He goes by the nickname “Wolfdog.” Lives in Alabama’s great outdoors. And he spends most of his time, along with his dog, Bandit, picking trash — copious amounts of trash — out of the waterways.
It’s not a job. He doesn’t get paid. He says he does it out of his love for the planet and its wildlife.
“I’m not asking anybody for anything. I’m not a charity case. I ain’t a bum. I’m not a mooch,” says 55-year-old Cliff Skees. “But I do care about the environment. I care about wildlife. I care about human beings, but human beings, they take one look at me and they say, ‘Well, he’s just a piece of trash, you know.’
“Maybe I am. But then again, maybe I ain’t. I can look myself in the mirror and say I’m trying.”
We’ll go so far — despite the hard times he’s gone through in life — to cast a vote for “ain’t.”
And to point out that, most likely, a lot of those people who see him as “trash” are the same ones who so casually discard it, cluttering the waterways around Mobile, Alabama.
Skees is an unpolished gem, first discovered four years ago by Ben Raines, an environmental reporter for the Mobile Press-Register.
At the time, Skees was living the woods and was commonly seen with Bandit, gathering garbage from the shores from a canoe with these words painted on the side, “Be a critter, please don’t litter.”
Raines wrote a story back then about the man and his mission. He followed along as Skees — and Bandit, too — scooped up trash from the water and returned it to their base, where 140 bags full of garbage, stacked and numbered, sat.
“It was a startling sight, and a testament to just how trashy we Alabamians are, for even with that much trash picked up, so much more remained along the river banks,” Raines wrote.
Recently, Raines ran into him again — and found out that, while Skees’ mission remained the same, his situation has improved somewhat. You can read that second story here.
After the first story appeared, someone donated a pontoon boat to Skees, and he turned it into his base of operations.
Raines happened upon Wolfdog and Bandit again last week at a boat ramp on Chickasabouge Creek.
“They both looked prosperous and had a certain spring in their collective step. I immediately had the feeling some good fortune had come their way,” Raines wrote.
“Mr. Ben!” Wolfdog shouted, “You’ve got to see my rig. Things are different these days.”
Wolfdog then showed off the houseboat he had fashioned from the pontoon boat — one complete with solar panels, an electric motor, and other features that he fashioned out of recycled materials and some “backwoods hillbilly ingenuity.”
“The woodwork is top notch. Glossy marine varnish shines from every surface. There’s a bed, a table, a propane stove and several small windows. The framing for the insulated walls is aluminum, to better resist rotting. Everywhere you look, the craftsmanship is meticulous,” Raines reported.
An anonymous donor gave Skees the old 1979 pontoon boat after the first article appeared, apparently to support his one-man cleanup mission.
While friends donated items to the houseboat project, Skees receives no support for his efforts to keep the waterways clean — except that which Bandit supplies. When they are out in the canoe, Bandit will leap off to collect cups and plastic bottles in his mouth.
Wolfdog says he hopes to set a Guinness World Record for picking up trash, and he still dreams of finding some support from the local environmental groups.
“I can’t get nobody to help me. That’s what breaks my heart the worst. I can’t even get a thank you,” Wolfdog said. “I think they look at me and they see trash…
“I won’t give up. Get discouraged sometimes. But my best work, the best of my work, don’t come nowhere close to what I leave behind … There’s just no comparison. No comparison. Not nowhere close.”
Skees says it was on his first canoe ride that he fell in love with the solace of canoeing.
That trip is also when, seeing trash in the water, cleaning it up began his calling.
“For certain for sure,” he said. “There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to talk about it.”
If you are interested in helping Wolfdog and Bandit with their mission, contact Raines at email@example.com.
(Photo courtesy of Wolfdog)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 2nd, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alabama, animals, bandit, ben raines, canoe, clean, cliff skees, dog, dogs, environment, garbage, guardian, homeless, houseboat, litter, mobile, pets, pollution, reporter, rivers, trash, waterways, wildlife, wolfdog
A not guilty plea was entered Friday on behalf of Kisha Curtis, the Newark woman accused of animal cruelty charges stemming from the discovery of a dog who’d been tossed down a trash chute and left to die in a garbage bin.
The 1-year-old pit bull, whose rescuers named him Patrick, continues to recover at an area animal hospital.
Public defender Regina Lynch entered the plea in Superior Court in Newark on behalf of Curtis, 27, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. She appeared at the hearing via a video hookup from the Essex County Jail.
Curtis faces two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment, said Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Cheryl Cucinello.
After the hearing, Kisha’s mother, Tammie Curtis, said her daughter didn’t discard the dog, but only left him tethered at the high-rise Garden Spires apartments in Newark — while she went on a trip to Albany. She implied that the dog was stolen.
“Anybody would take that dog,” the mother said. “If she tied the dog, she didn’t leave the dog to die.”
A security guard at the 520-unit complex told the Star-Ledger that the dog had been seen tied to a railing with a leather leash, and had been the subject of resident complaints for more than a month.
“It would whimper, and it would yelp when you would come up to it,” Ortman said.
A custodian found Patrick on March 16, inside a trash bag at the bottom of a 22-story garbage chute.
Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez kept Curtis’ bail at $10,000 bond or $1,000 cash and forbid her to have contact with pets. If convicted, she faces 18 months in prison, a $3,000 fine and community service.
Patrick has been recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, where he has gained two pounds since being found.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, bail, bin, bond, charges, chute, courts, entered, essex county, garbage, garden spires, hearing, justice, kisha curtis, neglect, newark, news, not guilty, patrick, pit bull, pitbull, plea, sentence, tormenting, torture, trash, video
Here’s a video update posted by the Newark Star-Ledger yesterday on Patrick — the starved, abused and discarded pit bull who has captured America’s heart.
Two weeks have passed since Patrick was rescued — minutes before the bin he was in was headed to the trash compactor — after being tossed down a garbage chute in a high-rise Newark apartment building.
Caregivers at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls say Patrick continues to improve, but an ultrasound shows that he has an object lodged in his stomach.
Once he gains a little more weight, vets will perform an endoscopy to remove whatever might be lodged inside him.
The Associated Humane Society of Newark, which has official custody of Patrick, will determine who adopts Patrick once he is completely healed. Thousands across the country have expressed interest.
Kisha Curtis, who has been identified as the dog’s owner, has been charged with two counts of abandonment and two counts of failure to provide proper sustenance, according New Jersey SPCA officials. The charges — two criminal counts and two civil counts — carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a $1,000 fine and community service.
Curtis told police that she couldn’t take care of Patrick anymore, but she denies responsibility for tossing the 1 year-old dog down the apartment garbage chute.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, adopt, animal welfare, animals, apartment, arrest, associated humane societies, bin, charges, chute, compactor, cruelty, dog, dogs, garbage, garden state veterinary specialists, high rise, kisha curtis, neglect, new jersey, patrick, pets, pit bull, rescue, trash, update, video
A 28-year-old Newark woman has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty in the case of Patrick, a 1-year-old pit bull who was found almost starved to death after he was dumped down a garbage chute in a high-rise apartment building.
Kisha Curtis was charged Friday with two counts of abandonment and two counts of failure to provide proper sustenance, New Jersey SPCA officials said.
The dog was discovered by maintenance workers March 16 inside a garbage bin at Garden Spires, a 550-unit apartment building. Staff at the Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park called it one of the worst cases of cruelty they’ve ever seen.
Matthew Stanton, a spokesman for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told FoxNews.com that Curtis, the alleged owner, faces two criminal counts and two civil counts, which he said could result in up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine and community service if convicted.
Stanton said Curtis told authorities she was unable to take care of the dog anymore, but she denied throwing the dog into the chute at the 22-story apartment building. The New Jersey SPCA is investigating whether anyone else was involved in the abuse and disposal of the animal.
Patrick, meanwhile, is slowly recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. Staff there say he is now standing and eating small amounts of food several times a day, though he remains pathetically thin.
AHS, which is paying for Patrick’s continuing care, is continuing to post daily updates on his condition. Most recently, they’ve reported that an ultrasound test found a foreign body lodged found inside the dog, and they speculated he may have swallowed something to quell the hunger that he was experiencing.
AHS also arranged to have Patrick interviewed by an animal communicator, who reported he told her, among other things, “I am broken, I don’t know why.”
(Photo: Courtesy of Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park Zoo)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandonment, animal communicator, animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, arrest, associated humane societies, charges, condition, cruelty, dog, dogs, dumped, garbage, garden spires, garden state veterinary specialists, health, kisha curtis, new jersey, newark, owner, patrick, pets, pit bull, popcorn park zoo, starved, trash chute
One year’s probation is all the sentence a judge deemed proper for a woman who threw her 18-month-old dog in the garbage, leading to him almost being crushed in a trash truck.
The dog, named Tommy, has had an extension cord wrapped around his neck since he was a puppy. His owner reportedly wrapped the cord around his neck because he kept breaking lose from his chain. Eventually it became embedded in his skin.
Prosecutors say 34-year-old Tracia Johnson of Cahokia, tossed the dog in the trash because she thought he was dead, according to KSDK in St. Louis. A garbage man found him and he was nursed back to health at Hope Animal Rescue.
Wednesday, Johnson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty and was sentenced to one year probation, 250 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors had asked for 60 days in jail.
“From my perspective I really would have liked to see her get the sixty days in jail to think about it,” says Jackie Spiker with Hope Animal Rescue. “I just think in order to change the way things are we have to start holding people accountable.”
Tommy made a full recovery and now lives with new owners, who keep a scarf around his neck to hide his scars.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, cahokia, dog, dogs, extension cord, garbage, hope animal rescue, news, ohmidog!, pets, probation, sentence, st. louis, thrown, tommy, tossed, tracia johnson
That X-Man was rescued from a trash can as a puppy didn’t make him all that unusual. It happens way too often.
That X-Man was rescued from a trash can by a girl who — as an infant — was herself rescued from the garbage makes his story, and her’s, a bit more out of the ordinary.
X-Man died last month after a long and happy life he owed, in large part, to Amy Louise Annelle, who in 1983, at only 4 or 5 hours old, was stuffed in a cereal box and dumped in a large trash bin on Nova Road in Daytona Beach.
When Amy was rescued from a garbage truck’s trash compactor by trash collectors, Pat Patten-Carlen followed the news accounts. She was looking for a baby girl to adopt after her daughter died. When “Amy Nova” — the name hospital nurses had given the baby found in the garbage — turned four months old, Patten-Carlen adopted her.
Thirteen years later, Amy came home from school and told Patten-Carlen she’d discovered a puppy in a trash can.
“She said, “It’s in a garbage can like me,’ ” Patten-Carlen told the Daytona Beach News Journal.
After Amy found X-Man, she took him to a shelter. But when no one would adopt him, she and Patten-Carlen came to the rescue again. They got their close friend Carson Allison to bring him home. X-Man lived with Allison until the dog’s death last month.
“We had a special connection,” Amy said. “Up until two weeks ago when he was put down because he was too sick and in pain, I kept close to X-Man.”
A small memorial service for X-Man was held Saturday in DeLand.
Amy, whose birth mother was never found, is now a CVS store manager, married and the mother of a 4-year-old girl, Autumn. She’s expecting another baby, a boy, in four or five weeks.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abandonment, adopt, adopted, amy louise annelle, amy nova, animals, baby, daytona beach, discarded, dog, dogs, dumped, florida, garbage, girl, infant, news, ohmidog!, pets, puppy, rescue, trash, X-man
It seems I wasn’t the only one to disagree with “Dear Abby’s” recent opinion that throwing the bagged poopage of your dog into someone else’s garbage can was acceptable.
“I’m sorry to say my advice … landed me in the doghouse,” the columnist noted earlier this week.
Back in September, Abby advised “Pooped Out in North Carolina” — who was getting the business from his family after tossing his dog’s bagged feces in a neighbor’s garbage can — that “as long as the bag was securely sealed, I don’t think adding it to someone’s trash bin was a social no-no.”
ohmidog! quickly pounced on Abby for dispensing such bad advice. It’s bad manners and, worse yet, gives the anti-dog types something else to complain about.
As it turns out, we weren’t alone. Many others disagreed with Abby, and a sampling of those opinions were included in her column Monday.
“DEAR ABBY: … As a homeowner who is a frequent recipient of foreign feces, there is a practical issue that you may not have foreseen. Our garbage collectors will not dispose of small bags of dog poop; they will only take trash bags of the larger size one would expect to contain household waste,” wrote Frequent Feces Finder.
“DEAR ABBY: You should have told “Pooped” to check the local laws first. In my community, if you’re caught putting your trash in someone else’s container, you are made to clean it out, fined and sometimes given jail time,” wrote Tom in Reed City, Michigan.
“DEAR ABBY: We walk our dogs four times a day and place their carefully bagged “deposits” only in the trash at our house. We do this for two reasons: One, people can be territorial about their refuse containers and resent any ‘unauthorized’ garbage placed there. Two, many homeowners hate finding animal waste on their property or in their trash,” opined Picker-Upper in California.
(Photo from the flickr page of left-hand)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby, advice, animals, bags, cans, columnist, dear abby, dog, dogs, feces, garbage, manners, pets, poop, pooped, property, refuse, responsibility, responsible, trash, waste