Now, Mel, one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, has one, too.
As for who’s more deserving, well, you know how I feel.
Mel was only about a year old when he was seized from the Vick estate and dogfighting operation in Virginia, where he was believed to have been used as a bait dog. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah.
After spending nearly two years at the Utah animal sanctuary, Mel was adopted by Richard Hunter, a Dallas radio personality and his wife Sunny, manager of VIP services for a swanky gentlemen’s club called The Lodge.
When our travels took us through Texas we met up with Hunter and Mel, joining them for a ride around town because Mel seems most comfortable in the car. Ace piled in the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s older dog, Pumpkin.
The next time we heard from Richard Hunter, was in February, after he confronted Vick during a Dallas appearance.
Hunter, one of many who were outraged that Vick was being presented a key to the city by interim Mayor Dwaine Caraway, got as close as he could to him and offered him a chance to see his former dog Mel. Vick didn’t take him up on the offer and Hunter was shoved away by the quarterback’s entourage.
Now we get word that, over the weekend, Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt surprised Hunter by presenting him the John LaBella Award at an Eastlake Pet Orphanage banquet — and presenting Mel with a key to the city.
During the presentation, the Dallas Morning News reports, Hunt had some choice words for Caraway.
“One of my colleagues in the city of Dallas showed a grave lapse in judgment by awarding the highest honor our city an bestow – our key to the city – on someone who was entirely undeserving and someone who has shown serious cruelty and inhumanity,” she said.
Hunt then awarded Mel with a key to the city — an edible one no less.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, angela hunt, animals, bait dog, best friends, confrontation, dallas, dallas city council, dogfighting, dogs, dwaine caraway, former vick dog, interim, key to the city, mayor, mel, michael vick, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, richard hunter, sunny hunter, survivor, texas, travels with ace, vick dog
The most recent case was Monday night, when someone threw a blue-nose pit bull named Dallas from a brown Cadillac, Harrisburg police said.
Cpl. Deric Moody said a witness saw the dog thrown from the car and called police. The dog suffered an apparent broken leg and other injuries, and was being treated at a veterinary hospital near Mechanicsburg, according to the York Dispatch.
Shortly after officers arrived to interview the witness, Dallas’ owner showed up at the scene. He told police that the dog disappeared after he let him out earlier. Police believe the unattended dog was likely stolen.
On March 5, someone threw a dog from a speeding silver or gray pickup truck on Route 30 in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, near the Marietta Pike overpass. That dog, a shiba inu later named Sherman (pictured above), was taken to the Humane League of Lancaster County and is recovering from his injuries.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, blue nose, cadillac, car, cruelty, dallas, dog, dogs, harrisburg, investigation, pennsylvania, pets, pit bull, police, sherman, shiba inu, thrown, tossed, vehicle, window
Richard Hunter, the adoptive parent of one of Michael Vick’s dogs, confronted the Eagles quarterback in Dallas after a ceremony Saturday in which Vick received the key to the city — and asked him if he wanted an opportunity to see one of his former dogs.
Instead of getting an answer, Hunter, a local radio personality who we met this summer in our Travels with Ace, got pushed out of the way by Vick’s entourage. He put together this video of the event afterwards.
Hunter and his wife, Sunny, VIP manager for a Dallas gentlemen’s club, adopted Mel about two years after he was seized from the Vick estate in Virginia. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah. He spent nearly two years there before trainers pronounced him adoptable.
Ace and I got to meet the whole family during out visit to Dallas, which included a car ride in which Ace shared the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s other dog, Pumpkin.
Michael Vick showed little interest in learning more about Mel, despite Hunter’s persistent offers, and at one point a member of Vick’s security team told him, “We don’t care about the dogs.”
In presenting the key to the city, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway told Vick, “You deserve it, you earned it.”
Hunter’s response to Vick getting presented the key? Maybe, he said, it’s time to change the locks.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, city, confrontation, dallas, dog, dogfighting, dogs, dwaine caraway, Key, mayor, mel, michael, michael vick, national football league, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bull, pitbull, richard hunter, travels with ace, vick, vick dogs
Newt Gingrich has been issued a lifetime VIP card by an upscale Dallas strip club, entitling him to free admission, preferred seating, free auto detailing, steak and lobster dinners and access to the the club’s “intimate members-only lounge.”
The owner of The Lodge, Dawn Rizos, thought it was the least she could do after Gingrich — who awarded, then snubbed her last year — got in touch with her again through American Solutions, his conservative “citizens action network,” sending her an unsolicited membership card and requesting a $2,000 donation.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
Last year, Rizos was informed that her gentlemen’s club — doing business as DCG, Inc. — had been selected to receive one of the American Solutions “Entrepeneur of the Year” awards for is efforts to stimulate the economy.
Gingrich invited Rizos to a private dinner in Washington to receive the award, provided she made the requested $5,000 donation, which she did.
The week before the event, though, American Solutions realized they had accidentally bestowed the award on a strip club, and rescinded the invitation. The organization refunded the $5,000 to Rizos, who donated it to an animal rescue organization — specifically to create a shelter for pit bulls, which was dubbed “Newt’s Nook.”
This week, apparently not having learned from the mistake, American Solutions, under the signature of Gingrich, sent Rizos an unsolicited membership card and again asked her for money.
The letter referred to Rizos as “a key member of our American Solutions family of supporters” and added, “Will you enclose a special year-end contribution of $1,000, or even as much as $2,000, to American Solutions, Ms. Rizos?”
The letter said the money would go toward American Solution’s mission — more important than ever since “the resounding rejection of Barack Obama’s leftist ideology and governing policies on Nov. 2.”
“Thanks to members like you, American Solutions played a critical role in helping create this year’s sea-change election,” the letter said. ”But our most important role now lies ahead of us … helping our newly elected officials lead the country to a future of jobs and prosperity.”
The letter, which carried Gingrich’s return address, included a facsimile of the membership card he said was on its way. Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, is general chairman of American Solutions.
Rizos said she will hold off making a new donation to Gingrich until they can discuss last year’s disinvitation. Instead, she said, she is sending him, at no charge, a Lifetime VIP membership card to The Lodge – with all the perks and privileges – which the club says is worth $2,000.
“His letter included an American Solutions membership card with my name on it, so I’m very happy to reciprocate,” she said. “It’s just a temporary card right now, but I promise we will have the permanent one waiting for him at the door.”
(Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as suggesting Newt Gingrich has ever been to The Lodge. But Ace and I have.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, american solutions, animals, card, conservative, contributions, dallas, dawn rizos, dogs, donations, elections, former, gentlemen's club, gingrich, government, ideology, leftist, lifetime vip, membership, news, newt, newt gingrich, newt's nook, obama, ohmidog!, pets, pit bulls, politicians, republican, rightist, speaker of the house, strip, strip club, strippers, texas, the lodge, travels with ace, vip
I never expected our “Travels with Ace” adventures would include Ace riding in the back seat of a car with a former Michael Vick dog.
Then again, I never expected we’d be hanging out in a strip club, either.
But our visit to The Lodge in Dallas led us to meet Mel, a still meek and fearful, sad-eyed, mostly black pit bull — small in stature, short on confidence, and sweet as pecan pie.
Mel was adopted from Best Friends by Sunny Hunter, manager of VIP services at the swanky Dallas gentlemen’s club, and her husband Richard Hunter, a talk show host whose outlook on life isn’t as bleak as his goth appearance may lead you to think — especially since Mel came into their lives.
For one thing, you see – in his fearful eyes, his tentative stride – the effects of the torture Vick inflicted; for another you see a true innocent; a mild-mannered dog whose lack of killer instinct led him to be designated a bait dog, a living chew toy.
But you also see a dog who, despite all that humans did to him in his first year of life, seems to hold no grudge against the species.
Mel was only about a year old when he was seized from the Vick estate in Virginia. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah.
He spent nearly two years at Best Friends, where trainers worked to help him overcome his fearfulness and eventually pronounced him adoptable.
Richard and Sunny already had an application in by then — starting off a process that would take more than a year. Sunny had grown interested in adopting a Vick dog after seeing a documentary. Richard had one of Best Friends’ trainers on his talk show.
The couple waited for nine months, then underwent a criminal background check, and a home visit. Finally, they were invited up to Best Friends to spend a week living on the grounds and getting to know Mel. They brought their dog Pumpkin, a terrier mix, along as well.
Pumpkin immediately became friends with Mel, and became his guardian — a role he continues to fulfill.
Last fall, the adoption having been approved by the same judge who sent Vick to prison for two years, Mel was delivered to the Hunter’s home in Dallas by a Best Friends trainer and caregiver, who stayed in town for a week, visiting daily.
Richard describes the adoption process as “daunting,” but worth it. Mel slowly came out of his shell, and though he still quivers at first when strangers show up, or when he’s in new surroundings, he’s getting more used to meeting people. It used to take three visits before he was comfortable with a stranger, now it takes only 20 minutes or so.
Pumpkin, who is 13, has been a huge factor in his transition.
“At home, when a new person shows up, Mel sits in the corner with his back to the wall, like a statue. Pumpkin gets in front of him and screens him. Pumpkin has been instrumental in getting him to relax,” Richard said.
Mel has never barked, or made any sound, in the time they have had him. At night, if Mel needs a trip outside, Pumpkin takes note of him standing by the door and barks for him.
Mel seems most comfortable when he’s in a car, Sunny and Richard said — so we decided that’s how we all should meet. We greeted Mel and Pumpkin through a window, then loaded Ace into the backseat with them — a tight fit, but no one seemed bothered by it. Pumpkin shielded Mel the whole time, allowing him to be sniffed and petted, but never leaving his side.
Richard says Mel was used as a bait dog, due to his small size and mild temperament. He was likely muzzled when he was thrown into the ring with other dogs being trained to fight. He was not one of those that Bad Newz Kennels terminated — sometimes by drowning or hanging.
“Most people really didn’t take the time to look at the details of the case – the jumper cables, the hanging, the drowning, the distance throwing contests. That’s just bizarre. It’s diabolical,” Richard said. As for Vick’s return to the NFL, he said, “It was very disappointing to me that the American public stood for it. He’s psychopathic, like a serial killer.”
While Vick’s dogs were, in most cases, rehabilitated, Richard is among those who doubt the same was truly achieved by Vick, despite his appearances in an anti-dogfighting campaign.
Mel’s tail, which was broken in his youth, stayed between his legs for the first few months, Richard said. ”Now, he smiles and he walks with his head up. His tail was broken, so it doesn’t really wag.”
“His resilience is amazing to me,” Richard said. “He really has changed my life. It’s amazing to me that he’s willing to love us — that he’s still able to judge people individualy when for the first year of his life, if he saw a human being, it meant something terrible was going to happen to him.
“We just want to make him as happy as can be.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, adoption, animal welfare, animals, best friends, cruelty, dallas, dog fighting, dog's country, dogfighting, dogs, gentlemen's club, mel, michael vick, pets, pumpkin, rehabilitation, rescue, resilience, richard hunter, road trip, shelter, sunny hunter, the lodge, torture, travel, traveling with dogs, vick, vick dogs
It’s a long story, but the main factors are these: The decline of American journalism, Newt Gingrich and dogs.
Dallas doesn’t have more strip clubs per capita than any other U.S. city, it only seems that way. In some parts of town they are pretty hard to avoid. Most are big and glitzy, and they advertise heavily on billboards featuring scantily clad women with come hither looks.
But that’s not our excuse.
No, our connection to The Lodge — an upscale gentlemen’s club modeled after a Rocky Mountain hunting lodge — goes back about eight months when, while compiling an article for ohmidog!, we got in touch with the strip club’s public relations man, or, as his business card puts it, the club’s “Writer-in-Residence.”
Michael Precker — like me, I learned then — had devoted the bulk of his life to newspapers, serving as a Middle East correspondent for nearly seven years, covering a wide variety of stories across America and ending up, like me, as a feature writer.
Our career paths were similar, as was our dissatisfaction with the way newspapers were heading. Both of us, seeing the ships we were on seemed to be sinking — at least in terms of quality and depth — had recently jumped off.
Both of us took buyouts — the captains way of helping staff make the decision to go overboard — he from the Dallas Morning News, me from the Baltimore Sun. I ended up writing about dogs. He, after meeting the club’s owner at a charity event, ended up in a strip club.
Life’s funny that way.
I got in touch with Precker — whose unusual job transition made the pages of the Wall Street Journal — last October. I had called to get some details and a photo of “Newt’s Nook,” a sanctuary for pit bulls that was being established with funds provided by the owner of the gentlemen’s club, Dawn Rizos.
Rizos had donated $5,000 to the cause — the amount being a refund of what she paid in advance to attend a private dinner in Washington to receive an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Newt Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.
It seems American Solutions had mistakenly bestowed the award – “in recognition of the risks you take to create jobs and stimulate the economy” — on Rizos and the Lodge, which does business under the name DCG, Inc.
They’d sent the fax to the wrong DCG — though, as Precker points out, The Lodge does stimulate the economy (among other things), and it has created a lot of jobs, not to mention helped a lot of its dancers pay for college and move into more “respectable” careers.
Realizing their flub, American Solutions rescinded the award – just a week before the ceremony Rizos had made arrangements to attend. But they did at least offer her a refund.
But that, it seems, was neither the first nor last time that the Dallas gentlemen’s club and its staff have done their bit, and then some, for animals.
Earlier this month they held a charity car and bike wash and buffet, with all proceeds going to the Metroplex Animal Coalition. Over the years, The Lodge’s car washes have raised more than $160,000 for local animal causes.
Also this month, the club’s manager of VIP services, Sunny Hunter, and her husband Richard Hunter – adopters of a Michael Vick dog — were among those who tried to help catch a stray dog that was holding up traffic for days on the LBJ Freeway. Once the dog, nicknamed Alley, was caught, Rizos adopted it, and now brings it to work along with her Chihuahua, Pedro.
Richard Hunter, a local talk show host, caught the dog with help from comedian Hal Sparks and Operation Kindness. Hunter has also been involved in trying to capture the elusive stray that has been hanging around a Dallas church whose pastor has threatened to have it shot.
According to Precker, who I’d agreed to look up if I ever came to town, The Lodge has a lot of dog lovers, in addition to its owner, on staff.
He and Sunny even went so far as to invite Ace for a visit. While I had lunch and an interview with Precker, Ace stayed upstairs in the office under the supervision of staff. He was more enamored with a stuffed bear — one of numerous mounted animals in the club — than the dancers.
The next day, before business hours, Ace was allowed to climb up on a stage, check out the stripper’s pole and pose for pictures with Carrie, one of the dancers, and Vanna, who works the front desk.
Dawn Rizos, who has been honored for bringing class and flair to an industry often viewed as seedy — and here we’re talking strip clubs, not journalism — was out of town, so we didn’t get to meet her, Alley or Pedro.
But Ace and I did get to meet Michael Precker, who’s found job security in a strip club; and the Hunter’s and their Vick dog, Mel, whose found some security as well. We’ll bring you that story — unless some gentlemen’s club hires us as writer-in-residence in the interim – tomorrow.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, american solutions for winning the future, charity, dallas, dawn rizos, dcg, dog's country, dogs, gentlemen's club, michael precker, newspapers, newt gingrich, newt's nook, ohmidog!, operation kindness, pets, richard hunter, strip club, stripper's pole, texas, the lodge, travel, traveling with dogs
As we ponder where to go next on our road trip to nowhere, we’re feeling drawn to Texas — where two stories this week have piqued our curiosity.
First is the tale, told yesterday, of the Methodist pastor who’s calling for a stray dog hanging out behind his church to be shot, and the ire that has raised. Second are the two recent sightings — and subsequent terminations — of alleged Chupacabra, the legendary dog-like creatures who, according to myth, suck the blood of goats (which is what Chupacabra means in Spanish).
In the past week, two of the coyote-like creatures were spotted within 10 miles of each other, outside of Dallas, one of which was bagged by an animal control officer. The other was shot by a rancher. News reports seem to give no reason behind the shootings, other than the fact that the animals were “ugly.”
“All I know is, it wasn’t normal. It was ugly. Real ugly,” said Frank Hackett, the animal control officer who killed one of the creatures.
Reports of Chupacabra sightings are fairly rare; there’s one about about every year — including this one, where a law enforcement official followed and videotaped what he thought could have been one.
Of course, there are plenty of modern-day theories — ranging from them being pets left here by extraterrestrials to them being the result of government experiments gone awry. More often than not, though, they turn out to be coyotes with skin problems.
News reports say neither of the two slain creatures has been identified, though the DNA of at least one of them is being analyzed.
There is no documentation that the species or sub-species exists; instead the word ”Chupacabra” has become a catch-all term for anything dog-like, but not immediately identifiable, kind of like Bigfoot is for anything hairy, human-like and not immediately identifiable.
This won’t be the first alleged Chupacabra to have its DNA tested. In 2007, Texas State University biologist Mike Forstner performed a test on what turned out to be a coyote.
Another strong possibility, I’d suspect, is that some of the ”beasts” that have been spotted are actually Xoloitzcuintle, a Mexican hairless dog breed.
In any event, we’re headed east, and Dallas is on the way. If that’s where we end up, we’ll let you know what we find out.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, analysis, animal, animals, blood, chupacabra, creature, dallas, dna, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, goat, hood county, killed, mystery, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, shot, study, sucker, tests, texas, traveling with dogs
A pastor in Dallas who apparently thinks that “do unto others” stuff doesn’t apply to canines is drawing criticism for how he’s handling the matter of a stray dog who has taken up residence behind the church.
For several months now, local rescuers have been trying to help the dog and animal control officials have been trying to capture it. That’s not good enough for the pastor, who reportedly says he plans to hire someone to shoot it, and who scolded a 70-year-old woman who showed up to feed it.
Let’s stop for a moment and ponder who’s acting in a more Godly manner here.
Pastor Joseph Stabile says the dog is aggressive to parishioners of the Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church, at Midway and Northwest Highway. Others dispute that, saying the dog is shy and avoids people, according to a report by Examiner.com’s animal rescue blogger Rebecca Poling in Dallas, who is also a member of the Metroplex Animal Coalition, one of the organizations raising questions about the pastor’s behavior.
Poling points out that no parishioners have come forward to back up the pastor’s claim the dog is aggressive.
Dallas Animal Services has tried to capture the dog, even using a tranquilizer gun at one point. A group of well-intentioned dog lovers have joined in the cause, trying to humanely catch the dog, known as John Wesley, but he continues to elude everyone.
The group has started a Facebook page, a Care2 petition and has written letters to church and city officials. They also plan Sunday morning protests outside the church to let parishioners know what their pastor is doing.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animal welfare, animals, church, cochran chapel, dallas, dog, joseph, methodist, metroplex animal coalition, news, pastor, petition, pets, protests, rebecca poling, stabile, stray, texas
Folks in Dallas may become a little less likely to befriend a stray dog in need in light of an ordinance passed by the City Council this week.
The council approved an ordinance Wednesday requiring anyone who takes possession of a stray dog to make a reasonable effort to find the dog’s owner, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The rule comes largely as a result of one persistent dog owner, Brad Kirby, who has lobbied City Hall since two of his huskies disappeared two years ago. Kirby found the person he suspected stole them, but police said little could be done because the man told authorities he’d encountered the dogs running loose and gave them away.
The ordinance gives a person who picks up a stray dog 72 hours to:
• Call the phone number listed on the dog’s tags;
• Take the dog to a licensed veterinarian to screen for a microchip, tattoo or other identification and to call the owner if one is identified;
• Call 311 to request that animal services pick up the dog; or
• Deliver the dog to the city’s animal shelter.
A violation – meaning failure to do any of those things — will be punishable by a fine up to $500.
The lone vote against the measure came from council member Vonciel Hill, a former city judge, who said she worries that someone trying to help a stray could end up in trouble.
“I think that this ordinance places an inordinate burden on any person who is trying to have some kindness toward a stray,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $500, animal congtrol, animals, dallas, deliver, dog, dogs, fine, identification, microchip, news, ohmidog!, ordinance, pets, requirements, shelter, steps, stray, strays, tattoo, texas, veterinarian
Gollum, the Italian greyhound whose owner died trying to save her other two dogs from an icy pond in Fort Worth, was found yesterday, not far from her home.
Andrea Benua, 34, died Monday night after plunging into an icy pond to rescue her other two dogs.
Gollum was spotted barking near the pond, and led authorities to where his owner drowned. As his owner’s body was retrieved from the pond Gollum disappeared, sparking an effort by friends and family of Benua to find him.
The SPCA of Texas offered a reward of $ 5,000 for the return of Gollum,
On Friday, a builder working near the Benua home spotted Gollum and returned him to the Benua’s house, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: andrea benua, dallas, dogs, drowning, fort worth, found, gollum, icy pond, italian greyhoud, located, news, pond, recovered, returned, search, texas, victim