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Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down

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Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)

Dog abandoned with couch in Phoenix

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A Phoenix man apparently left both his couch and his dog behind when he moved away.

The dog, it seems, tried to make the most of things, curling up snugly among its cushions, where a neighbor took this photo and posted it on Facebook. It was posted under the caption,”Anyone want a pitbull? Our neighbors moved out and left their sweet dog here.”

We don’t know if the dog made a choice in the matter — opting to stay with the couch over the heartless owner — but if so, based on his owner’s callous behavior, he made the right choice.

“The gentleman moved out of his home and left his furniture and some garbage on the curb for pickup, and also left his dog,” said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

The home is near 43rd Avenue and Cactus Road.

Gable says the 3-year-old pit bull is doing well, and has been transferred from Animal Care and Control to the Arizona Humane Society.

Both organizations are now receiving calls from across the country from people wanting to adopt him or help him out.

“We have been inundated with calls people from the public, rescue groups, people who want to step forward and help,” Gable told AzFamily.com.

The photo was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.

A new family has moved into the home, but they say the dog doesn’t belong to them.

Animal control is sharing information with the Phoenix police, who will determine whether to track down and file cruelty charges against the owner.

(Photo: Facebook)

Palin: “At least Trig didn’t eat the dog”

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A smug and smiling Sarah Palin continued to defend photos she posted online of her son standing on his service dog to reach the kitchen sink, appearing on Today to lash out at PETA and what she called its hypocrisy.

The animal rights group has criticized the former vice presidential candidate for posting photos over the weekend of her six-year-old son Trig, who has Downs syndrome, climbing up on his prone service dog, Jill, and standing atop her to reach the sink.

palin

Palin posted the photos on her Facebook page Saturday — along with a message to PETA that read, in part:

“Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.

“Hey, by the way, remember your “Woman of the Year”, Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture

ellendog“Hypocritical, much?

“Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?

“Aren’t you the double-standard radicals always opposing Alaska’s Iditarod – the Last Great Race honoring dogs who are born to run in wide open spaces, while some of your pets ‘thrive’ in a concrete jungle where they’re allowed outdoors to breathe and pee maybe once a day?

Aren’t you the same herd that opposes our commercial fishing jobs, claiming I encourage slaying and consuming wild, organic healthy protein sources called fish’? (I do.)”

Palin told Today that, in the case of her son, there was nothing wrong with standing on a dog.

“In this case yes, because Trig’s service dog is a strong, trained dog who does really, really love his best buddy Trig, and they put up with each other, and there was no harm at all to this dog.”

In her post, Palin wrote, “May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward. Trig just reminded me. He, determined to help wash dishes with an oblivious mama not acknowledging his signs for ‘up!’, found me and a lazy dog blocking his way. He made his stepping stone.”

She questioned why her photos are drawing criticism when a similar photo, posted on Facebook by Ellen DeGeneres, who has been honored by PETA, led to little uproar, and hundreds of thousands of ‘likes.’

“I thought, absolutely hypocritical double standard, as usual, applied to, I don’t know, perhaps a constitutional conservative,” Palin told the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie.

“PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

“It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” the group said.

We’d have to side with PETA on this one. I doubt you could find a veterinarian (outside of Alaska) that thinks children standing on dogs is acceptable — even among those who, like Palin, think animals were put on earth solely for mankind’s use.

That she chose to run for the camera rather than rectify the situation speaks volumes.

Jill is a service dog, not a piece of furniture. Invest in a step stool, Palin family.

(Photos: Facebook)

Does Bentley really have a wish list?

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As America’s first quarantined dog of an Ebola patient, Bentley’s fame may be spreading as fast as the deadly virus he may or may not have.

So much so that we suspect the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is receiving more attention, donations and expressions of support — at least online — than his sick human, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted the disease while caring for the first Ebola victim to be diagnosed in America.

This being America, a dog-crazy land, that wouldn’t be too surprising.

That funds are being raised in his name isn’t too surprising either.

That he already has a “wish list” set up on Amazon? That’s a little surprising.

bentleyxAs soon as Bentley was moved Monday to the undisclosed (at least initially) location he’s being quarantined and monitored in, the campaigns to raise money in his name began — ostensibly to help pay for his care, in reality for much more.

“Poor Bentley the Dog Needs You to Buy 67 Items From His Amazon Wish List,” reads the headline on a Dallas Observer blog post.

We’re sure Bentley — being a dog, as opposed to a human — isn’t as selfish and greedy as his alleged wish list makes it appear.

We’re sure he doesn’t truly need a $239 Lawn Boy lawnmower; or a Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener, in black and chrome; or a thermal label printer; or a $299 microchip reader; or a Bluetooth portable GPS navigator.

But between the news media delighting in tugging our heartstrings, and some savvy sorts at Dallas Animal Services who know a fundraising opportunity when they see one, that’s the way the story is coming across.

It started where all things start, or at least end up — on Facebook.

bentleyphamDallas Animal Services posted a picture (left)) wih a list of ways people could help support Bentley while he is in quarantine. The post pointed out that any extra donations — of paper towels, pee pads, toys and rawhide chews — would go to other dogs awaiting adoption.

It’s a pretty common practice among animal shelters — seizing upon the case of one sympathy-inducing dog to raise funds for more than just that one dog. It’s not an evil practice. It’s well-intentioned. While it may be a tad deceptive, it’s effective.

And given the total lack of foresight, knowledge and protocol when it comes to Ebola victims and their pets (we’ll talk more about this Monday), such fundraising techniques could prove highly necessary in the months and years ahead.

Bentley has served as a wake-up call — as, in a way, did Excalibur, the dog of Spain’s first Ebola patient. Excalibur was quickly destroyed, even though there’s no proof dogs can get Ebola or pass it on to humans.

While Dallas Animal Services is overseeing the care of Bentley — now sequestered at a decommissioned Naval air base nearby — the Dallas Fire Department’s Hazmat Response Team is doing the hands-on (and gloves on, and hazmat suits on) work, feeding and cleaning up after the dog.

Dallas Animal Services is continuing to keep the public posted on Bentley, mostly through its Facebook page, but its campaign to seek donations in his name apparently was toned down, if not halted, at least temporarily.

CBS in Dallas, which reported on the campaign, later reported that Dallas Animal Services has suspended its request for donations and pulled the Facebook post. Whether that’s because someone deemed it deceptive or exploitative isn’t known. No reason is given.

As for that Amazon “wish list,” it’s still up, but, just to be clear, those are items Dallas Animal Services need — not exclusively for the care of Bentley.

At the end of last week, a more formal funnel for donations helping the dogs of Ebola victims was set up. The city teamed up with Dallas Companion Animal Project, a nonprofit organization, which has created the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services fund to help pay for the care of pets affected by emergency events, including Ebola exposure.

(Photos: Dallas Animal Services)

Veterinary student stitches “I love you” on canine patient — to impress his girlfriend

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A veterinary student in Poland is facing expulsion after he stitched “I Love You” into the skin of a dog he had operated on — then posted a photo of his handiwork on Facebook to impress his girlfriend.

Staff at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn launched an investigation after becoming aware of the pictures, which have been widely shared on Facebook by horrified dog lovers.

The fourth-year student was not publicly identified.

“Saying you love someone is not a bad thing,” the university’s head of veterinary studies, Andrzej Koncicki, told the Croatian Times.”But the fact this was stitched into the stomach of an animal does seem immoral and unethical behavior from a student of veterinary science … We need to find out more about what happened here.”

The student’s girlfriend defended his actions, saying, “What’s so unethical about it? He’s learnt to sew in order to help and is just showing his skill.”

The university offers a veterinary service for locals including some free treatments to allow students to test their skills, supposedly while under supervision from qualified professionals.

Where the supervision was in this case is among the questions the university says it is looking at.

(Photo: Facebook)

Jiff: The fastest dog on two legs

A four-year-old Pomeranian named Jiff has been named the fastest dog on two legs.

He has four of them, but he only needs two — front or rear — to propel himself so speedily and over such great distances that he’ll be honored for two records in the 2015 Guinness World Record book. The 60th anniversary edition is coming out September 10.

jiffNot that Jiff wasn’t already pretty famous.

Jiff has appeared in several television ads and was featured in “Dark Horse,” a music video by singer Katy Perry. His Facebook page has more than 1.3 million “likes.

Originally from Grayslake, Illinois, Jiff recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, according to his owners, who prefer to remain anonymous.

“When Jiff first walked into our offices, we weren’t even sure he was real,” Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said. “He looks like a living, breathing cuddly toy.”

(Photo: from Jiff’s Facebook page)

Where a trail of dead dogs has led

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When Randi Hileman came upon a trail of dead dogs and cats on the highway in North Carolina, she did what most folks do nowadays. She got out her phone and took some pictures.

She was distressed enough by the scene that, after moving the corpses to the side of the road, she posted the photos on Facebook and called the news media —  all in search of some sort of explanation.

And when, earlier this month, the explanation came, she — and a lot of other people — got even angrier.

trailWhat little official response there was went something like this: Someone failed to properly latch the tailgate of  a truck transporting dogs and cats that had been euthanized at the Davidson County Animal Shelter.

Rather than ending up at their destination, a landfill, their bodies were left strewn along U.S 64, near Interstate 85.

Judy Lanier, the shelter’s director, told inquiring reporters it was a non-story, and apparently convinced a lot of them of that.

Not too many accounts of what happened can be easily found on the Internet, other than this one in the Winston-Salem Journal.

“It was an internal employee mistake that’s been dealt with in less than 30 minutes,” Lanier told columnist Scott Sexton. “Basically it’s a nonstory. There is one thread on one Facebook page where you’ve got less than 10 people beating a dead horse.”

Between being one of only eight counties backwards enough to still use gas chambers to put down dogs, the public opposition to that, the county’s dismal adoptions figures (it reportedly euthanizes 6,000 dogs a year), Lanier’s defensive reaction and the vivid images of what her employee left, however briefly, on the highway, it’s not too surprising that some people are calling for the shelter director’s resignation.

Lanier, while she’s not granting many interviews with the media, is responding to what people are saying on Facebook.

“I never took it lightly,” she says in one comment. “I dealt with it a week ago in a professional expedient fashion … I take issue with this non story that was simply an error of equipment usage being used as another platform for attacking our shelter, our staff and our ethics … Not one cat was adopted due to this story being spread all over face book. Not one of these so called activists stepped through the door to help lessen the overcrowding that requires that truck to make that trip several times a week. Shame on those who criticize that which they don’t understand and those who don’t intend to put their words into action. Journalism when practiced honestly does not require ambushing and exploitation. That’s just his personnel (sic) self aggrandizement in print.

Lanier wrote that none of the animals found on the road had been put down in the gas chamber, and said the shelter uses lethal injection three times more often than it uses its gas chamber. Opponents of the gas chamber, she said,  are using the dead animal spill to fuel their campaign against the use of gas.

“Those animals are the visual picture of what happens in a community that does not spay/nueter (sic), thinks of animals as disposable property and expects a small shelter to absorb their decisions and re home each one. That’s a fact not an excuse but reality.

In another comment, she gets in a shot at the reporter:  ”Must be a slow day in the newspaper world when a columnist can only report week old news and quote a no comment voice mail to make a punch line … Mr. Sexton burnt a bridge he won’t ever cross again today.”

MAP TEMP NEW 2014Lanier further states that she wishes people criticizing the shelter would spend that energy instead on volunteering at the shelter, helping get dogs adopted and educating the public on spaying and neutering.

Amid her comments, an apology can be found.

“The incident where animals were found on Highway 64 on Tuesday, August 8, 2014 was an unfortunate error caused by the tailgate on the animal shelter truck being inadequately secured. The animal shelter truck was in route to the county landfill at the time of the incident. The animal shelter staff acted as soon as possible to correct this error and the staff member involved was extremely sorry and devastated that this had occurred. The shelter staff member is an excellent employee who performs above and beyond every day at the shelter. Measures have been taken by the staff to make sure this never occurs again.

“The Davidson County Animal Shelter apologizes to the public who witnessed this incident. We are aware of the impact this has had on our citizens. The entire incident was due to human error and is regrettable.”

Probably she should have provided that statement to reporters and stopped there, rather than telling them they were “beating a dead horse.” And probably she should have held back on criticizing animal advocates who want to see the gas chamber dismantled.

Criticizing those who see the issues differently is bad for public relations. Badmouthing reporters is bad for public relations. The gas chamber is bad for public relations. Dead dogs on the highway is bad for public relations.

Davidson County officials have the power to do something about one or two of those, or perhaps all four.

(Photos from Randi Hileman’s Facebook page)