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Tag: complaint

Houston mayor apologizes for death of dog left on side of highway by police officer

gueroThe mayor of Houston has apologized to a family whose nearly blind Chihuahua was killed after a police officer arrested his owner and left the dog on the side of a busy highway.

“Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “I don’t know what airhead – there’s another word in my mind but I’m not going to say it – would throw, you wouldn’t put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn’t put someone’s pet on the side of the road.”

The airheaded officer has not been identified.

But police say an internal investigation of the incident is underway, and that it could take six months to complete.

As reported by KTRK, the complaint stems from a July 14 traffic stop. Josie Garcia says her husband and a friend were pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. Police say they found drugs in the vehicle — a prescription medicine called phencyclidine — and arrested both men. (The charges against Garcia’s husband were later dropped.)

According to Garcia, the arresting officer wouldn’t let her husband call anyone to pick up Guero, the family’s 14-year-old Chihuahua who was along for the ride.

Guero had bad vision due to cataracts, she says. He was left on the side of the highway when the vehicle was towed, and the officer took no steps to contact animal control, Garcia said.

“My husband pleaded with the officer to let him call someone to come get Guero … but he said it wasn’t his problem, that the dog would be fine,” Garcia said.

Three days later, Garcia, who had posted “lost” signs in the area, received a call from someone who had spotted Guero. She found him dead on a shoulder of the Eastex Freeway, about half a mile from where he had been left.

Guero wrapped the dog’s body in a towel, took him home and buried him.

“The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it”


That police in St. Clair Shores in Michigan saw killing a dog as the preferable way to stop her barking has been pretty well documented in dash cam videos that have become public.

As soon as they pulled up at the scene, their dashboard camera recorded remarks they were making inside their patrol car, like “The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it” and “I don’t do snares. I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the f—ing thing.”

lexieBut why there were 15 bullet holes in Lexie, a dog police officers only admitted to shooting four times, is a question that may go unanswered — at least until a federal lawsuit filed by the dog’s owner comes to trial.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stems from the November 2013 shooting of Lexie, a 44-pound mixed breed who was the subject of a barking dog complaint filed by a neighbor.

Lexie’s owner, Brittay Preston, filed the lawsuit against the city of St. Clair Shores, two police officers and an animal control officer, according to Fox News in Detroit. It alleges a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure.

The lawsuit seeks money damages, and assurances that St. Clair Township police will “train their officers so that there’s not another incident where they respond to a barking dog complaint by killing it,” said Preston’s attorney, Chris Olson.

Preston was at work and the dog was under the care of a grandfather, who suffers from dementia and forgot to let Lexie back inside during a cold night.

Officers, after discussing their alternatives in the patrol car, approached the home and eventually persuaded the grandfather to let the dog in the house. After he agreed to do so, they shot the dog saying she lunged at them in a threatening manner.

Attorney Olson said the discussion recorded by the dash came shows the shooting was premeditated.

“Neighbors complained of a dog that was barking. [Police] showed up. The first thing that they said out of their mouths was they don’t like dogs; they don’t do dogs; they’re going to shoot the dog anyway. And that’s exactly what they did,” he said.

“Then they shot the dog again, instead of trying to take care of the dog, getting some care of the dog to prevent it from dying, they did what they intended to do. They made sure that the dog died. They shot it again, and then the dog walked into the animal control van and then when we picked up the dog it had extra bullet holes,” he added.

A necropsy conducted by a veterinarians found 15 bullet holes in Lexie.

Officers, after shooting and wounding the dog, can be heard discussing what to do next, including “choking it out” and “using a shovel,” according to the lawsuit.

One officer remarked that would be a bad idea because “you know this is going to be all over Facebook in about an hour.”

“We’re saddened when anyone loses a pet, but since the city and its employees are being sued, the city will certainly defend the lawsuit,” St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said in a statement. “The complaint that was filed is filled with innuendo, speculation and half truths, and I have no doubt when it’s held up to the light of day, the truth will bear itself out in court.”

(Photo: from the Justice for Lexie Facebook page)

Vet kept their “euthanized” dog alive — and used him for blood transfusions, family says

Imagine being told by your vet that your dog had an incurable condition and had to be euthanized.

Imagine saying your goodbyes and agreeing to let the vet put the dog down, with the promise that he would bury him on his farm.

Now imagine learning — six months later — that your dog never died, and the vet was keeping him alive to use him for blood transfusions.

A veterinary clinic in Fort Worth is under investigation for just such a Frankenstein-like scenario, NBC 5 reports.

campbowieFort Worth police, the city of Fort Worth and state officials are involved in an investigation that started when a client of the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic found out his “euthanized” dog, a 5-year-old Leonberger named Sid, was alive.

Alive and well, in fact — except for being kept in a cage around the clock, and apparently being periodically tapped for blood at the clinic.

Jamie and Marian Harris said they took their dog to the vet for a minor anal gland issue.

After getting treated, Sid had trouble walking.

They say the vet, Lou Tierce, told them their dog had a spinal condition that was only going to get worse, and recommended he be put down. The couple and the son agreed to let the clinic bury Sid on the vet’s farm.

Six months later, the Harrises received a call from a veterinary technician, Mary Brewer, who told them Sid was alive and being used for blood transfusions while being kept in a cage most of the day.

“I told her, ‘He’s still here,’ and she’s like, ‘Can he walk?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, he’s here waiting on you. If you came today, he’d walk out and jump in your car,’” Brewer told News 5.

“It was like getting punched in the stomach and then some,” said Marian Harris. “This has rocked our world. My kids are like, ‘How does somebody do this?’ How does this happen?”

The couple went to the clinic, found Sid and freed him.

State and local authorities went to the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic Tuesday and seized several animals as evidence.

Sid, now back home, is being treated by other veterinarians. They’ve found he has mange, and shows signs of being used for blood transfusions, as well as being “abusively kenneled,” according to the Harrises’ lawyer, Jim Eggleston.

Eggleston says allegations have surfaced that more dogs and cats — some with serious illnesses — were being kept alive for blood transfusions and other experimental treatments, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“You have a vet keeping dogs under false pretenses,” he said. “You have family pets that people thought were cremated or put down peacefully that may still be alive.”

Tierce has not been responding to media requests for his side of the story.

When the Harrises drove to the clinic to pick up their dog, they found Sid in a cage behind the building. Tierce came outside, according to their complaint, and explained that he had not euthanized Sid because some of his employees had threatened to quit if he did.

An investigator from the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners met with Fort Worth police and the Tarrant County District Attorney yesterday to discuss whether criminal animal abuse charges will be filed.

Cat to be evicted from Oregon library

Agatha Christie, a beloved — but apparently not by everybody — cat who has long called the Willamina Public Library home, must go, the city council voted last night.

The city council in Willamina, Oregon, voted 4-0 to evict the 14-year-old cat.

The council gave Head Librarian Melissa Hansen and Youth Services Librarian Denise Willms 10 days to find a new home for Agatha Christie.

It’s not the first time Agatha Christie has been on the verge of homelessness.

In the late fall of 2005, the council voted to ban all but guide animals from city-owned buildings. The community quickly rallied to the cat’s defense — and the council ended up making an exception for the cat, but not her hamster buddies, Hamlet and Othello.

Hamlet and Othello found new homes, and Agatha Christie remained in the library. (The controversy was also partially responsible an unsuccessful recall effort against then Mayor Rita Baller and two council members, according to Yamhill Valley News Register.)

Apparently, a local resident claims her two-year-old daughter was bitten and scratched by the declawed and mostly toothless old cat in late September. The cat was resting on a shelf in the library when the child approached and petted her.

“I’m not against animals, but I have a genuine concern,” one complaining resident said. “Animals get grouchy when they get older. I don’t think an animal should be roaming around a public building. The cat needs to live somewhere else. The library is a public building. I think there are allergy issues and sanitation issues. It’s not a good place for a cat to reside.”

Librarian Hansen was surprised by it all: ”She is the most laid back cat there is. She’s been declawed and she hardly has any teeth. She has to eat soft food … Anything a small child can do to an animal it’s been done to Agie. Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of things happen to her. She has never gone on the offensive. She just gets away and hides under my desk.”

PETA vs. BARCS

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has accused Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) of being overcrowded (which no one is going to argue with), unhealthy (which is debatable) and of allowing an injured cat to sit for hours before it was euthanized (which the shelter adamantly denies).

The criticisms are based on a complaint from a citizen and a follow-up investigation by Teresa Chagrin, a sepcialist with PETA’s cruelty investigations department, which included a visit to the facility.

Chagrin said a resident of Hamilton named Joe Lombardo witnessed the cat get attacked by a dog and called animal control. The cat was neither treated nor put down for seven hours after arriving at BARCS, he said. The cat arrived at BARCS Aug. 8, according to the Baltimore Sun.  When Lombardo called BARCS the next day, he says he was told that the severely injured cat was not put down until 8:30 the next morning.

BARCS officials said Tuesday that the cat was immediately evaluated and then euthanized.

“That’s completely wrong,” Debbie Rahl, the shelter’s rescue coordinator, said of the complaint. “There was no delay.”

Chagrin apparently had investigated BARCS before the cat incident. In July, she wrote a letter to the city’s health department, criticizing conditions she had either witnessed or been told about.

“Visitors to the city facility report that several rooms lined with cages from floor to ceiling contain cats housed in high temperatures while small box fans, apparently meant to cool the rooms, simply blow hot air around the floors,” Chagrin wrote. “I visited the facility on June 13, 2010, and verified the complaints. During my visit, many cats showed signs of overheating — the majority of cats were lying on their sides with their eyes closed and were breathing very rapidly. They had no interest in visitors and appeared extremely lethargic.”

Chagrin said Wednesday she’d received no response from the city.

Jennifer Brause, BARCS executive director, called the complaints unfounded and said the cat was evaluated and then put down, a process that took several hours. Brause said the staff and volunteers have increased the number of animals whose lives have been saved at the shelter by 60% over the last few years.

Communion for dogs? Why not?

An Anglican priest in Canada who drew criticism for feeding a communion wafer to a dog has apologized.

Donald Keith, 56, and Trapper, his German shepherd-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, frequented a park outside St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Toronto, and would sit on its steps as part of their daily routine.

Last month, Rev. Marguerite Rea welcomed both inside and gave them both a wafer during communion — an act of kindness that, as can happen when it comes to religion, created a furor. One parishioner filed a formal complaint with Anglican Bishop Patrick Yu, leading Rea to apologize this week.

“If I have hurt, upset or embarrassed anyone, I apologize,” Rea said on Sunday. “It was a simple church act of reaching out.”

Keith, a 56-year-old truck driver, got Trapper three years ago from a shelter, where, after three previous owners declared him unmanageable, he was likely going to be euthanized, according to the Toronto Star.

Every day, the two sit on the front steps of St. Peter’s for “reflection and spiritual renewal,” Keith told the newspaper. In late June, police urged the two to move off the spot, and Keith stepped inside the church to complain. Rea, the interim minister, invited Keith and Trapper to attend church.

When offered communion, Keith accepted. Trapper only sniffed the wine, but gobbled up the wafer.

Bishop Yu called the act a “misguided gesture of welcoming.”

But Rea says she’s received support through phone calls, visits and emails. The congregant who complained has since left the church, and others have no problem with the minister’s gesture.

“We’re all God’s creatures,” said one of them, Suzette Mafuna. “If a dog goes into a church, he’s entitled to every service that’s offered, including spiritual nourishment.”

(Photo: By Colin McConnell/Toronto Star)

Justice: Lawyer fined for snubbing service dog

justiceA Colorado Springs attorney accused of not allowing a disabled woman and her service dog into his office because he feared his new carpet might be soiled will pay $50,000 as part of a consent decree approved by a federal court today.

A November 2009 complaint accused Patric LeHouillier of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by barring Joan Murnane, a veterinarian with brain and other injuries that affect her balance, from entering his  law office because her service dog was with her.

The complaint says LeHouillier and his firm, LeHouillier & Associates, expressed concern that the Australian shepherd might soil its new carpet, according to a report in Westword.

That decision, under the consent decree, will cost him $50,000 –  $30,000 for Murnane, $10,000 for her husband and another $10,000 for a civil penalty.

“For almost two decades, the ADA has ensured that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full and equal access to public accommodations, both large and small,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is unrelenting in [eradicating] discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring that owners and operators of public accommodations recognize their obligations to provide equal access.”

The consent decree was approved by Judge Marcia S. Krieger in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Under its terms, LeHouillier and his firm will be required to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and post the policy in a conspicuous location, post a “Service Animals Welcome” sign, and provide training to staff.

The press release noted that a service animal is any animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability — and that the classification is not limited to dogs that assist the blind.

It includes, the press release says, dogs who alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, warn persons about impending seizures or other medical conditions, perform tasks for persons with psychiatric disabilities and provide physical supports for individuals with mobility issues.

More information about the ADA, including how to file an ADA complaint with the Justice Department, is available on the ADA home page at www.ada.gov.

The Justice Department also has a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

(Photo: Cafepress.com)

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