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Cecil Williams will keep his guide dog; help pours in after they’re hit by subway train

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A blind man and his guide dog who were struck by a subway train in Manhattan Tuesday will be able to remain together — thanks to donations from members of the public touched by their story.

Cecil Williams fainted and fell on the New York City subway tracks, taking his harnessed dog, Orlando, with him.

Orlando barked for help and stayed by his side, even as the train passed over them.

In a story about the accident that aired on NBC Nightly News Tuesday night, it was reported that Orlando was slated to retire in January, and that Williams lacked the funds to continue to care for the dog afterwards, when the dog would no longer be covered by his insurance.

Since then, enough donations to their cause have been received by Guiding Eyes for the Blind to help pay for all of Orlando’s retirement expenses, and ensure that the pair’s eight-year relationship continues.

williamsand orlandoWilliams, 61, was on his way to the dentist when he fainted at the 125th Street platform. Witnesses said the dog was barking and tried to stop Williams from falling, as he is trained to do. When they both landed on the tracks, Orlando tried to rouse Williams, who was unconscious. Both lay there as a slow-moving subway train passed above them.

Nieither sustained serious injuries.

“The dog saved my life,” Williams said of his Labrador retriever. “I’m feeling amazed. I feel that God, the powers that be, have something in store from me. They didn’t take me away this time. I’m here for a reason.”

Williams, who is on insulin and other medications, was taken to a hospital, where Orlando remains at his bedside.

The Brooklyn man has been blind since 1995. Orlando, his second guide dog, “saves my life on a daily basis,” he said.

At a press conference Williams thanked everyone “for showing their humanity and peace and goodwill” by making donations to the guide dog school that trained Orlando.

“All the people who contribute and donated I think we should take our hat off to them,” he said. “There’s still good people in this world.”

(Photo: Williams and Orlando at press conference; by Carlo Allegri / REUTERS, via NBC)

Donations pour in for Barbara and Bowser

The Oklahoma tornado victim whose missing dog emerged from the rubble in the middle of a TV news interview may get another prayer answered.

Barbara Garcia’s Scottish terrier, Bowser, was spotted under a pile debris by the news team interviewing her after she lost her home in Moore.

“Well, I thought that God had just answered one prayer, to let me be OK,” Garcia said after freeing her dog. “But he answered both of them.”

Now, those touched by the scene, which went viral on the Internet, have donated enough money to make a new home a possibility.

A fund set up to help her get back on her feet and under a new roof was approaching $40,000 as of Monday night, just $10,000 short of its $50,000 goal.

“We’re still looking for a corporate sponsor who will match funds donated, so we can make the dream of building a new home for Barbara and Bowser a reality. Not only did Barbara lose her home, her daughter did as well,” said Erin DeRuggiero who’s spearheading the fund drive.

According to CBS News, the clip of Bowser emerging from the rubble has been viewed more than 3 million times.

“All of the other things … you know, one by one they can be replaced. A lot of it wasn’t even important, but I couldn’t replace him,” Garcia said in an interview.

Garcia didn’t have homeowner’s insurance.

“I was really just compelled, personally, to do something,” said DeRuggiero. In the first five days of the fundraiser, more than $35,000 was raised.

“Before the CBS piece aired, I didn’t know Barbara Garcia personally, but was incredibly moved by her story and of her reunion with her sweet dog,” DeRuggiero wrote on the Gofundme page. “… My goal is to ease her recovery, raise enough money to help her start to rebuild or relocate her life, and above all else, to show her that ‘life in the big city’ also means helping one another, even from 1500 miles away.”

Garcia says she’s overwhelmed by the support: “I didn’t know I was that important. Really, truly, I didn’t. I just thank everybody,” Garcia said in a follow-up interview with CBS News.

The “Build Barbara Garcia a Home” fundraising page can be found here.

Beagles rescued from bankrupt lab

One hundred and twenty beagles who faced lifetimes being used in medical research experiments have been freed — just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

On Friday, the beagles — owned by a research facility in New Jersey whose parent pharmaceutical company went into bankruptcy — were released to the care of animal rescue groups that, after socializing them, hope to adopt them out as family pets.

Beagles are bred especially for use in medical experiments and are used in research because of their affable and passive natures, their relative lack of inherited health problems and their mid-range size. These particular beagles are estimated to be between two and five years of age and have lived their entire lives in a laboratory.

Best Friends Animal Society headquartered in Kanab, Utah, and Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, based in Middletown, N.Y., and Elmsford, N.Y., worked together on rescuing the beagles, who had been left locked in the facility operated by Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J.

The facility closed in April, after Aniclin’s parent pharmaceutical company couldn’t pay its bills, according to the Times Herald-Record in New York’s Hudson Valley.

A judge ruled that the beagles could be handed over to animal rescue organizations. Fifty-five primates were also removed from the facility and sent to a simian rescue organization

Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary welcomed the beagles to their new home this weekend, decorated in red, white and blue.

Best Friends, according to a press release, was made aware of the beagles’ dilemma through its Community Animal Assistance national helpline, which fields requests to help animals from around the country. Best Friends contacted Pets Alive, a sanctuary in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York, which offered to take ownership of the dogs. Several other animal rescue organizations have stepped forward, each offering to take some of the beagles.

Best Friends is paying for veterinary care, food and transportation of the dogs from the facility. It will  be bringing back as many as 30 dogs to its sanctuary in Utah, including those who may need  more time and help before transitioning into family living.

“Best Friends is teaming up with Pets Alive in the New York area to help these beagles get the fresh start they deserve … one that’s long overdue,” said Judah Battista of Best Friends Animal Society.

“These dogs have been in a laboratory, too long without friends,” she said. “Since these dogs have never had the opportunity to discover their true lovable, comical, often boisterous nature, which makes beagles such a favorite family dog, Pets Alive and Best Friends are committed to helping these dogs discover their true personalities.”

“In this case, the cruel and unnecessary practice of animal testing was compounded by the abandonment of these innocent victims,” said Kerry Clair, executive co-director of Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary.

Those wishing to donate to the cause can visit www.bestfriends.org. or www.petsalive.com.

People who live near Pets Alive in Middletown, N.Y., are invited to volunteer their time to help feed, care for and socialize the beagles. To do so contact volunteers@petsalive.com.

How your dog can help with the oil spill

You may not think your dog is in a position to do much about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But he is.

As oil continues to gush into the gulf from the April 20th BP rig explosion, booms and mats are being put in place to contain the floating slicks — many of which are made with dog and human hair, stuffed into casings.

The idea of a hair boom and hair mats came from Phil McCrory, a hair stylist from Alabama who came up with it after watching television coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, Suite101.com reports.

Using hair clippings from his salon, McCrory experimented to find out just how much oil could be absorbed with hair.

Among those organizations recycling scraps of hair for use as booms is Matter of Trust, a San Francisco nonprofit.

It  accepts donations of hair from all over the world and disperses them to oil spill disaster sites. It asks that individuals not mail in single donations as hair collections in bulk saves processing time.

Dog owners wanting to donate dog hair to the Gulf oil spill cleanup can sign up with the ExcessAccess program, or inform their local groomer about the program.

Shot five times, Champ needs a home

 

Champ, a four-year-old German Shepherd mix, was shot five times while protecting his family’s home in south Los Angeles.

Despite that, his owners no longer want him.

On Feb. 27th, Champ was shot by an intruder, leaving the dog with a broken jaw bone, nerve problems, a bullet entry under his eye, and wounds covering his neck, shoulder, and abdomen, KTLA reported.

Champ was kept as evidence while the intrusion case was pending, and was scheduled to be euthanized because his owners declined to get him the costly medical care he needed.

That’s when Coastal German Shepherd Rescue stepped in. The rescue group picked Champ up Friday and transported him to their veterinarian team at Alicia Pet Care Center, where his medical needs are being further assessed, said Tiffany Norton.

Veterinarians say he will likely not suffer any long term medical problems from the shooting.

Norton says that Champ’s medical bills are adding up and her organization is asking for help to save pay them. Coastal German Shepherd Rescue is also looking for someone to adopt Champ after he recovers.

“It’s gonna be a really special person who’s gonna bring him into their home,” Norton said. “Really right now, we’re looking for someone with a big heart who wants to support Champ.”

To foster, adopt, or donate to Champ’s medical fund, visit the Coastal German Shepherd Rescue’s website.

TV’s Wiseguy donates Golden Globe to reward

kenwahlanddogKen Wahl has added the 1990 Golden Globe award he received for his starring role in the television series “Wiseguy” to the reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of whoever glued a cat to a southern Minnesota highway.

“Men who pick on cats are sick cowards that have control issues, since cats are half wild and independent,” Wahl told Radar Online. “We’re not just finding a kitten killer, we are preventing this person becoming a serial killer.”

Timothy, a 10-month-old kitten, was found glued to a Minnesota highway last month in freezing temperatures. The kitten had also been struck by a vehicle. Despite attempts to save the cat, he died ten days later.

Wahl’s donation comes on top of more than $12,000 already donated to the reward being offered by Second Chance, an animal rescue organization in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“Rescue Ink” is also stepping in to try to find the cat killer, according to Wahl, who is retired from acting and living in Arizona.

These are a few of BARCS favorite things

What does BARCS want for Christmas? If you’re willing to sing along, karaoke style, we’ll tell you in song.

Ready? Start the video.

 

Treats (but not rawhides) and leashes of nylon

Dog food in sealed bags, but just Science Diet.

Stainless steel dog bowls and towels and sheets.

There are a few of the things that BARCS needs…

 

Hoses and trash cans and dust pans and bleach

Brooms, gloves and gauze pads and laminating sheets

Digital cameras to take doggie pics

Clippers and clipboards and duct tape  and ink …

 

Bottles for nursing and hay for the dog runs

No-slip dog collars in large and medium

Toys that are durable — Kongs and the like.

Plus a few things that they need for felines …

 

Toys (no catnip)

Fleece-lined cat beds

Non-clumping litter

Spray bottles, scrub pads and paper towels

And lint rollers, wiiiiiiiiiiiiiith refills

Donors are encouraged to check out the complete wish list and drop items by BARCS, 301 Stockholm St., where there are stockings waiting to be filled. BARCS also invites you to check out the adoptable dogs while you are there.

Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), located across form Ravens Stadium, cares for more than 11,000 homeless animals annually. The shelter is open Mondays through Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shelter will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 24 and closed on December 25.

You can also help out BARCS by getting your pet’s picture taken with Santa today at Riverside Park in South Baltimore. All proceeds from the event, which runs from 10 to noon, go to BARCS Franky Fund for sick and injured animals.

(Thanks to Mark, an aspiring musician in England known on Youtube as The Music Mark, for providing our music.)

Friends work to reunite dog, homeless man

Those who know him say a homeless man named Tim — despite his living conditions — took good care of his chocolate Lab, Pudge.

“No matter if it was five degrees below zero or if it was really hot, he had water for the dog and he took care of that dog before he took care of himself,” said Cheryl Munro.

For reasons unexplained, a Detroit police officer notified Animal Control and Pudge was picked up, according to a report by Fox 2 News in Detroit. She spent a week in the a nimal shelter because Tim lacked the money to pay for the license and vaccinations needed to get his dog back.

It looked like things were headed for a cruel end when those familiar with Tim and Pudge learned what had happened and began raising money.

“My co-workers and I, we work at Detroit Edison, and we went around and collected some money… to get this dog out of the pound for him,” Munro said.

Even the city Health Department, of which Animal Control is a division, helped pave the way for Tim to get his dog back.

“That’s his only companion. That’s his friend for life, and when you’re out here in the cold, you need some comfort,” said Detroit Health Department Spokesperson Mike McElrath. “We understand that at the Health Department, and what we’ve done, at this point, is we’re trying to reunite them. But because the gentleman is homeless, we know there has to be a legal residency, and so, we’re going to transfer it over to a friend.”

While the friends are having trouble locating Tim, one, Sharon Maceri, offered to take Pudge in until he can be found.

“I can’t imagine what this dog is going through with not being with Tim right now,” she said.

Wanted: Unwanted items for BARCS yard sale

If you’re doing your spring de-cluttering, keep BARCS in mind.

The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter is holding its annual fund-raising yard sale this weekend, and organizers are looking for gently used items to be donated. They can be dropped off at BARCS on Thursday and Friday, June 4 and 5, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. All donations are tax-deductible.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll probably be in need of some household items. So we’d suggest a visit to the BARCS yard sale. It’s Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., rain or shine, at the shelter grounds, 301 Stockholm St., behind M&T Bank Stadium. (Directions can be found on the BARCS website.)

Items for sale will include infant’s and children’s clothing, household goods, toys, sports equipment, kitchen ware, books, furniture, knick-knacks and collectibles, as well as movies and music CDs and more.

Since 2005, BARCS has operated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. During that time, it has increased animal adoptions by more than 2,000 percent.

For more information on the BARCS Yard Sale, contact Frank Branchini (410-385-4695, Ext. 5, or at Frank.Branchini@baltimorecity.gov).

How your dog can help other dogs

The Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank is experiencing a blood shortage and has scheduled a series of blood drives to replenish its supply.

To be a blood donor, a dog must weigh at least 35 pounds, be in good health and be between the ages of 9 months and 7.5 years. Dogs weighing 55 pounds or less give a half pint of blood, while dogs that weigh more than 55 pounds give a full pint. Technicians draw blood from the jugular vein, and do not muzzle or sedate donor dogs.

EVBB is one of a few of private blood banks for dogs in the country.

If you and your dog are interested in donating, call the blood bank staff at 1-800-949-3822, or drop by one of the drives. Here’s the schedule:

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