A former Marine sniper’s support dog was shot by police in Dacono, Colo., after escaping from his yard and acting in what police say was an aggressive manner.
Mongo, a 3-year-old pit bull, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
His owner, James Vester, is seeking an explanation and an apology from police, whose behavior, he noted, seemed more like something you’d see on the streets of Iraq.
“I didn’t think I would see that again. You see it in Iraq — and then you see your best friend here get shot,” said Vester, who got Mongo, a certified emotional support dog, to alleviate stress after returning from combat.
Vester said he was doing yard work when Mongo got loose. A neighbor called police because Mongo began barking at her dogs from across a fence. When two officers arrived, Mongo barked and growled and lunged at one of them, according to police reports.
Some neighbors disputed the police account, according to Fox 31 News in Denver.
“There was no noise at first, I just heard the gunshot — then the dog started crying,” said Heather Viera, who was told by police to go back inside her home when she stepped outside.
Another neighbor, Jenny Stevens, says she was a few hundred feet down the road, walking her dogs, when she heard the shot. She said she didn’t hear any barking or growling before it was fired. “It was dead silent. There was not a bark, there wasn’t a growl. The cop did not say stop to the dog, the cop didn’t yell anything.”
Dacono Police Chief Matthew B. Skaggs said an investigation was being conducted.
“I think it is important to remember these things develop very quickly,” the chief said. “If you look in the report, the officer did say specifically that the dog got within six feet of him and at that point he felt like it was his only option.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, barks, behavior, colorado, dacono, emotional, growls, investigation, iraq, james vester, law enforcement, marine, mongo, pets, pit bull, police, police shoot dog, service, shoot, shot, sniper, support dog, veteran
Another disabled veteran and service dog have been kicked out of a business establishment — this time in Virginia, where Pat Horan and his dog Wilson were asked to leave a restaurant in Centreville.
As often isn’t the case, Horan’s ejection got some news coverage, thanks to his Facebook friends and the fact that his sister-in-law is a TV reporter.
After a visit with his dentist earlier this week, Pat and his wife, Patty, stepped into a restaurant next door, the Village Café , for lunch.
Upon seeing the dog, the restaurant owner’s wife ordered them to leave the premises.
“I tried to explain to her that this isn’t just a regular pet, this is a service dog,” Patty Horan said. “My husband is disabled. She really didn’t want to listen to any of it. She just wanted us to leave the restaurant.”
They were offered the option to order and sit outside and eat, but there were no tables or chairs set up, she added.
The Horan’s posted what happened on Facebook, leading to angry comments from their friends, and the involvement of WUSA reporter Peggy Fox, who’d done a series of stories on her brother-in-law’s recovery. He was shot in the head in Baghdad, resulting in brain injury, seizures and instability.
Fox went to the Village Café and interviewed Mo Aminfar, the owner.
Aminfar said his wife, Mary, didn’t understand that Wilson was a service dog.
“She doesn’t speak very well in English,” he said.
Aminfar said it was a regrettable misunderstanding: “Pat, we apologize and are really sorry for what happened.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aminfar, animals, apology, brain injury, centreville, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, head, iraq, media, news, pat horan, peggy fox, pets, service, shot, vet, veteran, village cafe, virginia, war, wilson, wusa
Arnold has never been to Afghanistan. Or Iraq. But, under the auspices of the Department of Defense, he’s serving our country — in a manner you might envy, and with results most impressive.
Arnold, as you might guess from his full name — Arnold des Contes D’Hoffmann — is a stud.
Rather than getting deployed to war zones, the Belgian Malinois is sitting pretty at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where, working with a harem of 16 females, he’s fathered 149 offspring destined to become military working dogs.
Arnold joined the Department of Defense in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times.
His working skills were so impressive that it was decided he’d be of more use reproducing. Thus he has avoided getting sent to conflicts and settled into a life of making love, not war.
He’s one of only three male dogs at the base with that job description.
Officials say Arnold, who has five more pups on the way, is one of the more productive males in the breeding program at the military working-dog program at Lackland.
The program’s goal is to produce dogs — about 100 a year — that serve longer tours of duty with fewer medical problems than the dogs bought from outside vendors.
The Times reports:
“Dogs capable of sniffing out buried bombs, guarding far-flung bases or displaying aggression on command have been in great demand since the U.S.-led assault on Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in 2001 and the Iraq war in 2003. Arnold, in his own fashion, has done his part for national security.”
Arnold is 7 now, and, of his offspring, about half have been found suitable as working dogs, said Stewart Hilliard, manager of the breeding program.
When Arnold’s not performing, he usually is in a kennel.
“If he gets to chase a ball for several hours, he’s had a good day,” said Hilliard.
About 15 percent of the working dogs that graduate from Lackland each year are from the Belgian Malinois breeding program..
(Photo:Darren Abate / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, arnold, Arnold des Contes D’Hoffmann, belgian malinois, breeding, dogs, iraq, lackland air force base, military dogs, military working dogs, pets, program, stud, working dogs
Sergeant Rex, a bomb-sniffing dog who finally returned from duty in Iraq earlier this year and was reunited with his former handler, died Saturday at the age of 11.
Rex was assigned to Cpl. Megan Leavey in 2006 when, on a patrol in Iraq, the dog alerted his handler of a nearby bomb. Both tried to run away, but it detonated, injuring them both.
Leavey left the Marine Corps in Dec. 2007, but Sergeant Rex continued to serve. She tried to adopt the dog, but was unable to for years because he remained on duty after recovering from his injuries.
This year, when Rex was retired due to facial paralysis, Leavey renewed her efforts, receiving support form U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and an online petition that received more than 20,000 signatures. In March, Leavey received permission to adopt him. They were reunited in April.
Leavey, who lives in New York, announced Rex’s death last week on her Facebook page:
“Unfortunately today at 10:56 a.m. Rex passed away. I was faced with the decision that no pet owner wants to hear, but I know I made the right choice. This is all very sudden and thankfully he did not suffer for long, this all came about late last night.
“I am so grateful for the last eight months I got to spend with my partner and my best friend. Rex got to swim in a pool and play with my other dogs. He got to roam the yard and bark at deer, play with as many toys as he wanted all day everyday, sleep in a cozy bed next to me every night, chase and eventually make friends with my two cats, enjoy and play in his first snowfall … and so much other great stuff that he would have never had the chance to do if he was never retired.
“He knew I was with him the whole time and I laid next to him and held him and spoke to him and he was at peace in the end. He is now my guardian angel … even though he already was. So thank you to everyone who supported me and made it possible for me to spend those precious 8 months with my best friend.
“He was one hell of a dog, one tough ass Marine, and one very special soul. He will no doubt be greatly missed and never forgotten.”
A book about Rex came out this year, entitled “Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog.” It was written by Mike Dowling, another one of Sergeant Rex’s handlers.
Rex searched more than 6,220 vehicles while stationed in Iraq, the Marine Corps says.
The publishers of the new book noted his passing in a Facebook post this week:
“Rest in peace Rex and thank you for your service and sacrifice. Once a Marine, Always a Marine … Semper Fi,” they wrote.
(Photo of Rex and Leavey from tribute posted at Findagrave.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bomb, bombs, bond, book, death, died, dog, handler, handlers, ied, iraq, megan leavey, mike dowling, military, reunion, reunited, sergeant rex, sniffing, war
Chuck Shuck was star struck, but his dog Gabe took meeting Betty White in stride, as you might expect from a weapons sniffing dog who conducted 210 combat missions in Iraq.
Gabe, the American Humane Association’s “Hero Dog of the Year,” received his award last month in Los Angeles. (The ceremony will be shown on the Hallmark Channel at 8 p.m. this coming Thursday, Nov. 8.) Betty White was honored with two awards during the event.
“That was the highlight,” Gabe’s handler, Sgt. 1st Class Charles “Chuck” Shuck told The State. “Just to be in her presence was amazing.” Gabe, he said “was just his normal self, but I did get him to bark during the standing ovation.”
Another highlight was the grand prize — $10,000 that Shuck will use to support other service dogs and handlers now fighting in Afghanistan.
Now 10 years old, the Lab mix was rescued as a puppy from a Houston shelter the day before he was to be euthanized.
His luck continued in Iraq, where, in 2006, he and Shuck survived when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle they were riding in.
Shuck, 33, is now a Senior Drill Sergeant Leader at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Gabe, who eventually became sensitive to the sound of explosions and guns, was retired. Since then, he’s gone from 67 pounds to 98 pounds.
About 3 million votes were cast in the hero dog competition.
Betty White received two awards from American Humane Association, the National Humanitarian Medal and the Legacy Award, for dedicating herself to protecting and improving the quality of life for animals.
You can find the American Humane Association’s news release about the ceremony — and information about the other finalists — here.
(Photo: At top, White and Gabe, courtesy of Charles Shuck; above left, Shuck and Gabe, file photo from The State)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american humane association, animals, awards, betty white, ceremony, charles shuck, detecting, dog, dogs, explosives, fort jackson, gabe, hallmark, hero dogs, honors, iraq, military, pets, sniffing, television
The reunion took place at Lackland Air Force base in Texas last week, and the eight-year-old dog is now home with Logan Black.
Black, 34, launched a campaign on Facebook to persuade the Air Force to retire Diego and let him adopt him, KCTV in Kansas City reports. The retired soldier says Diego saved his life, several times, in Iraq.
“This feels fantastic,” Black said. “I’ve been waiting for those for a really long time.”
Black trained Diego and they served on nearly 40 missions in Iraq in 2006, searching for hidden weapons and homemade bombs.
Five years after they sent separate ways, Black said he still missed the dog. He began a search for Diego and learned that he was working at Lackland AFB, helping train other bomb-sniffing dogs.
“No doubt Diego would have found a home somewhere, but a home with me is different than with a totally new stranger,” Black said.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, animals, bomb, bond, campaign, detecting, diego, dog, dogs, facebook, handler, home, humans, iraq, lackland, logan black, military, pets, reunion, reunited, search, sniffing, veteran
A recent CNN report raises questions about Operation Baghdad Pups, and the charity that oversees the program, SPCA International.
CNN, whose sister network presented a positive and heartwarming portrayal of the program last year, found that SPCA International spent nearly all $27 million it received in donations to raise more money through a direct mail company.
The report also said SPCA International “misrepresented” Baghdad Pups on its tax filings, and that it hired an officer for that program with a “questionable background.”
Two immediate thoughts:
One, in an ideal world, which of course we’re not in, it would have been nice of CNN, or even its less probing sister network, HLN, to do its digging before tugging at our heartstrings to the extent we cough up money.
Two, with animal charities becoming big business, where should the line be drawn when it comes to how much of the money they rake in actually goes to helping animals?
A charity needs to spend money to raise money, of course, but Bob Ottenhoff, president of the charity watchdog group GuideStar, told CNN that the SPCA International’s tax records raise “a number of red flags.”
“No. 1, there is an enormous amount of money going into fund-raising,” Ottenhoff said. “It’s not unusual for a nonprofit to fund-raise. In fact they need to fund-raise. But this organization has an enormous amount of fund-raising costs, certainly relative to the amount of money being spent.”
Of the $14 million raised in 2010, SPCA International reported it spent about $60,000, less than 0.5%, on cash grants to animal shelters across the United States. About $450,000 — about 3% of the total raised in 2010 — went to bring back animals from Iraq and Afghanistan as part of its “Baghdad Pups” program.
The CNN report seems to make much of the fact that most of those animals weren’t actual members of the armed services — but, from our coverage of the organization, it never seemed to making the claim that they were.
Baghdad Pups is a program that “helps U.S. troops safely transport home the companion animals they befriend in the war zone,” it states on the website.
As CNN put it, “the charity admitted that only 26 of the nearly 500 animals transported to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan were actually service animals. The rest were stray animals … And those 26 service animals were not attached to military K-9 units but belonged to Reed Inc., a private contractor that built roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
While dogs abandoned by contracting companies have been a concern of the program, stray animals, as I understood it, were what the program was all about — seeing that, in cases where they bonded with soldiers, they had a chance to come home with them.
While the CNN report may have been barking up the wrong tree in that regard, it was on the money in other ways — namely, in looking at what happens to the money.
SPCA International funneled nearly all the donations to Quadriga Art, one of the world’s largest direct-mail providers to charities and nonprofits. The payments to Quadriga Art and its affiliated company, Brickmill Marketing Services, were for publicizing the organization and helping it raise more funds.
It is the same company hired by two veterans charities that spent tens of millions of dollars for its services, triggering a Senate investigation last month. One of the charities,Washington-based Disabled Veterans National Foundation, collected nearly $56 million in donations over the past three years yet paid Quadriga Art more than $60 million in fees, raising questions about whether it should retain its tax-exempt status.
SPCA International is still $8 million in debt to Quadriga Art, according to a spokeswoman for the direct-mail firm.
Lat week’s CNN report also brought up previous problems Operation Baghdad spokeswoman Terri Crisp encountered while working on behalf of animals.
Crisp, who appeared on CNN’s sister network, HLN, last year with two dogs rescued from Iraq, is the former head of a California-based animal rescue charity called Noah’s Wish. It took in $8 million in contributions to support its work “rescuing and caring for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina.” An investigation by the California attorney general was looking into whether that money was being used for that purpose when a settlement was reached in 2007.
Crisp, while not admitting to any wrongdoing, agreed to return $4 million in donations, and to not ”serve as an officer, director or trustee or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director or trustee, with any non-profit organization” for five years.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: afghanistan, animal welfare, animals, armed service, baghdad, bringing, charities, cnn, contractors, direct mail, dogs, finances, fund raising, fundraising, guide star, hln, home, investigation, iraq, K-9, k9, noahs wish, non profits, nonprofits, operation baghdad pups, organizations, pets, pups, quadriga art, reed inc, rehoming, report, rescue, saving, shelter, soldiers, spca international, stray, strays, terri crisp, troops
Former Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and retired military service dog Rex were reunited Tuesday in New York, bringing a successful end to Leavey’s long campaign to adopt her former partner.
“I’m so happy,” Leavey, 28, told the Journal News from her Valley Cottage home Wednesday afternoon. “I was nervous at first that maybe he wouldn’t recognize me, but it was like no time has passed.”
Leavey and the German shepherd served two tours of duty together in Iraq. Both were injured when an explosive device was detonated near them outside of Ramadi, Iraq, in September 2006
Leavey was discharged from the Marines in December 2007, and she tried to adopt her former partner then. But military officials decided Rex could still make a valuable contribution and didn’t discharge him.
Earlier this year, however, Rex, then the oldest working dog at Camp Pendleton, was diagnosed with facial palsy, a nerve paralysis that left him unable to serve.
Leavey renewed her push to adopt the 10-year-old dog, and got help from Sen. Charles Schumer’s office.
Schumer wrote letters to military officials and more than 20,000 people signed a petition urging military officials to allow the adoption.
Officials with the Air Force signed off on the adoption last month.
Wednesday, Leavey and Rex were settling in after flying from California to JFK. By then, she’d introduced him to his new family — a 7-year-old shiba inu named Rocky and a 4-year-old chocolate Labrador named Patriot, and who Leavey handles for a private company.
“It’s like he knows he’s retired. He’s happy,” Leavey said. “We played in the yard the whole morning.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air force, charles schumer, dog, dogs, german shepherd, injured, iraq, K-9, k9, marines, megan leavey, military, military dogs, partners, petition, retired, reunion, reunited, rex, senator, sergeant rex, sgt. rex, united, video, war
Sgt. Rex will finally be reunited in retirement with his ex-Marine handler, Cpl. Megan Leavy, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said.
The Associated Press reports that the Air Force has agreed to release the German shepherd into the care of Leavey, who lives in Rockland County, north of New York City,
Leavey was injured with Rex in 2006 while trying to disarm an explosive in Iraq.
Leavey came home with a Purple Heart, but Sgt. Rex was evaluated and found to be capable of continuing his service.
Leavey had tried to adopt the dog then, but her request was rejected by the Air Force.
At age 10, Sgt. Rex started developing other problems and was allowed to retire. Leavey again tried to adopt him, but Schumer said bureaucracy still stood in the way.
“We salute the Air Force and the Marines for doing the right thing and allowing Rex to be with Corporal Leavey,” Schumer said Monday night. “One canine, one human, both heroes. They should be united shortly, and we’re glad it’s happening … It’s only appropriate and right that the two of them enjoy their retirement from the service together.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adopting, air force, animals, bureaucracy, charles schumer, dog, dogs, explosive, german shepherd, injured, iraq, K-9, k9, marine, marines, megan leavey, new york, pets, purple heart, reunion, reunited, reuniting, senator, sergeant rex, sgt. rex, war
Leavey served as the dog’s handler for more than three years until a roadside bomb blast in Ramadi, Iraq, took them out of commission in 2006, MSNBC reports.
“Rex is my partner; I love him,” said Leavey, 28, who lives with her father in Rockport, New York, and works as a dog handler. “We have been through so much together … I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond.”
Leavey first applied to adopt Sgt. Rex as she was completing her Marine Corps service in 2007, but the military determined the dog had recovered and should return to duty.
About a month ago, though, Leavey heard that Sgt. Rex had been deemed ready to retire after developing facial palsy, which was affecting his equilibrium. She again filed paperwork to adopt him.
“An official request for retirement has been submitted,” said Matthew Stines, press officer for the Air Force, which has jurisdiction over the Military Working Dog Program. He said that action on that request is expected to take about two weeks.
The dog still has to be evaluated for “adoptability” at Camp Pendleton, where he is now kenneled. Approval also has to come from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Military dogs aren’t commonly euthanized upon retirement — at least not anymore — except in cases where they have health or behavioral issues or are otherwise deemed unadoptable.
Leavey is hoping Sgt. Rex passes those tests, and that there’s an end to the red tape.
“(Rex) is just hanging out in his kennel,” Leavey said. “I know the Marine Corp has other more important issues. But it’s important to me. And he deserves it.”
Sgt. Rex is the subject of a 2011 book written by his first handler, Mike Dowling — “Sgt. Rex: The Unbreakable Bond between a Marine and his Military Working Dog.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is encouraging the the Air Force to act quickly to approve the adoption.
“Marine Corporal Leavey and Rex are true American heroes who saved countless American lives uncovering roadside bombs and booby traps in Iraq,” he said in a statement. “I’m strongly urging the Air Force to do the right thing, cross the T’s and dot the I’s so that Rex gets the home he deserves, and Corporal Leavey can be reunited with her faithful companion.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, air force, animals, bomb, bomb-sniffing, bond, bureaucracy, camp pendleton, charles schumer, deployment, dog, dogs, evaluation, german shepherd, handler, iraq, K-9, k9, lackland, marines, megan leavey, military, military dog, pets, red tape, retired, rex, senator, sergeant rex, service, sgt. rex, working dog