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Tag: complaints

Struggling to survive in Sochi

sochitrash

Surely by now you’ve heard about all the inconveniences visiting journalists from the west are facing in Sochi — a town that in its rush to get ready for the Olympics didn’t quite get ready for the Olympics.

As a member of that breed, or at least a former journalist, I can’t help but have empathy for their plight.

They have an important job to do, and how can we expect them to do it when they are facing obstacles like hotel rooms with no Internet,  fallen drapery rods, faulty doorknobs, or tap water so discolored one journalist reported she had to resort to washing her face with Evian?

Life can be so cruel sometimes.

sochipuddle

Sochi’s shortcomings are being blasted all over the Internet — by journalists, by Tweeters, and by tweeting journalists.

Arriving early, and finding the amenities weren’t all they could be, journalists got the ball rolling, bellyaching about conditions and posting their complaints and photos online. Olympics guests picked up the ball, voicing their discontent; and even a few athletes — though they’re less likely than journalists to whine, or so we’d hope — have broadcast the problems they’ve encountered, including one who was forced to punch his way out of the hotel room bathroom he was locked in.

Others arrived to find that their rooms, despite being reserved and paid for, weren’t ready, or weren’t even there, forcing them to wait, bunk with someone else, or seek shelter elsewhere.

sochirescue

Fortunately, no journalists (to our knowledge) were forced to sleep in stairwells or alleyways.

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Others tweeting their discontent have complained of unappealing food, and menus whose Russian to English translations are sometimes laughably off the mark, which leads us to worry whether journalists are getting the all-important nourishment they need to do their jobs.

sochiribs

I’m sure there will be much inspiration ahead in the 2014 Olympics, and perhaps even a few things to love about them. For the first few days though, it has been an embarrassment — for Sochi, for Russia, for Putin, and for all those journalists who came across as spoiled Westerners, partly because they are spoiled Westerners, partly because they have the modern-day need to self-broadcast every little bump in the road they encounter.

While most reporters are there to cover the sporting side of it all, and while many have been preoccupied by their lack of creature comforts, some have gotten around to writing about what we think is probably the most shameful Olympic-related story of all. In case you haven’t yet gotten our drift, it’s what the city is doing to stray dogs.

The city of Sochi has hired a pest control company to rid the streets of dogs, another piece in its failed plan to look good for the Olympics. Capturing and killing strays, as if that’s not bad enough, seems all the more cruel when you consider that many of the dogs are homeless because of all the new construction for the Olympics, some of which sent dog-owning families into apartments where dogs aren’t allowed.

Sochi promised it wouldn’t conduct the cull, then it did. The extermination was well underway by the time the media caught on, but eventually it was reported by, among others, the Boston Globe, Radio Free Europe, and, eventually, the New York Times. It took awhile, but the public outrage is, appropriately enough, snowballing now.

When that happens, the silly and tired old question always pops up, ”Does the world care more about dogs than it does humans?” That was pretty much the headline on an op-ed piece in The Guardian about Sochi’s strays this week — silly because  it implies people can’t care, get outraged and fight for both species.

But, to answer it only for myself , yes, I sometimes care more about dogs than humans, depending on the circumstances, depending on the dogs, and the humans, and depending on the hardships at issue. Yes, I care more about a dog being exterminated for no good reason than I do about a TV reporter who has temporarily lost his or her access to hair conditioner.

The inconveniences reporters, guests and athletes might face in Sochi aren’t enough to cast a pall over the entire Olympics.

What’s happening to the dogs is.

(Photos: A dog checks out a trash can across from the Olympic stadium / Twitter; a dog drinks from an icy puddle outside of Sochi / Reuters; dogs and volunteers at a makeshift shelter / The New York Times; dogs napping on the street / Twitter; a starving street dog in Sochi / Getty Images/iStockphoto )

Greetings from Bellaville, New Yorkie

I’m a proponent of spending more time with your dog, and less with your computer, but here’s an interesting, and interactive,  presentation from WNYC in New York, which has mapped out not just what breeds dominate the city’s neighborhoods, but what names as well.

Citywide, the top three female names for dogs are Bella, Princess and Lola; the top male names are Max, Rocky and Lucky and the top breeds are Yorkie, Shih Tzu and Maltese.

(Actually the most popular dog in New York is the mutt, and WYNC does report that elsewhere. Somehow they didn’t rate getting on the map, though.)

What’s the most fun though is scrolling through the boroughs to see where Lola tops Lucy, where Buddy beats Buster as the name of choice, and what breeds are, from neighborhood to neighborhood, most predominant. While Yorkies dominate most areas, there are enclaves where Labs and Chihuahuas and pit bulls are owned in the highest numbers. There’s a major English bulldog contingent in lower Manhattan, and pit bulls are the highest in number in Bed Stuy.

The list is based on information WNYC obtained from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the city’s dog licensing program.

The feature has some other bells and whistles, too, including opportunities to play games and make a t-shirt.

Just after WNYC came out with its map, Gothamist put together an interactive map of its own – this back in January — claiming to show not where the dogs are, but where their poop is, or at least where it’s most complained about. The map shows what neighborhoods have the most barking dog complaints, too.

One wonders what would happen if those two interactive maps were to interact. Would that reveal large dogs named Brutus leave bigger droppings than Chihuahuas named Princess? That Sparky barks more than Snoozy?

Somewhere we have to draw line on all this interactivity with our computers — especially that share of it that’s presenting information that’s just everyday knowledge or common sense or entirely bogus.

In those cases, your time would be better spend interacting with the dog.

“Dog Wars” disappears, comes back

Has “Dog Wars” bitten the dust?

ABC4 in Salt Lake City says so. So does Best Friends, and All Things Digital.

But those reports were apparently based solely  on the dogfighting game app temporarily disappearing from the Android Marketplace, Google’s online store.

Like a bad case of hemorrhoids, it’s back.

Unconfirmed reports say the app was temporarily removed from Google’s online market over concerns about copyright infringement — as opposed to the formidable and still growing opposition being voiced about it by dog lovers and animal welfare organizations.

Developed by Kage Games, the free app allows players to train and fight pit bulls, accumulating money and “cred.”

It has been roundly criticized by, among others, the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, numerous state and local humane societies, actress Alicia Silverstone and football quarterback Michael Vick, who served 21 months in prison for operating a dogfighting ring.

The creators of Dog Wars, in response to criticism, have added some explanation to the Android Marketplace page on which the app is offered.

“We’ve heard thoughts from many dog and animal lovers about our app and first we, as dog owners and dog lovers ourselves, would like to thank you for your thoughts and for the work many of you do on behalf of our canine friends. We DO NOT CONDONE violence towards animals or humans, and we are confident in humankind’s ability to distinguish between a rudimentary game and the consequences of real life.

“We are confident this game will be a net benefit to dogs as it has been in our operating agreement from the start of this project that a portion of the proceeds go to animal rescue organizations. Further, this is a satire about the ridiculousness of dogfighting and we believe in the power of a modern media tool to educate and raise awareness of the real horrors.

“There are hundreds of games on the Google Android market as well as any other popular game platform which, if acted out in real life, would be illegal. What makes the Google Android platform special is it gives the freedom and responsibility to the individual users to decide what to put on their phones as opposed to the phone carriers and app stores making value judgments on our behalf … Please remember that censorship is a very slippery slope.”

Video of police shooting dog prompts outrage

The fatal shooting of a dog during a February SWAT team raid in Columbia, Missouri, has prompted the police department to change its policies, Chief Ken Burton said at a news conference Thursday.

You might guess he was talking about the department’s dog-shooting policy, which, judging from this video, seems to be shoot first, shoot some more, and ask questions later.

But no. After killing a family’s pit bull, wounding their Welsh corgi, and terrorizing the suspect’s wife and child — in a bust that netted a mere palmful of marijuana — the police department has revamped department policy so that there won’t be lags between the time they obtain a search warrant and the time they, stormtrooper style, bust into homes.

Burton said the department moved slowly in Whitworth’s case because the SWAT team is made up of part-time members who hold other jobs within the department.

The fact that officer killed one of the suspect’s dogs, intentionally, and wounded another, accidentally — while the incident is still being investigated internally — seems, to him, of little import.

Burton said the pit bull was acting aggressively, and he defended the actions of the officers involved, according to The Missourian.

The suspect, Jonathan Whitworth, pleaded guilty on April 20 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was fined $300.

Subsequently, the police video was released and found its way onto YouTube, prompting a surge of protests from animal activists.

“We’re getting death threats from literally all over the world,” Burton said.

FDA reviewing complaints about dog treats

boneReal Ham Bone for Dogs — dog treats made in Missouri from the femurs of pigs — are under review by the Food and Drug Administration after complaints of them causing serious injury and death in dogs.

If warranted, an FDA spokesman said, the FDA will take appropriate action and notify the public, the Associated Press reported.

The product — a smoked pig femur sold as a dog treat or chew bone — is distributed nationally under the Dynamic Pet Products label of Frick’s Quality Meats in Washington, Mo.

The company said Thursday it was saddened to learn of the illnesses and deaths of customers’ pets, and that quality and safety remain priorities. The packaging contains a warning about the product not being for all dogs, and the possibility that it could splinter.”

“That is why every package contains a label that provides detailed instructions to owners on how they can help their pets best enjoy our products,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly encourage owners to supervise their pets with any treats or snacks.”

The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis said consumers have complained about the bones splintering, and pieces  obstructing dogs’ intestines. Consumers reported their dogs had become lethargic or were vomiting. One man came home to find his dog dead, bleeding from the mouth.

Dog’s head in pipe was tip of the iceberg

A six-inch wide piece of steel pipe had sat in Kay Simmons backyard in Colorado for a long time, but only this week did her wolf-dog hybrid, Marina, decide, for reasons unknown, to stick her head in it.

The 3-year-old dog is recovering from cuts, scrapes and bruises after spending more than seven hours Tuesday with her skull wedged in the 8-foot-long pipe.

“It was a pretty terrible day,” Simmons, 73, told the Boulder Daily Camera Wednesday before leaving to pick up her pet from the veterinarian.

On Friday, though the Daily Camera reported that Simmons has had a lot of terrible days:

She has a lengthy history of animal violations, and last year authorities killed five of her wolf-dogs after they attacked neighborhood pets, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Simmons,  who lives on the Boulder County side of the border with Jefferson County, has at least four open “animal violation” cases in Jefferson County, into which her wolf hybrids sometimes wander.

“She has the largest file in the office,” said Camille Paczosa, animal control officer and supervisor.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has taken more than 50 complaints about Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her dozens of times since 1985. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has taken at least 16 reports of “dangerous animals at large” and similar violations since 1986.

One neighbor said he’s glad the animal is OK, but he finds it “ironic, if not insulting,” that the Sheriff’s Office and firefighters spent so much time and money “to save one of these animals but let the documented hazard to humans go on for almost 15 years.”

Simmons told authorities this week that one of her dogs started “making a racket” about noon Tuesday. When she went outside she found Marina squirming to free herself from the pipe.

Nearly 20 people from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the Coal Creek Fire Department and the Boulder Emergency Squad tried to free her, using everything from vegetable oil to a spatula. Finally, one of the firefighters — who also works as a plumber — used a pipe saw to cut off most of the steel, leaving just one foot of pipe covering the dog’s head. That allowed crews to transport her safely to the veterinary clinic.

Once at the clinic, a “grinding tool” was used to cut a triangle out of the pipe. When Marina was finally freed from the pipe she “sprang up” and appeared to be fine. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

But Wednesday’s feel-good story took a turn later in the week.

Steve McAdoo, who has lived near Simmons for about six years, told the Daily Camera he’s afraid for his 3- and 5-year-old children’s lives after four of Simmons’ wolf-dogs “ripped to shreds and almost killed” his 35-pound spaniel, Molly, in August.

After the attack on that same night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the wolf-dogs attacked other animals and caused property damage. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office killed five of the hybrids.

“Two weeks later, she got five more,” McAdoo said. “And she’s been doing this for years.”

In August 2003, Jefferson County animal control officers took three of Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her with having a dangerous dog. In 2000, authorities took a report of a dog being killed by wolves in that area, but they were unable to identify the wolves that attacked, according to Jefferson County officials.

(Photo: Paul Aiken/Boulder Daily Camera)

India to free zoo and circus elephants

elephantsAll elephants living in Indian zoos and circuses will be moved to wildlife parks and game sanctuaries where the animals can graze more freely, officials at Indian’s Central Zoo Authority announced earlier this month.

The order followed complaints and pressure from animal rights activists about elephants that are kept in captivity, often chained for long hours and unable to roam.

The elephants are to be moved to “elephant camps” run by the government’s forest department and located near protected areas and national parks. There they would be able to roam and graze freely, but “mahouts,” or traditional elephant trainers, would still keep an eye on them, according to an Associated Press report.

The decision affects around 140 elephants in 26 zoos and 16 circuses in the country. It does not affect the 3,500 elephants that live in captivity in temples, or logging camps where they are used to lift timber.

Research has shown that elephants in the wild live longer and have better health and reproductive records than those in captivity. Zoo elephants often die prematurely and contract diseases or suffer obesity and arthritis more frequently than in their natural habitats.

India has an estimated 28,000 wild elephants living in forest reserves and national parks, mainly in the southern and northeastern parts of the country.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

You’re may not exactly be a spring chicken if you remember this 1974 advertisement for Beautymist Pantyhose, in which a camera pans up a pair of sexy gams only to eventually come to a stop at the face of their owner — Joe Namath.

It was an unsettling little commercial, especially to one who, growing up outside of Baltimore, had chosen the rebellious and flamboyant Broadway Joe as a role model over straight arrow Johnny Unitas.

Now, Joe’s setting a disturbing example again: One of the former NFL quarterback’s dogs was declared dangerous this week in connection with the May 2008 biting of a home health aide that mistakenly stopped at Namath’s home in Florida — and that’s just one of four complaints against Namath’s dogs.

Namath, 66, appeared at a hearing Thursday in West Palm Beach to answer to charges that two of his dogs attacked people who came to his home in Tequesta, a community about 90 miles north of Miami.

His 6-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Leo, was declared dangerous, but the case against another of Namath’s dog, a 6-year-old Weimeraner named Stella, was dropped because a witness didn’t appear, the Associated Press reported.

As a dangerous dog, Leo must now be muzzled and leashed both off and on Namath’s property. He must also have a microchip implanted and carry a special “dangerous dog designation tag” — though the latter seems to me to be a lot like those bumper stickers that read “If you can read this, you’re too damn close.”

If Leo bites someone else, he could be declared “vicious,” and euthanized, and Namath could face criminal charges, officials said. Namath had no comment on the charges.

Local animal control officials say there have been four reports of Namath’s dogs attacking people on his property since 2007, “and rumors of many more.”

A UPS driver said he was “accosted by a pack of dogs” on Namath’s property in May 2007. In February of this year, a contractor working at the home was reportedly bitten by Stella, the Weimaraner. That victim didn’t show up at this week’s hearing and the case against Stella was dropped. In August, a landscaper on Namath’s property was bitten by one of the former New York Jets dogs.

Owners of barking dogs face fines in Chicago

Owners of dogs that make “excessive noise ” could face fines of  up to $250 a day under an ordinance approved yesterday by a Chicago City Council committee.

Excessive noise is defined in the proposed ordinance as “repeated or habitual barking, whining, crying, howling (and) whimpering,” according to the Chicago Tribune

The law would apply to any animal, but the article doesn’t make clear whether that includes humans.

“It’s not an anti-dog thing,” said Alderman Patrick O’Connor, who co-sponsored the measure . “It’s not preventing dogs from being dogs. It just means that if you let your dog bark all day everyday, disturbing peace for people in the area, there’s a possibility now that police can do something.”

Under the law, the noise would have to occur continually for at least 10 minutes or intermittently for “a significant portion of the night.” It also would have to be louder than the average conversation at a distance of 100 feet or more. Complaints about a dog from three residents, from different addresses, could also trigger enforcement, leading to fines of $50 to $250.

O’Connor noted the two dogs who live at his home “could be the poster children for this ordinance — two small, little yappy dogs, but if I leave them out for hours on end, I’m an irresponsible dog owner.”

The ordinance still needs approval from the full City Council.

Oregon cracks down on dogs in grocery stores

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is reminding Oregonians that dogs aren’t welcome in grocery stores unless they’re providing a service to the disabled.

“Of all the complaints we receive … pets in a grocery store — especially dogs — is by far our number one issue,” said officials said in a press release on the DOA website. “We’ve received complaints about dogs urinating in the aisle of a grocery store, jumping up and licking packages of meat, or sniffing food items on the shelf.”

The new public awareness campaign uses dog-shaped posters that will provide definitions of service animal and “tips” for consumers who see pets inside stores. Pamphlets will also be distributed to business owners to help them “know what to ask” and “when to ask” when an animal enters a store.

State officials say it is against state and federal law for live animals to enter establishments selling or preparing food,  unless the animal falls under a specific exemption of the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  The ADA defines a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.”

Citations will be issued to businesses in violation, not animal owners, according to the DOA website.