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Tag: cut

Baltimore police officer who cut dog’s throat is found not guilty of all charges


There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.

Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.

That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”

Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.

She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.

Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.

Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.

“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.

An incision???

bolgerApparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.

Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.

The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.

The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.

Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.

Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.

Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.

Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.

Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.

In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.

“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”

After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.

Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.

State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.

Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.

“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.

“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”

Baltimore cop who slit dog’s throat was being heroic, his attorneys say


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)

Two charged with dog’s chainsaw killing

Two New Mexico men will face felony cruelty to animals charges for cutting a dog’s head off with a chainsaw, sheriff’s deputies say.

The act came to light after children, in the residence at the time, told authorities about nightmares they were having in connection with it.

Teddy Sexton, 32, and Corey Bowen, 31, face charges of fourth-degree felony extreme cruelty to animals, which carries up to 18 months in prison, San Juan County Sheriff’s Lt. Dwayne Faverino said.

The men allegedly were trying to put the 2-year-old pit bull down because it previously bit a 9-year-old girl who was visiting the residence, according to the Daily Times in Farmington.

“Sexton said this was the second time the dog has bitten someone and he felt it needed to be put down,” Faverino said.

He and Bowen, who live on the same property, attempted to use the knife to cut the dog’s throat, but they were having difficulty and grabbed the chainsaw, Faverino said.

A Children, Youth and Families Department investigator told deputies about the incident after being notified by several young children suffering from nightmares stemming from the incident.

Sexton told deputies the children were in the house when he killed the dog.

(Image: Google maps)

Leaving Santa Fe

I’ve seen my last sunset in Santa Fe and, after an idyllic ten days, Ace and I are headed east — first to Oklahoma to visit another ex, my ex cat.

My stint as a petsitter went well, but with a sour note at the end. After the owners of Sophie, Charlie and Lakota got home, Lakota and Ace went at it, only for a second or two, but enough to leave Lakota with blood coming from his eye.

We should have seen it coming. Lakota’s mom was giving Ace some attention — too much attention in Lakota’s view. The bulldog lashed out at Ace; Ace lashed back, and either bit or clawed Lakota in the eye.

Lakota’s veterinarian dad looked it over and was pretty certain it was just the eyelid that was injured, but he was taking him to get checked out by a specialist just the same.

Ace and Lakota, while there was some growling on the first day, had seemed to have gotten to the point of tolerating each other. Lakota didn’t seem to mind if I was lavishing attention on Ace, or Sophie, or Charlie. Then again, I was just the petsitter.

After ten days without mom, I guess Lakota wasn’t willing to share her once she returned.

Saving Harley: One Chihuahua’s tale

harleyFrom Washington’s Olympic Peninsula comes the story of Harley — a Chihuahua found on the side of a logging road with his throat slit.

The dog, bearing a four-inch gash on his tiny throat, was found Feb. 2, bleeding on the side of a road west of Port Angeles by Monte Mogi, a 75-year-old, Harley Davidson-riding, retired Air Force master sergeant.

Mogi took the dog to veterinarian Dr. Charles Schramm of Port Angeles, who threaded tight a 4-inch open slice across the center of the dog’s throat, according to the Peninsula Daily News

The cut appeared to be intentional. By slitting the dog’s throat, “maybe they thought they were euthanizing it,” said Schramm, adding that he’d never seen a similar injury.

Mogi paid the dog’s $464 veterinary bill, then called his daughter, a veterinary technician, and she drove the dog — dubbed Harley by then — back to his house. Already having eight dogs on his property, Mogi called Nancy Woods, who had cared for Mogi’s wife before her death.

Nancy and her husband Herb, though they’d sworn off dogs after their last one died,  offered to take in Harley — even though he appeared traumatized and was terrified of children.

Once Harley recuperated, they planned to find him a new owner. In mid-February they handed Harley over to a new family. The next day, they asked for him back.

“I had bonded with him,” Nnancy Woods said. “I was terrified for him. My heart just hurt for the trauma he had been through. I felt like he had been with us for two weeks, and then he was uprooted again. I felt horrible about that.”

Now Harley has the run of the Woods family’s rural property, which he shares with Bob, a rescued cat who’s larger than him. He’s doing well, the Woods say, though he’s timid, shakes when nervous and can’t really bark. He starts coughing when he tries to do so. 

Last weekend, the Woods reported, Harley slept under the covers with Nancy’s 7-year-old granddaughter.

Seems he’s beginning to realize that, however evil some of them might be, there are some good humans out there, too.

(Photo: Peninsula Daily News)

Charges dropped in home surgery case

zoeA Florida man who used glue and dental floss to perform surgery on a dog that was injured while under his care has seen the animal cruelty charges filed against him dropped.

Although the dog died, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said it reviewed the case and determined there wasn’t enough evidence to convict William Ralph Jones Jr., of Oakland Park, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Jones, 55, was arrested in January on two counts of felony animal cruelty. He was accused of using glue to seal a 3-inch cut that the dog suffered when she escaped from Jones’ yard. When that didn’t work, he allegedly stitched up the dog with dental floss and used chloroform to knock her unconscious, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.

Jones’ acts caused Zoe — a 2-year-old hound-retriever mix who was left in Jones’ care by his daughter’s friend — to suffer excessive and unnecessary pain, the sheriff’s office said.

Upon reviewing the case, the State Attorney’s Office issued a memo stating that Jones “executed extremely poor judgment, but did not intend to hurt the animal.

“I’m just in shock that they’re allowing him to get away with this,” Danielle Vecchio, Zoe’s owner, told the Sentinel Tuesday. “They’re basically saying that he can’t be charged for stupidity.”

The attorney general’s office said, “The fact that he did this while she had an injury is evidence to the fact that he was trying to help the dog — albeit in a painful manner.”

New York Times looks at debarking

What do some Westminster show dogs have in common with some drug dealers’ attack dogs?

They’ve been debarked.

The surgical procedure, which critics label outdated and inhumane, has been around for decades, but continues to fall out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates, the New York Times reported this week.

There are no reliable figures on how many dogs have had their vocal cords cut, but veterinarians and other animal experts say that dogs with no bark can  be found in private homes, on the show-dog circuit, and even on the turf of drug dealers, who are said to prefer their attack dogs silent.

David Frei, the longtime co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, acknowledged that some show dogs have  the operation. “There is no question we have some debarked dogs among our entries,” he said.

Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds, and some states have banned it, except for therapeutic reasons, including New Jersey. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.

In the surgery, vets anesthetize the dog before cutting its vocal cords, either through the mouth or through an incision in the larynx. Dogs generally recover quickly, veterinarians say, and while they usually can still make sounds, their barks become muffled and raspy.

But Dr. Gary W. Ellison, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, said the procedure can lead to complications, such as excess scar tissue building up in the throat of dogs, making it difficult to breathe.

Ellison said the procedure is no longer taught at the University of Florida’s veterinary school.

Banfield, the Pet Hospital, with more than 750 veterinary practices across the country, formally banned the surgery last summer.

“Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,” said Jeffrey S. Klausner, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the surgery only be done “after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed.”