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Tag: indiana

For retired racing greyhounds prison can be the path to adoption

prisongreyhounds2

Prisons and greyhound tracks are, in many ways, pretty similar beasts and, whether you’re a person or a dog, you don’t want to spend too much time in the belly of either.

Both can be cold and institutional. Both require spending a lot of time caged. In one, you are encouraged to run; in the other, that’s not advisable. Whether you’re a greyhound living at a track or a human serving a prison sentence, your liberties are taken away, you do what you are told to do, and day to day life can be bleak.

Going from living at a greyhound track to living in a prison may not seem a step in the right direction, but for hundreds of greyhounds it has been.

For retired racing dogs, prisons are increasingly coming to symbolize, of all things, freedom.

Thanks to groups like Prison Greyhounds, featured in an article in this week’s Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel, racing dogs deemed to have lost their edge on the track, are learning the manners and behaviors they need to be successfully adopted.

prisongreyhoundsHeadquartered in Indianapolis, Prison Greyhounds is an all-volunteer organization that accepts dogs retired from Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club and places them with specially selected inmates at the Putnamville Correctional Facility in Greencastle, Indiana.

The dogs spend two months being trained and sleep in crates next to their assigned inmate’s bunk.

As with other prison programs that work with shelter dogs, the greyhound program — one of a handful across the country — provides benefits to the prisoners, and the prisons, as well.

The inmate handlers, who have been coached on dog training, gain job skills. And the presence of the dogs provides a calming effect on the entire prison population.

A team of two inmate-handlers is assigned to each dog. Prison Greyhounds covers the costs of veterinary care, bedding, leashes and other supplies.

Once the dogs graduate they’re ready for adoption, for a fee of $275.

(Photos from PrisonGreyhounds.org)

Police believe animal lover died trying to rescue lost poodle

watts2An Indianapolis woman found dead on a river sandbar Saturday may have died while trying to help catch a lost dog

Police and witnesses say Jacqueline “Jackie” Watts, 33, was found in the Flatrock River, where she was last seen chasing a poodle who had gone missing a few days earlier.

The poodle, named Ringo, was also found dead along the river.

Watts dropped her own pets off with a friend in Columbus Friday in preparation for a trip to Washington. Likely, she spotted the missing dog on her way home.

Her car was found with its flashers on and her purse inside, leading to a search of the area along the river.

Crews found her body Saturday morning on a sandbar in the Flatrock River in Columbus, just north of Noblitt Park.

Police say they don’t suspect foul play.

An autopsy completed Monday established that the cause of death was accidental drowning, according to the Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office.

The family of Ringo had posted on social media about his disappearance. They said the poodle had cataracts and was almost deaf.

After finding the body of Watts, police found the body of a small white dog on the river’s banks, just south of Noblitt Park. Police confirmed that it was Ringo with the animal’s owners, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Watts, an esthetician, served as teaching assistant in Indianapolis Public Schools and was known as an animal lover.

“The bottom line is we lost a very special person,” said Columbus Police Lt. Matt Harris. “It’s my understanding that Jackie was the type of person that when there was an animal that was sick, she would take that animal in and provide hospice care… That she was trying to help a lost dog and sadly appears (to have) lost her life doing so, that doesn’t seem out of character for her.”

Family members says she fostered dogs and rabbits. She volunteered with Kentuckiana Boxer Rescue and Indy Claw Animal Rescue.

“She cared deeply about the well-being of animals. If she believed she could help an animal in need, she was going to do so without hesitation,” the family said in a statement. “We know that Jackie gave her life for what she believed in.”

It’s my gun show and I’ll cry if I want to

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Let’s all join together in a giant boo-hoo for Thomas Allman, who says his health was put at risk when a service dog entered his gun show over the weekend.

Allman kicked out the dog — and the Bronze Star-winning veteran the dog accompanied (that’s them above) — saying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) didn’t apply to them at his gun show. He explained his reasoning this way:

“It doesn’t apply because he’s not setting up at my gun show because we don’t allow dogs in my gun show,” he told Fox 14 News. (Click the link for video.)

The nerve of that veteran! Thinking he could just waltz into a gun show and put everyone else’s health at risk with a dog that helps him cope with injuries he received during his nearly 20 years of service in Iraq.

Did he give any thought that his actions could result in sneezes and stuffy noses among anyone who was allergic (like Allman) as they innocently shopped for new deadly weapons to add to their home arsenals?

Former U.S. Army Sergeant John Williams went to the Tri-State Gun Show at the armory in Evansville on Saturday as a vendor, but he was asked to leave because of his service dog, Winchester.

Williams, appropriately, raised a stink, and called the police, waiting outside for them to arrive and hear his complaint that his rights, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, were being violated.

Winchester was assigned to Williams by the Soldier Dogs for Independence group to help him with mobility.

The president of that group Michael Barrentine, was called to the gun show once he heard what was going on.

“There’s so much irony,” he said. “You have a 21 year veteran of the United States armed forces that’s disabled due to his military service that’s getting kicked out of the armory …”

Williams says he is still contemplating filing charges.

Thomas Allman stages several guns shows a year in Indiana (and whatever other two states comprise the “tri-state” area), allowing folks to show off, buy, sell and trade guns.

Something less than full scrutiny, apparently, is applied to those buying them: “They’ll ask them if they’re a felon or not and all we can do is take their word that they’re not,” Allman once said in a TV interview.

Allman is all for nurturing an environment in which guns can be freely sold and exchanged — something he says is necessary in today’s world.

“What would you do if ISIS came to your door today and you didn’t have any way of protecting yourself? They will come here. They’re coming folks so you better be prepared for them.”

So feel free to bring your guns to the show (unloaded please, he asks). Just don’t bring a dog.

Allman says dogs haven’t been allowed to sit at booths at his shows for the last 20 years. Apparently, he considers it OK for paid guests to bring service dogs, but not vendors (who pay a $50 registration fee).

“You want to come in the gun show and sell your guns, or walk around and look and trade guns with your service dog, we have no problem with that,” Allman said.

Under the ADA, “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Allman is allergic to dogs — “I can’t stand to be sick and be put in the hospital” — and apparently gets a little anxious when they are around, as he also does amid talk of laws restricting gun sales.

ftwaynegunshow“Just cause they don’t want one, what’s the right to take anybody else’s away from them?” Allman said in a 2015 interview. “That’s my problem with it and I can’t handle that… This is what we do for a living and have a hobby of doing it and love doing it. It’s freedom. We’re in the United States. It’s freedom.”

Apparently, as he sees it, he’s the one who gets to define freedom. So his shows don’t allow cameras or news media past the entrance, don’t allow service dogs, and insist you don’t enter with a loaded weapon.

(That didn’t stop a visitor, and a drunken one at that, from loading up his .45 caliber handgun after he entered, firing it and injuring a a 72-year-old man and 16-year-old boy during the 2011 show in Evansville.)

We’d suggest that if Allman can’t handle service dogs, he stop holding public gun shows, or hire a representative to oversee them, or take a Zyrtec, or conduct his arms dealing online.

(Photos: At top, Williams and his dog, Winchester, WFIE; at bottom a photo taken at a gun show in Ft. Wayne)

Dog show goes on, despite 14 dog deaths

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Thirteen golden retrievers and a Brittany spaniel scheduled to take part in an Indiana dog show over the weekend died Friday from heat related causes.

The dogs, in town for Michiana Kennel Club AKC Dog Show, were spending the night inside the back of a truck, parked in a lot at the Quality Inn in Roseland.

The truck’s air conditioning, powered by an extension cord plugged into the exterior of the hotel, shut down when a circuit breaker in the truck tripped during Friday’s heat and humidity, according to WBST in South Bend, Indiana.

A kennel operator from Ohio, who was caring for the dogs during the trip, found them dead when she went to check on them Friday night.

The dogs — three of them puppies — were supposed to be a part of the weekend show at St. Joseph County fairgrounds.

“To have something this tragic happen, it affects everybody,” said Cheryl Crompton, of the Michiana Kennel Club. “It’s been very solemn all day. I’ve cried, just at the loss of life.”

“It was an unfortunate incident, that was not in any way the fault of anybody,” she added. “It was an accident, just like a car wreck. An unfortunate car wreck, where lives are lost.”

“It appeared it was just a very tragic accident,” said Lt. William Redman of the St. Joseph County Police Department. “It was difficult, no question.”

Some of the dogs belonged to the woman caring for the dogs, Cortney Corral of Lakesyde Kennels; at least eight of them belonged to other people who entrusted her to care for them during the show.

Necropsies will be performed on some of the dogs this week as part of an investigation by the St. Joseph County Humane Society.

National officers with the American Kennel Club will also be investigating the incident, Crompton told the South Bend Tribune.

The annual dog show, which began Thursday and concluded Saturday, is hosted by three AKC clubs — Michiana, LaPorte and Berrien Springs.

(Photo: Michael Caterina / South Bend Tribune)

Program works with Amish in southern Indiana to improve breeding conditions

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While Amish breeders are notorious for running puppy mills, some of those in southern Indiana are working with Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science to improve their breeding practices and, in the process, their reputations.

“It was time that we as breeders recognize that there are professionals out there that can help us and we need to involve them in our businesses,” said Levi Graber, a member of Odon’s Amish community who helps several breeders in the area.

Though the Amish aren’t known for reaching out, or letting people in, Graber contacted the university a few years ago about improving Amish-run breeding operations in the region. That led to a pilot program in which the operations are reviewed, and suggestions are made on how to improve them.

Already, those behind the program say, they’ve found that improving conditions and practices at the kennels leads to happier, healthier, better behaved dogs.

Under the program, which is open to non-Amish breeders as well, a set of voluntary standards will be created for breeders to follow, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

“Many folks hear about breeding and animal welfare and they don’t know what (breeders) actually do. They just want to put them out of business,” said Purdue’s Candace Croney, director of the animal welfare center.

Most dogs she and her team of researchers have observed have been in good physical health, Croney said, but some had room for improvement in their behavior. Some facilities’ dogs were loud and dogs became over-excited when they saw people, which Croney said indicated they weren’t used to seeing people often.

The research team advised those breeders to make sure something positive happens for the dogs, such as receiving a treat, every time someone comes into the kennel area. They also suggested letting the dogs out in the yard daily to exercise and socialize.

The changes made a big impact, Croney said. Over four months, the dogs in the kennel with the most behavioral issues became calmer when they saw people, and they physically looked better.

“We’ve seen a very positive impact on some of the things she recommends,” Graber said. “I’ve seen more contented, happy dogs.”

Once the trial program is complete, a third party will audit the breeders’ practices, Croney said.

Breeders who qualify will receive a certification that she said goes beyond the standards mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which cover areas such as housing, sanitation, food, water and protection against extreme weather and temperatures.

Graber said the community feels fortunate to work with Purdue and emphasized that the breeders don’t want to sell puppies that disappoint anyone.

Not all Amish-run breeding operations are like those that end up on the news, noted Dale Blier, who works for Blue Ribbon Vet & Supply in Odon and sells supplies to many breeders in town.

“The majority of dog breeders in Indiana treat their dogs the same way they treat making furniture: They want to be the best at it they can,” he said.

(Photo: A child sits with puppies at a breeding operation in Odon that’s working with Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science program; by Levi Graber)

How does that Second Commandment go?

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There doesn’t seem to be much loving of thy neighbor going on around Anderson Valley Christian Church in rural Indiana.

Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies arrived there Sunday after reports of gunfire and explosions, found a decapitated dog hanging in front of a nearby cross, and unearthed a bit of a feud between a church elder and a former churchgoer.

14 News reported that former churchgoer Damian McBride, who lives next door to the church, suspects a church member was responsible for poisoning his dog.

To send a message, McBride said, he used a piece of heavy equipment to hoist his dog’s headless carcass into the air in front of a large stone cross on his family’s property.

Just in time for it to be seen by families arriving for worship at the church, about 50 feet away.

(The dog’s head had been removed during a necropsy, and the body was later returned to the family.)

churchMcBride has been engaged in a feud with at least one church elder, Daniel Madden, for several months.

Madden claims he was once bitten by one of McBride’s dogs, but the case was thrown out in court.

The McBrides say they suspect Madden or some other church member is responsible for poisoning their dog Bruno — their fourth pet to be poisoned, they claim.

The necropsy results are not in yet, but McBride said he found hot dogs in his driveway and what appeared to be rat poison.

Madden said thinking a church member would harm McBride’s dog was ridiculous.

“There’s not a person in this church who would do something like this,” he said.

“I’m kind of lost for words,” he said. “Hanging a dead dog on a cross that Jesus died on for me and you and everybody else, that’s sad.”

Madden said attendance at services has dropped by half since troubles began with the neighbor.

Deputies say the investigation is continuing. No charges were filed Sunday because the gunfire that drew authorities there came from the home, and the guns were never pointed at the church, according to Dubois County Free Press.

The dog’s body was covered with a blanket and strapped to the cross Sunday — apparently after sheriff’s deputies arrived. On Monday, the dog was still there.

McBride said he used to attend services at the church every Sunday but is now banned from the property.

McBride says two of his cats and two of his dogs have now died mysteriously.

“I just don’t want anyone else’s dogs to be poisoned or killed and I want the people that poisoned by dogs to go to jail,” he said.

(Photos: Dubois County Free Press)

This Salvation Army bell ringer has 4 legs, and he seems to hit just the right notes

As any good panhandler knows, a cute dog can help boost donations.

There’s no reason that street wisdom shouldn’t be applied to the kettle as well.

In Indiana, a family raising money for the local Salvation Army has called upon their Leonberger, Alvin, to help the cause — and trained the 155-pound dog to be the bell ringer.

alvinJulia and Steve Roberts say it took just a few minutes to train Alvin to ring the bells on a special stand they made for him.

And when he does, they note, he draws the kind of crowd they alone can’t.

The volunteers bring Alvin along for their two hour shifts, such as one last week outside a Kroger, and another one coming up Friday at Walmart.

“People can’t resist,” Julia says. “That’s the plan.”

This is Alvin’s fourth year to ring bells for Salvation Army and he’s still drawing a crowd.

To keep him on task the couple rewards him during the shift with treats of venison, cheese, cookies and turkey, according to the Palladium-Item in Richmond, Indiana.

In addition to being a fund raiser, Alvin, 5, is a therapy dog, and works at local hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and in school programs focused on anti-bullying, reading, and pet care and safety.

Those who recognize Alvin from his therapy work often dig a little deeper and throw a little extra in the pot, the couple says.

Last year, a woman stopped and put several bills in the kettle for herself and her mother each time Alvin rang bells. Alvin had visited her mother while she was hospitalized.

“She said it made her and her mother feel so much better that she wanted to repay us,” Julia Roberts said.

In 2013, Julia said, the couple and Alvin raised about $100 per hour for the Salvation Army during the holiday season.

Alvin also has his own Facebook page called Alvin’s Therapy Fan Club.

(Photo: Joshua Smith / Palladium-Item)