dog rides bus, dogs, eclipse, lab, mastiff, mix, pets, ride, rider, seattle, smart, travel
“We have no words to describe this. To say that we are appalled at this allegation is an understatement,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.
Police were called Saturday morning to Grundy Street in southeast Baltimore for a report of a stray dog that had bitten someone trying to rescue it.
Police had secured the dog using a catch pole, but after that Bolger, an officer assigned to the emergency services division, used a knife to cut the dog’s throat, police said.
“Unfortunately, at some point after the dog was contained, one of our officers used a knife and cut the dog’s throat. This is outrageous and unacceptable breach of our protocol,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said.
WJZ in Baltimore reported that charging documents quote Bolger as saying, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
The dog later died.
Police officials said they knew of no reason for the officer to use such force on a dog that was already under control.
The dog had run off from her home nearby. She was a 7-year-old shar-pei named Nala, whose owner was searching for her and had posted her pictures on a community Facebook page.
“She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone,” Sarah Gossard told 11 News. “She was just scared that day and through all of those events — scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK,” the dog’s owner,
Bolger been suspended without pay.
“I don’t want him to have his job, I don’t want him to be able to go out on calls and react like that to a person, to a dog, to anything. That’s not OK, that’s not OK,” Gossard said.
An investigation into the incident will also look at other officers who, though aware of what happened, had not reported it,.
Police commanders said they “caught wind of it Monday” — two days after Nala was killed.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrested, baltimore, charged, city, contained, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, i'm going to gut this thing, investigation, jeffrey bolger, knife, law enforcement, nala, officer, pets, police, sarah gossard, shar-pei, sharpei, slit, throat
Here’s a handy tip to keep dogs from doing their business in those sidewalk tree wells — one that works better than bricks, better than fences, and is all but guaranteed to keep those disease-carrying beasts from tainting our otherwise pristine urban tree life:
Take cuttings from thorny plants, like rose bushes, and spread them around the tree.
It may sound like a tip from Satan’s Helpful Household Hints (not a real book, to our knowledge). But it’s actually the advice offered by a Baltimore neighborhood association bedeviled by dog poop that’s not getting picked up.
The advice came in the January newsletter of the Fells Prospect Community Association.
“… You can make it clear that you don’t want pets approaching by planting thorny plants (roses, bayberry), or covering your tree pit with pine cones or cuttings from thorny plants that are uncomfortable for dogs to walk on. A sign will also encourage some people to move their dog to the next house.”
Of course moving on to the next house isn’t really the answer — is it? — unless dog and walker keep doing so until they are outside the boundaries of Fells Prospect, a neighborhood near Fells Point and Butcher Hill. Even then, the problem isn’t over. It has just moved somewhere else.
Even if every single resident of Fells Prospect adopted a tree well, nurturing it and the tree it contained (be it a live one or a dead one), even if they filled said well with thorns, lead paint chips, discarded hypodermic needles and perhaps a few strands of barbed wire, that’s all — other than some canine and human casualties — that would be achieved.
This is a hardly a new issue. In big and densely packed cities, there are few options when it comes to dogs relieving themselves. Everything is so paved over that a tiny patch of turf or dirt surrounding a tree is the only place for dogs to go. So dogs go there. Responsible dog owners, at least, pick it up. But some dog owners, like some community association officials, are thoughtless and uncaring.
So the tired old battle wages on — escalating to levels that could involve bloodshed — when, if everyone would just pick up their dog’s feces, it could finally shut the whiners up, or at least most of them.
Setting booby traps that puncture and maim is not the answer.
It’s generally accepted that the best route is education, perhaps along with some enforcement of the law that threatens $1,000 fines for unscooped poop.
It’s generally true that a tree well that is well-maintained, with a healthy tree, and some flowers around it, will be avoided, if not by the dog, at least by their walker. Ace and I always tried to steer around those when we lived in Baltimore. Sure, we’d come across dog poop on the sidewalk from time to time — just as we’d come across rats, both dead and alive, dirty needles and used condoms, and once in my backyard, a buried handgun.
Baltimore has bigger problems than dog poop. That’s not to say unscooped dog poop shouldn’t be addressed, only that it makes sense to do so with some perspective, in a reasonable matter that doesn’t involve installing weapons of mass destruction.
Alisa Peters, owner of You Silly Dog, was one of those that expressed concern about the community association’s advice: “It’s going to be uncomfortable and/or painful for the dog,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “Why are we punishing the dog? It’s not the dog’s fault.”
Veterinarian Gregory Burbelo, owner of the Boston Street Animal Hospital, which advertises in the newsletter, told The Sun he plans to ask the association to retract its comments.
“It’s sort of trickery,” he said. “It hurts the dog but doesn’t serve as a warning to the owner to keep the dog out.” While a dog may have a fair chance avoiding a thorny bush planted in a tree well, sharp clippings spread across the ground could go unseen and lead to injuries.
Officials of the Fells Prospect Community Association declined to comment to The Sun, including Phyllis Fung, who co-founded Cut the Crap Baltimore last year to combat dog waste in the neighborhood. She’s the association’s secretary.
Making the issue even more thorny is the fact that residents don’t own the sidewalks, or the tree wells within those sidewalks, so they lack the right to install booby traps in the first place.
Worse yet, any such traps could injure not just dogs whose owners are scofflaws, but those belonging to law-abiding, poop-scooping owners as well.
“We’re ignoring the fact that we’re attempting to punish 100 percent of the animals for the issues of 10 percent of owners who are irresponsible,” dog owner and neighborhood resident John Lam told the newspaper.
“I’m hoping people will ignore [the suggestions]. There are are a lot of homeowners who think they own their tree pits and don’t realize they’re in the public right-of-way. I have a big concern that people will start putting stuff in the tree pits to hurt dogs.”
(Top photo by Gail Langellotto; graphic from Cut the Crap Baltimore)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animals, baltimore, booby trap, city, clippings, community association, dog poop, dogs, feces, fells prospect, hazards, inhumane, living, newsletter, pets, pine cones, poop, scoop, sidewalks, solutions, suggestion, thorns, thorny, tip, urban
The city of Schenectady is trying to get a handle on how many unlicensed dogs live there, and it’s calling on school crossing guards to help with the counting.
Crossing guards and code enforcement officers, who’ll be sweeping through neighborhoods this summer, anyway, looking for housing code violations, will be conducting Schenectady’s doggy census — aimed at getting a count of how many dogs are in the city.
The next step is making sure their owners have licensed them.
The city, in which only 1,400 dogs are licensed, suspects there could be ten times more that are unlicensed — as many as 15,000. With licenses costing up to $20, the sweep will easily pay for itself down the road.
The problem was getting the city council’s approval for spending $22,000 to hire people to go door to door, inquiring if homeowners have dogs, according to the Albany Times Union.
A surplus in the overtime budget for code enforcement officers and school crossing guards provided a way around that, allowing the city — without the council having to approve new spending — to turn interested crossing guards and code enforcement officers into temporary canine census takers.
City Clerk Chuck Thorne said the census, to be spread out over several summers, could easily lead to a doubling of dog licenses, which would bring in $36,000 to $40,000 in revenue, and that’s not even counting fines.
Licenses are $13.50 for a neutered or spayed dog and $20.50 for an unfixed dog. For seniors, rates are $3.50 for neutered dogs and $10.50 for unneutered. A valid rabies vaccination certificate is needed for a license.
The census takers will determine through interviews if a homeowner has dogs, how many, and whether they are licensed. If a person is not home and there are indications a dog is in the house — such as barking, or a yard strewn with rawhide chews — the census taker will leave a letter stating the person has 21 days to get a license or face a possible ticket.
(Photo: Mayor Gary McCarthy announcing plans to reduce crime, get homes up to code and crack down on unlicensed dogs in Schenectady; by Skip Dickstein / Times Union)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 16th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, canine, census, city, counting, crossing guards, dog, dogs, licenses, licensing, mayor, pets, registration, schenectady, school crossing guards