A moonlighting New Orleans cop who brought his police K-9 to a private security job broke no law, his lawyer argued Friday– and commited no malfeasance any more serious than failing to shine his shoes.
The dog, named Phantom, fell down an elevator shaft and to his death while he and Sgt. Randy Lewis were working a private security detail at a closed hospital building.
Lewis was not charged with animal cruelty, but with malfeasance.
Judge Ben Willard, after hearing closing arguments in the case Friday, delayed any verdict for another week. Lewis faces five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if found guilty, Nola.com reported
Lewis, a former supervisor in the department’s K-9 unit, took Phantom to the shuttered Charity Hospital in May 2009, where he had been hired to clear vagrants from the property. The dog fell from the 17th floor through a partially open elevator door.
Lewis took Phantom to the job without police department approval, and had signed forms saying no police equipment or animals would be used in the private job.
The dog’s body was not found until the next day, when the private company that hired him had the elevator drained. Lewis then had the dog cremated, before a necropsy could be performed.
Lewis, in his initial reports about the incident, said he was training the dog, and didn’t mention he was getting paid privately for his services.
His attorney, Eric Hessler, argued that Lewis had been working a private job and training his police dog at the same time.
Hessler likened the court proceedings to an officer being prosecuted for failing to shine his shoes.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cop, death, died, dogs, elevator, fell, job, k9, law enforcement, malfeasance, moonlighting, new orleans, pets, phantom, police, private, randy lewis, security, shaft, trial
The man, whose name was not released, accidentally stepped on a lid and fell 40 feet through a chute at an H.J. Baker & Brothers plant.
After falling, his leg got caught in an auger-like device, which complicated the rescue, WRAL in Raleigh reported.
Fire Chief Wayne Barber said the man was hospitalized in Raleigh, and treated for dehydration, but is expected to be fine.
He spent several hours up to his waist in dog food in the silo, which was about a third of the way full.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, contractor, dog food, dogs, factory, fall, fell, JJ Baker & Brothers, job, north carolina, osha, pets, plant, rescue, rescued, sanford, silo, trapped
As often as we report incidents that reflect law enforcement’s lack of compassion when it comes to dogs, it’s good to pass along a story like this one — about a cop in St. Louis who showed some heart.
More inspiring yet, Officer Cheryl Goede saw fit not just to seek help for the two German shepherds she found living in a car, but for their homeless human, too.
Last week, Officer Goede was investigating a call about a “suspicious vehicle” in St. Louis.
She approached the car and questioned the man inside, who had two German shepherds with him.
He didn’t immediately volunteer the information, but, as reported on Examiner.com, the man, identified as A.J. Hawk, eventually admitted he’d lost his job, then his home, and was living in his car with his dogs.
Hawk, while he went to school to become an architectural drafting artist, is now working odd jobs to pay for gas and food, and he and his dogs have been living in his car about a month.
Officer Goede is a dog-lover herself, and particularly a German shepherd lover. She puts out a Facebook page, called the German Shepherd Dog Community.
Goede didn’t haul Hawk in, or tell him to get out of town. Instead, she told him she admired him for not dumping his dogs at a shelter.
“I could never do that,” he responded. “They are my family.”
When her shift ended, she logged on to Facebook to share Hawk’s situation with her readers. And she decided to donate to him some recent winnings from a contest her own German shepherd, Kato, was in.
She also set up a Chip-In account so others could donate to Hawk and his dogs, Caesar and Houdini.
Anyone interested in making a donation can do so by either using the Chip-In, or mailing it to: PO Box 140003, St. Louis, MO 63114.
(Photos: Top, Houdini and Caesar; bottom, Cheryl Goede and Kato; From the Facebook page of the German Shepherd Dog Community)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aj hawk, animals, caesar, car, cheryl goede, chip in, compassion, dogs, donate, economy, facebook, german shepherds, help, home, homeless, houdini, job, kato, law enforcement, living, loss, lost, pets, police. officer, st. louis, suspicious, unemployment, vehyicle
When she persisted, insisting the pointer needed help and would likely die in flight, she was fired.
Yesterday, her employer, Airport Terminal Services Inc., based in St. Louis, said she would be reinstated, with back pay.
Sally Leible, president of the firm, said Jones actions were courageous and the reaction of some management employees was regrettable. She told the Reno Gazette Journal the incident will be used as “teachable moment” for employees.
On Nov. 15, Jones raised enough of a stink about the suffering dog to get airport police to call Washoe County Regional Animal Services, which took custody of the pointer and provided it with veterinary care. The dog apparently was later shipped to its Texas owner, a hunter who keeps it in a kennel and has it shipped to the places he hunts.
The listless and sore-covered dog was lying in a pet carrier in the cargo area of the airport when Jones first saw it.
“The dog was so weak and torn up. It didn’t look like it could survive the flight,” she told the Gazette Journal.
Jones said her supervisor told her to load the dog on the plane because the animal’s paperwork was in order and its condition wasn’t her concern.
“I was crying,” she said. “I kept saying that dog could not be put on a plane.” She said she was fired on the spot by the supervisor, who yelled “‘That’s it, you’re done, you are out of here, go home.”
Jones is a former blackjack dealer, has three dogs of her own, and once owned a dog grooming service. Even before getting her job back, she said she didn’t regret having taken a stand.
“I loved my job at the airport,” she said. ” … But I just couldn’t turn my back on that dog … My supervisor said it wasn’t my concern, but animal abuse is everyone’s concern who sees it.”
(Photo: Lynn Jones with her three dogs, Junior, Manny and Jewel, from left; by Marilyn Newton / Reno Gazette Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airport, airport police, airport terminal services, baggage handler, cargo, condition, dog, fired, flight, hunter, hunting dog, injured, job, lynn jones, pointer, reinstatated, reno, suffering, tahoe, washoe county regional animal services
If I had to guess what was on Ace’s mind at a given moment, here’s what I think it would be:
“Food. FOOD. How about some food? Got any food? Gimme food. I really like food. I like you, too, but I really like food. Is that food I smell? Perhaps you’d like to give me some. Is it time for food? Food. Food. Food.”
But, when it comes to the mysterious song that plays in his head — and I’m guessing it’s a song, for all I know it could be haiku – food would have to be the repeated refrain.
When, during our weeks in Cave Creek, Arizona, we sat down with animal communicator Debbie Johnstone of Listen 2 Animals – I sat down, anyway, Ace kind of wandered – I was hoping that he wouldn’t be so stuck on the chorus that the other lyrics couldn’t come through.
But they did. According to Debbie, Ace spoke to her – sometimes in words only she could hear, also by conveying images and feelings. Only a minute after we sat down, she’d gotten her first impressions of him:
Animals have spoken to Debbie since she was a toddler, she says. At first, she figured everybody could hear them. Born in West Virginia, and raised in Ohio, she didn’t have pets of her own, but she had long conversations with neighborhood animals – until her mother told her at age 7 that she was a big girl now and it was time to stop doing that.
So, for several decades, she did. She stopped acknowledging that she could hear what animals were thinking, and went on to become a computer programmer.
Her job with a major corporation brought her to Arizona in 1992, and she took on new responsibilities as she rose through the ranks — including laying off people. After 9/11, she found herself doing more and more of that, to the point it was making her physically ill.
“I said, ‘I can’t do this any longer,’” and with that she began searching for a new calling. While trying to figure out what that was, she started doing volunteer work at Arizona Equine Rescue, where she met a Shamanic healer who sensed she had the gift. With his help she enrolled in a course in animal communication and resumed talking to animals.
In 2003, she started her own company, Listen 2 Animals, where, in addition to serving as a translator between the human and animal worlds, she helps find lost animals, resolves animal-related conflicts and coaches humans on how to better communicate with their animals. Her sessions, with horses, cats and dogs, usually range from 15 minutes to an hour and run $30 to $90.
Debbie says the messages from animals come to her in different ways.
Sometimes she senses it. ”I’m empathic I can feel what the animal feels,” she said. Other times she might see a picture, experience a taste or smell, or hear a noise. Some of the information is conveyed to her through what she calls “thought drops,” which made me think of the comic strip device, where what one’s thinking appears in a cloud with dots leading down to the person’s head. Sometimes she hears words, as if they are actually talking. “Sometimes they just come right out and tell me. Sometimes animals know exactly what’s wrong and can tell you, other times they don’t know.”
Her clients range from people who want to know why their cat stopped using the litter box, to what the old dog thinks of a new dog in the house, or — most commonly — people seeking some guidance in making the decision to put an old, sick animal down.
Amost half of her calls are from people whose animals are “getting ready to transition” and want to know how the animal feels about it. More often than not — despite all the human angst – the dog or other animal in question is ready to proceed. “They’re not afraid of death,” she said.
Debbie met Ace and me in a fenced yard behind a store in Cave Creek. It was Ace’s second meeting with an animal communicator. (You can read about the first at the Baltimore Sun.)
The first thing Debbie did when Ace approached was seek permission from him. She says she always asks an animal first if she can communicate with them — “otherwise, it would be like walking into somebody’s house without knocking.”
I’d explained to Debbie that Ace had been traveling for seven months, and that I wanted to know what he thought of our nomadic lifestyle.
After relating her initial impressions, Debbie said Ace was communicating to her in words: “I actually heard the words, ‘This is what I was born to do.’
“He takes this very seriously,” she continued. “He really feels this is an assignment, or a job, if you will. He’s sharing a feeling of always moving, moving a lot … moving and freedom.” She compared how Ace feels with the feeling she had when she got out of the corporate world and started doing what she really wanted to do.
“Passionate, energized, that’s the feeling he gives me — that his life is about more than just going through the motions. He finds it joyful to met new people, go new places, see’s new things. He’s not tired, he finds it energizing … He likes doing different and new things … What’s really important to him is being with you.
“But still,” she added, “he’s looking forward to the day you get in one place, in a home.”
Debbie passed on some other information as well:
- Ace likes the color red.
- The chain link fence around the yard we were sitting in reminded him of his days in the shelter. She saw him as one of a litter of three, who was dropped off at the shelter by someone who didn’t speak English.
- Ace has some achiness in his left hip joint, but it’s not painful.
- Ace “thinks everybody really, really likes him.”
- Ace likes eggs, and would like to be served them more often.
- When I asked Debbie if Ace would prefer to eat twice a day, as he used to, or once a day, as he now does, she responded, “He wants to know if there’s a third choice.”
- Ace enjoys being a dog, she says, as most dogs do. “If we could feel about ourselves like our animals feel about themselves, we would be very, very free. They’re just pleased about who they are.”
Debbie said Ace doesn’t mind riding in the car (which is red, by the way). “It’s not something that bothers him because he likes to be with you. But he would like you to stop more often so he can get out and sniff and stretch. He likes to investigate and see new things.”
The last seven months have provided ample opportunity for that, and it was good to hear that — in her opinion — he didn’t consider our trip a total drag.
Debbie didn’t say that Ace was eager to get back to Baltimore. Even though he doesn’t speak to me in words, I think that’s a safe bet. I’m not certain whether that city will become home for me again, but according to Debbie, Ace already has that part figured out.
“Where you are, that’s home to him.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace talks, animal communicator, animals, arizona, cave creek, communicate, communicating with animals, debbie johnstone, dog, dogs, empathic, empathy, happy, home, horses, job, listen 2 animals, listen2animals, mind, mission, mystery, nomads, passionate, people, pets, phoenix, road, road trip, thinking, thoughts, traveling with dogs, travels, travels with ace, vagabonds, what dogs think
Some of you might remember Darcy — the too cute to strangle Boston terrier for whom I’ve served as babysitter while her mom and dad were away.
Twice, I took Darcy into my home for multi-day stays, where she proceeded to test my patience half the time, and be adorable the other half.
That was back when I had a house. Now, upon my return to Baltimore — having given up my home for the purposes of our continuing road trip – the tables have turned, and Darcy and her humans have most graciously taken Ace and me into their’s.
Where, as you might guess, I proceeded to test their patience half the time (going so far as to clog up their toilet yesterday morning … the house guest’s worst nightmare), and attempted to be adorable (once I had my coffee) the other half.
And all this just before the start of school, no less.
Here in the city of Baltimore, yesterday was the first day of school — so, with both Darcy’s mom and dad being city schoolteachers, it’s all the more impressive that, with everything else that was on their minds and agendas, they agreed to house one road-weary man and his 130-pound dog over the weekend.
There, in addition to the hazards of using too much toilet paper, this is what I learned:
Teachers — or at least teachers like Dan and Marite – should be appreciated much more. I say this not because they gave us shelter, but because in the days I spent with them I’ve seen how much of themselves, their own time, their own money, their hearts and souls, they pour into what they do.
Yesterday, as Ace and I sat drinking coffee on their front stoop after they left, I watched as children headed down the sidewalk for the start of a new school year, many of them tightly holding the hands of their parents. And I thought how fortunate they were — even in a school system as troubled as Baltimore’s — to have teachers like Dan and Marite. And how much worse things would be if they didn’t.
Dan spent the bulk of the weekend on his computer, finalizing his lesson plans, sweating the details. Marite cooked up some do-it-yourself orange Play-doh out of flour, water and food coloring. When we walked with the dogs down to the shopping center for lunch, Dan and Marite hit the Goodwill store, and came out with a full bag of classroom supplies.
But Dan and Marite take chaos in stride. They seem to have mastered patience, which I guess all teachers must. They are so easy going that she probably won’t mind that I — lacking the technical know-how — am writing her name without the accent thing over the “e”.
While their home has plenty of clutter — I would describe their decorating scheme as contemporary-tornado — Ace and I only added to it, what with our leashes and dog bowls and dog food and camera and laptop and dirty laundry. We just wedged ourselves and our stuff in, and felt right at home. (Virgo that I am, I will admit I feared putting anything on a counter for fear it would disappear immediately under a stack of paperwork, laptops and school supplies. By the way, have you seen my glasses?)
The clutter, though – I’d say it’s 85 percent school related — is just another sign of their commitment.
Most people seem to truly cherish their work — though not always their jobs. And there’s a difference. One’s “work” is doing what they got into a career to do, whether it’s teaching kids, righting wrongs or driving trucks, whether it’s lawyering or newspapering. One’s “job” is what that work has evolved into — thanks to managers, supervisors, corporate chiefs and stockholders.
We the workers, in a way, are their Play-Doh, and they tend to mold, bend and stretch us, sometimes to the point of snapping.
They take your one job and squeeze two more jobs into it; then shovel layers of bureaucracy on top, burying you under piles of seemingly meaningless paperwork, and doing away with anything that might serve as support. They tell us to do more with less, and, at times, seem to be doing everything in their power to prohibit us from doing our jobs right. Then they — those at the very top — reap the benefits of the more, while we scrape by on the less.
I don’t think that makes me a Communist, just a pissed off worker — or a pissed off former worker, to be precise. (I kind of like the boss I have now, who looks a lot like me.)
As a nation, we fail to show enough appreciation for those doing the heavy lifting. And yet the heavy lifters keep lifting — they, and teachers especially, manage to stay fired up about the work, if not the job, despite shrinking benefits, paltry salaries and all the forces that seem intent on extinguishing that fire.
So, a little early for Labor Day, I salute the American worker, who, like the American dog, keeps at it — leaping obstacles, heeding commands, summoning up energy even when exhausted, snapping at and shaking off all the annoying little bugs that come down from above, buzzing in our ears and getting on our backs.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, america, american, animals, benefits, career, darcy, dog's country, dogscountry, employees, employers, job, labor, labor day, ohmidog!, overburdened, overworked, pets, road trip, salary, school, support, teachers, work, workers
An Ohio firefighter who was fired for executing his two dogs walked out of an appeal hearing yesterday in which he was seeking to get his job back.
Santuomo, 43, was waiting for the hearing to begin, but left after a television news crew set up a camera in the commission’s hearing room.
“He came here with the intention of going forward but changed his mind,” said Barbara McGrath, the commission’s executive director. The commission had agreed to postpone the original hearing in the fall and informed Santuomo that his appeal would be dismissed if he didn’t attend today’s hearing.
Santuomo was fired in July after being convicted of two counts of animal cruelty and one count of possession of a criminal tool. Prosecutors say Santuomo tied his two mixed-breed dogs to a pipe in his basement and shot them so he wouldn’t have to put them in a kennel while he went on a vacation cruise with his girlfriend. He dumped the bodies in a trash bin behind his fire station
He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $4,500.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeal, cameras, civil service commission, columbus, crew, david santuomo, dog, dogs, executed, fired, firefighter, firing, hearing, job, killed, news, ohio, pets, shooting, shot, television, two dogs, vacation
Have I got a job for you – a federal government one, no less — but unfortunately there’s only one opening.
The National Park Service is looking for someone to mush through the Alaskan wilderness amid the heart-stopping beauty of Denali National Park and Preserve.
The job title is “kennel manager,” and it does require running Denali’s 31-animal dog kennel, but it also affords ample opportunity to mush, mostly to rescue lost and stranded park visitors.
It pays between $33,477 and $66,542 a year, and out of the 19.7 million federal government jobs, it’s the only one that requires mushing, according to an Anchorage Daily News report. Here’s the actual listing.
“Our candidate must be a strong leader with supervisory skills and will be relied upon to provide all manner of services as a park ranger — from rescuing visitors and patrolling the park wilderness to presenting educational programs and community outreach,” the park’s superintendent said in a news release.
As much as 70% of the winter is spent mushing through Denali’s wilderness on patrol, or to ferry supplies, or take researchers to various parts of the park. Feeding, breeding, training and picking up after dogs are among the duties, and, being a government job, you can rest assured there’s plenty of paperwork involved, but it offers plenty of time in the great, and very cold, outdoors.
The job’s current occupant, Karen Fortier, a Connecticut native who held the post for nearly 10 years, said it’s not cold toes that’s leading to her departure, but a second daughter, born a year ago. The time away from her family became more than she was willing to put up with.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, alaskan, denali, employment, federal, government, job, jobs, kennel manager, listing, mush, musher, mushing, national park, national park service, opportunity, preserve, ranger, wilderness
It was the sort of scene I can’t walk past: A muttly looking dog, a white-bearded homeless guy and a handmade cardboard sign offering: “Dog Tricks 1$.”
On the sidewalk along Franklin Street — the main drag in Chapel Hill — Mark Williams, after offering me some room on his bench, said he and his dog, Two Beans, have been homeless for about a year. “Work’s kind of slow now” in the construction /handyman/odd jobs field, he explained.
The dog trick — Two Beans knows only one — helps rake in enough money for meals.
I’d gone to Chapel Hill for a meeting of the Board of Advisers of the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, an esteemed panel on which I still serve, despite having left my most recent newspaper job a year ago, and despite – other than doing some revisions on the book I left the business to write, and writing this website — being unemployed.
Twice a year at UNC, members of the board gather to hear what the school is up to in terms of research, fund-raising and curriculum changes, which are coming pretty fast and furious nowadays as the industry, facing declining profits, continues to try to pull new tricks out of its hat, or in some cases get a whole new hat.
This meeting was a special one because it’s the journalism school’s 100 birthday — a benchmark the university’s basketball program also hit this year. That’s pretty old, but there are older journalism schools, I learned during the festivities, such as the highly respected one at the University of Missouri, which was the nation’s first.
Getting ready to pick up my dog Ace (who I’d dropped off for a bath during the meeting) and leave town, I was walking down Franklin Street. Doing that always triggers memories of my days as a student. Thirty-four years ago, I was getting ready to graduate with my degree in journalism, and I was sending job applications to newspapers across the country. I used the seventy-some rejection letters I got then to wallpaper my room.
It dawned on me that, today, I’m in sort of the same situation – job hunting, getting a few rejections, and much more often getting no response at all. At least in the good old days they sent you a form letter. Today, many companies often don’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of your application. While students are still finding jobs, the journalism job market — like journalism — seems tighter, shallower and meaner than ever.
So bleak, in fact, that when I saw Mark Williams’ sign, I ever so briefly considered getting my own piece of cardboard, picking up my dog and setting up shop on the next bench down, offering higher-priced, upscale dog tricks (the Starbucks approach) for $5 to cover gas for my trip home.
Two Beans’ trick requires a dollar bill. Having only a $10, I asked Williams if that would work. He pocketed the ten dollar bill and pulled from his other pocket a crumpled one dollar bill. “Now go back in that alley and hide it somewhere, and Two Beans will find it.”
I wedged the bill behind a drainpipe, about waist high, and sure enough, Two Beans, when I called, came around the corner sniffed around, pulled it out, and brought it dutfifully to his master.
Williams got the dog from a friend, shortly before he began a stretch of life on the streets. He named him Two Beans, he said, because the dog — a golden retriever-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, he suspects — is not neutered. Williams said police don’t give him any trouble about his street business. “They’d rather me do this than just be panhandling like these other guys,” he said.
In addition to providing some income — as much as $70 a day when there’s a home football game – Two Beans makes life on the streets “a little less miserable,” Williams said. He said teaching Two Beans the trick cost him $3, because the dog ate the first three dollar bills
As we sat and talked, Williams, originally from Greenville, N.C., revealed that he once wrote a book about dog training. It was only 20 pages and, so it wouldn’t cost him much to mail it out, weighed only an ounce. “It was basically plagiarized, and not very good.” He took out an ad in the National Enquirer, offering the mini-book for sale for $3. He says he only sold two copies, one to a customer in Virginia Beach, another to a customer in Acapulco — making him, he joked, an “international author.”
When he learned I was a former newspaper reporter, Williams revealed that his family was in journalism as well: His grandfather, Walter Williams, founded the journalism school at the University of Missouri.
“That’s the nation’s first journalism school,” I said.
“Yup,” he answered.
Coincidentally, I’d also recently applied for a job there, in my continuing quest to sniff out writing/teaching/multi-media positions. I received an emailed rejection, one of at least a dozen so far.
I don’t print out my emailed rejections. They don’t have the cool logos on them that I once found decorative enough to serve as wall art. I think I also take them a little more personally, now that I have experience and credentials. So I won’t be using them as wallpaper — either the kind you put on your wall, or the kind on your computer.
Instead, I’ll keep plugging along, like Williams, and waiting for the better times I keep hearing are ahead.
Until then … dog trick, anyone?
Posted by jwoestendiek October 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: application, chapel hill, dog, dog tricks, economy, employment, franklin street, homeless, job, job market, jobs, journalism, journalism school, mark williams, mass communication, north carolina, one dollar dog tricks, panhandle, rejection, school, two beans, university of missouri, university of north carolina
An Ohio firefighter sentenced to 90 days in jail for killing his dogs has now lost his fire department job.
Columbus Public Safety Director Mitchell Brown said today that he has decided to terminate 43-year-old David Santuomo on the recommendation of the fire chief, according to an Associated Press report.
The thousands of messages the department received demanding the firefighter be stripped of his job probably played a role as well.
Santuomo pleaded guilty last month to three misdemeanors, including two animal cruelty counts. Prosecutors say Santuomo tied his two mixed-breed dogs to a pipe in his basement and shot them in December so he wouldn’t have to put them up in a kennel while he went on vacation.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, columbus, david santuomo, dogs, fire department, fired, firefighter, guilty, job, killed, loses, news, ohio, ohmidog!, plea, public safety, shot, terminated, two dogs