Jessica S. Skacel, 30, of Derry, and Ashley M. Giovannagelo, 22, of Greensburg, were charged with criminal conspiracy and theft, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported yesterday.
According to court documents, Skacel was hired as a caretaker for the sisters, now ages 85 and 83, in their home in Derry Township in 2011. Giovannagelo later assisted her in those duties.
Police say they started stealing from the sisters — both from their bank accounts and money the sisters had squirreled away in hiding places around the house — in early 2012.
Police began an investigation after a man who has power of attorney for the sisters noticed their bank accounts, both of which exceeded $100,000, ” were basically empty,” according to court documents.
“The bank records showed that both victims were making regular, large cash withdrawals from their accounts in amounts such as $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 and even $20,000 at a time,” an investigating officer stated.
Police say the money was used to cover travel expenses to dog shows. Skacel’s former husband, Kyle Squib, told police she purchased two trailers for more than $5,000 to transport dogs to shows.
Police say Skacel admitted to stealing an estimated $40,000-$50,000 from the sisters.
Skacel is a dog groomer and Giovannagelo shows dogs regularly, according to their Facebook pages.
Skacel and Giovannagelo were fired as caretakers for the sisters in September 2013, shortly after the investigation began, police said.
Both face preliminary hearings Sept. 3 before a district judge.
(Photo: Ashley Giovannagelo shows a St. Bernard at a dog show in a photo posted on her Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 31st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Ashley Giovannagelo, caretakers, charged, competition, contests, derry, dog, dog show, dog shows, dogs, elderly, groomer, Jessica Skacel, pennsylvania, police, purebreds, sisters, st. bernard, theft
It seems like every year I’ve teetered a little closer to disliking the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.
A cute concept at first — and one that helped remind us what a superficial thing beauty can be — it seems to have grown into a pageant that, despite its focus on “ugliness,” inches ever closer to reflecting many of the same negative traits of purebred dog shows and beauty contests.
As the quirky little contest at the Sonoma County Fair in Petaluma has grown huge, and the title more sought after, there has been a concurrent increase in cut-throat competition, campaigning and hype.
But it’s the choice of this year’s winner that may have finally pushed me into being a fan no more. The title of World’s Ugliest Dog was won by a dog whose unusual appearance is the result of being abused.
And that troubles me.
This year’s winning dog, Peanut, a two-year-old mixed breed, is from Greenville, N.C. He was adopted from a shelter after being found abandoned and severely abused. It is suspected he was set on fire. While he’s healthy now, his eyelids, lips and patches of hair on his body were burned off, which accounts for much of his unusual appearance.
His owner, Holly Chandler, held fundraising campaigns to travel to California and enter Peanut in the contest — all, she said, to help raise awareness about animal abuse.
Given that’s a large part of this website’s mission, too, I have no problem with that cause.
I’m all for celebrating dogs who look different. I’m all for celebrating dogs who have overcome harsh odds. I’m all for abused dogs recovering and becoming rich and famous while their abusers rot in prison.
Where my discomfort comes in, I think, is placing abused animals in a “contest” context and, within that party atmosphere, picking a winner whose looks are the result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.
Abuse, it seems to me, should not be connected to pageantry and cash prizes, no matter how circuitous that link is.
Yesterday, I watched a local TV report about Peanut winning the contest. The anchor people, while noting Peanut had an inner beauty, laughed and joked about his appearance, as I’m sure the crowd did at the contest.
Peanut beat 24 other dogs to win the contest Friday, receiving more than double the votes the second-place dog received.
While his owner seemed sincere in her purpose, and probably did raise awareness about animal abuse, I can’t help but wonder whether we should all be chuckling — even while feeling sympathy and love for Peanut — at his appearance, at his prominent teeth, or his eyes that never close, given it was all the result of a cruel criminal act.
On the other hand, the world should know Peanut’s story — and the contest was a way to make that happen.
Maybe, though, there are better, more dignified ways, such as writing a book, or taking him to schools, or sharing his story with the news media — ways that might avoid the appearance of exploitation and have a little less of the circus atmosphere that seems, in my mind at least, to clash with serious nature of animal abuse.
I doubt there is any danger of people disfiguring their dogs in hopes of winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, but — given the world can be pretty ugly — stranger things have happened.
I think it would be wise, and in good taste, for contest officials to impose and enforce a ban on dogs whose “ugliness” or unusual looks are a result of actions taken by humans — whether those actions are heinous criminal acts or cosmetic steps, like dyeing, taken for amusement purposes.
While the contest’s web page states that “all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy and are ‘naturally ugly,’ Peanut’s victory casts some doubt on how strongly that’s being enforced.
All that said, I don’t find any fault with Chandler entering Peanut in the contest. She was on a mission. She made her point.
Maybe the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, after 25 years, has made its point too. A cute and well-intentioned gimmick with a sweet message, it might be growing into a bit of a monster. Maybe it should fade way before it becomes too Westminstery.
I have problems with contests that award people, or dogs, for good looks and conformity. Maybe I have issues with awarding them for “bad” looks and non-conformity, too.
Definitely I don’t like the idea of people laughing and finding amusement in a dog’s misery, which, in a very distant, removed and indirect way, is what’s going on.
That’s the best I can do at explaining the ill-at-ease feeling Peanut’s victory gives me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(Photo: From Holly Chandler’s Gofundme page)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014, abuse, animal cruelty, animals, awards, awareness, beauty, burned, competition, contest, contests, dogs, peanut, petaluma, pets, set on fire, sonoma county fair, ugliest, ugly, world's ugliest dog
The Maryland SPCA’s March for the Animals — a 1.5 mile fundraising walk and more — takes place this Sunday, April 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.
The organization’s largest fundraising event attracts thousands of walkers and their dogs each year — and helps make it possible for the SPCA to continue its work, which last year saw 3,200 pets adopted and 9,700 spayed or neutered.
(Sorry to say ohmidog! won’t have a booth this year, so those who patronized Ace’s Kissing Booth and Dog Breath Emporium last year — shown in the video above — will just have to wait til next year for another smooch.)
In addition to the walk, activities at the event will include pet contests, an agility course, training classes, pet demonstrations, pet-friendly vendors, adoptable animals and entertainment.
Individual walkers can register online thru April 16. Walk up registration starts at 9:00 a.m. the day of the event.
All of the money raised goes toward the SPCA’s adoption center, pet owner education, and the care of lost and homeless animals
For the complete schedule, keep reading.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, agility course, animal welfare, animals, contests, donations, Druid Hill Park, fundraiser, homeless animals, March for the Animals, maryland, mdspca, news, ohmidog!, packs, pets, pledges, shelter, spca, training, vendors, walk, walkathon, walkers
DogFest, the Baltimore Humane Society’s biggest fundraising event of the year, kicks off Saturday morning at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley.
The day-long event starts with a 5K-9 Fun Run at 7:40 a.m. At 10 a.m., the gates open and the activities begin — and there are a ton of them.
DogFest will feature agility runs, dog contests, pet education, a sandy beach and pools for the dogs to play in and a puppy pumpkin patch, where dogs can pick their own pumpkins.
In addition to numerous dog rescue groups on hand, DogFest will also feature Equine Rescue groups that will be exhibiting horses for adoption and offering horseback riding for kids and adults.
Admission is $10, with children in strollers admitted free.
Here’s a partial schedule:
Posted by John Woestendiek October 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agility, baltimore, baltimore humane society, contests, demonstrations, dog, dog fest, dogfest, dogs, event, fund raising, fundraiser, horseback riding, horses, hunt valley, rescue, schedule, shawan downs, shelter
Rain or shine, $1,000 fines or no $1,000 fines, The March for the Animals takes place tomorrow at Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park — and what better way to show this sometimes less than dog-friendly city how much you care about your dog and all dogs.
Not to tarnish the Maryland SPCA’s largest fundraiser of the year with politics, but it is an opportunity — in addition to having fun and raising money for homeless animals — to take stock of our numbers, and realize that for every four paws pounding the pavement tomorrow, there’s usually one or two registered voters behind them.
It was revealed that the city had raised the fines for unleashed dogs ten-fold, to $1,000, with little effort made to inform us about it, either before or after the fact. And this in a city that has yet to open a single government-funded dog park. (Several council members say they plan to try and revise the law and lower the fine Monday.)
It’s time for dog lovers to unite, and for “dog park” groups to unite — again, we use the term loosely, since the city has yet to open an official dog park. (The only one that exists is in Canton, and it was built by private donations.) The March for the Animals is an excellent opportunity to let the networking begin, and, of course, the ohmidog! booth will welcome any rabble-rousing activists who care to gather there.
Again, the day isn’t about politics, but there’s no reason we can’t at least make initial contact, and exchange emails and phone numbers, amid all the fun, festivities and fund-raising.
At the ohmidog! booth, we’ll be holding contests (free Furminators will be among the prizes), bringing back our popular “Kiss My Ace” kissing booth, and offering our new hand-made, all-natural dog treats, “ohmidog-O’s” – all profits from the sale of which will be turned over to the Maryland SPCA.
The march runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; registration begins at 9:00 a.m. Sunshine is predicted in the morning, with rain expected to hold off until later in the day, so the event won’t likely be the soggy affair it was last year.
It’s still not too late to raise pledges for the March, the Maryland SPCA says, by asking your friends, family members and co-workers to sponsor you and your dog. Bring your pledges and donations to the event. With at least $30 in donations, you receive a doggie bandana and goody bag. With $40 and over, you also receive a March for the Animals T-shirt.
Among the day’s highlights:
Posted by John Woestendiek April 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agility, animal communicator, animals, baltimore, booth, city, city council, contests, demonstrations, disc, dog, dog lovers, dog owners, dog parks, dog people, dogs, Druid Hill Park, event, fines, fundraising, homeless dogs, leash law, March for the Animals, maryland, maryland spca, ohmidog!, parks, pets, politics, training, unite, unleashed, vendors