Elle, a 5-year-old pit bull who helps children become more confident about reading, has been named the 2103 Hero Dog by the American Humane Association.
But it wasn’t just her listening skills that won her the honor. She also helps teach children about dog safety, and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes – “something a pit bull knows too much about,” the association noted in announcing the award.
The therapy dog and her owner started a reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales” that helps students at two North Carolina schools — Vaughan Elementary in Macon and Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids — become stronger readers. Students take turns reading out loud to Elle for 20 minutes.
“She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear,” Leah Brewer, 42, told TODAY.com.
Elle and the other finalists for the American Humane Association award attended a ceremony Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It will air as a 90-minute special on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.
After a six-month natonwide search, 141 dogs from across the country were nominated. More than one million Americans cast votes for the eight finalists online. Those results, along with the choices of a panel of celebrity judges and animals activists, were combined to determine the winner.
Among other nominees were Carlos, an explosive detector dog who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan; John D, a rescue dog who uses his scenting capabilities to detect cancer in patients; Cassidy, a three-legged dog who visits rehabilitation centers to comfort children with disabilities; and Lola, a rescued guide dog who connects her deaf owner to the surrounding world.
“Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association.
“As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has been often been unjustly maligned. We hope that Elle’s story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed.”
(Photo: American Humane Association)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2013 hero dogs, aide, american humane association, animals, assistance, awards, carlos, cassidy, ceremony, disability, dog, dogs, elle, guide, hallmark, helps, hero dog awards, image, leah brewer, lola, macon, maligned, misconceptions, north carolina, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, reading, rescue, roanoke rapids, robin ganzert, special, stereotypes, students, tail wagging tales, therapy, therapy dog, working dogs
A Pennsylvania service dog agency is suing an Episcopal priest with cerebral palsy to force her to give up the service dog she has had since 2007.
So reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The Rev. Claire Wimbush says it’s unlikely she could continue living on her own without Willa, a 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever provided to her through Canine Partners for Life, a Cochranville, Pa.-based agency that says it wants the dog back for reasons not fully specified.
Canine Partners filed suit last month in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, accusing Wimbush of violating her dog care contract and asking the court to order the dog’s return — along with “reimbursement of all costs and expenses, including legal and court fees.”
Darlene Sullivan, executive director of Canine Partners, declined to comment on the specifics of Wimbush’s case, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The newspaper is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., and the Rev. Wimbush is the daughter of Gannett Vice President Jane Ann Wimbush.
According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Wimbush did not follow the agency’s training rules, including those that require recipients of its dogs to maintain contact through follow-up reports.
“If on repeated occasions there are problems with compliance, we will place that person on probation and they will get a letter explaining everything about why and letting them know if there are further violations they will lose their dog,” the agency’s director said. “If it gets to that point, and they refuse to return the dog to us, we have no choice but to take legal action.”
The Rev. Wimbush said she believes the agency wants Willa back because she was late turning in paperwork about the dog’s health and behavior. She said the documents were mailed on March 25, but Canine Partners didn’t get them by the April 2 deadline. An email from the agency came on April 4, saying arrangements needed to be made for the dog’s return. Six days later, she says, she received a letter telling her to bring Willa to the airport for “repossession.”
“I’m bewildered by this,” said Wimbush, who who has spastic cerebral palsy quadriplegia and uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Wimbush served as Curate of Christian Education at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2011 until last weekend, and is now planning to move back to her native Virginia to be closer to her mother.
On a website supporting her campaign to keep the dog, claireandwilla.com, the Rev. Wimbush notes that Willa’s status changed in February, 2012, when she retired from being a service dog and became a home companion dog:
“My ministry had changed; I was no longer moving from place to place over the course of a day, so I didn’t need her to help me carry things and open doors as often. The Rochester winters are tough on both of us. She was nine years old, almost ten; it seemed like the right time to make a change. Since her retirement, she gets to be petted and admired by all the members of my congregation, especially the elementary school crowd. She still goes with me to the church most days, and often accompanies me when I visit parishioners in animal-friendly retirement communities…”
The reverend admits to having had trouble keeping up with the agency’s required paperwork in 2007, due to illness. The lawsuit says she has had a history of not complying with those requirements. In 2009, the suit says, Wimbush was placed on “permanent probation” and told that any future violations would result in the immediate loss of the dog.
On the Facebook page of Canine Partners for Life, the agency is taking some lumps for filing the lawsuit against the handicapped priest, and some commenters are saying it is “shameful” for it to be demanding the dog back.
“What part of ‘for life’ am I missing?” one person wrote.
It’s unusual for an agency like Canine Partners to demand a dog be returned, according to Toni Eames, president of the International Association of Assistant Dog Partners, an advocacy group of people with guide, hearing and service dogs.
“It’s a very legitimate agency, and there has to be something, mistreatment of the dog, neglect, maybe it has gained a tremendous amount of weight or there’s abuse, there‘s got to be something. Filing papers late is not a reason to demand return of a dog,” she told the newspaper.
Marsha Sweet, assistant director of independent living services for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, knew of only two such cases, and both times an agreement was reached allowing the person to keep the dog. “Usually, the agencies really try to remedy the situation,” she said.
The Rev. Wimbush hopes that might still happen, and an agreement can be worked out.
“I would do anything, anything, to keep my dog,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: canine partners for life, cerebral palsy, claire and willa, claire wimbush, companion dog, democrat and chronicle, disability, gannett, lawsuit, pennsylvania, piscopal, priest, repossess, retriever, return, reverend, rochester, service dog, supreme court, wheelchair, willa, yellow lab
It’s probably safe to assume she meant well, but a 70-year-old disabled woman has been cited by police for letting her dog walk run down the street while she followed it in her car.
The woman’s car was stopped by police in Madison, Wisconsin, and she was ticketed for permitting her dog to run at large, according to Madison.com.
Police had been tipped off about the woman’s habit by neighbors, who had complained about the dog running free.
“At the time of the complaints, the officer tried, without success, to contact the pet owner,” said a police spokesman. “Now, after seeing the little white dog strolling down East Mifflin with a car following close behind, it rang a bell and he had the chance to talk to her.”
The woman explained to the officer that she walked her dog that way because she is disabled.
“The officer was sympathetic but explained she had to find another way to exercise her canine,” the police spokesman said. “He suggested putting up a fence and then issued a citation for permitting a dog to run at large.” The ticket is for $114.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, citation, disability, disabled, dog, dog walking, dogs, leash, madison, pets, street, ticket, unleashed, walking, wisconsin
And that’s why the dog she adopted — born with ectrodactyly, or “lobster claw syndrome” — no longer goes by “Claude.”
A 2-year-old, 60-pound pit bull mix, Claude’s now named Cody. He was left at a shelter as a pup, then rescued by Even Chance, a San Diego-based pit bull advocacy center, which paid for surgery to help correct the deformity by fusing his two toes together.
Now, Cody lives happily with what’s called a “mitten” paw. He’s found a forever home with Sulier. And he’s been certified as a therapy dog, PeoplePets reports.
Working with New Leash on Life Animal Rescue’s Lend a Paw program, he’s the first of his breed to be certified as a therapy dog through the organization, which Sulier hopes will set the record straight about other dogs of his kind.
“Pitties are sweet, loyal dogs, and the reason they become mean dogs is because they’re so loyal, they will do anything you ask them to,” she says. “People need to see that they really are extremely loving dogs.”
Every other week, Sulier and Cody head to the Jewish Home for the Aging in their hometown of Los Angeles. Sulier feels Cody, who walks with a slight limp, has a personal connection to those he comforts.
“He’s been pretty special ever since [I adopted him],” she says. “For some reason, from the bottom of my heart, I know I’m supposed to have Cody.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animal, barbara sulier, claude, claw, clawed, cody, congenital, defect, deformity, disabilities, disability, dogs, electrodactyly, even chance, handicaps, lobster, lobster claw, new leash on life, ohmidog!, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, rescue, shelter, syndrome, therapy dog
Surf Dog Ricochet continues his amazing work in California, where he recently hit the waves with Ian McFarland, a 6-year-old boy who suffered a brain injury in a car accident that claimed the lives of his parents.
Ricochet, who we first showed you last year, was a service dog reject — he was just too prone to chasing birds — who went on to become a “surf-ice” dog, raising money for charities through surfing demonstrations and assisting people with disabilities in other ways.
Most recently, he helped Ian, who used to surf with his dad, overcome his fears and get back in the ocean.
On top of the individuals he has helped, Ricochet’s website says he has raised more than $30,000 in an 8-month period.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adaptive, animals, california, charities, demonstrations, disabilities, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, ian mcfarland, pets, ricochet, service, surf, surf-ice, surfer, surfing, therapy, video
Renee Brady, who has relied on her six-year-old golden retriever, named Able, to be her eyes for the last five years, said she was taken aback when the manager of the restaurant in Winnepeg told her she had to eat her food outside because of the dog.
Brady said at first she thought the manager didn’t realize Able was a guide dog — but quickly learned she was mistaken.
“…He said ‘I know it’s a guide dog, but you’ll have to leave,’ ” she told the Winnepeg Free Press.
Officials from McDonald’s Canada said they have apologized to Brady.
“Our procedures for assisting customers with special needs were not followed and we have addressed the situation directly with the restaurant staff to ensure this does not happen again,” McDonald’s said in a statement.
But Brady says that’s not enough.
“I’m not looking for an apology — I want more. I want positive action. I want training of management and staff so this doesn’t happen again.”
Brady wrote to McDonald’s, asking the restaurant chain to put stickers on their doors letting people know while pets are not allowed to enter, service dogs are welcome.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: able, animals, blind, blindness, canada, disability, dogs, guide dog, kicked out, mcdonald's, news, ohmidog!, pets, renee brady, restaurant, winnepeg, working dogs
For nearly a decade, Ruger was at the side of Kevin Coughlin as the two went up against taxi drivers, restaurants and other establishments that illegally denied them entry.
Coughlin, 48, undertook several high-profile cases against businesses in the city that to refused to open their doors to guide dogs, including two complaints against the Taxi and Limousine Commission for refusing Ruger a ride.
In 2002, Coughlin filed a discrimination complaint against a coffee shop for throwing his dog out, leading to a $1,000 against the owner.
The “CBS Evening News” once followed Coughlin and Ruger with a hidden camera and recorded business owners and taxi drivers giving him a hard time because of his dog.
Ruger, who had retired as a guide dog in 2008 and was living in Warwick, N.Y., died Wednesday at the age of 13, the New York Times reported.
“After losing my vision, I truly felt like I wasn’t going to experience joy again,” Coughlin, who became blind in 1997 as a result of a genetic condition, said Thursday. “But Ruger was just so full of joy. It was this in-your-face, all encompassing feeling. That was the biggest gift. He allowed me once again to experience joy.”
Mr. Coughlin held a retirement party for Ruger in 2008, but has not seen him since. He said it would have been too difficult emotionally.
Coughlin has been working with a new guide dog, a black Lab named Elias, but Coughlin’s e-mail handle remains “misterruger.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advocate, animals, blind, dead, death, denied, dies, disability, discrimination, dogs, entry, guide dog, kevin coughlin, law, new york, news, ohmidog!, pets, restaurants, rights, ruger, taxis, yellow lab
A Colorado Springs attorney accused of not allowing a disabled woman and her service dog into his office because he feared his new carpet might be soiled will pay $50,000 as part of a consent decree approved by a federal court today.
A November 2009 complaint accused Patric LeHouillier of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by barring Joan Murnane, a veterinarian with brain and other injuries that affect her balance, from entering his law office because her service dog was with her.
That decision, under the consent decree, will cost him $50,000 – $30,000 for Murnane, $10,000 for her husband and another $10,000 for a civil penalty.
“For almost two decades, the ADA has ensured that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full and equal access to public accommodations, both large and small,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is unrelenting in [eradicating] discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring that owners and operators of public accommodations recognize their obligations to provide equal access.”
The consent decree was approved by Judge Marcia S. Krieger in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Under its terms, LeHouillier and his firm will be required to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and post the policy in a conspicuous location, post a “Service Animals Welcome” sign, and provide training to staff.
The press release noted that a service animal is any animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability — and that the classification is not limited to dogs that assist the blind.
It includes, the press release says, dogs who alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, warn persons about impending seizures or other medical conditions, perform tasks for persons with psychiatric disabilities and provide physical supports for individuals with mobility issues.
More information about the ADA, including how to file an ADA complaint with the Justice Department, is available on the ADA home page at www.ada.gov.
The Justice Department also has a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, american with disabilities act, attorney, carpet, colorado springs, complaint, consent decree, disability, dogs, federal court, fined, joan murnane, lawyer, news, ohmidog!, patric lehouillier, pets, physical, psychiatric, service animals, service dog, veterinarian
When Avi Kozi, chairman of the Society for the Protection of Animals in Israel, adopted a dog born without its front legs, he hoped the dog might learn to walk on his hind legs, as did Faith, a two-legged in the United States.
When he didn’t, Kozi arranged for Hoppa to get a set of wheels, built by a student.
“From the moment I took him to my house, I knew I had to build something that would help him to move,” Kozi told Channel 10 at his home in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
Hoppa lives with six other dogs – all of them were taken in by Kozi after they’d been severely injured. Hoppa was born four years ago, and vets said only way to prevent him from suffering would be to put him to sleep.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: avi kozi, disability, dog, dogs, faith, handicapped, hoppa, israel, legs, pets, society for the protection of animals, tel aviv, two legged dog, two-legged, video
My first Christmas guest has arrived and, after bumping into everything there is to bump into, has made herself right at home.
Cheyenne, raised to be a guide dog for the blind, never got to fulfill that role. The possibility that she was going to develop hip problems prevented her from going on with her training. The hip problems never came to be, but Cheyenne, now 11, started going blind herself at age 5.
As dogs will do, she has adapted magnificently.
She walks slowly and gingerly, high-stepping when in unfamiliar surroundings. When she bonks her head on something, she backs up and heads in a new direction. Outdoors, when we come to a curb, I, as instructed, say “step,” and she seeks it out with her paw and steps up.
I have her for the week, while her owners visit family down south, and it has been amazing to watch her as she adjusts to new surroundings. Equally amazing has been watching how gracious my dog Ace has been — sharing the couch (it’s his favorite spot, too); not raising a stink when she walks over, into and even under him; and helping herd her in from the two feet of snow in the backyard when she loses her bearings.
On their first trip to the yard, Ace ran circles around and did that downward dog stance dogs do. Cheyenne just sat there, not knowing Ace was sending the play signal. Since then Ace has caught on, I think, to the fact that she’s blind. He’s extra careful around her, and acting like a big brother.
Cheyenne, who loves carrots and lettuce, will be with me through Christmas, and two more canine house guests are still to arrive. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes. My prediction: The couch is going to get pretty crowded.
(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 23rd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, adapting, babysitting, blind, canine, cheyenne, christmas, company, company for christmas, disability, dog, dogs, dogsitting, guests, guide dog, handicap, house guests, ohmidog!