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Tag: homeless

City of Eugene ends downtown dog ban

ban1KEZI

City councilors in Eugene have opted to let lapse a ban on dogs in part of downtown — but at the same time many of them are saying the ban “worked,” that it was never intended to be permanent, and that it may be back someday.

Yes, they are all over the place, those councilors. But as of Nov. 1 dogs can return to the center city area bounded by Lincoln Street to the west, Eighth Avenue to the north, Pearl Street to the east and 10th/11th Avenue to the south.

The ban did not apply to owning a dog within the boundaries, just to those visitors who brought their dogs along to walk the streets or dine in restaurants.

Critics maintained the ban, approved by the city council in April, was actually aimed at homeless people and their dogs and encourage them to — if they wanted to keep their dogs — relocate elsewhere.

The ban was one of several initiatives the city launched over the summer to try to make the area safer and more welcoming, such as an increased police presence downtown, more programs and events in public spaces within the area and “expanded outreach” to chronic offenders on the streets.

Some councilors, and the organization that pushed for the dog ban to be enacted — The Downtown Stakeholders Group, made up of downtown business and property owners — say they could still seek to get it reinstated.

The ban was passed with the understanding that it would expire in six months if the council didn’t vote to extend it.

eugeneweeklyNow, the council has opted, after the ban met with much protest, to let it expire.

After it does, on Nov. 1, reinstating would require the council to hold a public hearing and two public votes.

Councilors say that, taken together, the initiatives improved the atmosphere downtown and attracted more people to public spaces. But they say measuring which particular initiatives were most responsible for that is difficult.

The city has yet to compile information on how many citations were issued for dog ban violations, or whether they were more often issued to the homeless, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

During a council meeting last Monday, three people encouraged councilors to let the ban lapse, and one compared it to racism.

Eugene resident Mel Hite accused police officers of stopping and ticketing dogs controlled by the homeless and ignoring dogs controlled by “housed owners … It appears this is doggy racism based on the class of the person holding the leash,” she said.

(Photos of Eugene protests, from KEZI (top) and Eugene Weekly)

Homeless Charlotte man fights to keep dog

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Most homeless people push shopping carts. Alan Lord pushes a dog crate.

Inside that crate on wheels, more often than not, is Levi, his four year old Lab mix.

And that has led to some concerns among those who see them on the streets of Charlotte, and a controversy that the Charlotte Observer reports has pitted do-gooder against do-gooder.

Some dog lovers are urging the Mecklenburg County Animal Care and Control to take the dog, saying the dog spends too much time in the crate and that Lord has turned down most offers of help.

Lord, the animal control office and others say taking that action might be harsh and unfair, that Levi is virtually all Lord has since becoming homeless a year ago, and that while Lord probably could get into a homeless shelter, none in the city allow dogs.

lord2Lord, 43, is not willing to consider that last option.

He’s a former bank employee who lost his job, got divorced and lost his home — all recently — and separating from his 80 pound, 4-year-old dog is unacceptable to him.

“Levi – he’s all I have,” Lord told an Observer reporter last week as he sat in a Bojangles’ parking lot. “He’s my best friend and always will be.”

Ideally, he said, he’d like to move to Hawaii and live with his brother, but he hasn’t been able to pull that off. Lord admits his own back problems have limited the amount of tie Levi spends out of the crate.

Nevertheless, some dog advocates, several of whom have made efforts to help Lord, say the time has come to take his dog away.

“It’s an animal caught in the middle,” said Dina Castanas, who recently organized a community meeting where animal control officials heard from about 25 neighbors who want Levi out of the crate. “Levi has no voice and no choice in the matter.”

Terri McConnell and her husband estimate they have spent about $3,500 trying to help Lord and Levi — on hotel rooms, camping equipment and food.

“We didn’t mind. But then there comes a point where you’re like ‘We’re throwing good money after bad’ … He’s refusing help,” McConnell told the Observer. “The more paranoid he gets about someone trying to take that dog, the worse it’s getting.”

lord3Advocates for the homeless say Lord’s rights should be respected, that his refusal to separate from his dog isn’t unusual, and that — until a homeless shelter in Charlotte starts allowing pets — no one should be insisting that he go into one.

Josh Fisher, director of Animal Care and Control, says the dog is not being neglected or abused and doesn’t seem to be suffering — despite repeated complaints from citizens who say Levi is being kept too long in a too-small crate.

“Suffering is very much in the eyes of the beholder,” he said.

Fisher said his department’s officers have visited the dog almost daily in response to complaints. Levi is up-to-date on his vaccinations, in good health and has a good disposition, he said.

He said officials are working on a permanent housing solution that will allow Lord and Levi to stay together.

(Photos: Diedra Laird / Charlotte Observer)

Tennessee man plans to let his huskies pull him 2,200 miles on a makeshift dog sled

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A homeless Knoxville man plans to hitch his two huskies to a homemade dog sled made out of a lawn chair and a skateboard and travel 2,200 miles across the country to Venice Beach, California.

Georgie Cutright says the purpose of his journey is to see the country, spread some joy and, for once in his life, finish something.

“I’ve never actually finished anything in my life, you know?” Cutright, 41, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “This is something that’s going to be really incredible to do, and it’s something that I’m really, really adamant about finishing.”

How adamant the dogs who will power his “urban dog sled” — Sarah and Lobos — are is another question.

He could face some questions as well from local authorities as he makes his journey, and possibly animal welfare advocates, given the dogs will be running the distance of two Iditarods, on pavement no less.

Cutright says he plans to outfit the dogs in booties and take multiple breaks, though, and that — given the trip is partly about sharing his love for his rescued dogs — they will be treated well.

Currently living out of his van, Cutright has been training his two dogs on the streets of Knoxville, and drawing crowds when he does so. He plans to sell the van to finance the trip, which he hopes to start soon.

585c65c1a0376.imageHe has been using them for a while now as a mode of transportation.

“I was sitting on a skateboard and holding Sarah’s leash one day when she took off,” he told the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.

He held on to the leash and rolled along behind them. After that, he says, he learned to balance on a chair atop the long skateboard as the dogs pulled him.

He uses his shoes as brakes and has taught the dogs commands: “Yah” to get them to speed up, “Whoa” to slow down,” and “hard right” or “hard left” for turning.

Cutright says he will take country roads that parallel Interstate 40, camping in a tent at night.

Originally from Mattoon, Illinois, Cutright said he became homeless two years ago after he lost his job as a carpenter. He said he’s been unable to secure another steady job because of a felony conviction for an armed robbery when he was 18.

A friend will be making the trip with him.

Cutright has already secured his first sponsor: HeadQuarters skateboard shop, which donated multiple sets of wheels and bearings for the journey.

He said he will stay in motels when he can, and in people’s homes when they offer to put him up.

Cutright said he got Sarah off Craigslist from a woman who was moving, and acquired Lobos from the police department in Venice Beach when the dog’s homeless owner was arrested.

He will share details of the trip on his Facebook page. He has also established a GoFundMe page that seeks to raise $20,000 for the trip.

“I just want people to know that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. Anybody can, even a homeless guy.”

(Photos: Kevin Kilhoffer / Journal Gazette & Times-Courier)

Deputy shoots herself while killing dog

This confrontation between a dog and a sheriff’s deputy didn’t come out well for anybody.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said that the deputy, who was not identified by name, was attempting to contact the dog’s owner following the mauling of a homeless man when she was attacked.

The incident took place over the weekend at a homeless encampment in Hudson, Fla.

Deputies had received a report about a pit bull at the encampment attacking a homeless man and responded to interview the owner, according to Fox13.

As the deputy approached, the dog broke its leash and went after her, grabbing her pant leg and causing her to trip.

The deputy fired several shots at the dog, killing it, but one of the shots grazed her own hand, injuring a finger.

“I shot my finger off,” she can be heard saying in the body cam video the sheriff’s office released.

Her injury was treated a local hospital.

The sheriff’s office says the deputy has three pit bulls herself and she is familiar with the breed.

No charges have been filed yet.

Gladys, of Salisbury, passes away

(In memory of Gladys, who passed away Friday, we’re reprinting this story from two years ago about the fluffy white dog, the homeless man that took her in and the Maryland town that showed them both some love.)

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For more than a decade, they were a familiar sight around downtown Salisbury, Maryland — the homeless man and his silky white dog.

You could often find them stationed outside Benedict the Florist, or located in what was an even shrewder spot to panhandle — behind the Dunkin Donuts, where cars lined up at the drive-through.

Elwood, the homeless man, and Gladys, his dog, weren’t shooed away too often in Salisbury. That, likely, was in part because of Elwood’s friendly demeanor, maybe in larger part because of his highly sociable dog, who he found as a pup in a box by a Dumpster, or in a bag in the middle of Highway 13, depending on who’s telling the story

In any event, the troubled man and the Wheaton mix became partners in homelessness, and for more than a decade survived off the kindness of friends and strangers in Salisbury.

elwoodgladys2Then, in 2012, they both seemed to disappear.

No one saw Elwood, though some people were pretty sure they had spotted the dog at various locations around town.

Edna Walls had that feeling when she saw a silky white, mid-sized dog at a groomers recently, asked about it and learned it was — sure enough — Gladys.

Elwood Towers had died in May, 2013 of cancer, the groomer explained to her, and since then his dog has been living with the owner of the flower shop outside of which Elwood and Gladys once panhandled. She recounted the encounter in a reader-submitted column published on Delmarva Now.

The Lucky Dog Pet Salon never charged Elwood for grooming Gladys, Walls reported, just like some local veterinarians cut him a break when Gladys needed shots or medical treatment.

An obituary for Elwood on Legacy.com makes note of the kindness the two received. Submitted by his “adoptive family,” it thanks “the business and professional community and the thousands of people that took the time to help him, say a kind word, or give Gladys a pet. Those things are what made his life meaningful.”

The obituary continues, “He leaves behind his dearest and closest companion, Gladys. The ‘homeless man and his white dog’ were well recognized from their travels throughout the Salisbury area in the last 15 years. Elwood loved the outdoors and his ‘WORK;’ the proceeds of which were often shared with others in need.”

George Benedict, who took in Gladys after Elwood’s death, agrees that Elwood was known for being poor, but also for being a giving sort. Once, he got kicked out of an apartment for refusing to get rid of a stray bird he was nursing back to health.

“He was a generous man,” Benedict told ohmidog! “If he took in $100, he’d give half of it away or buy groceries for friends in need.”

Elwood, before he died, took steps to make sure Gladys would be cared for. He asked George Benedict to take ownership of Gladys.

In years of writing about homeless people, and homeless dogs, and homeless people with homeless dogs, it’s something I’ve noticed. A homeless person may not know where their next meal is coming from, but they know where their dog’s is. A homeless person may have no roof over his head, and no plan for tomorrow, but likely they’ve made contingency plans for what will happen to their dog when they’re gone.

gladysBenedict, who had always been fond of Gladys — who’d never suggested the pair move on when they lingered outside his shop — agreed. He’s retired now, and the floral shop — a local institution for 130 years — closed in 2011. Benedict still works with homeless people, though, through an organization called Hope, Inc.

He knew Elwood for almost 15 years, and remembers when Elwood found Gladys — in a box by a Dumpster, he says — and decided to keep the pup. Some people told Elwood that was a mistake, Benedict recalls, pointing out to Elwood that he could barely take care of himself.

Elwood had spent much of his life in prison, including his teens. He looked down on drug use, and while he enjoyed a beer or two, he wasn’t a heavy drinker, Benedict said.

Still, after taking in Gladys, Elwood never had another drink, Benedict said. “She was pretty much his whole life.”

For a while, Benedict said, Elwood lived in an unheated garage, paying $300 a month for it. About the time city inspectors asked him to leave, Gladys had a litter of pups. Elwood gave them away, including one to Benedict.

Benedict said that dog died at age 6, from lymphoma.

“I never imagined I would actually wind up with Gladys,” Benedict said.

In his final years, Elwood was fighting cancer, too.  His lower jaw had to rebuilt after one surgery. He called off the fight in 2012, deciding not to seek further treatment.

In Elwood’s final months, Benedict spent a lot of time with him. He died May 17, 2013, at age 75 at Coastal Hospice at the Lake.

Benedict took Gladys to the groomer just before Elwood’s funeral, and she attended the service, along with about 35 humans.

“They were sort of unique in Salisbury,” Benedict said. “I guess it was the combination of him and Gladys. People gave him a lot more tolerance than they might some other folks.”

Gladys is 14 now.

“She’s an amazing dog,” Benedict says. She just instinctively likes to be with people … My wife and I are convinced she has some sort of aura about her. She goes with me wherever I go, and all the stores let her in. Wherever I go, people get out of their car and say ‘what kind of dog is that?’ I tell them she’s a Wheaton mix.

“Some of them say ‘I used to give food to a man who had a dog like that.'”

Donations in memory of Elwood and Gladys can be made to the organization specified in his obituary: The Humane Society of Wicomico County, 5130 Citation Drive, Salisbury, MD 21804.

Actress Anna Faris hit with “fine” after her Chihuahua is found starving on the street

farisdogA Los Angeles animal shelter has slapped actress Anna Faris with a $5,000 penalty fee for breaking the terms of an animal adoption contract she signed four years ago.

Laurel Kinder, the head of Kinder4Rescue, says the emaciated Chihuahua was found Friday wandering the streets of North Hollywood.

When a vet checked the dog for a microchip, Faris’ name came up as the owner, as well as information about where Pete had been adopted from.

The rescue organization was contacted, took custody of the dog, and will seek to find him a new home.

Kinder told TMZ that in signing the contract for the adoption of Pete Faris agreed to pay the fine if she ever parted with the dog without informing them.

Faris, in a statement to People magazine, said she gave the dog to another family when her son was born.

“Five years ago I adopted an adorable Chihuahua named Pete, from the Kinder4Rescue Animal Rescue. Unfortunately when our son was born, we discovered that he was allergic to Pete, so I found what I thought was a loving and responsible family to care for him.

faris“My agreement with the animal rescue required me to contact them first before allowing another family to take Pete in. I failed to do this, and for that I am deeply sorry. I now understand the dangers of giving animals away for free.”

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Pete has been found and is back in the hands of Kinder4Rescue. I feared that he had been lost forever and, although he is malnourished and in need of care, it seems he is going to make a full recovery. For this, I am so deeply thankful…”

Faris is the Baltimore-born star of the CBS series “Mom,” whose numerous film credits include “Scary Movie” and its sequels, “House Bunny,” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

The North Hollywood shelter said it had been unable to reach Faris and her husband, actor Chris Pratt, since the dog was found Friday.

Five years ago, Pratt was widely criticized on social media for getting rid of the couple’s cat.

Before putting the cat up for adoption, he announced on Twitter that he and his wife wanted to “start a family” and “absolutely cannot have an animal that shits all over the house.”

(Photos: TMZ)

When one lost soul bumps into another

Two lost souls coming together isn’t exactly a new movie theme, but it still works, especially when it has a twist like this one.

“A Stray” is about a young man whose refugee family fled Somalia and relocated in Minneapolis. He becomes sort of a double stray when his family kicks him out after he gets in some trouble.

At a mosque, Adan finds shelter. He gets a job, delivering food, and seems to be pulling his life together when his delivery vehicle strikes a dog.

Adan, at the urging of a bystander, hesitantly loads the small white mutt in the car and takes him to a vet, who pronounces the dog OK. It is then that Adan learns he must take the dog with him.

That’s a problem because, on top of being homeless, Adan is Muslim. Under Muslim law, dogs are considered dirty. Many practicing Muslims, like Adan’s family, forbid them in the home. When he arrives back at the mosque with the dog, he’s told to leave.

What happens next — when a man raised to have nothing to do with dogs ends up with a stray, when his God and his Dog are seemingly irreconcilable forces — makes for a thought-provoking and magical movie.

It premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXWS) Film Festival, and had several screenings last weekend, introduced by writer-director Musa Syeed, at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.

The human star of the movie is actor Barkhad Abdirahman, a Somali refugee who lives in Minneapolis.

Director Syeed, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, said he was intrigued by the idea of combining the archetypal American/Western man-and-dog story with Muslim sensitivities towards dogs.

“What was interesting to me about a Muslim kid and a dog was that these are two entities that seemingly are not able to reconcile, or that are so different,” he said. “And I think that’s the way that maybe a lot of people see, you know, Muslims in America … there is some inherent tension or something like that.”

He said he hopes that the story of a man and his forbidden dog shows that there is room for compassion, understanding and a connection.