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Tag: florida

“Dig ‘em up and move ‘em out”

greenmounds

When is a “final resting place” not so final?

When it’s a pet cemetery in Florida.

The owner of Green Mounds Pet Cemetery in Pinellas County says she can no longer afford to maintain or pay taxes on the property, and she is urging owners of the thousands of pets buried there to “dig ‘em up and move ‘em out,” according to a recent report by WFLA.

“In another year the county will most likely take possession of the property due to back taxes owed,” Laura Fletcher, president of Fletcher Enterprises, Inc., told a Channel 8 reporter.

She advised pet owners to move their animals to another cemetery before someone else takes the property and decides to bulldoze and develop it.

Seems all those promises the cemetery’s previous owners made about perpetual care, and all the fees pet owners paid for it, mean nothing now — if they ever did in the first place.

The former owners of the cemetery sold the property in 2000 to Fletcher Enterprises, Inc., which owned a Harley Davidson dealership next door. The company purchased the cemetery, but never operated it as such. They planned instead to use the land to expand their parking lot.

When the motorcycle dealership went out of business, Fletcher Enterprises stopped fully maintaining the property, which is now overgrown with weeds, with a mausoleum that serves as home to at least one otherwise homeless man.

Those who buried their dogs and other pets there over the decades — reportedly 6,000 of them — have watched the cemetery get covered up with weeds and brush so dense that any headstones have become hard to see.

“I get angry at this place not being maintained, because I did pay for perpetual care,” said Joann Vaught, who buried her poodle Martini in Green Mounds in 1979. “I think it’s deplorable, it’s such a disgrace to the memory of our beloved pets.”

Green Mounds sits off U.S. Highway 19 near the Largo city line.

The WFLA reporter who visited found a mattress in the mausoleum building, apparently used by the same man whose underwear was seen hanging on a railing.

Customers have complained to Pinellas County officials about conditions at the cemetery, but they said all they could do anything about was the weeds. The county has ordered Fletcher to cut them several times, and she has complied.

Pet cemeteries are not regulated by the state.

Fletcher told WFLA in an email that she is willing to donate Green Mounds to another pet cemetery or anyone who will maintain it.

“We are within our rights to sell, donate or build on the property as we see fit. We chose not to do any of these until pets could be moved. It has been a year and a half. Plenty of time to move them. Do it soon or you may not get a say in what happens to them once we no longer own the property.”

Here’s the WFLA report:

WFLA News Channel 8

Condo association to pay for its stupidity

fischerA Florida condo association that told a woman with multiple sclerosis that her service dog was too big has agreed to pay $300,000 to atone for its collective stupidity.

The settlement followed a federal judge’s declaration that Sabal Palm Condominiums in Davie, which sued to force the woman to get rid of the dog, had behaved in a manner both absurd and unreasonable, not to mention in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

“Sabal Palm got it exactly — and unreasonably — wrong,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order.

“This is not just common sense — though it is most certainly that.”

Scola ordered the condo association to allow Deborah Fischer, a retired art teacher, to keep her service dog, the Miami Herald reported.

Fischer, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and hands, received a service dog in November 2011 from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs for people with disabilities.

The dog – a 5-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix named Sorenson — has been trained to help Fischer pick things up, open and close doors and retrieve items from counter tops.

The condominium association, saying the dog violated its 20-pound limit on pets, began demanding medical records and other information to prove that Fischer needed Sorenson — and it sued Fischer when, it said, she failed to provide it.

Fischer, along with her husband, Larry, counter-sued, saying the condo board’s demands violated the federal Fair Housing Act, or FHA.

Judge Scola, in a 30-page ruling, strongly agreed with Fischer.

That the condo association “turned to the courts to resolve what should have been an easy decision is a sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society. And it does a disservice to people like Deborah who actually are disabled and have a legitimate need for a service dog as an accommodation under the FHA,” he wrote.

Condo board members suggested that Fischer could get a smaller service dog, but Scola didn’t buy that argument.

After Scola ruled in the Fischers’ favor, their attorney negotiated a $300,000 settlement with the attorney representing Sabal Palm.

Fischer said Sorenson can recognize 40 separate commands.

“He has made my life so much better,” she said.

(Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Dietz)

Did you hear the one about the guide dog in a nudist community?

fowlerandlauraA homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.

But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.

By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.

Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.

“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times.  “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”

According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.

The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.

Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.

“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”

Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.

“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”

Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.

“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.

“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.

Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.

Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.

She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.

(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)

Facing eviction, woman strangles pit bull; says she didn’t want anyone else to have it

bezanson

Faced with eviction unless she got rid of her pit bull, a Florida woman got rid of her pit bull — by strangling her and burying her in her mother’s yard, authorities say.

Shelly Bezanson, 28, of Osprey,  told police she choked the dog to death with her own leash because she didn’t want anyone else to have her, the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota reports.

“The vet would not put Diamond down, so I did,” Bezanson said, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

After learning she faced eviction, Bezanson  repeatedly asked a veterinarian to euthanize the otherwise healthy 7-year-old dog. When the vet repeatedly refused, suggesting rescue groups that would take the dog in and find her a new home, Bezanson took matters into her own hands.

bezansonmugOn Nov. 14, Bezanson strangled Diamond using the dog’s chain leash, turning up the music in her apartment so her neighbors would not hear her, officers said.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose called the incident a “horrible story — particularly when you have so many willing rescue groups to help take the dog and give it a forever home.”

Bezanson told officers she did not want anyone else to have the dog. 

“I promised Diamond we would be together until the end,” deputies quoted Bezanson as saying. “And this was the end.”

In later interviews, she told deputies that she regretted what she did and wished she would have found someone else to take care of the dog.

Bezanson also owned a kitten and a domesticated rat when she was arrested, and she told officers she planned to adopt another dog.

Charged with animal cruelty, she is being held at the Sarasota County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Judging from the comments the article is generating, she might want to stay there.

(Photos: Mug shot of Bezanson, and undated photo of Bezanson with Diamond, provided by Sarasota County Sheriff’s office)

Vet tech that swung dog into wall is fired

That Florida veterinary technician videotaped holding a dog by its neck and slamming it against the wall has been fired.

And the footage apparently is finally being reviewed by the state attorney’s office.

The video was recorded on a cellphone, and it was posted on YouTube just over a month ago.

Mohammad Hassan, the veterinarian who heads Emergency Pet Hospital in Orlando, originally defended the employee, but he recently apologized for her actions on on the hospital’s Facebook page.

“I want to apologize to all of the pet owners and animal lovers who were rightly shocked by the cruelty on the video,” he wrote in the post.

Hassan also says the vet tech, Stefanie Stasse, has been fired.

Meanwhile, WFTV in Orlando reports that the state attorney’s office has received a copy of the video from the Orange County sheriff’s office for review.

Homeless man reunited with his pit bull

handoverJames Bryan says in recent years he has lost his farm, home, wife and most of his personal belongings.

The only real piece of his previous life the homeless Florida man still had was his dog, a blue pit bull named Handover.

On the morning of May 8, he woke up — along U.S. 19 in Hudson — to find Handover was gone, too.

The dog was gift, five years ago, from his now ex-wife. She was holding the dog and asked Bryan what they should name him. Bryan said, “Hand him over.”

“He is my best friend. He’s my heart and soul,” Bryan told ABC Action News, which last week picked up on the story about the missing dog. “If anybody sees him, please bring him home.”

As word spread about the missing dog,  Carolyn Texter, who knew Handover and Bryan from her work with animal rescues, decided to help.

Texter started a Facebook page to find Handover, and a reward fund established for his safe return grew to $1,000. Yesterday, Handover was found and, after a visit to a vet for a check-up and microchipping, reunited with Bryan.

 Texter described him as “speechless” and thankful for all the help he’d received.

(Photo: Facebook)

Dog spent week with head stuck in cooler

Police and firefighters rescued a dog in south Florida Monday whose head was trapped in a discarded bait cooler — possibly for more than a week.

Passersby spotted the dog in western Miami-Dade County and called authorities.

Police, firefighters and animal control officers joined in the rescue, injecting the dog with Valium to sedate her, then using a reciprocating saw to enlarge the hole in the fiberglass boat cooler, TV station WTSP reported.

An animal control officer said that, based on the severity of the dog’s wounds, she might have been trapped for a week.

The dog is a 40-pound female Labrador mix, according to Firehouse.com. She appeared to have recently given birth, authorities said, and her extra body fat may have helped keep her alive. No puppies were found in the area.

The dog was taken to Miami-Dade Animal Services, where she was treated by veterinarians.  She has been named Lucky and will be put up for adoption.

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