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Tag: iowa

Together again: Dog and Marine reunited


Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach, while serving in Afghanistan, made a promise to Casey, the explosive-detecting yellow Lab who worked alongside him.

“I promised her if we made it out of alive, I’d do whatever it took to find her,” Gundlach said.

Gundlach, after completing his military service and enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, managed to find out that Casey had finished her military service and been sent to work for the state of the Iowa, detecting explosives.

Knowing it was probably just the first round of a long bureaucratic battle, Gundlach wrote to State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds, explaining the connection he felt with the four-year-old dog who’d been both lifesaver and companion. Gundlach wears a tattoo on his right forearm depicting Casey with angel wings and a halo.

Governments being governments, whether they’re state or federal, you’d expect Gundlach’s plea to get bounced around, filed away or heartlessly overlooked.

But, as reported by the Associated Press, things happened quickly.

“He’s been putting a case together for the last two months, sending me pictures,” Reynolds said. “ … It just tugged on your heart.”

Reynolds got in touch with the Iowa Elk’s Association, and it agreed to donate $8,500 to buy another dog for the fire marshal’s office.

Then, he got in touch with Gundlach, telling him that he needed to come to the state Capitol in Des Moines on Friday to plead his case before a “bureaucratic oversight committee.”

Gundlach, 25, showed up with his parents.

Reynolds told Gundlach the meeting had been delayed, but invited he and his parents to attend an Armed Services Day celebration in the rotunda.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers, military personnel and civilians were already there, and knew — unlike Gundlach — what was about to happen.

That’s when Casey appeared.

A ceremony was held in which Gov. Terry Branstad officially retired Casey from active duty, thanking her for “a job well done.”

Casey was given to Gundlach, who put his head in his hands and cried.

“It was a total surprise,” he said. “I owe her. I’ll just try to give her the best life I can.” During the 150 missions they performed together, Gundlach said Casey never missed an explosive. He credits her for making it back home safely. “I wouldn’t be here … any kids I ever had wouldn’t exist if Casey hadn’t been here,” he said.

His father, Glen Gundlach, seemed just as surprised.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The state of Iowa, I love ‘em.”

(Photos: Charlie Neibergall / AP)

Iowa woman questions shooting of her dog

Far be it from us to suggest Iowa look two states west for a solution to what it may not even consider a problem.

But, if its lawmakers did, they might find some sound thinking behind Colorado’s new law, mandating police officers get some training in how to deal with dogs they encounter on duty — other than just shooting them.

If we were suggesting, we’d suggest every state look into doing something similar, or even better, than the Colorado law. It requires officers undergo three hours of online training in dog behavior, and how to recognize when a dog truly poses a threat.

While Iowa, at first glance, doesn’t seem to have experienced quite as many questionable shootings as Colorado, there have been at least a few instances a year of dogs being shot and killed by police.

There was one in 2012 in Newton, one this year in Allamakee County and one last week in Bettendorf, where Sheila Williams is insisting her dog, Tank (above), posed no threat.

“He wasn’t a ferocious dog,” she said of Tank, her border collie-pit bull mix. “He never bit anyone. He was only a year-and-a-half old. He probably thought the police officer was playing with him,” she told the Quad City Times.

Police Chief Phil Redington said the dog attacked the officer and deadly force was an appropriate response.

On Saturday, Williams’ two dogs, Tank and Cleo, escaped when a gust of wind blew open her door. They had wandered several blocks when they began barking at some dogs at another home.

The owners of that home tried to shoo the two dogs away, and called police when they wouldn’t leave.

The dogs were corraled on the back deck, hemmed in by lawn chairs, when police, and Williams, arrived.

“When he (Tank) saw me, he jumped over one of the chairs, and the officer tried to grab him,” said Williams, who managed to grab hold of her other dog.

The police chief said Tank jumped at the officer “snapping its teeth. The officer brushed the dog away with his arm and the dog attacked again, jumping and snapping at the officer’s face. The officer kicked the dog away, at which time the dog bit his shin, causing minor lacerations. The officer removed his gun and fired at the dog twice. The dog was approximately two feet away when the officer fired in a downward direction.”

“I keep playing the scenario over and over in my mind,” Williams said. ”I blame myself. They shouldn’t have gotten out. Why did he have to shoot him, though? Why not a stun gun or pepper spray?”

Redington said the level of force used to ward off a dog attack is up to an individual officer.

“We all love animals,” he said. “To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a pit bull, border collie or poodle. If he’s attacking a police officer, the officer should defend himself.”

Tank was taken to a veterinary clinic, where he died.

Voters may get say on Missouri puppy mills

Nearly 200,000 signatures have been submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office in an attempt to get the proposed “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” on the November ballot.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, the group spearheading the citizen-backed initiative, gathered 190,127 signatures, nearly twice as many as required.

“This can only be considered a massive outpouring of public support for the idea of puppy mill reform,” said Barbara Schmitz, campaign manager.

Backers say the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will improve the lives of dogs by requiring large-scale breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing, and adequate space and exercise.

Lawmakers in Iowa enacted puppy mill legislation earlier this year, and a similar bill in Oklahoma now awaits the governor’s signature. After Missouri, they are the next largest dog breeding states in the nation. Last year, 10 states approved legislation to address puppy mill problems.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs is comprised of numerous individuals, veterinarians, and animal welfare organizations, including the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States.

“We’re tired of being known as the puppy mill capital of the country,” Schmitz said. “We’re tired of having dogs being treated in such a substandard and cruel way.”

Missouri has been estimated to have more than 4,000 shoddy and inhumane high-volume breeders, and state officials been cracking down on them, the Jefferson City News Tribune reports.

Under the ballot measure, dog-breeders could only have 50 breeding dogs and would be required to feed animals daily, provide annual veterinary care and not breed animals more than twice every 18 months. Breeders also would have to follow rules for the dogs’ living space and house animals indoors with unfettered access to an outdoor exercise yard.

It would apply to people with at least 10 female dogs for breeding. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Dog breeders and many Missouri farming groups have criticized the initiative and say it could lead to efforts to restrict livestock production in the state.

Owl takes dog on a two-mile flight

sadieandownerThere ‘s an incredible tale in the Quad City Times today about an owl that swooped down on a Pomeranian, grasped the tiny dog in its talons and took her on a two-mile flight.

Sadie’s flight last weekend covered between 24 to 30 city blocks before she either freed herself or was dropped, falling through the Iowa night sky and landing next to a street in Davenport.

The fall broke her tail and bruised her, but she survived and is recovering.

Sadie’s owner, Michelle McCarten, was watching fireworks with friends when the dog, frightened by the noise, jumped off the porch and ran to a nearby wooded area. Despite McCarten’s calls, and a search by friends, she couldn’t be found.

Two miles away, Jamie Padden of Davenport had brought her car to a halt at a stop sign when she was a small dog falling through the air. “It dropped out of nowhere,” she said. The dog landed right in front of her Jeep.

The owl glided down and again set upon the dog, which scrambled to get away. Padden open her car door and started screaming at the large owl.

When the owl departed, Padden scooped up the whimpering dog, took it home, gave it a bath and called police to report the incident. Then she took the dog to bed with her.

The next morning, Sadie’s owner and a friend, Kris Overstreet, resumed their search, calling police in Davenport about the missing dog. The police gave them Padden’s number.

Padden delivered the dog to her owner, who was in tears, the newspaper reported. Though no one really knows how long the dog was airborne, the distance from the woods where the owl was known to hang out and the spot where Sadie landed is about two miles.

Sadie is reportedly still shaky, and suffered bruises on her hind end and a broken tail. “She’s nervous. I’m giving her an aspirin a day,” McCarten said. “Getting her back is my best early Christmas present.”

(Photo:  Michelle McCarten and Sadie, by Jeff Cook/Quad-City Times)

Councilman’s seized dog stolen from pound

There’s some irony in here somewhere:

In June, Sioux City Councilman Aaron Rochester had his dog seized by authorities after the dog bit a man and was deemed vicious. Under the local dangerous dog ordinance, the dog has to be euthanized.

The councilman appealed Animal Control’s decision twice, and has until Aug. 16 to appeal again. But he said he has no plan to do that, according to an Associated Press story.

Many others came forward to try and save the dog, including someone who came forward with wire cutters, broke into an outdoor kennel at Sioux City Animal Control, and stole the councilman’s dog. No other dogs in adjacent pens were taken — only Jake, the councilman’s 3-year-old yellow Labrador.

Police say there are no suspects, and Rochester was adamant that he didn’t take his dog and has no idea who did.

To top it all off, Rochester is the councilman who led a successful effort last year to ban pit bull terriers from Sioux City, Iowa, saying they were too dangerous.

The largest crackdown on dogfighting — ever

The most ambitious crackdown on dogfighting in American history has now led to the seizure of more than 450 dogs, with raids and arrests in eight states.

Following an investigation initiated by the The Humane Society of Missouri, officers from multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies made arrests and seized dogs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas in what was ”the largest simultaneous raid of multiple dogfighting operations in the history of the United States,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.

“This intervention is a momentous victory in our ongoing battle to end the cruel, criminal dogfighting industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. 

Pacelle reported on his blog: “Four United States Attorneys and a bevy of federal law enforcement agencies, along with The HSUS, The Humane Society of Missouri, and the ASPCA, raided multiple dogfighting operations, and seized at least 450 dogs, in what was the largest single day of actions against dogfighting in American history.”

The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs —  mostly pit bulls — seized in the Missouri and Illinois raids. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an  emergency shelter in St. Louis.

Read more »

Multi-state dogfighting raid nets 30 arrests

Thirty people have been arrested and as many as 350 dogs have been seized in raids across five states that animal welfare groups are calling the largest simultaneous raid of dogfighting operations in the U.S.

Authorities said that the raids were conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma.

The raids followed a more than year-long investigation prompted by information from the Humane Society of Missouri, according to the Associated Press.

The ASPCA, which cooperated in the investigation, said the targets of the investigation ran what was believed to be the largest dogfighting operation in U.S. history.

John M. Bales, the U.S. attorney in eastern Texas, said nine people in his state were indicted on June 30 of three counts — conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal fighting venture and buying, selling, delivering or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture. If convicted, the defendants each face up to five years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Bales said eight people were arrested Wednesday in Panola and Gregg counties in Texas. Nine dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, were seized during a search of property in rural Panola County.