A former Marine sniper’s support dog was shot by police in Dacono, Colo., after escaping from his yard and acting in what police say was an aggressive manner.
Mongo, a 3-year-old pit bull, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
His owner, James Vester, is seeking an explanation and an apology from police, whose behavior, he noted, seemed more like something you’d see on the streets of Iraq.
“I didn’t think I would see that again. You see it in Iraq — and then you see your best friend here get shot,” said Vester, who got Mongo, a certified emotional support dog, to alleviate stress after returning from combat.
Vester said he was doing yard work when Mongo got loose. A neighbor called police because Mongo began barking at her dogs from across a fence. When two officers arrived, Mongo barked and growled and lunged at one of them, according to police reports.
Some neighbors disputed the police account, according to Fox 31 News in Denver.
“There was no noise at first, I just heard the gunshot — then the dog started crying,” said Heather Viera, who was told by police to go back inside her home when she stepped outside.
Another neighbor, Jenny Stevens, says she was a few hundred feet down the road, walking her dogs, when she heard the shot. She said she didn’t hear any barking or growling before it was fired. “It was dead silent. There was not a bark, there wasn’t a growl. The cop did not say stop to the dog, the cop didn’t yell anything.”
Dacono Police Chief Matthew B. Skaggs said an investigation was being conducted.
“I think it is important to remember these things develop very quickly,” the chief said. “If you look in the report, the officer did say specifically that the dog got within six feet of him and at that point he felt like it was his only option.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, barks, behavior, colorado, dacono, emotional, growls, investigation, iraq, james vester, law enforcement, marine, mongo, pets, pit bull, police, police shoot dog, service, shoot, shot, sniper, support dog, veteran
In Colorado, victims and witnesses who might, for various reasons, have trouble sharing details of a crime with a police officer now have another option — Pella, a Labrador-golden retriever mix who is both kid-friendly and judgment-free.
Pella began her service with the Aurora Police Department this summer, and while she doesn’t track down criminals, the hope is she can help put them behind bars.
Her main role is to work with children and developmentally-disabled adults during the beginnings of investigations, providing some comfort and emotional support when they are interviewed by authorities.
“It’s hard for anyone regardless of their state in life, their age, their background, their ethnicity … to talk to police. It’s just an uncomfortable situation. Pella can just help that anxiety to lessen a bit,” Amber Urban, who’s behind the program, told 9 News in Denver.
Urban was working as a school-resource officer when she started pondering how dogs — outside of tracking suspects and detecting drugs — could help the legal system.
Through Paws Assisting the Legal System, she brought Pella to the Aurora Police Department to work with its Crimes Against Children Unit.
The program is similar to the Courthouse Dogs program that is already in place in other cities.
Pella works a lot at SungateKids, a center where forensic interviewers talk to kids and adults who have either witnessed a crime or been victims of one.
“They’re here to talk about things that are traumatic. They, depending on their age, may not have that recognition of it being traumatic, but they feel it,” Urban said.
Children often pet Pella and hold on to her leash while they’re talking.
“…It’s a little bit better of a connection for a lot of kids to be able to interact with the dog who has no judgment, no opinion. The kids see that and they’re like, ‘Wow, they just like me.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amber urban, aurora, aurora police department, children, colorado, comfort, courthouse dogs, courts, crimes, developmentally disabled, emotional, golden retriever, labrador retriever, law enforcement, pals, paws assisting the legal system, pella, sungate kids, support, victims, witnesses
That was in early May, and McClain was temporarily living in his car in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with his eight-year-old sheltie/collie mix named Yurt.
A few days after sending paramedics away, McClain slipped into unconsciousness and the ambulance crew returned.
McClain was taken to Mercy Medical Center, and later transferred to the Dennis & Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy to receive end-of-life care. His dog was taken to Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control.
As he was being taken to his room at the hospice, McClain told the paramedic accompanying him, Jan Erceg, that he was concerned about his dog, Yurt. Erceg, who also volunteers at Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control, recognized the name.
“I told Kevin I knew his dog,” she told Eastern Iowa Health. ” I told him she was doing OK and I promised to bring Yurt to see him.”
Two days later the reunion took place in McClain’s room at the hospice.
“This dog, from the moment she got in the vehicle to the time we arrived, she was shrieking and howling. I think she sensed what was happening,” Erceg said. “When we got to the Hospice House she walked right through the doors and led us straight to his room as if she’d been there many times before.”
Yurt immediately jumped on McClain’s bed.
“Kevin was unconscious but I kept putting his hands on the dog’s head and guiding him to stroke her,” she said. Then Kevin started moving his fingers on his own, petting Yurt, who licked his face and neck and arms. Kevin’s eyes opened.
Two days later, on Friday, May 13, McClain died.
Yurt spent another month in foster care before getting adopted.
At the hospice, they still talk about her, and the reunion between a man and his dog.
“It was just an awesome thing to see, something that made both Kevin and Yurt so happy,” says Brandi Garrett, patient care coordinator at the hospice. “It was obvious they had such a special connection to one another.”
(Photos: Eastern Iowa Health)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ambulance, animals, bond, car, cedar rapids, cedar rapis animal care and control, collie, connection, dog, dogs, emotional, end of life, health, homeless, hospice, hospital, iowa, jan erceg, kevin mcclain, lung cancer, mercy medical center, mixed breed, oldorf hospice house of Mercy, paramedics, pets, reunion, separation, sheltie, yurt
The ruling, issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, pertained to a mutt named Kayla, who — though not a service dog or a certified therapy dog — provided emotional support to her owner.
The complaint was brought against the owners of the Brighton Gardens building by Richard M. Blake, who was diagnosed with HIV infection more than two decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.
After his diagnosis, Blake isolated himself and rarely left the house.
“He was depressed, basically lounging around the apartment all day long, and his weight rose and blood pressure got out of control,’’ said Denise McWilliams, general counsel for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.
Blake’s doctor recommended a dog to help lift Blake’s mood and improve his mental and physical health.
“She’s just given me sort of a routine in my life,’’ Blake said of the boxer mix he got in 2008. “She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood … Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped.’’
Blake said his landlord gave him permission to get the dog, but two months later tenants were notified that a no-pet policy in their leases would be enforced.
After unsuccessful attempts to get the landlords to make an exception, Blake filed a complaint with the state commission in December, 2008.
In its ruling, the commission said that evidence “supports a finding that requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aids, assistance, brighton gardens, commission, discrimination, dogs, emotional, health, hiv/aids, housing, kayla, landlords, massachusetts, richard blake, rules, service, support, tenants, therapy
With exactly what, I don’t know. But in the past four days, he has taken to yelping when he gets up from a long nap or makes a sudden move.
At the dog park this week, he has plodded along lethargically, showing little interest in other dogs — even when he ran into this little white fellow who shares his name. How’s that for a pair of Aces?
I have poked and prodded every inch of his oversized body, but I’m unable to pinpoint what particular spot might be hurting him.
So today, we’re off to the vet.
My first thought was the hips. That’s based partly on the simple fact that he’s very big. Then, too, some of you might recall, when I took Ace to an animal communicator three months ago, she told me he was having some mild discomfort in that area. Add in the 10 months we’ve been traveling, and all the hopping up into and down from the back of my jeep he’s been doing, and the hips seem as good a guess as any.
I knew the day would come when the jumping in and out of the car would need to cease, and given his size, maybe that practice should never have started. Chances are — at age 6 — that day is here, earlier than I expected, and not without some accompanying guilt on my part.
Then again, it might not be his hips at all. Although he’s hesitating to jump into the car, he’s not yelping when he does so — only when makes a sudden movement, usually after laying still.
I’ve pushed on his paws, rubbed the lengths of his legs, looked into his ears and down his throat, poked his belly and prodded his hips. None of that seemed to bother him. He didn’t yelp. He didn’t do that thing he does where his eyes get big, which signifies, to me, anyway, rising alarm on his part. That would have told me I was getting close.
The only time he yelped was when I lowered his head, making me think maybe the pain is in his neck, or spine-related. A half hour massage followed, which, though it might not have helped at all, he seemed to appreciate.
Twice, I’ve come home to hear him howling — not howls of pain, I don’t think, but howls of loneliness. Twice I’ve left the video camera on, to try and capture their onset, but he didn’t howl those times. And the times he did, he immediately cheered up and ran around when I walked through the door.
I’m pretty sure Ace is less than in love with our new basement quarters, though he likes the upstairs and yard just fine. He has shown a distinct preference for being outside, content to lay at top of stairs, keeping an eye on the kitchen window of the mansion owner, who gives him a daily biscuit.
Something about the basement bothers him. And friends I’ve talked about it with have different theories. Maybe he was mistreated in a basement in his puppyhood. Maybe the old mansion we’re living under is haunted. Maybe, with a firehouse around the corner, the sirens are bothering him, though they never have before — and we lived in Baltimore, where sirens are background music. Maybe it’s the lack of sunlight, or he’s getting arthritic and the cold and dampness of the cellar aggravate it.
He’s moving slowly, lethargically (except when the treats come out), and rather than circling twice before laying down, he’s circling about eight times.
Yesterday, working with my theory that it might be his neck, I took a treat and moved it around in front of him — from side to side, then up and down. There were no yelps. Either it caused no pain, or the thought of getting food superceded it.
So, with fingers crossed, we’re headed to the nearest veterinarian, with hopes that whatever is bothering him is something minor, something that will pass or doesn’t cost too much to fix, something unrelated to all the traveling I’ve put him through — 21,000 miles of it over the past ten months, something that is neither chronic nor old-age related.
Because he’s too young to be old.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, aches, aging, america, animals, back, basement, depression, diagnose, discomfort, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, emotional, health, howling, howls, mansion, neck, north carolina, old, pain, pets, physical, road trip, sick, spine, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary, vets, yelping, yelps
The Vermont Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case that could create a new precedent for animal lovers who sue over the loss of their dogs.
The lawsuit was filed by a Maryland couple — Sarah and Denis Scheele of Annapolis, whose mixed-breed dog “Shadow” was fatally shot in 2003, according to an ABC News report.
Lewis Dustin, 76, of Northfield, Vt., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and was given a year probation. He also was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $4,000 to the Scheeles for the costs of adoption, medical bills and cremation.
The Scheeles, however, say that doesn’t come close to covering the emotional cost inflicted by the incident and the loss of companionship.
“Shadow was our little boy, our son, our child,” Sarah Scheele wrote on her website JusticeforShadow.com. “We loved him as if he were our own flesh and blood.”
The couple filed a civil suit against Dustin in 2006, arguing that the dog was more than “mere property.”
The incident occurred during the Scheeles’ July 2003 visit to relatives in Northfield, Vt., a small town south of Montpelier. Shadow wandered into the neighboring yard of Dustin, who fired an air pellet rifle at the dog to scare him off his property.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, annapolis, cost, courts, denis scheele, dog, dogs, emotional, family, justice for shadow, justiceforshadow.com, killed, law, lewis dustin, loss, maryland, northfield, pets, property, rifle, sarah scheele, shadow, shot, supreme court, vermont
We liked him as a comedian, and early indications are we’ll like him as a politician — not that we see too vast a difference between the two.
In his first piece of legislation as Minnesota’s junior senator, Al Franken is trying to expand the number of service dogs available to wounded veterans.
In an opinion piece published Monday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Franken proposed a pilot program that will train “a statistically significant number of dogs,” put them to work and measure the benefits they provide to veterans living with devastating war injuries.
Franken believes the dogs’ companionship provides invaluable health benefits — both physical and emotional — to veterans suffering from debilitating injuries and psychological disorders.
The service dogs will help “reduce the suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations and lower the cost of medications and human care,” he said.
Franken’s said the legislation was inspired by a meeting he had last January with a wounded former Iraqi intelligence officer and his golden retriever, “Tuesday.”
“Service dogs like Tuesday can be of immense benefit to vets suffering from physical and emotional wounds,” wrote Franken.
Franken said service dogs typically cost about $20,000 to train and another $5,000 to place with a veteran — a cost that is well worth the investment.
“It is my strong belief that a service dog will more than pay for itself over its life, and my bill is designed to determine the return on investment with a pilot program that provides service dogs to hundreds of veterans,” said Franken.
Franken’s bill would be his first piece of legislation since officially becoming a senator on July 7.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: al franken, assistance, bill, commentary, disorder, dogs, emotional, injuries, law, legislation, minnesota, proposed, psychological, senator, service, suicide, train, trauma, tuesday, veterans
Los Angeles County emergency shelters are violating disability laws by refusing to take in homeless people who have service animals to help them deal with physical or emotional problems, a federal court lawsuit filed last week claims.
The suit, announced Friday, says the county’s Homeless Services Authority violates laws barring discrimination against the disabled. It was filed Wednesday on behalf of two people, including a woman who claims several shelters refused to accept her because she has a dog to help her deal with seizures.
The suit, which names both the city and the county, was filed by the Housing Rights Center and the Disability ghts Legal Rights Center, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Americans With Disabilities Act and fair housing laws do not allow discrimination against people just because they rely on service animals. The lack of services leaves some of society’s most vulnerable with nowhere to go, the suit said.
“They are all supposed to take service animals,” said Shawna L. Parks, director of litigation for the Disability Rights Legal Center. “We are not talking about pets.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance, ban, disabilities, disability, disabled, discrimination, dogs, emotional, federal, handicapped, housing, law, lawsuit, legal, los angeles, news, ohmidog!, rights, seizures, service, shelters