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Tag: football

Ace, a pit bull, serves as groomsman at wedding of Baltimore Ravens center


The bride was lovely. The groom, turning in his Baltimore Ravens uniform for a tux, was dashing. And the groom’s dog, a pit bull named Ace, walked down the aisle just as he was supposed to.

zuttahRavens center Jeremy Zuttah and his new wife, Heran, planned to have a wedding ceremony last month at Baltimore’s City Hall.

But when they learned Ace wouldn’t be allowed in the building, they changed plans, according to BaltimoreRavens.com.

“He’s awesome,” Heran said. “I just could not imagine getting married without him. He’s with us every day everywhere we go.”

They switched venues to 10 Light Street in downtown Baltimore and exchanged vows in an Under Armour Performance Center gym that had been festively decorated for the occasion.

bridedogZuttah and the former Heran Haile met while in college at Rutgers and adopted Ace back then. They have long been advocates for dogs. Jeremy is one of many Ravens who have been involved with the city’s “Show Your Soft Side” campaign.

Though they live in Hoboken, N.J., they wanted to get married in Baltimore.

“We decided to get married in Baltimore because it’s been the headlines recently for not great things, which we think is a shame because the city is beautiful and the people are beautiful,” Heran said. “This is a great city that people should not knock down.”

After receiving some extra training at Baltimore’s Downtown Dog, Ace pulled off his role as groomsman perfectly.

Here’s a video snippet showing how well he did his job:

(Photos: BaltimoreRavens.com)

Remembering Pickles, the dog who, 50 years ago, sniffed out the missing World Cup


When soccer’s World Cup was stolen from a display case in London in 1966, the week that followed saw huge tabloid headlines, a ransom demand, threats to melt the trophy down and a botched undercover police operation to exchange a bag of fake money for the treasured hunk of gold.

It wasn’t until seven days after the theft that the trophy the best minds of Scotland Yard were unable to find was easily sniffed out by a re-homed, furniture-chewing mutt named Pickles.

England was hosting the World Cup that year, and ended up winning it, but if not for Pickles there might have been no trophy to hoist.

Pickles was a four-year-old border collie mix whose owner, Dave Corbett, had taken him in as a puppy when his brother could no longer put up with his habit of chewing up furniture.

The cup had been on display in central London, and supposedly was being heavily guarded when it was stolen in the months leading up to the tournament.

Police made the case a high priority, but were still stumbling by the time Pickles, out for a walk, sniffed out the Jules Rimet Trophy in a clump of shrubs. That was 50 years ago yesterday.

“I put the lead on Pickles and he went over to the neighbor’s car,” Corbett recalled in this recent interview with the BBC.

“Pickles drew my attention to a package, tightly bound in newspaper, lying by the front wheel. I picked it up and tore some paper and saw a woman holding a dish over her head, and disks with the words Germany, Uruguay, Brazil. I rushed inside to my wife. She was one of those anti-sport wives. But I said, ‘I’ve found the World Cup! I’ve found the World Cup!'”

Corbett duly rushed the cup to the police station, and immediately became a suspect.

Two days earlier, the police investigation had taken a turn for the worse, according to The Guardian.

A man calling himself Jackson had contacted league officials about how they might reclaim the trophy for £15,000.

An undercover officer was sent to meet Jackson and make the exchange, but Jackson became suspicious it was a set up and fled.

He was caught, but the trophy was not.

Jackson’s real name was Edward Betchley, a small-time thief, and he would only admit to being a middleman.

He refused to disclose the location of the trophy.

cupTwo days later Pickles found it.

Once police became assured Corbett had no part in the theft, he would get the reward money for the trophy, and Pickles became a celebrity. He starred in a feature film, appeared on numerous TV shows and was proclaimed Dog of the Year.

After England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final, Corbett and Pickles were invited to a party celebrating the victory.

The World Cup trophy would be stolen again in 1983 in Brazil, and never recovered.

Pickles died the year after his big find. He saw a cat and took off, his leash trailing behind him. Somehow it got tangled on a tree limb and the dog choked to death.

Corbett buried him in the garden behind his house in Surrey — the house that, thanks to Pickles, he was able to buy with the reward money.

The Seahawk who left his dog behind


When NFL defensive lineman Michael Bennett left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year to join the Seattle Seahawks, he left his dog behind.

As his new team ran up a record that may see them heading to the Super Bowl, his boxer puppy, named Koa, languished in a Tampa boarding kennel. 

Bennett, according to a lawsuit, apparently didn’t get around to transporting the dog to his new home, or paying the dog’s boarding fees, or returning the kennel’s calls.

A lawsuit filed by the kennel, Lucky Dog Daycare and Resort, is seeking $5,000 to cover the costs for Koa’s care and expenses related to finding him a new home.

Koa was four months old when left at the kennel, in March, 2013.

In the lawsuit, the kennel claims the puppy was so distraught after being abandoned, he “eventually began refusing to eat, losing his hair and clearly failing to thrive.”

Seattle Dog Spot reported back in November that Bennett, despite his $5 million a year salary, had neither reclaimed his dog nor paid for the dog’s boarding.

TMZ reported last week that the kennel had filed a lawsuit. Bennett hasn’t responded with his side of the story.

Subsequent reports — though we see it as an unfair stretch — have compared Bennett to a certain Philadelphia Eagles (at last report) quarterback, whose name and dogfighting conviction we won’t mention, given he has “reformed” and “paid his debt to society.”

pukaThe kennel, through a boxer rescue organization, has found Koa a new home. He has been renamed Quigley, and is said to be thriving with his new owner, described in one report as an out-of work puka shell salesman.

That may not be the life of luxury the dog could have had with a professional football player.

But, honestly — and here comes my unfair but heartfelt generalization — if I were a dog, and had the choice of living with an NFL player or an out-of-work puka shell salesman, I’d pick the out-of-work puka shell salesman any day.

(Top photo: TMZ)

Pit bulls returned to Eagles running back

Eight of the 27 pit bulls seized from a Wisconsin breeding kennel suspected of having connections to dogfighting belonged to a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s not Michael Vick.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown is the owner of Eilis, and her seven puppies, all of whom were removed May 21 from a pit bull breeding kennel near Eau Claire, according to the Leader-Telegram.

Brown had sent Eilis to Northland Pits in February to be bred. After the pups were born, the kennel offered to whelp and wean the pups, and Brown sent them all to Wisconsin for that purpose, according to an affadivit in the case.

While they were there, the kennel was searched, and 27 dogs were seized by the Eau Claire County Humane Association. The owner of the kennel, Joseph A. Sudbrink, has been charged with mistreating animals and running a breeding kennel without a license.

The officer who removed the animals, BeKah Weitz, said the dogs at the kennel had contracted ringworm and possibly had other skin issues and were being kept in substandard conditions. She told the court she saw scarring on the dogs and believed the kennel operators were fighting the dogs. Prosecutors say they are continuing to investigate.

Both Brown and the kennel owner petitioned to get their dogs back, and on Friday a county judge ordered Eilis and her pups returned to Brown.

The 19 other dogs will remain in custody for at least five more days, under the judge’s ruling.

The kennel’s website says it is a breeder of “quality old family red nose pit bulls” and that no dogs are “bred, sold or used for any illegal activities.”

Brown, the running back, has no known connection to dogfighting. The Philadelphia Inquirer says he has friends who are pit bull breeders, and friends whose dogs engage in “extreme” agility training. He posted the video above, showing him and another pit bull, on his Facebook page, but said “I go to the park with them to be supportive … It’s not really my thing.” 

Sheila Kessler, an attorney who represented Brown and also serves on the Humane Society of Portage County board, picked up his dog and puppies from the shelter to return them to Brown.

Dogs Deserve Better closes on Vick house

It’s a done deal: Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit group that fights chaining, penning and other forms of cruelty to dogs, has closed on Michael Vick’s old house — the former headquarters of the quarterback’s dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels.

Dogs Deserve Better plans to turn the property in Surry County, Virginia, into a center to rehabilitate and resocialize dogs that have been mistreated and abused, with the hope of finding them adoptive homes.

The name of the facility will be: The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

The potential deal, which we told you about in February, became a reality in May, when Dogs Deserve Better raised enough money for the down payment and secured a bank loan to purchase the 4,600-square-foot white brick house and surrounding 15 acres.

The group paid $176,507 as the down payment for the house, liisted at $595,000, and is still raising money to pay for the rest and make improvements.

Once complete, it will be a $2.5 million facility, founder Tamira Thayne said told the Virginian-Pilot.

“Purchasing this property and in effect giving it back to the victims of the abuse that occurred here is a very powerful step for animal advocates and our country’s dogs alike,” said Thayne. “We are sending a message to those who want to abuse and fight dogs that a new day is dawning in America, a day where dogs are treated with the love and respect they deserve as companions to humans.”

The Washington Post had a report on the property’s transition from a place of nightmares to a place of hope earlier this month.

Dogs Deserve Better, which will move from its Pennsylvania base to Virginia,  has never had a facility of its own, but it says it has rescued and rehomed more than 3,000 dogs during its existence.

Dogs Deserve Better says having the facililty in a house will help in socializing the dogs it takes in. The group hopes to rescue and rehabilitate 500 dogs a year.

Thayne said that, in addition to welcoming visitors, Dogs Deserve Better will also build a memorial on the property for the dogs who died and suffered there, according to Dogster.com.

For more information on the purchase, the plans and how you can donate, visit the website of Dogs Deserve Better.

Padding Michael Vick, and his bank account

Michael Vick’s first post-prison endorsement contract — with a company called Unequal Technologies — appears to already be paying dividends, both for the quarterback and the company.

Vick, in exchange for a piece of the company,  is now shilling for Unequal, which makes protective padding for athletes, designed to help prevent injuries among those who take part in contact sports — dogfighting, of course, not included.

For Vick, who once raked in $7 million a year in endorsements, the contract puts him back on the lucrative path of touting products for pay — and, though it’s not quite on level of Nike and Coke, it’s another step, as he sees it, to redeeming his image, left tarnished by a dogfighting scandal and prison term. He also reveals, in this interview, that he has a “V 7” shoe and clothing line in the works.

For Unequal Technologies, teaming up with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback meant an immediate burst of publicity and a huge surge in sales. Chief Executive Rob Vito said within a day of Vick’s signing, there were 10 million hits on Unequal Technologies website. “The sales went up 1,000% when Mike came on board,” he said, adding that they are still about triple what they were a year ago.

The company declined to disclose the terms of the agreement, but both Vito and Vick, in this interview with the Wall Street Journal, say the quarterback was given a share in the company, as opposed to a flat fee.

In the wide-ranging interview, Vick seems to contradict himself several times. He says he doesn’t read newspaper accounts about himself,  then says he reads them before games because their negativity motivates him. He says he’s not a Christian, but that his connection with God is “uncanny”.

He says he wouldn’t change anything about his life, except maybe shortening his prison sentence, from 18 months to five months. His dogfighting conviction and imprisonment, he says, led to an opportunity to read, and work on improving himself.

“Because I handled it so well, I think that’s why the Lord is continuing to bless me,” he says.

Read more »

Hurler Buehrle hoped Vick would be hurt

Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle admits he and his wife sometimes rooted for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to be injured on the field — as payback for Vick’s mistreatment of dogs.

“He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt,” Buehrle told MLB.com. “Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”

Buehrle’s comments were later removed from the MLB.com article that was published Wednesday, but the author of the article, Scott Merkin, tweeted some of them, according to the Sporting News.

The Buehrles own three dogs and are active in the rescue community.

Of course, Buehrle wasn’t the first person to wish bad things on Vick, who — in addition to teaming up with the Humane Society of the United States to send an anti-dogfighting message — has managed to have mostly good ones come his way since serving 23 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.

First there was the Ed Block Hero Award, presented in Baltimore last year. Last week he received the key to the city of Dallas, and this week he was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

“Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?” Buehrle was quoted as saying. “How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?”

Buehrle’s comments were much tamer than those of political commentator Tucker Carlson, who said in December that Vick should have been executed for his crimes.

Carlson later said he “overspoke.”

That seems to be a common ailment among humans these days.