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Tag: complaints

New kids film “Show Dogs” draws fire from parents groups

In the somewhat bizarre world of dog shows, the one traditional practice that most strikes outsiders as weird comes at that point in judging when a judge cops a feel of a male dog’s testicles.

As part of what’s called conformation — or seeing how well a dog conforms to “standards” — the process is usually a quick check, aimed at making sure the dog is intact (not fixed) and that his testicles have properly descended.

But to dog show spectators, who traditionally include families and children, it’s hard to miss.

It is also hard to miss in the new film “Show Dogs,” a family-oriented movie that stars Ludacris as the voice of a talking police dog named Max who infiltrates a prestigious dog show to investigate a suspected animal smuggling ring.

One subplot of the movie involves Max becoming comfortable, as a dog show contestant, with strangers touching his genitals.

In the PG-rated film, Max must learn how to “get used to” the groping, and it’s that aspect that has some parenting groups fuming about the movie.

showdogsWhatever parents teach their children about “inappropriate touching” and sexually predatory behavior, they say, this movie seems to be sending an opposite message: Grin and bear it, accept it, it’s no big deal.

Valid a concern as that may be, it’s funny — to me at least — that the practice is so accepted and goes so unquestioned at dog shows, also aimed at being fun for the whole family, but is proving so irksome in a comedic family movie.

Does that piece of a dog show really have to be performed before an audience of adults and children? Couldn’t it be done backstage, or as part of a behind the scenes pre-show screening procedure?

You don’t hear those concerns voiced so much among the high society dog show crowd — just as you don’t hear too much discussion about why a similarly sized, fully descended pair of testicles is so important in the first place in such competitions.

It’s because the American Kennel Club and other dog show operators see the competitions as a way to select and crown dogs that are prime breeding stock — those healthy and perfect dog that comes closest, appearance wise, to standards. (Standards set, by the way, by the AKC and other groups.)

Standards? How about one that doesn’t require a dog to to through a public groping in front of thousands, or maybe one that doesn’t require him to go through it at all.

From the makers of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” the movie opened in theaters May 18. It tells the story of a human detective (Will Arnett) and his canine partner Max, a Rottweiler whose voice is provided by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Together they go undercover at the world’s most exclusive dog show to solve a big case involving a stolen panda.

Since it opened, the movie has caught the attention of several parenting blogs, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“Max’s success is riding on whether or not he lets both his partner (for practice) and a stranger (the competition judge) touch his private parts. IN A KIDS MOVIE. WHAT??? Newsflash, folks: THIS IS CALLED GROOMING and it’s what sexual predators do to kids!” wrote Jenny Rapson in the blog “For Every Mom.”

In reality, those who show dogs do condition their dogs to get used to the groping to ensure they will behave properly during the judging practice.

“The movie ‘Show Dogs’ sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse,” said the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, previously known as Morality in Media. “It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier.

“Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children — telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”

The filmmakers responded to the concerns with this statement:

“It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in Show Dogs, a family comedy that is rated PG. The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges.

“Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.”

Yesterday, though, the studio announced it would be removing two of the most controversial scenes from the movie, according to CNN.

Guess us kids will have to wait for the next Westminster Dog Show to see the grabbing of the gonads.

“Show Dogs” is clearly not an exercise in reality, what with its talking dogs and all, but it did pretty accurately nail this particular aspect of dog shows.

So why is it people are so quick to jump on, edit and whitewash a portrayal of a reality and fashion it more to their liking — all while not giving a second thought as to whether the reality deserves some scrutiny and reconsideration, too?

Virginia files lawsuit against company whose service dogs were “little more than pets”

diabetic

After years of complaints — and enough controversy and drama to rate an episode of Dr. Phil — the investigation into a company that supplies service dogs for diabetics and others has led to the filing of a lawsuit by Virginia’s Attorney General.

The lawsuit against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers was filed Tuesday in Madison County Circuit Court, accusing the company of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act by charging $18,000 to $27,000 for 3-month-old Labrador retriever puppies that were unable to perform their task and had apparently received little or no training.

The company billed its dogs as highly trained lifesaving tools that were able to alert diabetics to dips or spikes in their blood sugar level by nudging them with a nose or a paw.

But what customers received, according to the lawsuit, were “little more than incredibly expensive pets” — some of them unable to walk properly on leashes, respond when called, or remain calm around loud noises or new people.

Customers were told that they would receive ample “scent training,” but that never came, and customer requests for assistance were regularly ignored, the lawsuit says.

“This suit alleges not just dishonest and unlawful business practices, but a recklessness that could have endangered the lives of customers who relied on the claims made by Service Dogs and its owner,” Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring said.

The lawsuit followed a lengthy investigation based on complaints from more than 50 customers, Herring’s office said.

In 2016, some of them appeared on a Dr. Phil episode about the company.

In addition to deceiving customers about the company’s dogs, the suit alleges, owner Charles D. Warren Jr. illegally encouraged them to solicit charitable donations. He also lied about having served in the military, according to the suit.

That lawsuit seeks restitution for customers as well as civil penalties and attorneys’ fees, The Washington Post reported.

On behalf of the company, John B. Russell Jr., an attorney representing the company, denied the allegations, saying “we absolutely deny that we have ever set out to mislead, cheat or defraud our many happy clients.”

Diabetic-alert dogs use their sensitive noses to detect fluctuations in blood-sugar levels, but studies on their effectiveness have been mixed.

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers promised customers that assigned dogs possessed a “proven scent ability” and that they could be trained to seek help or even dial 911 on special devices, according to the attorney general’s lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, though, dogs arrived at consumers’ homes with no training and no apparent abilities to alert clients to shifts in their blood sugar levels.

The dogs have been sent to customers across the country, and the complaints range from Texas to Florida, where a woman says they stopped paying for the dog they received — only to be sued by the company.

Jovana Flores said the diabetic-alert dog for her 13-year-old son did little more than serve as a pet.

“In hindsight, now, maybe I should have been a little bit smarter, but you’re looking for any bit of hope,” Flores said.

(Photo: Service Dogs by Warren Retriever website)

Police officer refuses woman’s request that he shoot a dog damaging her car

An outraged Georgia woman, displeased that police weren’t doing more to stop a dog who was trying to rip off her car’s bumper, went live on Facebook in an attempt to show what she saw as malfeasance on the part of law enforcement.

Instead, she ended up bringing negative attention, and even death threats, upon herself — mainly because of her insistence that the officer shoot the dog.

The video, taken on November 9th by the car’s owner, Jessica Dilallo, shows a pit bull type dog trying to rip off the new car’s bumper as Dilallo complains that Dalton Police Lieutenant Matthew Locke should be doing more.

At one point she asks him to shoot the dog or throw a rock at it.

Locke calmly declined, pointing out the dog was not being aggressive to any humans.

The dog was apparently after two cats hiding under the car’s hood.

“And so when he finally gets to whatever he’s going to we get to watch him destroy that as well? The cat gets to die, too?” Dilallo complains.

Locke tells her an officer with a catchpole is on his way. As the video ends, an officer can be seen approaching with an improvised catchpole.

A police spokesman said that when Locke arrived at the home, the dog walked “right up to his window and was not aggressive towards people. The dog resumed attacking the car’s bumper.”

“Lt. Locke decided not to try to pull the dog off himself because he didn’t want to be in a position where the dog attacked him and he was forced to shoot the dog,” the spokesman said.

Police later located the dog’s owner, Ben Bonds, and he agreed to pay Dilallo $500 for her insurance deductible. He was issued a warning to not let his dog run loose.

Dilallo spoke with NewsChannel 9 on Wednesday, saying the Facebook posting has brought her harsh criticism.

“I’m like the most hated person right now because I said I wanted to shoot the dog, but I still stand by that.”

Lt. Locke said he stands by his decision, and that using a stun gun or pepper spray on the dog might have made it more aggressive.

“My whole goal was to try to keep it contained, catch it and identify the owner and ultimately that’s what we did,” Locke said.

The dog was taken to a shelter but is now back home — and in a fenced yard.

Homeless Charlotte man fights to keep dog

lord1

Most homeless people push shopping carts. Alan Lord pushes a dog crate.

Inside that crate on wheels, more often than not, is Levi, his four year old Lab mix.

And that has led to some concerns among those who see them on the streets of Charlotte, and a controversy that the Charlotte Observer reports has pitted do-gooder against do-gooder.

Some dog lovers are urging the Mecklenburg County Animal Care and Control to take the dog, saying the dog spends too much time in the crate and that Lord has turned down most offers of help.

Lord, the animal control office and others say taking that action might be harsh and unfair, that Levi is virtually all Lord has since becoming homeless a year ago, and that while Lord probably could get into a homeless shelter, none in the city allow dogs.

lord2Lord, 43, is not willing to consider that last option.

He’s a former bank employee who lost his job, got divorced and lost his home — all recently — and separating from his 80 pound, 4-year-old dog is unacceptable to him.

“Levi – he’s all I have,” Lord told an Observer reporter last week as he sat in a Bojangles’ parking lot. “He’s my best friend and always will be.”

Ideally, he said, he’d like to move to Hawaii and live with his brother, but he hasn’t been able to pull that off. Lord admits his own back problems have limited the amount of tie Levi spends out of the crate.

Nevertheless, some dog advocates, several of whom have made efforts to help Lord, say the time has come to take his dog away.

“It’s an animal caught in the middle,” said Dina Castanas, who recently organized a community meeting where animal control officials heard from about 25 neighbors who want Levi out of the crate. “Levi has no voice and no choice in the matter.”

Terri McConnell and her husband estimate they have spent about $3,500 trying to help Lord and Levi — on hotel rooms, camping equipment and food.

“We didn’t mind. But then there comes a point where you’re like ‘We’re throwing good money after bad’ … He’s refusing help,” McConnell told the Observer. “The more paranoid he gets about someone trying to take that dog, the worse it’s getting.”

lord3Advocates for the homeless say Lord’s rights should be respected, that his refusal to separate from his dog isn’t unusual, and that — until a homeless shelter in Charlotte starts allowing pets — no one should be insisting that he go into one.

Josh Fisher, director of Animal Care and Control, says the dog is not being neglected or abused and doesn’t seem to be suffering — despite repeated complaints from citizens who say Levi is being kept too long in a too-small crate.

“Suffering is very much in the eyes of the beholder,” he said.

Fisher said his department’s officers have visited the dog almost daily in response to complaints. Levi is up-to-date on his vaccinations, in good health and has a good disposition, he said.

He said officials are working on a permanent housing solution that will allow Lord and Levi to stay together.

(Photos: Diedra Laird / Charlotte Observer)

Customers say supermarket’s chocolatey kindness poisoned their dogs

chocolate1

To thank its loyal customers, the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s sent complimentary chocolates through the mail to holders of the store’s reward card.

Now, it’s hearing back from some customers who are feeling less than rewarded — and who are “thanking” Sainsbury’s (sarcastically) for poisoning their dogs.

As anyone who receives their mail through a slot in their door knows, dogs are generally curious — and not above tearing into — anything the postal carrier delivers that looks or smells interesting.

As most dog owners know (or should) chocolate can be toxic to dogs.

So, thoughtful as it might seem delivering unsolicited chocolates — a selection of Green & Black’s chocolate bars — was a lame-brained move that has now evolved into a public relations’s nightmare.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said the company was “extremely sorry for the distress caused,” the BBC reported, and that it is investigating complaints “as a matter of urgency.”

The spokesperson added, “We know chocolate is unsafe for pets to eat and that’s why we had measures in place to safeguard against pet owners receiving this promotion.”

The company didn’t say what those safeguards were — only that “we are urgently investigating what went wrong.”

Those whose dogs have fallen ill have taken to social media to express their rage.

choc2Sarah Hayward’s cocker spaniel Jarvis was rushed to the vet after he tore into the promotional box while she was at work.

“My parents, who came home to let the dogs out at lunchtime, found the empty packet on his bed … They realized it was chocolate and the second they called the vet they were told to rush him straight in. He was put on various drips to flush fluids down him to try and induce him to be sick and, yes, it was a bit of a worry”.

“My eight month old puppy is currently having its stomach pumped and is being hospitalized at the vets this evening due to your utter foolishness, wrote another dog owner, Sammy Taylor. “I was out for less than two hours to return home and find three bars of dark chocolate devoured at my front doorstep and a very hyper puppy having heart palpitations … Chocolate is poisonous to dogs… it is well well known fact!”

Dan Dugdale, a 27-year-old designer from York, told The Daily Telegraph that he had arrived home on Monday to find his two two miniature dachshunds had eaten the contents of the package.

He said the two dogs were “completely hyper,” and he and his partner rushed them to a vet’s office, where the dogs were determined not to have had a significant negative reaction.

Dugdale said he’s not a Sainsbury’s rewards card holder and that the parcel was addressed to a previous occupant.

Photo: At top, Dan Dugdale’s dachshund with the box of chocolates he tore into; lower, Sarah Hayward’s cocker spaniel, Jarvis, who also became ill after eating the chocolates; Twitter)

Guggenheim, citing threats, pulls controversial pit bull piece from exhibit

The Guggenheim Museum in New York has pulled from an upcoming exhibit an “artwork” that features, on video, four pairs of pit bulls on treadmills charging at each other.

Real dogs are used in the piece, titled “Dogs Cannot Touch Each Other,” but it is a video version of a performance staged live when it first appeared in Beijing in 2003.

It and two other works condemned by animal welfare activists will no longer be part of the exhibit when it opens Oct. 6.

The charging pit bull piece — a seven minute long video — is by artists Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, a husband and wife team (let’s hope they treat each other with a little more kindness) who, in the original exhibit, lined up four pairs of pit bulls, face to face, on eight treadmills.

The dogs charge towards each other, but never get more than a few inches away. Still, they keep at it, panting and drooling and becoming more and more stressed out and frustrated.

The Guggenheim initially responded to animal welfare concerns by saying it had no intention of removing the work from the exhibit.

But, just four days later, museum officials reconsidered.

guggenheim-gallery-exterior-lightAccording to a report from NPR, the Guggenheim will pull the pieces from its upcoming exhibit, “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World.”

The museum blamed “explicit and repeated threats of violence,” but provided no details.

An online petition demanding the museum remove the works garnered more than 600,000 signatures since it was posted five days ago, and protesters gathered outside the museum on Saturday, holding signs that say “suffering animals is not art.”

Even after that, the Guggenheim defended the pit bull video, calling it on Thursday “an intentionally challenging and provocative artwork that seeks to examine and critique systems of power and control. We recognize that the work may be upsetting. The curators of the exhibition hope that viewers will consider why the artists produced it and what they may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share.”

But on Monday the museum relented under the pressure and said it was pulling that work and two others, citing threats of violence and concern for the safety of its staff, visitors and the artists.

“Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary,” the museum said in a statement. “As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”

In another of the to-be-removed pieces, artist Xu Bing tattooed meaningless characters all over the bodies of two pigs, a boar and a sow, who were put on display, mating, in a museum exhibit in Beijing in 1994. The Guggenheim was to feature the video of that “performance” as well.

Also removed was a work featuring live animals — reptiles, amphibians, insects — that are trapped in a glass enclosure and proceed to eat and kill each other for the viewing pleasure of attendees.

Let Bob Dylan be Bob Dylan

Why is everybody doggin’ Bob Dylan?

So what if he didn’t visibly display excitement, didn’t jump up and down and wag his tail, upon learning he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

So what if he’s not exactly yapping and scratching at the door to attend the upcoming Stockholm awards ceremony to receive the prize from King Carl VI Gustaf.

It really seems to bother people — respected journalists, less respected journalists, and lowly drama-seeking bloggers — that Dylan has not reacted like a “Price is Right” contestant who just won the showcase round.

To those people — those who demand effervescence from a man who, until he puts pen to paper, chooses to holds most things inside — we say, first off, don’t expect everybody’s personality to be the same as your’s.

Let Bob Dylan be Bob Dylan. And respect, as well, the privacy he seems to treasure.

dylananddogAfter the prizes were announced by the Swedish Academy, Dylan had no public reaction for weeks, which, for some reason, became news. He reportedly “refused to pick up the phone” to speak to representatives of the Nobel committee.

How does anyone know he was refusing to pick up the phone? Why is it assumed he was being petulant?

Perhaps he was not home, or was otherwise occupied, or was under the impression he can live his life at the pace he chooses, talking to who he chooses when he chooses.

How dare he? How dare he not give the news media what it was looking for?

Well, he never really has. He has always been more of a wandering, independent stray than a mindless lap dog.

For all those who were fretting over his lack of a reaction, The Telegraph reported Friday that yes, he hopes to attend the ceremony, and yes, winning the prize was “amazing, incredible … Whoever dreams about something like that?”

So much for the theory that he was going to pull a Jean-Paul Sartre, the novelist who famously declined the award in 1964.

He has said he will be there “if he can,” but many find that unacceptable as well and have deemed his behavior “impolite and arrogant.”

Maybe. Or maybe not all of us are wired for public displays of enthusiasm.

I have been accused of lacking enthusiasm, because I’m generally quiet. For my part, it was a matter of realizing if I am constantly flapping my jaws, my brain can’t process the things it needs to — be it writing a story, solving some mystery of life, or locating the items on the grocery list.

I’m just one of those people who mostly celebrates without fireworks, and on the inside. I would never be chosen to compete in The Price is Right. I’m more likely to bare my soul, if I bare it at all, to a dog.

dylananddog1Maybe Bob is that way, too. Maybe, at home, he has the curtains drawn and is running around the house high-fiving his dogs.

Interviewers, the smart ones, have found dogs to be the one topic that can get Bob Dylan going.

In any event, I’d guess the dogs in his life — and he has had many — have served to help him be a loner without being lonely. I’d guess he tells them more than he tells most friends, and definitely more than he tells the news media.

One of his first poems, written when he was 16 and in summer camp, was about a dog (Little Buddy) who died a tragic death.

bob1He once credited “a dog lying on the floor” (his name was Hamlet) with helping create the relaxed ambience in which he and The Band put together “The Basement Tapes,” while living outside Woodstock in the summer of 1967.

In addition to the song featured atop this post, “If Dogs Run Free” (which he turned into a children’s book in 2013), Dylan refers to dogs in at least 30 of his songs, according to an article in Bark a while back.

“They seem to inhabit his world, his thoughts, and, ultimately, they come to life in his music,” the article notes. “…Dylan uses dogs as a messenger for mood, as set for the stage. You can picture them wandering down dirt roads, or collapsed on creaky porches. They’re dustbowl dogs and prowling alley dogs, dogs with no collars, dogs with no homes.

“It’s a hungry, lonesome quality about them that he touches upon, a sense of being, all at once, tired and restless. They speak to the human condition that surrounds them, suggesting what really doesn’t need to be said.”

Bob Dylan has always been very good at saying what needs to be said, and even better at not saying what doesn’t need to be said.

So whether he shows up to claim his Nobel Prize, whether his speech consists of “thank you” or he jumps up and down and says “ohmigod! ohmigod!” — those are questions we will just have to keep asking in the months ahead. Or not.

The answer, my friend, is … well, you know.