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Tag: identification

To be or not to be — a pit bull

diggy3

Whether Diggy is to be or not to be a pit bull will be decided by a judge.

The dog whose smiling face went viral — and led local officials to label him a pit bull and order him to leave town — is going to get his day in court.

Since we last reported on the case, Diggy has been proclaimed an American bulldog by a local veterinarian, but Waterford Township officials apparently didn’t buy the vet’s pronouncement.

Diggy is a pit bull, they say, based on how he looks — and those are banned in the Michigan township, under its dangerous dog ordinance.

Because Diggy’s owner, Dan Tillery, was cited by local authorities for having a pit bull, the final disposition of the case will be left up to the court.

It’s all a tremendous waste of time — first and foremost because pit bull bans are ill-conceived and just don’t work. On top of that, pit bull isn’t a breed at all. On top of that, a judge is likely to be even worse at determining breed than animal control officials, police, shelters, rescues and even veterinarians are, which is pretty bad to begin with.

And on top of all those things, does either side really want to know?

If they did, you’d think they’d have conducted a DNA test by now.

diggy4Tillery, a musician, adopted the dog from Harper Woods-based Detroit Dog Rescue earlier this month and posted a photo of Diggy and himself that went viral and was shared by news outlets nationwide.

The media coverage led the Waterford Police Department to drop by a few days later, take a look at Diggy, proclaim him a pit bull, and tell his owner that he had three days to get the dog out of town.

The dog had been listed as an American bulldog when he was in Detroit’s city animal shelter. He was pulled from there by Detroit Dog Rescue, which, in at least one Facebook post, labeled him an American bulldog-pit bull mix. On the official adoption papers, though, Detroit Dog Rescue listed him as American bulldog.

After the police department’s ultimatum, Tillery had the dog assessed by a local veterinarian who judged him to be American bulldog — though he apparently did so without conducting a DNA test.

That wasn’t good enough for local authorities, who, though they relaxed that three days to get out of town part, are still insisting Diggy is a pit bull and must leave.

Tillery met Monday with Waterford Township officials, and posted on his Facebook page that the prosecutor was sticking to the decision to have Diggy removed from the community.

A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. in Waterford’s 51st District Court.

“My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family,” Tillery said in the post. “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”

diggyWaterford Township Prosecutor Margaret Scott said that the township will now simply wait to allow the court to determine whether Diggy falls within the ban.

“We’re not going in and removing the dog, we’re not destroying the dog — it is a pending violation,” she told the Oakland Press.

Tillery and his dog have seen an outpouring of support from dog lovers and those opposed to Waterford’s breed-specific legislation. More than 50 supporters showed up at a Waterford Board of Trustees meeting to ask officials to remove the dangerous dog ordinance from its books.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the town to lift the ban.

Strangely, amid all the debate and national news coverage, DNA testing hasn’t been mentioned. If Tillery has pursued it, he’s staying quiet about it.

While some of the companies offering DNA tests — via blood samples or cheek swabs — skip around the pit bull question, a few of the tests do identify the breeds commonly associated with pit bulls.

certOne even offers a “pit bull exemption certificate” in cases where a dog is determined to be made up of 87 percent or more of non-pit bull breeds.

That may or not impress Waterford officials, or the judge, as such tests aren’t conclusive.

It’s still a possibility — that one side, or the other, or the judge, could pursue having the test done.

It would at least add some factual material to all the guesswork going on, at least a little foundation for the strident and unending Internet debate that is mostly — much like pit bull bans themselves — sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(Photos of Diggy by Dan Tillery)

After 10 years, Marvin is back

marvin

Three months after they had to put their dog Snickers down due to kidney problems a Charlotte family got a call from their local animal control office.

“Are you missing a dog?” the voice on the phone asked.

Emotionally speaking, they were — but John Dixon knew the caller had no way of knowing that, and suspected that’s not what the caller meant.

“No, not that I know of,” Dixon answered.

The animal control office representative then mentioned a name: “Marvin?”

Dixon said they’d had a dog named Marvin 10 years ago, but gave it to another family.

The office told Dixon that the dog had been picked up and identified based on a microchip — one placed in Marvin more than 10 years ago when he belonged to the Dixons, after he bit a girl at a baseball game.

The biting incident and Marvin’s rambunctious behavior were what led the Dixons — painful as it was — to find a new home for the Australian shepherd.

That he was back and in need of a home — so soon after they’d lost Snickers — struck the Dixons as fate.

“Don’t you kill that dog,” John Dixon said he told the animal shelter.

marvin2The family paid a $10 fee to adopt Marvin and brought him home.

Dixon says Marvin is still playful, but much calmer now that he’s older.

Once home, even after 10 years, Marvin seemed to remember their house and even knew which door to use.

Dixon recalled it wasn’t easy giving him up then. His son and daughter, 6 and 8 at the time, both cried.

“It absolutely broke our hearts, but we couldn’t take care of him,” Dixon, told the Charlotte Observer.

After Marvin, the family adopted Snickers. Last year Snickers’ kidneys began to fail, and the family made the decision to the dog down.

A month and a half later, this past February, the Dixons got the call from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control.

(Photos by Davie Hinshaw / The Charlotte Observer)

An act both cruel and unbelievably stupid


A Toledo man stuffed six English bulldog puppies and their mother into a piece of luggage and abandoned them next to a trash bin — apparently not realizing that the canvas suitcase had a tag on it bearing his contact information.

The bag of pups — three males, three females and their mother — was dropped off behind a city business. They were picked up April 4 by the Lucas County Dog Warden’s office, according to the Toledo Blade.

On Tuesday, two counts of abandonment Tuesday were filed against Howard Davis, who lives about a quarter mile from where the dogs were dropped.

Gene Boros, a Toledo Area Humane Society cruelty officer who questioned Davis, said the man told him he had not abandoned the dogs and had given them to someone in Michigan. Boros said Davis appeared to be in the process of moving out of his home.

Passers-by initially found the dogs and unzipped the bag to give them air, said Julie Lyle, Lucas County dog warden.

“There are witnesses who said that the female is indeed Mr. Davis’ dog and that he had been trying to sell puppies,” said John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society.

Davis was to be charged with two counts  of either first-degree or second-degree misdemeanor abandonment. Davis will be issued a citation and given a court date, but he was not arrested, Dinon said.

The dogs were transferred to the Humane Society, where the pups and their mother, now named Maddie,  are reported to be doing well.

They will be going to a foster home by the end of the week and won’t be available for adoption for at least four weeks — possibly longer since they are part of a criminal case.

(Photo: THE BLADE / DAVE ZAPOTOSKY)

Dallas sets rules for handling strays

Folks in Dallas may become a little less likely to befriend a stray dog in need in light of an ordinance passed by the City Council this week.

The council approved an ordinance Wednesday requiring anyone who takes possession of a stray dog to make a reasonable effort to find the dog’s owner, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The rule comes largely as a result of one persistent dog owner, Brad Kirby, who has lobbied City Hall since two of his huskies disappeared two years ago. Kirby found the person he suspected stole them, but police said little could be done because the man told authorities he’d encountered the dogs running loose and gave them away.

The ordinance gives a person who picks up a stray dog 72 hours to:

• Call the phone number listed on the dog’s tags;

• Take the dog to a licensed veterinarian to screen for a microchip, tattoo or other identification and to call the owner if one is identified;

• Call 311 to request that animal services pick up the dog; or

• Deliver the dog to the city’s animal shelter.

A violation — meaning failure to do any of those things — will be punishable by a fine up to $500.

The lone vote against the measure came from council member Vonciel Hill, a former city judge, who said she worries that someone trying to help a stray could end up in trouble.

“I think that this ordinance places an inordinate burden on any person who is trying to have some kindness toward a stray,” she said.

Reward offered in case of pelted pit bull

christy2The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for injuring Christy, a one-year-old pit bull who was pelted with rocks and bricks in Baltimore.

A witness says children threw rocks and other materials at the dog who was tied up in the 3700 block of Greenspring Avenue near Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.

The pit bull was taken to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter where she is being treated for injuries that include wounds to her paws, head, snout and hemorrhages in both eyes.

The children responsible for the crime are believed to be about 12 or 13 years old.

Is Tango a pit bull? Decision expected today

tangoWhether an Australian couple’s half million dollar investment in keeping their $300 dog alive was successful is expected to be learned today.

Kylie Chivers and John Mokomoko have been locked in a six-year battle with the Gold Coast City Council in the Supreme Court over its identification of their dog Tango as an American pit bull, as opposed to an American staffordshire terrier.

The city’s ruling that Tango is a pit bull meant the dog was automatically deemed dangerous and would be required to be euthanized.

To avoid that, the family moved Tango to a kennel more than five years ago, where it could be registered as an American staffordshire terrier.

Today, a judge is to decide Tango’s fate in a decision which could have ramifications for thousands of dog owners, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports. The city is arguing the American pit bull and American staffordshire terrier are the same breed, which means it would fall under its breed ban.

“The fallout of the decision could be horrendous,” said Mokomoko, 47, who works as a Brisbane airport security officer.

The case prompted Mokomoko to work 98-hour weeks at his former security job at a desalination plant to pay the cost of the kennel, weekly travel, lawyers and documentation, including Freedom of Information requests, and video evidence.

Along with thousands of pages of documents, the couple also obtained DNA samples from Tango’s parents and submitted a breed identification test to the court, arguing the 22-point identification checklist was flawed.

The American staffordshire terrier clubs of Queensland, Victoria and Northern Territory have asked the city council to drop the case.

If the family wins, Mokomoko believes it will prompt litigation from other owners who may have had their dog wrongfully identified as pit bulls.

Does Denver know a pit bull when it sees one?

pitornotThe city of Denver’s faulty logic just got proven even faultier.

As if  the city’s ban on pit bulls, which has led to hundreds of dogs being put to death, weren’t ill-advised enough, there’s this: Apparently even experts can’t correctly identify a pit bull visually.

Denver Post columnist Bill Johnson took part in experiment this week , along with about two dozen animal-shelter directors, volunteers, dog trainers and others. They viewed 20 dogs on videotape and were asked to identify each one — whether it was purebred or mixed and, if the latter, what it was a mixture of.

Johnson got the breed correct one time, and the professionals didn’t fare much better.

The breed identification study was administered by Victoria L. Voith, a professor of animal behavior in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University in Pomona in California.

Shelter workers, she explained, are generally 75 percent wrong when they guess the breed of a dog — and most do just guess. The only sure-fire way of knowing, she said, is DNA testing, which most shelters don’t use.

“Visual identification simply is not in high agreement with DNA analysis,” Voith said. “Dogs in Denver may be dying needlessly,” she said.