It’s bad enough that Barking Hound Village — an upscale day care and boarding facility with locations around Atlanta — is defending itself in Georgia’s Supreme Court by arguing, in part, that a dog that died after being in its care was “worthless.”
What’s even scarier, and more hypocritical, are the organizations that are agreeing with that.
When the case went before the state’s highest court yesterday among the documentation the judges had to consider was a friend of the court brief, filed by the American Kennel Club, the Cat Fanciers’ Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association — all agreeing pets are mere “property” and that courts should award no more than “market value” in cases involving their deaths.
Yes, Barking Hound Village, at least on its website, professes to love your dog — and clearly has no problem charging you $60 a night for said dog to stay in its “presidential suite.”
And yes, veterinarians have no problem with you spending tens of thousands of dollars on your sick dog.
And, for sure, the American Kennel Club is only too happy to see the price of dogs go up, up, up — at least the provably purebred ones whose owners have registered them with the organization.
But your average, paperless pet, in the view of all those “pet-loving” organizations, is worth nothing — at least according to the friend of the court brief.
Lola’s owners allege Lola was given medication she wasn’t supposed to receive, and it ultimately led to her death.
Barking Hound Village denies that it is responsible for Lola’s death. And even if it were, its lawyer argue, Lola’s owners should not recover anything more than the dog’s market value — in Lola’s case, since she was adopted from a rescue, exactly zero dollars.
“Their position is that a dog is like a toaster — when you break it, you throw it away and get a new one,” Elizabeth Monyak told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A dog is indeed property under the law, but it’s a different kind of property.”
She and husband Bob Monyak spent $67,000 on veterinary expenses, including regular dialysis treatments for Lola.
Neither are strangers to the courtroom. She works for the state attorney general’s office. He’s also a lawyer, specializing in defending medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits. He argued Lola’s case before the justices on Tuesday.
Both sides have their supporters.
In the brief filed by the AVMA and AKC, the groups argued that considering a pet’s emotional value will lead to exorbitant amounts being awarded to pet owners in wrongful death lawsuits. And that, they all but threaten, would lead to bad things.
“Concerns over expanded liability may cause some services, such as free clinics for spaying and neutering, to close,” the groups said. “Shelters, rescues and other services may no longer afford to take in dogs and other pets … Fewer people will get pets, leaving more pets abandoned in shelters to die.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a brief in support of the Monyaks. It cited industry studies showing U.S. pet owners spent $58 billion on their animals in 2014, including $4.8 billion on pet grooming and boarding.
“It is hypocritical for these businesses, including (Barking Hound Village), to exploit the value of the human-companion bond, while simultaneously arguing that the same should be unrecoverable when that bond is wrongfully — and even intentionally — severed,” the ALDF said.
The Monyaks boarded Lola and their other dog, Callie, at Barking Hound Village in 2012. At that time, Callie had been prescribed Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. The Monyaks contend the kennel incorrectly gave the Rimadyl to Lola.
They further allege that Barking Hound Village knew that a medication error had occurred during Lola’s stay, and the kennel covered it up by destroying evidence and withholding critical information.
They seek to recover expenses for Lola’s veterinary treatment as well as for the value Lola had to their family.
Barking Hound Village denies any wrongdoing. It says both dogs were fine when they left the kennel. And attorneys for the kennel said this in court filings:
“The purchase price of the dachshund was zero dollars, the rescue dog never generated revenue and nothing occurred during the Monyaks’ ownership of the dog that would have increased her market value. The mixed-breed dachshund had no special training or unique characteristics other than that of ‘family dog.'”
We hope the Georgia Supreme Court uses the case of Lola to send a message to those who see dogs as mere “property.”
And we’d love to see an answer to this question, from the kennel, from the AVMA and from the AKC:
If our dogs are so “worthless,” how do you explain the fact that you are getting so rich off of them?
(Photos: Top photo by Branden Camp, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; photo of Lola provided by Monyak family)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, american veterinary medical association, animals, arguments, avma, bob monyak, brief, case, cat fanciers, dachshund, dog, dogs, elizabeth monyak, georgia, hypocrisy, law, legal, lola, pets, property, supreme court, value, worth, worthless
That trio of sassy grandmothers currently being featured in a series of Volkswagen ads has a new traveling companion — a Chiweenie with an overbite — and true to his name (Tuna) he’s stinking up the place.
In the ad, the grandmas detect an odor in the vehicle, which they at first blame on it being diesel-powered. After some continued sniffing, they determine the real source of the foul smell: It’s Tuna.
Tuna — that’s his real name — had achieved some major fame even before appearing in the ad, with more than 1.5 million followers on his Instagram page.
And he’s already published his own book, “Tuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog with an Overbite.”
According to that website, Tuna is a 4 year-old Chiweenie (Chihuahua-dachshund mix) with an exaggerated overbite who was rescued in 2010 by Courtney Dasher at a Farmers Market in LA.
Within a year, Dasher created an Instagram account dedicated to Tuna’s photos. By the end of 2012, he had hundreds of thousands of followers.
Dasher said her goal was to “bring people joy through Tuna’s pictures that showcased his cartoonish looks and his charming personality.”
“Since Tuna is the epitome of the underdog, most people advocate for him and adore him for his endearing qualities. His loyal followers embrace his physical differences, have fallen in love with his charm and connect to his message; that true beauty comes in all forms and radiates from within.
“Furthermore, he is an ambassador for animal rescue, since he too was once rescued, and it has become a part of Courtney’s mission to raise awareness for rescue groups through this platform.”
Dasher met Tuna at an adoption event after he’d been found discarded on the side of the road near San Diego.
You can find more of our “Woof in Advertising” posts — looking at how dogs are used in marketing — here.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ad, ads, advertising, animals, book, chihuahua, chiweenie, courtney dasher, dachshund, diesel, dogs, dogs in advertising, facebook, grandmas, grandmothers, instagram, marketing, mix, odor, overbite, pets, photos, sassy, smell, tuna, tuna melts my heart, tunameltsmyheart, twitter, volkswagen, woof in advertising, woof!
It’s no secret that a sad dog story, properly promoted on social media, can bring in some pretty huge donations — for an animal shelter, a rescue organization, or an individual.
Whether your dog needs life-saving surgery, or even an intense diet regimen, you don’t have to be a nonprofit organization to ask the public for help — and you shouldn’t have to be.
But with the rise of social media, and online fundraising tools like GoFundMe, IndieGogo, and all those other I-would-like- some-of-your-money-please websites, there are likely more bucks than ever before being donated directly to individual dogs in need.
With all that unmonitored money pouring in, what ensures that it’s going to the rightful place — namely, helping the dog in question? What ensures any surplus won’t end up going to the dog owner’s kitchen remodel? What’s to guarantee that the sad dog story is even true in the first place?
In a word, nothing.
Just as the Internet has made us all published journalists, photographers and autobiographers, it has given us an easy route to becoming professional fund-raisers.
What gets lost in that transition is knowing who we can trust.
We can only cross our fingers and hope that those engaging in outright fraud get caught, that those soliciting funds to help a dog don’t get too greedy, and that money sent in by good-hearted people seeking to help a dog actually goes to helping a dog.
It’s a fuzzy area — legally and morally. What accounting, if any, does a private citizen raising money to help a dog owe those who contribute?
In Oregon, at least, the answer seems to be some, at least in the view of the state Attorney General’s Office.
Since January, the office’s charitable activities section has been looking into how Nora Vanatta spent, and is spending, all the money sent in to help Obie — the 77-pound dachshund she adopted and whose weight loss program became a much-followed story.
Vanatta, a veterinary technician who lives in Portland, never purported to be affiliated with a nonprofit, but she did seek and accept thousands of dollars from people around the world who were inspired by Obie’s story.
Vanatta initially fostered Obie, after reading about him on the Facebook page of Oregon Dachshund Rescue.
After Obie’s story went viral, the rescue sought to get the dog back, and filed a lawsuit. The case was later settled, and Vanatta was awarded permanent custody. (Obie is down to 22 pounds.)
Meanwhile, money — Vanatta won’t say how much — continued to come in, $15,000 of which Vanatta says was spent on lawyers she hired to fight the custody battle. Some of it went to pay for $80 bags of specialty food Obie required, and a $1,500 skin-reduction surgery.
Since January, Vanatta has been answering questions from the Attorney General’s office, which began looking into the matter after receiving complaints about how she was spending the funds, and is now in the process of working out an agreement with her.
“They wanted everything – copies of every penny in, every penny out,” she told the Oregonian.
The Attorney General’s office won’t identify the source of the complaint, and it says no wrongdoing was found in how Vanatta has spent the funds so far. (Apparently, nobody in that office full of lawyers had any problem with all the money that went to lawyers.)
But the office does disagree with how she plans to spend the rest. (Obie’s PayPal account was closed last year.)
Vanatta says the office objects to her using the money to help individual dogs with medical needs, which is maybe a little ironic given the money was raised to help an individual dog with medical needs. The Attorney General’s office frowned upon her giving $2,000 to a family she met at the Tualatin veterinary clinic where she works to help them pay for their dog’s back surgery. Instead, the office wants her to give the money away to established nonprofits, and wants to set a deadline.
The case raises lots of interesting questions, and some disturbing ones.
We’re all for the attorney general keeping an eye on such fundraising drives; slightly less for that office dictating what good causes should receive the remainder of the money, and when.
We agree with Vanatta’s reasoning on that: “I strongly believe you do not have to be a nonprofit to do good,” she said.
What bothers us most, though, next to Obie’s previous owners letting him get so morbidly obese, is how much of the money donated has gone to lawyers — $15,000 on the custody case, another $11,800 for lawyers to represent Vanatta in the attorney general’s investigation.
Obie may be becoming a slimmer dog, thanks in part to donations from the public, but, as always, lawyers — gobbling up the bulk of the donations — just keep getting fatter.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, accounting, adoption, animals, attorney general, campaigns, charitable, charities, crowdfunding, dachshund, dog, dogs, donations, dying, foster, fraud, fundraising, gofundme, internet, investigation, money, monitoring, nora vanatta, obie, oversight, pets, raising, rescue, sick, social media, surgery, trust
The old dachshund abandoned with a note at a Los Angeles County shelter, then saved from euthanasia by a rescue group, then offered back to the “poor, sick and elderly” owners who wrote the note, won’t be reuniting with them after all.
Upon further reflection, Toby Wisneski, founder of Leave No Paws Behind, decided life with his original owners — two traveling ministers — might not be best for the 13-year-old dachshund, and apparently Otto’s owners have said they’re good with that decision.
The owners, initially anonymous, have now been identified as Chris Gonzales and his wife, Christine. That’s Rev. Chris in the video above, seemingly speaking in tongues at times, and not appearing too sick, poor or elderly. (Public access to the video was removed after this post appeared.)
The video, and some other interesting information, was unearthed by Mary Cummins, an animal advocate and wildlife rehabilitator who writes a blog in Los Angeles.
Cummins reported Sunday that Wisneski had decided that, in the dog’s best interest, “he will be remaining right here in our care and his humans agree.”
“We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
Before euthanizing the dog, the shelter called a rescue group, Leave No Paws Behind, which agreed to take him in. They named him Harley, got him treatment for a skin condition and pronounced him healthy enough to be adopted.
Wisneski, the group’s founder, also held out hope, at the time, that she might find the anonymous owners and return the dog to them, along with an offer to pay for all his medical care and food.
When the couple learned of the offer, and about donations coming in to help them, they came forward and agreed to reclaim their dog, whose real name is Otto, when they returned to town at the end of the month.
In an interview with KTLA, Chris Gonzales — though he wasn’t identified by name — said he and his wife were out of town and planned to return to California and pick up the dog once they raised enough money to buy new tires for their car.
What seemed, up to then, a heartwarming story, was slowly getting squirrely — turning into the kind it’s hard to keep the faith in.
Cummins, who had publicized the dog’s story on her blog in an attempt to help reunite him with his owners, did some investigating, and came away less than impressed with the couple.
“They are not senior citizens. They are not disabled. They are merely obese. They are not poor. They are traveling ministers who give little talks then beg for money. They are not a legal church, corporation or non-profit. They make $60,000/year,” she wrote.
“He’s one of those faith healers that puts his hands on people and then everyone shakes like someone having a seizure,” she added. “He likes to spit out mumbo jumbo made up words while doing so. He invites people to meetings at Sizzler or the Old Country Buffet restaurants. People pay for their food, listen to him talk then he asks for money. He calls it a ‘love offering.'”
Cummins now feels, in case it’s not obvious, that returning Otto to his owners would be a mistake.
While that means a detour before Otto finds his happy ending, we think that’s the right choice, too — based on what we’ve heard about his owners and the fact that they abandoned him in the first place.
Despite all that faith they travel the country professing, the couple apparently didn’t have too much in their dog.
Wisneski has said all of Otto’s medical problems turned out to be minor and treatable, and that he’s in good health now.
Here’s hoping Otto finds the home he deserves.
And that the reverends find some tires.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baldwin park animal shelter, california, chris gonzales, christine gonzales, church, dachshund, dog, dogs, dumped, faith, gonzales, harley, leave no paws behind, los angeles, ministers, note, old, otto, owners, pets, religion, rescues, reunion, shelter, shelters, sick, traveling, traveling ministers
The elderly couple that abandoned their dog at a Los Angeles County shelter, asking that the sickly 13-year-old dachshund be put down because they couldn’t afford his medical care, has been identified.
But only loosely.
Apparently they are down-on-their-luck traveling ministers, currently out of town, and they say that they’d gladly reclaim their dog — once they get enough money to buy new tires for their car and get back home to California.
The dachshund was left tied to a basket at the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter on March 6, along with a note asking he be put to sleep because his anonymous elderly owners could no longer afford to care for him.
Before euthanizing the dog as requested, the shelter called Leave No Paws Behind, a rescue organization. It took the dog in, named him Harley, and got him the veterinary care he needed — primarily treatment for mange.
The organization’s founder and CEO, Toby Wisneski, sought to track down the owners to reunite them with the dog, and she offered to pay for Harley’s medical care and dog food for the rest of his life.
This week she made contact with the couple and learned Harley’s real name — Otto Wolfgang Maximus. A reunion is tentatively scheduled after the couple returns to California around March 28.
“We thought he was dead, but he lives,” the dog’s owner told a KTLA reporter. “He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”
“We just are living week to week,” one of the owners said in the phone interview. “We can’t even go to the hospital to get our treatment.”
The dog was left at the shelter with a hand-written note that said he had recently gotten sick, was vomiting and had bloody stools.
“We are both seniors, sick with no money,” the note said. “We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baldwin park, california, care, costs, dachshund, dog, dogs, elderly, expense, harley, leave no paws behind, mange, ministers, note, otto, pets, poor, poverty, rescues, reunion, shelters, surrendered, traveling, veterinary
The note said it all.
But the face said more.
A 13-year-old dachshund was left outside the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter last week, tied to a basket, along with the note seen above.
His unidentified owners, an elderly couple who said they could no longer afford to care for the sickly dog, asked that he be put down:
“We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
The Los Angeles County-operated shelter, before carrying out that wish, contacted Leave No Paws Behind, a nonprofit rescue, which picked the dachshund up, named him Harley and took him to East Valley Veterinary Clinic in Sun Valley, according to KTLA.
He tested positive for noncontagious demodectic mange, but his blood work came back fine, according to Toby Wisneski, head of the rescue group.
“He is as cute as can be, he had a bath, he has been started on medication, he is eating, he is as happy as can be,” Wisneski posted on the Leave No Paws Behind Facebook page.
Wisneski said if she can can identify and locate the owners, she’d like to try and have Harley return to his home. If the couple is able to care for him, Leave No Paws Behind would pay for Harley’s medical expenses, she said.
If she can’t locate them, she plans to finding Harley a foster home, and put him up for adoption.
If you’re interested, contact Leave No Paws Behind at email@example.com.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, baldwin park, basket, california, dachshund, dogs, elderly, elderly couple, euthanasia, foster home, harley, leave no paws behind, los angeles, mange, note, pets, rescue, shelter, sick, surrendered
A professional wrestler’s dachshund has a broken paw, and a major league pitcher is blaming his torn meniscus on his boxer– both injuries apparently the result of some overly enthusiastic play between athlete and dog.
Former WWE Champ Jeff Hardy — that, in case you couldn’t guess, is him to the left — was playing with his dachshund Sophie when she jumped off the back of the couch and landed on the floor.
Hardy and his wife suspected the dog only suffered a sprain.
But after a few days of limping, Sophie was taken to a vet and diagnosed with a cracked bone in her paw, TMZ reported.
Meanwhile, in the world of real sports, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland had arthroscopic surgery Friday after a run in with his dog.
Holland told ESPN his boxer, Wrigley, bumped him while bounding up the stairs, causing his left knee to hit a step.
The impact tore cartilage in his knee, and he is expected to miss half the season.
“He was running up the stairs and clipped me,” Holland said. “I hit my knee on the step, and if it wasn’t for me grabbing the rail, I might have fallen all the way down the stairs and cracked my head open.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baseball, boxer, dachshund, derek holland, dogs, health, horseplay, injuries, jeff hardy, pets, pitcher, play, professional, safety, sophie, sports, texas rangers, wrestling, wrigley, wwe