A simple directive has accomplished what North Carolina’s legislature, despite repeated efforts, couldn’t — and, as of the middle of February 2015, animal shelters in the state will be all but banned from killing unwanted dogs and cats in gas chambers.
For those who waged battles to do way with gas chambers in their home counties, and those who worked to pass statewide legislation ending their use, it’s a cause for celebration.
But it’s also a little confusing. If all it took to change things was a directive from the state Department of Agriculture — basically, a memo — why all the years of bickering, grandstanding and politics (both clean and dirty)?
If only the stroke of an administrator’s pen was needed to end such a cruel and callous process, why did it take so long?
The memo issued this month by the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s veterinary division gives shelters until Feb. 15 to switch to lethal injections. Gas chambers, which kill animals with carbon monoxide — sometimes one at a time, sometimes in groups — will only be permitted for “unusual and rare circumstances, such as natural disasters and large-scale disease outbreaks.”
Patricia Norris, the Agriculture Department’s new animal welfare director, said the directive was based on guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which in 2013 finally recommended against the use of gas chambers for “routine euthanasia.”
(We’d disagree with both of the words in that phrase. Ending the life of a dog simply because he’s unwanted or because a facility is overcrowded isn’t a mercy killing; it’s a money-saving killing. And common as the practice is, we hate seeing it called “routine” — which it certainly isn’t for the dog.)
While animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, have been saying the practice is inhumane for years, it wasn’t until the AVMA adjusted its stance that the state decided to take action.
The Humane Society of the United States hailed the change. “It’s going to lift that stigma that was associated with North Carolina animal shelters,” said Kim Alboum, the HSUS’s state director is quoted as saying in the Raleigh News & Observer. “The pound is gone, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”
Only four of North Carolina’s 197 approved shelters still use gas chambers.
According to the HSUS, North Carolina becomes the 25th state with a formal ban in place. (Many states yet to ban gas chambers are no longer using them.)
“To put an animal inside a gas chamber, their final moments are alone in a dark box,” Alboum said. “Sometimes they don’t die right away. If we have to euthanize animals, at least the animal is touched, at least the animal has some dignity and some human contact.”
Among those to recently cease the practice are Johnston County, which earlier this turned its gassing equipment into a work of art, designed to look like the tree of life. In Cleveland County, a fundraiser was held that allowed donors to “whack the chamber” with a sledgehammer.
Shutting down the gas chambers is a long overdue step in the right direction. Then again, lethal injection isn’t really something to celebrate. What is? The day we stop killing dogs. Period.
(Photo of the gas chamber in Franklin County, NC, by Takaaki Iwabu, from the Raleigh News & Observer; graphic courtesy of Humane Society of the United States)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal shelters, animals, counties, cruelty, directive, dogs, euthanasia, gas, gas chambers, kill, legislature, lethal injection, memo, no-kill, north carolina, pets, politics, shelters
A German photographer is taking some heat — at least on the Internet — for a series of photos capturing dogs in mid-air.
Dogs used in the photo shoot didn’t plummet too far, apparently only a couple of feet or so, after being dropped by their (off camera) owners onto a mattress.
The photos were picked up by more than a few media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which called them “hilarious,” and the Huffington Post, which termed the dog’s faces “precious,” pointed out no dogs were injured and noted, “We’re betting some of them even wanted to go again, since dogs are just awesome.”
Readers, almost unanimously, had, an entirely different view of it. Almost all those leaving comments on the Huffington Post post, called it animal cruelty, with many noting the fear they say is evident in the dog’s eyes.
Nearly 100 dogs and their owners turned up at Christe’s studio after she issued a call for canine models — and none of the owners apparently had any problem holding their dogs in the air and dropping them onto a mattress.
Christe (left) said she was seeking a unique perspective for her dog photos, and that all the dogs who took part seemed to have fun doing so.
“The dogs were dropped by their owners onto a mattress from as low a height as possible, and the impression of flight was enlarged by wind machines,” the photographer explained in the Daily Mail.
But as some commenters noted, even light landings can be hard on small dogs like dachshunds, and — regardless of how far they’re falling — the stress and fear it causes constitutes cruelty, some say.
“It’s actually incredibly dangerous for doxins to jump, let alone be dropped,” wrote one. “Their backs are very fragile and can break. This is more about a photographer wanting the spotlight, than it is art. Shame on you for putting your ego before these dogs’ safety and well being.”
We’d go a step further and say it’s also about websites who pander to dog lovers without pausing to think about what they’re pasting onto their sites — the ones that, in their haste to get more hits, slap an “adorable” label on anything dog-related and share it, failing to apply anything close to critical or responsible thinking.
“I really love animals, and so everything was safe, I would never take a chance on them getting hurt,” Christe said in the Daily Mail article. “…I feel the photographs show off both the grace and elegance of the dogs, which makes them appear in a slightly different way than usual.”
For all those pet photographers who would put a dog at risk so that they may achieve a new artistic perspective, we’d suggest they fling their own selves through the air, or turn their own selves upside down.
Because all those down-to-earth dogs are perfectly happy with the perspective they already have.
(Photos: Julia Christe / HotSpot Media)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airborne, animal welfare, animals, art, cruelty, daily mail, danger, dog, dogs, dropped, fear, flying, flying dogs, german, germany, hazardous, huffington post, internet, julia christe, mid air, perspective, pets, photographer, photography, photos, repsonsibility, risk, risky, websites
Hundreds of Muslims in Malaysia put their dogma aside Sunday so they could pet some dogs.
The event was called “I Want to Touch a Dog,” and it was aimed at addressing concerns among large segments of the Muslim population who think dogs are unclean, unpure and of no spiritual value.
It was organized by Syed Azmi Alhabshi, a pharmacist in his 30s who hopes it will help people overcome their misconceptions, sensitivities and fears of dogs and instill compassion for all animals, according to the Malaysian Insider.
About 1,000 people gathered at Central Park in Petaling Jaya for the event, which was promoted though Facebook.
Roughly half of those present were Muslims, Asia One reported.
Those attending were asked to wear coded colors — yellow for those who wanted to touch dogs, orange for those who just wanted to watch, and red for pet owners and volunteers.
“I came here to learn more about interacting with dogs,” said a mother of two who identified herself as Fatimah. “I’ve never done such a thing before.”
The ‘pettable’ dogs included a purebred Afghan hound, Chow Chows, and mutts.
Organizers also hope the event will help reduce rock-throwing and other abuses directed at dogs as a result of the dim view some Muslims have of them.
“Spent two-three hours of my morning strolling around Central Park and playing with these cute furbabies!” one attendee wrote in a post on Pinterest ” … I always thought that as a Muslim I needed to stay away from (dogs) by all means. Ignorance at its best? Perhaps. This program was a great initiative … to raise awareness about the position of dogs through the Muslim perspective and I even learned the proper way to wash-up after being in contact with a wet dog/their saliva.
“We are all so quick to judge and say that dogs are ‘haram’ because that’s what we’ve been taught all along, but we never bother to learn beyond that. Islam has never taught any of their believers to discriminate against any of God’s creations, so why should we treat these beautiful creatures any differently?”
(Photo: By Aileen Chuah / Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal welfare, animals, awareness, cruelty, dog, dogs, event, i want to touch a dog, islam, malaysia, muslims, pes, petting, religion, tradition, unclean, unpure, view
Susie, the abused North Carolina dog who inspired a law, a movie, and a nonprofit organization, has been named the American Humane Association’s 2014 American Hero Dog.
Susie, found with burns over most of her body in 2009, received a standing ovation at the AHA‘s black-tie awards gala Saturday night in Beverly Hills, where she was one of eight finalists competing for the prize.
“I’m just blown away,” Donna Lawrence told TODAY.com after learning her dog had won. “There were so many amazing dogs with great stories. When they called Susie, I just wanted to cry.”
In 2009, Susie was found with severe second and third-degree burns over most of her body in Greenfield Park in south Greensboro. Her ears were burned off and she had a broken jaw and teeth. She was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter and eventually nursed back to health.
She was adopted by Donna and Roy Lawrence — just 10 months after Donna was attacked while trying to help a neglected pit bull that had spent much of its life tied to a tree in her neighbor’s yard in High Point, North Carolina.
When the man who was convicted of setting Susie on fire was sentenced to probation, outraged dog lovers launched a campaign for tougher penalties for animal cruelty and abuse.
“Susie’s Law,” which made animal cruelty a felony in North Carolina, went into effect in 2010, signed by then-governor Bev Perdue.
Donna Lawrence went on to establish Susie’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that fosters awareness of animal abuse. In 2013, the story was made into a movie, also called “Susie’s Hope.”
Susie is now a certified therapy dog and visits schools, hospitals and churches to bring messages of kindness, respect and responsibility to children and adults.
Other finalists in the Hero Dog Awards, included:
Bretagne, one of the last known surviving search dogs who worked at Ground Zero in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
Kai, an arson dog who has worked more than 200 fire investigations in San Antonio
JJ, a little dog with a powerful nose that can detect when his human, ther a girl named KK Krawczyk, is about to have a life-threatening reaction due to a rare illness
Kota, a law-enforcement K9 who sustained multiple fractures while responding to a burglary in progress but who kept trying to help his police officer partner apprehend a suspect
Xena the Warrior Puppy, a dog rescued from extreme abuse who went on to help a little boy with autism in profound ways
Chaney, a military dog who served multiple tours sniffing out explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan
Xxon, a guide dog who helped an Air Force sergeant continue to serve active duty and regain independence after being blinded by explosives in Afghanistan.
The Hallmark Channel will air the awards show on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time).
(Photo: American Humane Association)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, aha, american hero dog, american humane association, animals, awards, ceremony, cruelty, dogs, donna lawrence, greensboro, honor, north carolina, pets, pit bulls, susie, susie's law, susies hope, winner
Photos of a dog being dragged by a car in China led to an online campaign to track the driver down, his identity being unveiled, and enough harassment to bring him to apologize for what he did.
The photos of the dragging, and some videos, were posted starting Saturday on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site similar to Twitter, and quickly went viral.
An online manhunt — or what’s sometimes called a “human flesh search” — for the driver led to him being identified, likely through his license plate number.
His name, address and telephone number were shared on Sina Weibo, where there was also talk among users of visiting him and administering their own justice.
Before that could happen, the driver appeared on a Shantou Television news program on Monday admitting responsibility for the incident and apologizing.
He said the dog is a watchdog at his factory, and had bitten people. He wanted to get rid of the dog, but couldn’t kill it with his own hands, according to China Daily.
“I couldn’t see the dog in my rear-view mirror so I wasn’t aware that it was bleeding badly,” the man, identified only as Zheng, said in his public apology. “I apologize for my actions and hope Sina Weibo users would not to reveal or share any more of my personal information,” he said.
Witnesses said that after the dragging Zheng untied the dog — bleeding and near death — and threw it into some bushes on the side of a busy road in Shantou, in China’s Guangdong province.
An animal rights group has organized a campaign to find the missing dog, a spokesperson for the group told BBC Trending. The driver claims the dog was still alive when left at the side of the road, but volunteers have been unable to find it.
(Photo from Sina Weibo)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apology, car, china, cruelty, dog, dragged, Guangdon, human flesh search, internet, pets, photos, Shantou, sina weibo, social media, video, weibo
Justice for the more than 20 dogs who died at an Arizona boarding kennel came one step closer this week with a recommendation from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that both felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges be brought against the kennel’s owners and two caretakers, one of them the son of a U.S. senator.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he is recommending prosecutors file 21 felony charges of neglect against Todd and MaLeisia Hughes, who own Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert; their daughter Logan Flake; and her her husband, Austin Flake, who is the son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.
The final decision on filing charges will be made by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the Arizona Republic reported. He says that process could take a few weeks.
Authorities found 21 dead dogs on the property June 21 when they went to the kennel after customers began learning something was amiss.
Some customers whose dogs had died while cramped with more than 25 others in a 12-by-12-foot laundry room were told their dogs had run away. Later, the kennel owners said there had been a “freak accident” that knocked out the room’s air conditioning.
The sheriff’s department investigation concluded the dogs died of “apparent suffocation and overheating.”
Two other dogs also died, including one who ran away.
The kennel owners were on vacation in Florida when the dogs died, and had left the animals in the care of the Flakes.
Sheriff Arpaio, said to have a soft spot for dogs, vowed at the investigation’s start to get to the bottom of what happened: ”If a crime occurred, someone will be held accountable,” he said. It took nearly three months to accomplish that, but Arpaio was being praised this week, by the owners of pets who died and some members of the news media.
Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts commended Arpaio’s actions, saying, ”Of course, there are bigger cases to be cracked, more horrifying things that happen to humans every day. But on this day, there is no more important story than this one and the statement that it makes.
“For Parker and Rosie and Zed. For Ellie and Roxie and Francis.For Remy and Buick. For Valor and Patrick and Sonny.
“For a pair of Bernese Mountain dogs named Carson and Daisy.
“For all good dogs everywhere.”
(Photo: A memorial created near the Green Acre kennel in Gilbert to commemorate the more than 20 dogs that died there; by Corina Vanek / The Republic)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 12th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animals, arizona, boarding, charges, cramped, criminal, cruelty, deaths, dogs, felony, gilbert, green acre, heat, jeff flake, joe arpaio, justice, kennel, logan flake, maleisia hughes, maricopa county, misdemeanor, neglect, pets, room, senator, sheriff, son, suffocation, todd hughes
Amid continuing backlash over a video that showed him abusing a dog on an elevator, Des Hague has resigned as CEO of the giant sports catering company Centerplate.
The Stamford, Connecticut-based company announced the appointment of a new CEO yesterday.
In a statement, the company’s board of directors didn’t say whether Hague’s resignation was requested — only that “the decision comes as a result of Hague’s “personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care.”
Since the video surfaced in August, dog lovers have been calling for Hague’s firing and threatening to boycott food offerings at stadiums serviced by Centerplate.
In Canada, protestors took to the streets to urge sports team to end their associations with Centerplate.
And a change.org petition asking Centerplate to fire Hague has accumulated close to 200,000 signatures.
Experts being quoted in the media are saying Hague’s fall shows the tremendous power of social media.
We like to think it shows the tremendous power of dog lovers, who happen to be using social media.
Centerplate provides food services to sports venues around the country, holding contracts with teams in the NFL, NBA, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
The video — which shows Hague kicking the dog and jerking her off the ground by her leash — was recorded in July by a surveillance camera in the elevator of a Vancouver apartment building. It was turned over to the BC SPCA, which seized the dog, a one-year-old Doberman named Sade.
Hague initially told investigators the dog was his. Later, in a public apology, he said the incident was “a minor frustration with a friend’s pet” and that he had apologized to the dog’s owner.”
The BC SPCA says it’s now clear the dog wasn’t Hague’s, and her owner is seeking to regain custody.
Centerplate initially had little comment on the incident, calling it “a personal matter involving Des Hague.”
But as the backlash from animals built up it issued two more statements — one to announce that Hague had agreed to undergo anger management counseling, another to say he had been put on probation by the company, and had agreed to donate $100,000 to an animal charity and serve 1,000 hours of community service, according to Fortune.com.
In a statement announcing Hague’s resignation and the appointment of Chris Verros as CEO, the chairman of Centerplate’s board of directors said, “We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals. Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I’d like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances.”
The BC SPCA has recommended abuse charges, and the case is now before Crown Counsel.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, business, catering, centerplate, ceo, company, cruelty, des hague, desmond hague, elevator, resignation, resigns, sports, surveillance, video