When Mary Murphy died in San Francisco 35 years ago, a provision of her will named her dog, Sido — but not as what you might call a beneficiary.
Murphy asked in her will that Sido, an 11-year-old part collie, part sheepdog, be killed.
Murphy didn’t want her dog languishing in a shelter, or ending up as part of a laboratory research project, and she feared that even if she did get adopted, her new family might not be as loving and caring as she had been.
In short, she thought Sido would be better off dead.
It all made for a fascinating little story (with big implications) back in 1980, with the case ending up in court and making it onto the June 17 broadcast of the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.”
It was animal advocate Richard Avanzino who, after the terms of Murphy’s will became known, took up Sido’s cause, and took in Sido, serving as the dog’s foster parent until things got straightened out in court. At the time, he was head of the San Francisco SPCA.
“There’s no justification for her life to be taken,” Avanzino said at the time. “She’s committed no crime. The only crime that she committed was that she loved totally her master and for that she’s been condemned to die.”
Today, Avanzino considers Sido the original poster child for the no-kill movement.
“Sido was just the quintessential champion for animal rescue,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful for the time that I had with her but more importantly for the great role she played in telling America that we can be a no-kill nation.”
“I took Sido into my home realizing that the lawsuit would probably take months to resolve the outcome and Sido joined my family as a foster pet,” Avanzino told CBS News this week from San Francisco.
Avanzino fought in court for Sido’s life, arguing that the dog wasn’t “property.”
At the same time, he and others lobbied state politicians to work on a measure that would save Sido’s life.
A bill was drafted, passed and sent to then-Governor Jerry Brown to consider.
The judge’s ruling came the same day the governor signed the bill.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jay Pfotenhauer — whose name, CBS pointed out, translates to Paw-Slapper from German — decided that the killing of pets as personal property no longer had validity and that pets have rights.
Sido was spared, and spent the next five years as a member of Avanzino’s family.
On Sido’s 16th birthday, just hours before the cake was to be cut, Sido had a stroke and was rushed to UC Davis Veterinary School. She died three days later.
Avanzino says he believes Sido’s case served to inspire animal lovers, and help stem the number of euthanizations across the country.
In 1980, 16 million dogs and cats were killed in shelters; today that number is closer to 2.7 million.
(Photos: Courtesy of Richard Avanzino)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1980, animals, case, cbs, court, dog, dogs, dogs as property, euthanize, flashback, history, law, legal, maddie's fund, mary murphy, news, pets, property, put down, report, richard avanzino, ruling, san francisco, san francisco spca, will
A non-profit organization has launched a campaign to sell dog collars and leashes to raise money to place therapy dogs in homes and shelters serving sex trafficking victims.
Eye Heart World, an organization that creates products to raise funds and awareness for social causes, is launching a campaign called “Walk the Cause” this week.
The sale of every leash and collar set will go toward purchasing therapy dogs to help victims of human trafficking.
The dogs will be placed in aftercare homes for victims and used in court during the interview process.
“These wonderful pups provide a sense of security, comfort, and something these girls will desperately need in this time of restoration,” the organization said in a press release.
It’s similar to a project the organization started in January of 2010 — called “Carry the Cause” — which sold handbags. All American made, each handbag bears an orange rose, the color representing human trafficking awareness.
Under the “Walk the Cause” project, $100 from the sale of every leather leash and collar set goes toward placing therapy dogs in homes and facilities to help victims of human trafficking.
The first dogs will likely placed at facilities in Atlanta and Denver, according to Eye Heart World founder Season Russo. The dogs will be purchased from Smeraglia, a dog breeding company, and will be trained by Teddy Bear Goldendoodles.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aftercare, animals, collars, counseling, court, dogs, eye heart world, goldendoodles, homes, human trafficking, leashes, leather, pets, sale, sex, sex trade, sex trafficking, shelters, smeraglia, support, teddy bear goldendoodles, therapy, therapy dogs, trafficking, walk the cause
Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.
Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.
The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.
“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”
In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.
He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.
His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.
“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”
What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.
The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.
And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.
Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.
“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”
In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.
Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.
When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.
She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”
A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.
Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.
(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, baltimore, bite, bitten, court, cut, dog, dogs, hearing, hero, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, not guilty, officer, plea, police, pregnant, rabies, sharpei, slit, thomas schmidt, throat, trial, woman
A South Carolina man who dragged a pit bull mix behind his pick-up truck for two miles received the state’s maximum penalty for animal cruelty.
Circuit Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced Roger Dennis Owens of Greenville to five years in prison Tuesday for ill treatment of animals. He received another 5 1/2 years for habitual traffic offenses.
“This is one of the cruelest things that I’ve seen since I’ve been on the bench,” Verdin said.
Owens dragged the dog behind his truck for at least two miles on Nov. 29 — even as witnesses tried to get him to stop, according to the Greenville News.
Witnesses said the dog was tied to an open truck bed with her front paws on the gate while her hind legs were dragged across the road. The dog was running, trying to keep up with the truck, which was being driven at high speeds.
Two witnesses pursued Owens, following a trail of blood on the road until they found the dog, said Assistant Solicitor Julie Anders.
The dog, now named Andra Grace, was taken to a veterinary clinic for treatment, and more than $16,000 was donated to help pay for her care.
She has since been adopted.
Owens’ attorney, public defender Elizabeth Powers Price, said her client has cared for dogs his whole life but had been drinking that day.
You can learn more about Andra Grace on the Justice for Andra Grace Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 10 years, 2 miles, abuse, andra grace, animal cruelty, court, cruelty to animals, dennis owens, dog, dogs, dragged, greenville, judge, letitia verdin, mix, pets, pit bull, sentence, south carolina, trial, truck, two miles, vehicle
The settlement followed a federal judge’s declaration that Sabal Palm Condominiums in Davie, which sued to force the woman to get rid of the dog, had behaved in a manner both absurd and unreasonable, not to mention in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“Sabal Palm got it exactly — and unreasonably — wrong,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order.
“This is not just common sense — though it is most certainly that.”
Scola ordered the condo association to allow Deborah Fischer, a retired art teacher, to keep her service dog, the Miami Herald reported.
Fischer, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and hands, received a service dog in November 2011 from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs for people with disabilities.
The dog – a 5-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix named Sorenson — has been trained to help Fischer pick things up, open and close doors and retrieve items from counter tops.
The condominium association, saying the dog violated its 20-pound limit on pets, began demanding medical records and other information to prove that Fischer needed Sorenson — and it sued Fischer when, it said, she failed to provide it.
Fischer, along with her husband, Larry, counter-sued, saying the condo board’s demands violated the federal Fair Housing Act, or FHA.
Judge Scola, in a 30-page ruling, strongly agreed with Fischer.
That the condo association “turned to the courts to resolve what should have been an easy decision is a sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society. And it does a disservice to people like Deborah who actually are disabled and have a legitimate need for a service dog as an accommodation under the FHA,” he wrote.
Condo board members suggested that Fischer could get a smaller service dog, but Scola didn’t buy that argument.
After Scola ruled in the Fischers’ favor, their attorney negotiated a $300,000 settlement with the attorney representing Sabal Palm.
Fischer said Sorenson can recognize 40 separate commands.
“He has made my life so much better,” she said.
(Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Dietz)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, association, condo, condo association, condominium, countersuit, court, davie, deborah fischer, disabilities, dog, dogs, fair housing act, federal, fha, florida, golden retriever, judge, judge robert scola, labrador retriever, lawsuit, matthew dietz, mix, ms, multiple sclerosis, pets, robert scola, ruling, service, service dog, settlement, sorenson
Returning a dog you adopted to the shelter he came from isn’t always a shameful thing.
Sometimes, sad as it is to see, there can be valid reasons for doing so, and, given it is done right, it might turn out best for all involved.
This Denver man clearly didn’t do it right.
Daniel Sohn, 31, is scheduled to appear in court on July 2 to face charges of animal cruelty and neglect after ditching his dog at the Denver Animal Shelter — twice in one day, 7NEWS reported this week.
Sohn, in an interview with the station, disagreed with term “ditch,” and said he took the dog to the shelter to “give him a choice.”
The dog, named Bronson, was adopted by Sohn in October.
According to 7NEWS, he took the dog to the shelter to surrender him, but on two different visits the same day, he balked when he was asked to fill out the required paperwork.
At one point, he ran out the door to his car. His dog followed, and a witness snapped a photo of the dog chasing the car down the street.
Witnesses said his car hit the dog at one point.
7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson tracked Sohn down at his parent’s home in Aurora.
“Yes, that is my car and my dog,” Sohn said when shown the photo that had been taken of the dog chasing the car. “I actually dropped him off and he followed me because we have a bit of a bond.”
He added, “Well, I didn’t ditch him. I actually dropped my dog off at the shelter where I did pick him up at. I actually gave my dog a choice if he wanted to be with me or possibly find an owner he might feel better with.”
As for striking the dog with the car, Sohn said, “I didn’t accidentally hit him. He jumped in front of my car but I felt he was triggered to do so as if, like, he was a mechanism of the surrounding people.”
Sohn left with his dog, but he says Bronson later, on a trip to Los Angeles, jumped out of his car at a gas station in Beverly Hills. He hasn’t seen him since.
“He’s a stray and some dogs just stray and he’s probably onto the next owner,” Sohn said. “Is he still alive? I’m sure he is.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 7News, abandon, adoption, animals, car, charges, chasing, court, cruelty, daniel sohn, date, denver animal shelter, ditch, dog, dogs, hit, interview, neglect, news, pets, photo, photograph, report, returned, shelters, surrender
Or maybe even a life-saver, which is how his partner, Officer Jeff Dorn, referred to him while recuperating in a hospital from two gunshot wounds fired by the same burglary suspect who fatally gunned down Mick.
But according, at least, to an Oregon Court of Appeals decision — issued the very same day Mick died while trying to apprehend the fleeing, gun-firing suspect – Mick, being a dog, was merely “property.”
The court ruling wasn’t about Mick — instead it stemmed from an abuse case — but the timing and juxtaposition of the two stories serve to make a point that society, and lawmakers, and law enforcers, and courts, ought to start heeding.
Dogs aren’t toasters.
Mick joined the Portland Police Bureau K-9 Unit in March. After only a few days on the job, police, he captured three suspects within a 10-hour period. On Wednesday, he was with Dorn, chasing down a fleeing burglary suspect, when he was shot.
“Officer Dorn would like the community to know that ‘Mick saved my life,’ ” Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson said in a press release.
“The dog was doing its job. He was out there protecting our community, and it’s tragic that we lost the dog,” said Portland Police Chief Mike Reese.
After Mick’s body was recovered, a procession of police cars followed him to a veterinarian’s office, according to a report in Wednesday’s Oregonian, but it was too late.
On the same day Mick died, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling declaring — in line with what all the law books say — that dogs are “property.”
As such, the three-judge panel ruled, dogs can’t be seized and examined without a warrant, even if the purpose is to save a dog’s life.
The legal view of dogs as — above all else — property both degrades and endangers man’s best friend, and can make it difficult for animal-cruelty investigators to provide help to beaten, starved or neglected pets.
Changing that age-old view would require throwing away a lot of law books, and it would require judges to finally start showing half the backbone Mick did.
It’s time to make a legal distinction between inanimate ”property” that has no soul, and “property” (if we must call them that) that does have a soul.
The Court of Appeals Wednesday did the opposite, throwing out the conviction of a 28-year-old woman who, based on evidence from a veterinarian who tested and treated the animal without a warrant, was found guilty of starving her dog, the Oregonian reported.
After an informant told the Oregon Humane Society that Amanda L. Newcomb was beating her dog and failing to properly feed it, an animal-cruelty investigator went to Newcomb’s apartment in December 2010 and saw the dog in the yard “in a near emaciated condition.”
Newcomb told the investigator she was out of dog food and that she was going to get some more, but the investigator determined the dog likely needed medical care and brought the dog to a Humane Society vet for an examination.
That exam, according to the appeals court ruling, constituted unreasonable search and seizure of property — namely, Newcomb’s dog.
While the investigator had probable cause to seize the dog without a warrant, the court said, the “search” — i.e. medical exam — of the dog violated Newcomb’s privacy rights because the authorities hadn’t obtained a warrant.
The ruling effectively overturns her conviction on charges of second-degree animal neglect, and the original judge’s orders for her to serve one year of probation and not possess animals for five years.
It could also serve to hamper animal cruelty investigations across the state.
Maybe worst of all, it confirms the foolish concept that dogs — despite their heroics, despite their loyalty, despite their having character traits that we humans can only envy — are, first and foremost, property, a wrongful designation that legally, if not in reality, seems to trump all else.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, burglary, chasing, court, courts, dog, dogs, jeff dorn, K-9, k9, killed, law, law enforcement, lawmakers, legal, mick, officer, oregon, pets, police, police dog, portland, property, ruling, suspect