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Tag: houston

Barbara Bush stood for much, dogs included

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Barbara Bush was remembered over the weekend as a kind, strong and loyal matriarch whose advocacy for various causes touched the lives of many.

Among those were the lives of dogs — her own family’s and others, including the hundreds of thousands who have visited the dog park that bears the name of her former dog, Millie.

Mrs. Bush wrote two children’s books that featured her own family dogs.

millliesbook“Millie’s Book,” published in 1992, describes a day in the life of President George H.W. Bush and family, through their dogs eyes, including daily morning briefings, time spent in the Oval Office, and breaks in the yard to chase squirrels.

The book hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

“C. Fred’s Story,” published in 1984, detailed their Cocker Spaniel’s life as the sidekick of then-Vice President Bush.

Both books raised money towards Bush’s top human cause, literacy, with “Millie’s Book” raising over $1.1 million.

More than 1,000 mourners gathered in Texas Saturday to attend the funeral of the former first lady at the Bushes’ family church in Houston.

She had been fighting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

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In 2003, Harris County opened a state of the art dog park in Houston in honor of the former first lady’s English Springer Spaniel, Millie.

Millie and Mrs. Bush are said to have been the inspiration for the park, the first to open in the county. It went on to serve as a model and inspiration for other dog parks. Millie died in Kennebunkport, Maine, on May 19, 1997 at the age of about 11.

Houston locals remember Mrs. Bush as “a kind of straight-talking grandmother to the city, an approachable first lady out for a stroll in the sunshine, so genuinely earthbound that she herself picked up after her dogs at the park,” the New York Times reported.

More photos of Mrs. Bush and the Bush dogs can be seen in this PEOPLE magazine report on the former first lady’s passion for dogs.

(Photos: At top, the First Lady and Millie on the grounds of the White House in 1989, by Diana Walker; at bottom, Millie and the Lady in a 1990 photo, Associated Press)

Sunday’s Puppy Bowl XIV will feature dogs left homeless by hurricanes

tylerThis Sunday’s Puppy Bowl will feature adoptable dogs who were left homeless by natural disasters.

This year, Animal Planet is featuring pups rescued from areas that were devastated by natural disasters last year in Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Mexico.

The network worked with 48 different animal shelters and rescue organizations from 26 U.S. states in putting together the teams for this year’s big game, which will feature the most pups in Puppy Bowl history.

About half of them were victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters who ended up in shelters and rescues — like Tyler (above), who was left homeless by Hurricane Harvey.

Puppy Bowl XIV will air on Animal Planet at 3 p.m. Sunday.

It will also include some special need dogs, like Ryder, a sight-impaired husky; Chance, a deaf dalmatian; Moonshine, a sight-impaired and deaf border collie; and Luna, a Pomeranian mix with a cleft palate.

On Saturday at 8 p.m., Animal Planet will air its first Dog Bowl, featuring more mature dogs in need of homes.

You can learn more about the program, view starting lineups at the Animal Planet website.

Terrier’s bus ride leads to a forever home

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That Boston terrier who boarded a city bus and went on a 20-mile ride in Houston last month has landed in a forever home, according to news reports.

The dog, as you can see in the surveillance video above, hopped on the bus in northwest Houston with some other passengers, though he didn’t belong to any of them.

Twenty miles later, at Metro’s downtown transit center on Main Street, he exited the bus with other passengers — one of whom escorted him to the transit authority police station.

“He was a very friendly little guy. He was very sociable. But he was a gentleman,” Metro Police Officer Ida Schoener told KHOU.

Schoener, on her lunch break, took the dog to the Bayou City Veterinary Hospital, which agreed to care for the dog — by then nicknamed “Metro” — until an owner or foster family could be found.

“He’s pretty calm but also excited to go out on walks,” said Bayou City veterinarian Kristy Kyle. “He is not afraid of the world. We’ll put it that way.”

The transit authority released surveillance footage recorded on a camera on the bus of the dog being welcomed on board, as well as footage of the dog arriving at the transit center.

After no one called to claim the dog, a Boston terrier rescue group was called and a temporary home was found.

There, the dog’s long strange trip finally came to an end, the veterinary hospital reports, when the person serving as his foster parent decided to adopt him.

Houston mayor apologizes for death of dog left on side of highway by police officer

gueroThe mayor of Houston has apologized to a family whose nearly blind Chihuahua was killed after a police officer arrested his owner and left the dog on the side of a busy highway.

“Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “I don’t know what airhead – there’s another word in my mind but I’m not going to say it – would throw, you wouldn’t put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn’t put someone’s pet on the side of the road.”

The airheaded officer has not been identified.

But police say an internal investigation of the incident is underway, and that it could take six months to complete.

As reported by KTRK, the complaint stems from a July 14 traffic stop. Josie Garcia says her husband and a friend were pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. Police say they found drugs in the vehicle — a prescription medicine called phencyclidine — and arrested both men. (The charges against Garcia’s husband were later dropped.)

According to Garcia, the arresting officer wouldn’t let her husband call anyone to pick up Guero, the family’s 14-year-old Chihuahua who was along for the ride.

Guero had bad vision due to cataracts, she says. He was left on the side of the highway when the vehicle was towed, and the officer took no steps to contact animal control, Garcia said.

“My husband pleaded with the officer to let him call someone to come get Guero … but he said it wasn’t his problem, that the dog would be fine,” Garcia said.

Three days later, Garcia, who had posted “lost” signs in the area, received a call from someone who had spotted Guero. She found him dead on a shoulder of the Eastex Freeway, about half a mile from where he had been left.

Guero wrapped the dog’s body in a towel, took him home and buried him.

Exhibit depicts Houston’s homeless dogs

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Houston’s homeless dogs are the subject of a photo exhibit opening this weekend.

The two-week exhibition, entitled, “No One’s Dog,” is aimed at bringing attention to the animal overpopulation crisis in Houston, where shelters generally operate at capacity and an estimated 1 million dogs and cats are living as strays.

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Three non-profit agencies are supporting the project — DiverseWorks, Barrio Dogs and Box 13.

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The public was invited — and supplied with disposable cameras — to capture images of homeless dogs. The images were uploaded to Flickr (you can see them all here) and the best were chosen for the exhibit, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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The exhibit runs from July 26 to Aug. 9 at DiverseWorks, 4102 Fannin Street in Houston.

(Credits: Top photo by Emily Crossley; second photo by Page Moore; third and fourth photos by Gina Damian)

Why a real dog should have played McGruff

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A Houston man who once portrayed McGruff the Crime Dog has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on drugs and weapons charges.

John R. Morales was sentenced to federal prison last week for charges related to his 2011 arrest.

Police who raided Morales’ residence then seized 1,000 marijuana plants and 9,000 rounds of ammunition for 27 weapons — including a shotgun, pistols, rifles, and a military grenade launcher, according to court documents obtained by NBC.

What does all this prove? If you want mascot who is pure, ethical and beyond reproach, choose a real dog. They are far less likely to get arrested, far less likely to cause a scandal, and far less likely to cave in to temptation, unless they are of the bacon variety.

This wasn’t the first time the choice of a human to play McGruff has come back to bite law enforcement. There was an incident in Phoenix in 1998 when a prison trusty police assigned to play the role removed his head and was recognized by parents in the audience as a convicted child molester.

Morales wore the McGruff costume for the Harris County Sheriff’s Association in the late 1990s. Fox News reported.

mcgruffThe human-like, trench coat-wearing dog was created by the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi through the Ad Council for the National Crime Prevention Council to increase crime awareness among children.

He appeared on television in animated form, and in public appearances he was portrayed by actors wearing the giant dog head and costume.

He urged young people to “take a bite out of crime.”

Morales, after his McGruff gig, was stopped in 2011 by police in Galveston for speeding, and marijuana was detected in his car trunk. Authorities said that, in addition to marijuana plants, they found a clipboard with diagrams of two indoor pot farms in his car.

That led officers to a stash of 1,000 marijuana plants and the weapons.

And who was it that first detected the marijuana in the car? A real police dog.

Report calls attention to dog shootings by Houston police


Since January of 2010, Houston police have gunned down 187 dogs, killing 121 of them.

And last year alone, law enforcement officers in Houston and Harris County shot more dogs than New York City police officers shot in 2010 and 2011 combined.

All of those shooting were deemed by police to have been justified, but it’s not too hard to find families that disgree with that.

The KHOU 11 News I-Team did, and its report this week is more evidence that, across the country, requiring police to be trained in dealing with dogs could save dogs, and their families, a lot of pain.

Colorado passed a law requiring that, and it was signed by the governor this week.

The KHOU report, when it looked at the police-involved dog shootings for all of Harris County found at least 228 dogs had been shot by officers and deputies since 2010, 142 of them fatally.

“If the dog turns and comes at a citizen, or the deputy, they have all right to use lethal force,” explained Dpt. Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Records show Harris County deputies shot 38 canines in the last three-and-a-half years.

When asked if all those shootings were justified, Gilliland said: “The justification is, in that matter, and at that moment the deputy had to choose the decision to use lethal force against that animal.”

Sgt. Joseph Guerra, who works as a cruelty investigator for the Houston Humane Society, said it teaches some officers how to safety interact with threatening dogs. But the training isn’t mandated for all officers.

“A lot of times, officers are not sent to training to get that type of certification to feel comfortable enough to deal with these animals,” he said. “We need to get those officers involved in some mandated training in how to defend before going to deadly force.”

The Arlington and Fort Worth Police Departments started mandatory dog training for officers last fall, and state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the training for officers across Texas.