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Tag: death threats

Organizer of “Touch a Dog” event in Malaysia apologizes amid death threats

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Facing death threats, the organizer of an event aimed at softening the harsh view many Muslims have of dogs has apologized for the furor his “I Want to Touch a Dog” gathering has created.

Syed Azmi Abhalshi, reacting to complaints that the event in Malaysia was insensitive, said he was only trying to educate people — Muslim and non-Muslim.

i-want-to-touch-a-dog-1He said his intention was not to convert Muslims into dog lovers or lead them to violate the precepts of their faith.

Many Malays took offense at photos from the event.

“I organized this event because of Allah, not to deviate the people’s faiths, try to change the Islamic rules of law, poke fun at the ulama or encourage pluralism,” Syed Azmi said.

Since the event last Sunday, he has received threats, and posts on social media platforms have accused him of being “a Christian in disguise,  according to the Straits Times.

Syed Azmi spoke at a press conference Saturday in Kelab Sri Selango – but left abruptly because he feared for his safety, his lawyer said.

“We are very concerned with his well being,” his lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, said.

In the week since the event Syed Azmi, a pharmacist, has received more than 3,000 phone messages on his phone, many of them hateful and a dozen of them threatening physical harm, the New York Times reports.

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The event, aimed at dispelling negative perception of dogs particularly among Muslims, started out as a small get-together for those curious about dogs, but it was attended by about 800 people, about half of them Muslims.

Syed Azmi said he never meant to encourage people, particularly the Muslims, to adopt dogs as pets but was merely trying to offer advice on how to deal with dogs.,

“During the event, the participants were also given detailed explanation on rules and regulations on how to handle dogs,” he said, including instructions in sertu, the Islamic way of purifying.

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Some Muslim attendees kissed and cuddled with dogs, but organizers said that — despite the event’s name — wasn’t the intention of the program.

“There were those who wanted to learn to touch the dogs and there were those who just wanted to observe,” said co-organizer Norhayati Ismail. “I admit we had no control over the crowd and what they did to the dogs. There could also be those who came late and did not hear our explanation from the Islamic perspectives,” she said.

Although many Muslims in other countries do not view touching dogs as forbidden, conservative Islamic groups in Malaysia view dogs as unclean and followers are required to undergo a ritualistic wash if they come into contact with canines.

(Top photo: Najjua Zulkefli / The Malaysian Insider)

Video of police shooting dog prompts outrage

The fatal shooting of a dog during a February SWAT team raid in Columbia, Missouri, has prompted the police department to change its policies, Chief Ken Burton said at a news conference Thursday.

You might guess he was talking about the department’s dog-shooting policy, which, judging from this video, seems to be shoot first, shoot some more, and ask questions later.

But no. After killing a family’s pit bull, wounding their Welsh corgi, and terrorizing the suspect’s wife and child — in a bust that netted a mere palmful of marijuana — the police department has revamped department policy so that there won’t be lags between the time they obtain a search warrant and the time they, stormtrooper style, bust into homes.

Burton said the department moved slowly in Whitworth’s case because the SWAT team is made up of part-time members who hold other jobs within the department.

The fact that officer killed one of the suspect’s dogs, intentionally, and wounded another, accidentally — while the incident is still being investigated internally — seems, to him, of little import.

Burton said the pit bull was acting aggressively, and he defended the actions of the officers involved, according to The Missourian.

The suspect, Jonathan Whitworth, pleaded guilty on April 20 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was fined $300.

Subsequently, the police video was released and found its way onto YouTube, prompting a surge of protests from animal activists.

“We’re getting death threats from literally all over the world,” Burton said.

Spork gets reprieve, vet tech speaks out

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It’s amazing, when you think about it, how much one little dog can shake up the whole world.

We see it over and over again: with Buddy, the dog dragged through Colorado National Monument;  Pepper, the dog thrown off a bridge in Lithuania, Baxter, the paralyzed therapy dog, Baltic, the dog rescued from an ice floe in the Baltic Sea.

All are dogs that — through the deeds they’ve done, the abuse they’ve suffered or the dilemmas they’re in — have captured the public imagination, big time, with an assist from the news media, bloggers, and social networks like Facebook.

It’s a mostly wonderful thing when a dog rises from plain old pooch to international headline.

Most recently, there was Spork, a dachshund leading a quiet life in Lafayette, Colo., until he bit the face of a veterinary technician during a dental appointment.

Spork, because the vet tech and the city decided to pursue the case, appeared headed toward classification as a “vicious dog” — a label his owners feared could have meant a death sentence, kennel confinement or wearing a muzzle the rest of his life.

As Spork’s owners, Tim and Kelly Walker, fought back, the 10-year-old dachshund drew national media coverage. A Facebook page created on his behalf drew 23,759 fans. A “Save Spork!” YouTube video began circulating. Bloggers freely opined, most concluding that the vet tech mishandled Spork’s visit.

On Friday, Spork got a reprieve.

A Lafayette Municipal Court judge granted the dog a 6-month deferred prosecution. If Spork stays out of trouble, all charges will be dropped, ABC7 News reported.

It was the sort of the story that brought out the best in dog lovers, and sometimes the worst.

Since the Aug. 14 incident at Jasper Animal Hospital in Lafayette, the vet clinic and Lafayette city council members received death threats, and veterinary technician Allyson Stone, who had to undergo plastic surgery, has been roundly derided in Internet forums — so much so that, between the critics and her new-found fears, she’s opted to pursue a different profession.

In court Friday, testimony revealed veterinary technician Stone lost inch-wide chunks from her upper and lower lips. Stone told police Spork lunged without warning as she was taking the dog from Kelly Walker for a routine dental cleaning.

Stone said she had used scissors to trim excess plastic from an identification collar she’d placed around the dog’s neck. But she had put the scissors down when she reached for the dog.

Here are excerpts from an interview Stone had with the Boulder Daily Camera after the ruling :

No matter what you think of those remarks, that Spork has been the recipient of so much more human compassion than the human he bit is a little disturbing — at least to me. We all like a distinct hero and a clear cut villain, but real life’s not always that black and white.  The bigger question,  in this particular case, than whose side you are on is, Why must one take a side in the first place?