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Tag: humane society

Filming begins for “Marshall the Miracle Dog”

The story of Marshall — an abused, bullied and neglected yellow Labrador who was rescued from an animal hoarder — is on its way to becoming a movie.

Shooting began this week in Edwardsville, Illinois, according to NewsChannel 5 (KDSK in St. Louis), which has been following Marshall’s story for four years.

Marshall was one of about 60 animals rescued from an animal hoarder by the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis.

He arrived there with a hole in his cheek, a leg so mangled it had to be amputated and other serious injuries.

Vets say is heart stopped three times on the operating table.

Humane Society officials credited his survival to his strong will to live, and they dubbed him the miracle dog.

Cynthia Willenbrock adopted Marshall, and wrote a children’s book about how he triumphed over the tragedies that confronted him.

The movie is based on that book, “Marshall the Miracle Dog.”

“It’s about that whole message of kindness to animals, kindness to each other, kindness in general,” said Willenbrock.

The movie, being shot mostly in Illinois, stars Shannon Elizabeth.

“I read the script and I fell in love. I was crying all through the script,” said the actress.

It also stars Max, a 1-year-old Lab playing the role of Marshall.

In addition to the book and movie, a school curriculum has been designed based on Marshall’s story, aimed at empowering high school juniors and seniors to serve as mentors to middle school and elementary students, passing along Marshall’s “five cornerstones” — empathy, strength, courage, kindness, and forgiveness.

Gun groups question Humane Society’s connection with governor’s dog

sutter

The Humane Society of the United States may not have Jerry Brown on a leash, but the organization’s state director takes the California governor’s dog out on one — nearly every day.

Jennifer Fearing is a regular dog walker for Sutter, the governor’s corgi, and gun rights groups are saying the free service she provides — on top of giving the lobbyist undue influence — may amount to an illegal contribution.

“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s ‘first dog,’ cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?” an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked.

Gun rights groups point out that all six pieces of animal rights-related legislation Fearing lobbied for in the most recent legislative session were approved and signed by Brown, including Assembly Bill 711, which, over the objection of hunters, banned the use of lead ammunition.

“The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor.”

Kerns said gun-rights and hunting groups are considering filing a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission

Critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she hasn’t reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution.

“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, said  in a statement.

Fearing has been walking Sutter around the Capitol grounds since Brown took office in 2011, and their trysts have never exactly been a secret. The two toured the state together to campaign for the governor’s pet tax increase, which the Humane Society was in favor of. Last year, Sutter and Fearing joined the governor and animal rights activists to push for California’s Pet Lover’s license plate.

While it’s true the way to a governor’s heart is through his dog, Fearing and Brown (and we guess Sutter) are already of pretty like minds when it comes to animal welfare, so walking his dog isn’t likely changing the course of history. And as Fearing points out, the volunteer gig doesn’t give her direct access to the governor’s ears, just Sutter’s.

“I wouldn’t misuse that relationship,” Fearing told the Chronicle. “I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels,” she said.

Still, the arrangement provides gun groups with some ammunition, and their ethical concerns aren’t entirely off target.

Fearing says her love of dogs — not political gain — is what motivates her to walk Sutter.

“I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people’s dogs.”

(Photo: Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, with Gov. Brown’s dog, Sutter; by Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee)

Feed the hungry … dogs

Mention the idea of food stamps for dogs and you’re likely to get one of two reactions:

Those touchy-feely animal lovers (such as me) will say it’s a great idea that could help keep dogs from being surrendered to shelters, abandoned, or worse, by owners who can’t afford to feed them anymore.

Those “It’s-just-a-dog” types will say its ludicrous, that they’d hate to see their tax dollars used for something like that, and that, if you can’t afford a dog, don’t get one in the first place.

When the idea does float to the surface, there’s usually some quick debate — then it vanishes as quickly as a bowl of kibble.

Now, in a way, the concept is back, and it’s being carried out on a national scale — with no involvement from government, and no use of tax dollars, it should be noted. It’s the mission of a nonprofit organization formed by a New York man who describes himself as a stockbroker, journalist, entrepreneur and business consultant — a frightful combination if ever there was one.

The organization is called Pet Food Stamps, though no stamps actually appear to be involved. Instead, low income individuals can submit applications, which, if approved, lead to six months worth of deliveries of dog food from Pet Flow, an online pet food store. It’s all to be funded through private donations, founder Marc Okon says.

Pet Food Stamps and Pet Flow announced their “exclusive partnership” in February:

“Pet Food Stamps aims to provide pet food for pets of families receiving public assistance and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets. Based in New York City, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 80,000 pets have already been registered …”

Okon, 36, said the idea was inspired in part by a friend going through some economic hard times who told him “she sometimes fed her cat before herself,” Wall Street Journal columnist Al Lewis reported. Also, he says, doing something philanthropic helps remove the bad taste that remains from some of his previous employment experiences in corporate America.

Okon says he briefly worked for a firm that sold dubious medical benefits to seniors in the South. “Their whole corporate philosophy was to manipulate seniors who didn’t have any type of insurance,” he said. “I could only do that for about a week and half,” Okon said. The article calls him “a man so disgusted with the lack of ethics he witnessed in private enterprise that he founded a nonprofit to hand out dog food.”

While many a humane society operates similar programs on the local level, Pet Food Stamps says it has been swamped with applications — 45,000 in the first two weeks alone, according to a press release.

Okon says the applicants often describe how they’ve lost their jobs and homes.

“Millions of pets are surrendered to shelters each year and euthanized because their owners can’t afford to feed them,” he said.

Okon says he isn’t against the idea of the government providing food stamps for dogs, but that it’s not part of the current picture.

“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”

It seems a noble idea, and we hope it’s nobly carried out — with enough transparency that dog lovers who make donations know exactly how much money the organization is receiving, how much of that is going to buy and ship dog food, and what profits, if any, the private dog food company is making.

We’d point out, too, that people unable to afford to feed their pets can check with their local humane society or SPCA to see what programs might be available in their area. Some food banks distribute dog food and cat food, and some chapters of Meals on Wheels deliver pet food, too.  In 2006, Meals on Wheels started the We All Love Our Pets (WALOP) initiative after finding some of their clients were sharing their meals with their pets because they couldn’t afford pet food.

For a state by state list of programs offering free and discounted services — from food to veterinary care — check out this Humane Society of the United States link.

NBC report questions AKC inspections

The American Kennel Club is doing a much better job of protecting bad breeders than it is protecting dogs.

That’s the gist of this investigative report that aired yesterday on NBC’s  “Today” show

The accusations aren’t exactly new, and weren’t exactly uncovered by NBC, but it’s good to see the issue getting some national attention.

The AKC, investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen notes, calls itself ”the dog’s champion …

“But critics say there’s an ugly reality you don’t see: Some AKC breeders raising diseased dogs, malnourished, living in their own filth. It’s so disturbing that now two of the country’s largest animal welfare groups, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, are condemning the AKC.”

The report included an interview with one dog owner, who purchased a Great Dane from a kennel  only weeks after that kennel was inspected by the AKC and found in compliance. The puppy turned out to have intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect.

“Law enforcement went into the kennel just two months later, and rescued dozens of dogs,” Rossen reported.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is featured heavily in the report, and makes the point that the AKC should be working with animal welfare groups to protect dogs instead of protecting bad breeders and fighting laws that would crack down on them.

AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson, also interviewed for the report, says she would give the AKC an “A” for its inspection program.

But when the reporter asked how many breeders are producing AKC-registered dogs, she said, “That’s a great question. We don’t know.” And when asked what percentage of AKC registered breeders end up getting inspected, she wouldn’t offer a ball park figure.

“We do thousands of inspections annually,” Peterson said. “We’ve done 55,000 inspections since the year 2000.”

“But what percentage of breeders actually get inspected?”

“… I don’t have that figure,” Peterson said. “I’m sorry.”

Peterson said there are nine AKC inspectors in the U.S. Asked “Do you think that’s an adequate number?” she said, ”That’s the number that we have.”

Kansas law student seeks justice for dogs

In a typical animal cruelty case — on those rare occasions they do get to court — you’ll see an attorney representing the people, and another representing a defendant.

But you don’t see one representing the dog.

Katie Barnett, for one, doesn’t think that’s right.

A third-year law student at Kansas University, she’s establishing an animal cruelty prosecution clinic at the school — one she says is the first of its kind.

Barnett, 30, will work with animal control, animal cruelty investigators at the Humane Society, police and prosecutors to ensure that justice is served in cases of animal abuse.

“This is the chance for me to give the animals a voice and a place in the justice system,” Barnett told the Lawrence Journal-World.

Barnett started researching how to put together the clinic two years ago, after some high-profile animal cruelty cases in Lawrence. She did ride-alongs with the police and animal cruelty investigators and followed cases through the court system.

This spring, Barnett will develop a protocol for how future students can assist in the prosecution of such cases.

“I’m doing a trial run to see how everything works,” she said. “I’m getting out all the kinks and really tailoring the position so everyone knows what to do. There’s never been a person to collect everything.”

The program will begin taking in students in the fall 2011.

Barnett was one of three law students awarded The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships last year for their outstanding work in the growing field of animal law.

A graduate of Missouri State University, she has two pit bull mix dogs, including a three-legged rescue named Leonidas. Both are both Delta Society therapy dogs who visit schools, hospitals, and participate in community outreach programs.

Barnett and her husband, Anthony, also run Game Dog Guardian, a local organization that rehabilitates pit bulls and helps find them adoptive homes.

Hero shelter dog finally finds a home

Nala, a pit bull-Labrador mix living at an animal shelter in Washington state, made headlines in December when she helped save another dog — a blind cocker spaniel she found freezing to death in a ditch while on a walk with a shelter staffer.

Despite the publicity and her newfound hero status, no one stepped forward to adopt Nala — who has what the Humane Society of Redmond describes as “some behavioral issues” – and, as of March, her stay at the shelter had stretched to a year.

This month, though, there was one more publicity push by the shelter, which established a Facebook page for Nala — and that helped lead to her adoption this week by Janet Roberts, 63, the Bend Bulletin reports.

A week ago, the Humane Society teamed up with a photographer, held a photo shoot with Nala and created a Facebook page for the dog. Reese Mercer, a board member, provided “first person” updates, from Nala’s perspective, about her hunt for a home.

As a result, Nala had fans from as far away as Finland, all of them rooting for her to find a home — but few of them volunteering to provide one.

Nala’s new caretaker, a court transcriber who lives on 80 acres in Powell Butte, first heard about Nala’s story in December. When she learned Nala was still without a home months later, Roberts offered to take her home for a trial visit. Roberts has four cats, two horses and an older dog. The dog spent the night Tuesday, and the next morning, Roberts decided it was for keeps.

“She was ever so sweet, and fit in really well,“ said Roberts. “She was so respectful of everyone here … She really wants to please people, which is really endearing,” said Roberts.

The official adoption took place Thursday.

“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye,” said Alan Borland, the shelter staff member who was walking Nala when she found the cocker spaniel.

Borland told the Bulletin the couple that the Roberts family has invited him to come visit Nala, but said he probably won’t.

“She needs to get on with her life, and forget about the year she spent at the shelter,” he said.

(Photo: From Nala’s Facebook page)

Charges recommended in dog duct taping

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state is recommending animal cruelty charges be filed against a Bellingham man who wrapped his puppy’s head with duct tape.

The man told authorities that he took the action because the dog had been chewing, according to the Bellingham Herald.

The sheriff’s office is sending its investigation of owner Scott Jager, 25, to the prosecutor’s office, recommending a second-degree animal cruelty charge.

Last month, the Whatcom Humane Society, along with sheriff’s deputies, responded to a complaint from a neighbor and found a 7-month-old male bloodhound named “Bear” sequestered in the laundry room of Jager’s home. The dog’s head was covered in duct tape, and he was leashed to a doorknob.

The duct tape started at the dog’s neck and covered his ears, eyes, face and muzzle, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said. Only the dog’s nostrils were not covered.

Bear is now in the custody of the Whatcom Humane Society, where he was treated for abrasions to his head and infections to his ears and eyes. He is reported to be doing well, though he is sometimes wary of strangers.

(Photo: By Katie Greene / Bellingham Herald)

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