Here’s a scenario that — even before I saw this frightening video — has flashed through my mind often since I became a dog walker.
As a natural-born worrier (I suspect it’s in my genes), I’m prone to assessing the situation I’m in — even when it’s an entirely pleasant one — and picturing the worst thing that could possibly happen, no matter how unlikely it is.
After six decades, I still haven’t totally gotten over my fear of being sucked under the escalator grate as the step I’m standing on flattens out and disappears.
In my dog walking job, I visit three small dogs at an assisted living center, take them down the elevator, out for a walk, and then back up the elevator to their masters’ rooms.
The possibility of this happening, or something like it, popped into my head my first day.
What if, as the elevator doors closed, a dog darted out, ending up on the opposite side as the elevator went down?
I’ve kept a firm grip on the retractable leash — and kept it in the locked position — ever since having that mental image. After seeing this video, I’ll keep an even firmer one.
Tamara Seibert, a college student in Toronto was riding the elevator March 2 with two dogs — hers and a friends. They were heading from her condo unit down to the parking garage. As the doors closed, the end of her dog’s leash was caught outside the elevator.
Vado, her five-year-old, 110-pound Rottweiler, was violently jerked upward as the elevator descended, and Seibert struggled to remove his collar, breaking two fingers in the process, she told the Toronto Sun.
“I thought I was going to watch him die,” Seibert said.
Thankfully, the clasp on Vado’s leash snapped under pressure, and he fell to the floor about the same time the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Thankfully too, Vado’s prong-type collar had been put on with the prongs on the outside.
Seibert, a student at Ryerson University, obtained video from the surveillance camera and posted it on her Facebook page as a warning to others.
It was reposted to YouTube, where it’s drawing all sorts of insensitive comments from people who would rather get in a good jab than learn something from someone else’s experience.
Painful as it is to watch, it’s a teachable moment, and one that proves not all my unnatural fears are that unnatural.
I, for one, have become even more cautious on the elevator, and I’m contemplating switching to the stairs — especially if I’m ever taking two dogs with me at once.
As for Vado, he’s fine.
“I can’t believe its been almost a month since I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” Seibert wrote in a Facebook post. “I thought I was about to lose the love of my life (my puppy) and seriously mangled my hand in the process … I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, canada, caution, danger, dog, dog on elevator, dogs, elevator, elevator dog, elevators, facebook, hazard, leashes, pets, rottweiler, tamara seibert, toronto, vado, video, warning, youtube
Will families of American military personnel in Japan be forced to leave their pets behind when they evacuate?
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is seeking the anwer to that question.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the non-profit organization asks for a clarification of the U.S. government’s policy on whether or not military families can bring their pets with them — or must be forced to choose between staying in harm’s way and abandoning a beloved companion.
Family members of military personnel stationed in Japan began evacuating today amid the increasing threat of radioactivity in the wake of last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
ALDF says it has received desperate emails from some of them, who say they’ve been informed pets will not be allowed on evacuation planes chartered by the U.S. Department of State.
“In a context of terrifying natural and nuclear disasters, with military personnel and their families already being separated from each other, we would hope that the U.S. government would not place an additional burden on military families by disregarding the very real bonds they have with their animal companions” said Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation.
“It is our hope that the tragedy of people forced to abandon beloved pets in order to evacuate to safety, which we saw play out on a heartbreaking scale during Hurricane Katrina, is not replicated during the current crisis in Japan.”
ALDF says it has heard from numerous families who say they are hesitant to evacuate from the escalating radiation danger if they are required to leave their pets behind.
Some families have turned to Facebook for help, including Mariaelena Rodriguez Geoffray, shown above with her dog, Bella. Seeking a commercial flight, she has been told by two airlines that temperatures are too cold to fly a pet.
Her dilemma is recounted on the blog Two Little Cavaliers.
There are about 43,000 dependents of American military personnel living in Japan.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, aldf, animal legal defense fund, animals, danger, dangers, disaster, dogs, earthquake, evacuate, evacuation, families, hillary clinton, hurricane, japan, katrina, left behind, letter, military, nuclear plants, pets, radiation, robert gates, secretary of defense, secretary of state, tsunami
Remember the old Chevrolet commercial — baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?
Well, decades later, the car company has, for the sake of selling motor vehicles, gotten around to acknowledging another piece of Americana — the dog; specifically, the dog in the pickup truck; more specifically, the dog in a Chevrolet pickup.
And that, they will find out as the new ad airs, if they haven’t yet, is some tricky ground.
It’s one of those topics that raises the hackles of animal welfare activists, some of whom who say under no conditions should a dog be riding in the bed of a pickup , some of whom say it’s acceptable if the dog is crated or restrained, all of whom say riding in the cab would be preferable.
And they are right. For safety’s sake, it probably would be.
Last week, in “Travels with Ace,” the continuing saga of the trip Ace and I are taking across America, we showed you Jake, a golden retriever in Oregon still sporting injuries he received when he tumbled out the back of a moving pickup. We did so without casting judgments or getting preachy, because our road trip is not about how dogs should live in America, only about how they do live in America.
In much of rural America, dogs are still dogs. They roam their property, and perhaps that of other’s, at their will. They chase and sometimes kill wildlife. Some even live, gasp, outside. And they ride in the back of pickups, which virtually all animal welfare organizations will tell you is a bad idea.
The Chevy ad, to its credit, doesn’t show any dogs in the beds of moving pickups, but, even so, I’m predicting it will lead to some lively debate if it airs widely.
On YouTube, it has already started — through Internet comments, gracious and civil as always.
“Cute video, but I wish Chevy wouldn’t advocate the dogs in the back unless in a crate. Since I have seen a dog fly out of the back of a truck on a busy highway, I am traumatized for life. It should be illegal and is some places for your dog to ride loose in the bed of your truck unless you are on your own dirt road on your property with no other cars around and are willing to pay the vet bill if your dog falls out…”
“If I thought for a second my dog would ever jump out, he wouldn’t ride back there. And he doesn’t on the interstate. But on going into town, on rural country roads, and on my ranch, he will always ride in the back and he wouldn’ t have it any other way. MIND YOUR OWN F***ING BUSINESS FAG…”
“Greatest commercial! Too bad liberal know it all’s have created laws against dogs riding in truck beds! Apparently (like most libs) they know what’s best for us, and will make laws accordingly. My dog will ride in the back forever though, they can suck his hairy nuts…”
Besides reflecting how crass anonymous internet banter can get — how Internet commenting has replaced the punching bag as man’s default mode of venting hostilities — the discourse shows the cultural divide that exists in this country, one that’s not so much conservative versus liberal as it is rural America versus the rest.
It’s a generalization, but many denizens of rural America don’t want the rest of America making rules that govern their access to firearms, or how they raise their dogs — from whether they spay and neuter to letting them ride in the back of pickups.
There’s something to be said for letting a dog being a dog — as opposed to spending life on a leash or in a handbag – but is putting Rover in the back of a pickup letting a dog be a dog? In my view, it’s courting disaster.
Yet, while many experts also advise that dogs in cars be crated or restrained, Ace is traveling acoss the country unrestrained in the back of my Jeep.
Maybe that’s why I don’t come down harder on dogs in pickups; maybe it’s a degree of respect for rural ways; or maybe it’s because the surest way to make people become more entrenched in a bad habit is to tell them they can’t do it anymore.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidents, advertisement, america, animals, back, bed, chevrolet, chevy, correct, culture, danger, divide, dog, dogs, hazard, injuries, jake, pawlitics, pets, pick-up, pickup, politics, riding, rural, transport, travel, traveling with dogs, truck, trucks
I almost lost Ace at Niagara Falls – and in the worst imaginable way.
After leaving Saugerties, we headed across New York state, stopping overnight in Syracuse, mainly because Ace desperately needed a bath. I think even he – scratching a lot of late — agreed with that assessment. He jumped right into the Motel 6 bathtub, sat patiently as I used the ice bucket to soak him down, and smiled as I scrubbed him with an oatmeal-based flea and tick shampoo, rinsed him and toweled him off, using every flimsy white towel in the room
The next day, smelling better — him, at least – we continued to Buffalo, where I got a break from motel charges and fast food by staying with an aunt and uncle in Amherst.
My father’s brother and his wife, while dog lovers, are not believers in the whole idea of them living in the house. Their children’s dogs, and even their own dog, were never permitted in the house. I respected that, and figured, with the temperatures still above freezing, one night as a real dog wouldn’t hurt Ace.
I laid his blanket near the door, and he had a spacious, well-manicured, fenced backyard at his disposal. He seemed to enjoy everything about being outside – except for the fact that the people were inside. He’d sit at the window and gaze in forlornly, especially when he sensed food was being served
Only twice during the night did I hear him whine – and in a way I’d never heard him whine before. Usually he will emit a two syllable sound, when he’s upset or impatient. Something like “ruh-ROOOO.” On this night, he came up with a four syllable one, something like “ruh-REEE-RAAA-rooo.”
The next morning, when I stepped outside, he was the most energetic and playful I’ve seen him since our trip began. I think a night in the fresh air, as opposed to a Motel 6 smoking room, did him good. The stop did me good, too. My aunt and uncle fed me well, and sent me with a sack lunch on my visit to Niagara Falls.
It was only a slight hassle entering Canada after crossing the Rainbow Bridge (not be be confused with the mythical one where pets wait for their owners before going into heaven). I feared, with all I’m toting inside and atop my car, someone might feel the need to search it all; instead I just got a verbal grilling.
“What’s the purpose of your trip? What’s all that in your car? Are you carrying any firearms? Do you have any tobacco?”
My answers seemed to satisfy the Canadian agent – except for the one pertaining to the purpose of my trip. He spent a long time looking at the ohmidog! magnet sign on the side of my car.
“It’s a website about dogs,” I explained. “Right now, I’m traveling across the country with my dog, like John Steinbeck did, and writing about it.”
“I don’t get it,” he said. “Do you sell stuff on your website?”
“Not really,” I answered.
“Do you breed dogs?”
“How many dogs do you have in there?”
“In the car you mean? Just one.”
He handed me back my passport and signaled me through, and I followed the signs to Niagara Falls, which led me to an $18 parking space a short walk away from the falls.
Once there, as has happened at other scenic wonders, some of the tourists seemed more taken with Ace than the tourist attraction.
At least 20 people took his picture. Some asked to pose with him. One volunteered to take a picture of the two of us together, with the falls in the background, as if we were honeymooners. And at least 30 asked the eternal question: “What kind of dog is that?”
Although the sun wasn’t in the right place, I tried to get some photos of Ace with the falls in the background. The edge of the falls, on the Canadian side, is blocked off by a railing. There’s a stone wall, about two feet high, with iron rails running above it. The stone wall was wide enough for Ace to get up on and sit, so I had him do so — right next to the sign that said “Danger.”
I had taken a few shots when a gaggle of tourists stopped, one of them with a little girl who just couldn’t stop squealing at Ace — squeals of delight, but squeals all the same. Ace isn’t a fan of the squeal. As I was holding on to his leash, putting my camera away, and answering questions about my dog, Ace – I think to distance himself from the squeals — jumped over the rail.
There was grass on the other side, about six feet of it, before the sheer drop. He walked toward the edge, to the point that I was leaning over the rail, holding his leash, trying to reel him back in. I pulled him back to the wall, and when I told him to jump back over he did.
Fortunately, no authorities saw the incident and I didn’t get the scolding I probably deserved. Then again, neither do all those people who seem to not give a second thought to holding their young children over the rail to give them a better view.
We moved along after that, weaving through all the tourists – and there were hordes of them, from all over the globe, some stopping me so they could take Ace’s photo, some asking to borrow him to pose with (Okay, but not near the rail), some wanting their children to meet him. One Japanese man, clearly wanting to ask about Ace but not a speaker of English, simply gave me a thumbs up.
Back in the car, well away from the falls, I scolded myself again for letting my attention get diverted, and unwrapped the ham sandwiches my aunt had prepared. I ate one of them. You can guess who got the other.
Sitting there in my $18 parking space, happy I hadn’t lost my dog to the roaring natural wonder, I gave silent thanks – that the only Rainbow Bridge either of us were crossing that day was the real one, and for the day I met him at Baltimore’s animal shelter.
After five years, the honeymoon continues.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, border, buffalo, canada, crossing, danger, dog friendly, dog's country, dogscountry, falls, jump, new york, niagara falls, ontario, pets, rail, rainbow bridge, rainbows, road trip, tourism, tourists, travel, travels with ace, wall, waterfalls
A tourist from Michigan was charged with animal cruelty Monday after leaving his two dogs inside a minivan while he visited the the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Rosie, an 8-year-old Chihuahua, died of heat stress after being inside the minivan for more than an hour, said Sabrina Fang, a spokeswoman for the Washington Humane Society.
Rosie had been left inside a plastic storage bin. A second dog, a 15-year-old beagle mix named Pebbles, was kept inside a crate made for dogs. She was treated for heat stress at an animal hospital, and was expected to be released today, according to the Washington Post.
Washington Humane Society officials say more tourists seem to be leaving pets inside cars, unaware of how quickly the temperatures can rise.
Police arrested Kenneth Reiff, and his daughter was taken into custody by Child Protective Services, Humane Society officials said.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, beagle, cars, caution, chihuahua, danger, death, died, district, dog, dogs, health, heat, holocaust memorial museum, kenneth reiff, ohmidog!, parked, pebbles, pets, risk, rosie, temperatures, tourist, tourists, warning, washington
A Labrador retriever died after being left in a car parked outside a Costco in Frederick, Maryland.
A Maltese died after being left in a parked van while his owner went for a swim in a New York park.
A rash of similar cases have been reported across the heat-waved northeast, leading animal advocates to reiterate what they have long said — but apparently not everybody has heard: Dogs should never be left in parked cars, especially not in summer
In the Maryland case, Frederick County Animal Control says the dog was left in a car on Tuesday, as temperatures climbed to 104 degrees, the Washington Post reported. Authorities were notified about the dog, but by the time investigators arrived the dog was dead and the owner of the car was gone. Authorities are still investigating.
Earlier this week, a Bronx man left his Maltese inside his van at FDR State Park in Westchester, while he went for an hour-long swim, the New York Daily News reported.
Someone saw the dog and called park police, but by the time it was moved to the shade, the dog died. The owner of the dog was charged with animal cruelty.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bronx, car, cars, caution, danger, death, dogs, frederick, health, heat, heat stroke, heat wave, maltese, maryland, new york, news, ohmidog!, park, parked, pets, safety, swimming, temperature, van, warning
It took eight years to build the Glen Canyon Dam — far less to construct the scenic overlook that sits on the edge of the canyon, about a mile south.
Unlike the dam itself, a massive and complex project, building the overlook was a simple matter of putting in a road and parking, adding some steps to make the sandstone trail down to the overlook easier to negotiate, and putting up a stone wall at the base — to keep tourists from plunging from the top of the sheer canyon walls to the river 400 feet below.
The wall is short enough to look over, but its actual height varies, depending on where the wind blows the sand. Yesterday it was about four feet high in some spots, with one tiny section that, for reasons unknown, was built shorter than the rest — only about two feet high. Above the short wall, there’s a steel grate that rises vertically — bolted and cemented firmly into place.
And hidden on that grate — visible only if you look closely — are two names, scrawled with a soldering iron: Cisco and Sadie.
As you might guess, there’s a story behind that grate – previously untold, and very sad.
The ballad of Cisco and Sadie began in Idaho, which is where Dail Hoskins was living before he decided on a change of scenery and moved to Page, Arizona in 2000, bringing his two dogs with him.
Page, less than 50 years old, had emerged as a popular recreation spot by then, thanks to construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, which allowed — or forced, depending on your point of view — the Colorado River to back up and form Lake Powell.
Construction on the dam began in 1956. It’s the reason the town of Page exists, and it provides water and electricity to much of the west. It was also very controversial, and still is. While completion of the dam in 1964 allowed water and electricity to be harnessed, it also represented a huge disturbance to the ecosystem and meant the loss of much of the beautiful scenery of Glen Canyon. The controversy surrounding the building of the dam is viewed by some as the beginning of the modern-day environmental movement, and it still sparks debates pitting nature against industrial progress.
Partly to showcase the government-built dam — one of the largest in the U.S. — the overlook was built later. It’s part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, falling under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
The trail down to the overlook is less than a mile. The view, minus the power lines, is magnificent. To Hoskins, who after arriving in Page had bought a little motel, the overlook seemed a good place to take his dogs, Cisco and Sadie, for a hike.
It was about ten years ago that he took the dogs there, and let them both off their leashes. They were generally good about sticking close by and not wandering off.
But, after a few minutes, when Hoskins looked around to find Cisco and Sadie, both had disappeared. He feared the worst, and what happened turned out to be just that. One of the dogs, not being able to see over the wall, had — maybe in pursuit of wildlife — leapt over that shorter section, plunging hundreds of feet to his death. The other immediately followed.
Hoskins blamed no one but himself, and watching his face as he retells the story, it’s clear he still lives with the guilt. In the days after losing his dogs, he hired a river outfitter to take him to retrieve their corpses, then gave them a proper burial.
Hoskins later learned that at least four other dogs had met the same fate, plunging over the same short section of wall. When he called government bureaucrats to tell them what happened to his dogs and see if that short section of wall could be built up, he was told that his dogs should have been on leashes.
He agrees that much is true, but the hazard remained. So he decided to handle things himself. He welded together slabs of steel, forming a large, barred grate, about five feet wide and five feet high. And without getting anybody’s approval, he snuck down to the site with a friend in the dark of night, carrying along the grate, cement, water and tools.
Amazingly, this being just after 9/11, and amid a period of heightened security at the dam, no one noticed he was there. He secured the grate deep in the ground using concrete, filling the gap that existed over the short section of wall. It took a few hours.
No one has ever traced the work to him, and apparently no one was angered by his addition. The park service has affixed a sign to the grate that reads: “Defacing natural features destroys our heritage. Graffiti is unsightly and illegal.”
It appears Hoskins got away with his dark-of-night, do-it-yourself construction project.
“I did it so it wouldn’t happen to any more dogs … or kids,” he says, though one gets the impression the covert project also served as both an outlet for his grief and a tribute to his dogs.
On one rail of the grate, he inscribed with solder the names of Cisco and Sadie.
Ten years later, the blowing sandstone has yet to brush their names off, and the grate still stands firmly in place, solid as a rock.
(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 2nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: area, arizona, canyons, cisco, cliffs, colorado river, construction, dail hoskins, dam, danger, dangerous, deaths, dogs, environment, environmental movement, fall, glen canyon, grate, hike, hiking, hiking with dogs, lake powell, leash, leashed, national park service, national recreation area, overlook, page, plunge, rail, sadie, safety, scenic, scenic overlook, unleashed, wall