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Tag: kentucky

Fire claims lives at Kentucky animal shelter

shelterfire

The Knox-Whitley County Animal Shelter in Kentucky is looking for a new home after a Friday night fire destroyed the facility, killing at least one dog and most of its cats.

A volunteer with the shelter told WBIR on Sunday that 34 of 37 cats passed away.

One dog was killed by smoke inhalation and one is still unaccounted for. Twenty-three other dogs made it out safely before the roof of the shelter collapsed.

sassyThe dog who died was the shelter’s mascot, Sassy.

 ”[Sassy] greeted everyone who would come in. She would go to nursing homes. She would go to all of the events. She was the ambassador for the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter,” a spokesperson said.

A sheriff’s deputy and firefighters  attempted to rescue as many animals as possible, unlocking kennel gates to free the dogs at the shelter, located in the town of Woodbine, south of Corbin. Only a few cats, kept in an interior room of the shelter, had been rescued when the shelter’s roof started to collapse, according to WKYT

The displaced animals have been taken in by community members.

The shelter is looking into borrowing or leasing a building for 3-6 months to house new dogs and cats. Anyone with information on a possible building is asked to contact Chuck Ledford at 606-627-9477.

More information can be found on the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Facebook page.

An IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign has also been set up.

(Photo of fire scene from WKYT; photo of Sassy courtesy of Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter)

An Act of Dog: A memorial to the millions of shelter dogs put down in America


It’s easy to ignore statistics. They’re cold and dry and lack soulful eyes. And when the numbers are overwhelming — like the 5,500 unwanted dogs who are put to death daily in U.S. shelters — we tend, as a rule, to find life is more comfortable and less depressing when we don’t do the math.

Louisville artist Mark Barone is an exception to that rule. Rather than ignore the problem, he decided to put a face on it — 5,500 of them, in fact.

For two years now, he has been painting portraits of dogs who have been put down at shelters across the country, and he’s more than halfway to his goal: 5,500 portraits that he hopes will someday — unlike their subjects — find a forever home.

Barone and his partner, Marina Dervan, call the project “An Act of Dog.”

Their hope is the works will someday be displayed in a permanent memorial museum, which — between its emotional impact and the funds it would help raise for no-kill rescues and shelters – could help lead to their larger goal,  a no-kill nation.

Mark, a well-established artist, had moved to Santa Fe when, about three years ago, he lost his dog of 21 years, Santina.

“It was kind of a sad time, and I thought it would be therapeutic for Mark to go to the dog park,” Marina recalled. “I thought it would be helpful for him to get some dog love, and it was. It was really great. It got me in the mood to think about adopting another dog. Mark wasn’t at that stage, but it didn’t stop me from looking.”

Looking for adoptable dogs online and at local shelters, she quickly learned the sad reality that she says neither she nor Mark, up to then, were aware of — that millions of dogs in need of homes are put down at shelters every year.

“Instead of finding a dog, I found out all these horrifying statistics,” she said. She shared them with Mark, along with images and videos of dogs who had been, or were on the verge of, being put down.

He asked her to stop sharing, but she kept up.

“If we don’t look at it, nothing will change,” she said. “So he looked at it, as painful as it was, and day or two later, we were standing in the kitchen and he asked me the number of dogs killed everyday in the country … I gave him the number 5,500, based on statistics from Best Friends.”

It was then that the idea of honoring shelter dogs by painting 5,500 portraits of those who had been killed was born, and along with it, the longer term plan of a memorial museum, along the lines of the Vietnam Memorial and the Holocaust Museum.

First, they started looking for the studio space to get started on the task, mailing out inquiries in search of a city or town that might offer free space for him to paint.

Santa Fe wasn’t interested. Louisville was among about 30 places that were.

That’s where the couple lives now, and where Mark has completed about 3,200 of the portraits — some of them life- sized, some of them larger.

“It’s the big ones, 8 feet by 8 feet, that slow things down,” Mark said.

Only one of the 8×8-foot paintings depicts a dog who died a natural death — Mark’s dog, Santina. According to Marina, Santina will serve as the gatekeeper of the exhibit. Other large portraits feature  Batman, a 10-year-old pit bull who was left outside in 21 degree weather, and was found dead at a shelter the next morning, and Grant, who was deemed unadoptable due food bowl aggression and put down.

The large paintings — there will be 10 of them — will include the individual stories of those dogs, representing the most common reasons shelters give to put animals down.

“It’s pretty much the wall of shame,” Marina said.

Mark and Marina are still looking for a permanent place to house the works, and for sponsors and benefactors for the museum, and they have some promising leads, both in Louisville and around the country. In addition to being an educational center, the museum would also be an outlet for selling merchandise that features the images – shirts, cards, and other products. An Act of Dog, which is a nonprofit organization, would pass on all profits to no-kill facilities and rescue groups.

The dogs in the paintings come from shelters all around the country. Their photos are submitted by rescue groups, volunteers and shelter employees. They have all been put down.

Mark and Marina object to the use of the term “euthanized” when it’s applied to healthy animals. “Deliberately ending the life of a healthy and treatable pet is killing.  Deliberately ending the life of a medically hopeless and suffering pet is euthanasia,” Marina said. They don’t much like “put to sleep,” either.

“Semantics are a powerful way to keep people from the truth and our mission is to show reality without the candy wrapping,” she added.

Mark paints everyday, from sunrise to sunset. At night, he and Marina work on the An Act of Dog website. They’re both foregoing salaries at this point.

Mark has served as a consultant to cities interested in using the arts to revitalize blighted areas, among them Paducah, Kentucky, and its Paducah Artist Re-locaton Program. Marina worked 20 years coaching corporate executives.  

Now they’ve cashed in their retirement savings and are devoting full time to the project.

“We could turn away and pretend like we didn’t see what we saw, or we could do something about it,” she added. “If that means we have to live poor,  we’re OK with that, because we know we did something.”

They’re working now in studio space provided by the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, where they did end up adopting a new dog, named Gigi, from a local shelter.

What drives the couple, though, are all the dogs who don’t get out alive — the thousands put down each day.

“The no-kill movement is making strides, but not fast enough,” said Mark who, on those days he doesn’t feel like painting, reminds himself of the bleak numbers, and the 5,500 reasons — every day — he must continue.

To learn more about An Act of Dog, and how to become a sponsor or benefactor, visit its Facebook page or the An Act of Dog website.

(Photos and video courtesy of An Act of Dog: At top, a collage of Mark’s paintings; Mark and Marina in their studio; some of the larger paintings, with Mark’s former dog, Santina, at left; and three shelter dogs dogs Breeze, Freckles and Sky)

A dog once dragged now helps others


A dog who was dragged behind a car in Kentucky seven years ago now helps people who are dealing with an illness in their family.

Roadie, an 8-year-old beagle and a certified therapy dog, greets guests at the Hospital Hospitality House of Lexington, WKYT-TV reports. The facility provides temporary overnight accommodations to family and friends of patients in Lexington area hospitals.

“Everybody loves Roadie,” said Hospital Hospitality House Executive Director Lynn Morgan. “Roadie knows people very well and she knows how to make them feel comfortable.”

In July of 2004, the beagle was dragged on the street behind a car in Pulaski County, losing an eye and nearly her life. Dennis Wayne Fitzpatrick, of Somerset, pled guilty to cruelty to animals and was fined

After the accident, volunteers at Hospitality House put in an application to adopt her. Morgan said that initially he wasn’t sure the house was the place for a dog.

“To my surprise I was wrong, it was a very good place for a therapy dog. Roadie has been a companion and a caring counselor to our guests,” he said. “She is so much like the people who stay with us — she’s been through a very difficult medical situation and she survived it.”

Shelter looks at Shiba Inu, sees coyote

A local humane society in Kentucky mistook a Shiba Inu for a coyote, and released the dog into the wild.

The AKC-registered dog, a female named Copper, had been picked up by police and taken to the Frankfort Humane Society, which deemed her a coyote.

Lori Goodlett told The State-Journal that her pet of 11 years disappeared from her fenced back yard on July 3.

Only when she put up posters with her dog’s picture did a police officer recognize Copper as the dog he had taken to the shelter.

After the officer dropped the dog off, a shelter worker called police and said the animal had to be picked up because coyotes weren’t allowed there, according to an Associated Press report. (Apparently, the AP is no expert on the breed either, as it spelled it Sheba Inu.)

The Frankfort Humane Society turned the animal loose behind a home improvement store after consulting — apparently on the telephone — with a wildlife expert who said coyotes were nuisance animals and should be returned to the wild or killed.

A Humane Society official defended the actions. “If our manager assessed the animal to be a coyote, then it is against the law for it to be at the shelter. We rely on the people who work there,”  said Humane Society board chairman John Forbes.

Goodlett, however, said she can’t understand how her dog was misidentified. “People would say when Copper was young, she looked like a fox with her pointy ears and red coloring,” Goodlett said. “But no one has ever mistaken her for a coyote.”

Police and volunteers are helping Goodlett search for her pet and have set cages in hopes of capturing her, and PETA has kicked in a reward as well — up to $1,000. “Copper needs to be home with the people who know and love her,” says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “We hope that someone will find Copper so that she can be reunited with her family.”

“I know in my head Copper is gone for good, but in my heart I would like to think some nice family found her and took her in,” Goodlett said.

Family gets Weimaraner back from Ft. Knox

It didn’t take an act of Congress, or even a call to the Pentagon: Riley the Weimaraner – swept up by the animal control unit at Fort Knox, then adopted out to a new home — has been returned to her original Kentucky family.

According to the Facebook page started by the family to wage a campaign for Riley’s return, the dog is back home and doing fine.

Not a whole lot of details are offered on what transpired, but apparently one Fort Knox official finally listened to the family’s pleas and assisted in getting the dog back from her newly adopted home and returned to her old one.

“Riley is back home with her family … happy, and very much loved!!!!!! Thank you Command Sgt. Major Voeller, and thank you to the family!”

Kim Church, of Radcliff, believes the family’s 2-year-old Weimaraner was stolen from her yard — her ID tags were left behind — and later showed up either on or near Fort Knox.

Fort Knox’s stray animal facility, not generally open to the public, sold the dog to a new owner 11 days after she was picked up by military police, according to the Press-Enterprise, in Hardin County, Kentucky.

Church called city and county pounds and put an ad on Craigslist in search of her missing dog. When a caller notified her that she saw a dog that looked like Riley at an adoption fair at the military post, Church attempted to get information from the facility, but was told both whether her dog had been picked up, and who had adopted it, were confidential.

Church filed a report with Radcliff police, claiming her dog was stolen, and pleaded her case on Facebook. Apparently, her campaign worked. Welcome home, Riley.

Off base: Fort Knox won’t help return dog

A Kentucky mother of seven wants to gets something more precious than gold back – her dog — but Fort Knox is standing in the way.

Kim Church, of Radcliff, wants the army base to return her family’s 2-year-old Weimaraner, Riley, who was impounded in mid-June after either wandering onto, or being taken to, the secure base.

Fort Knox’s stray animal facility sold the dog to a new owner 11 days after she was picked up by military police, according to the Press-Enterprise, in Hardin County, Kentucky.

The dog disappeared from the family’s yard. Her tags — but not her pink collar — were found in the yard.

Church said she searched all over town for Riley, called city and county pounds and put an ad on Craigslist. A caller notified her that she saw a dog that looked like Riley at the Fort Knox PX, where the post was hosting a pet adoption fair.

The post’s animal shelter is not open to the public –  like much else at Fort Knox. Instead, it adopts out animals through PetFinder.com and adoption fairs.

Church said she called the facility, but post officials cited HIPAA — the same federal law which prevents hospitals from disclosing patient information – and refused to shed any light on Riley’s whereabouts.

A spokeswoman told the newspaper that a Weimeraner was found by military police and was taken to the pound, bu twould not release any information about the new adoptive owner.

Church filed a report with Radcliff police, claiming her dog was stolen. She’s launched a Facebook page to rally support for her cause and posted an updated advertisement on Craigslist, explaining the details of Riley’s disappearance and subsequent adoption.

“The vet told me I’d have to take this to the Pentagon,” Church said. “If that’s what it takes. …”

(An update on this story can be found here.)

We coulda stayed in a wigwam

Ace and I had planned to get across the New Mexico state line Monday, but once we hit Holbrook, Arizona it was close to 6 p.m. So I pulled out my AAA “Traveling with Your Pet” guide to see what lodgings might be friendly, and saw that all four listed accepted pets “with restrictions.”

We hate restrictions.

We’d decided to push on to Gallup when we saw, on the edge of Holbrook, a Motel 6 — the chain that we’ve come to rely on for under $40 a night dog friendliness, with no deposits or restrictions. We checked in there — it’s the nicest Motel 6 we’ve stayed at yet — and I left Ace in the room while I went back into town trolling for somewhere to eat dinner.

It was then I found where I should have stayed. Had I done a little research, or taken 10 minutes to tour the town first, I would have seen it earlier. Now, I’ll have to wait until the next time we pass through to stay at that kitschy monument to thinking outside the box — the Wigwam Motel.

It’s a glorious sight — especially in the modern day world of look-alike, smell-alike, sound-alike motels: 15 individual concrete wigwams perched on a dusty lot.

From the looks of things, it has managed — though it died once — to survive where a lot of other family owned motels, thanks to the Interstate bypassing town, have not.

I stopped in and chatted with Guy Thielman, the great grandson of Chester Lewis, who opened the motel in the 1940s after seeing a similar one in Kentucky.

It was part of a chain, and Lewis — of a mind that if anywhere should have a wigwam motel it was Holbrook — took out a loan and got himself a franchise, or at least something close to that. According to Wikipedia, he purchased the rights to the design, as well as the right to use the name “Wigwam Village” in an unusual agreement: The chain’s owner would receive the proceeds from coin operated radios (30 minutes for a dime) installed in rooms at the Holbrook Wigwam Village.

Lewis closed the motel in 1974 when Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook. Two years after his death in 1986, his two sons, Clifton and Paul, and his daughter, Elinor, renovated and reopened it and later managed to get it listed on the  National Register of Historic Places.

Seven Wigwam Motels, also known as Wigwam Villages were built between 1936 and the 1950s. Only three are still in operation – in Holbrook, Cave City, Kentucky and near San Bernadino, California.

The other four – now gone — were located in New Orleans, Orlando, Bessemer, Alabama and Horse Cave, Kentucky, where the first one opened.

Holbrook’s Wigwam Motel has a few bonus features as well — a museum of petrified wood and other artifacts accumulated by Chester Lewis, and many vintage automobiles strewn about the parking lot.

The biggest bonus of all, though, is that dogs are allowed, with no deposit required.

I stopped by the wigwams again yesterday to take some photos and ran into a group that was packing up after what they described as an enjoyable and inexpensive evening in their wigwam.

Amber, her friend Shantelle, and Shantelle’s son, Logan, were headed for the Petrified Forest, but they took the time to say hello. Logan immediately bonded with Ace, and invited him into the wigwam.

The three were on vacation, hitting most of the well-known tourist attractions of the southwest — Carlsbad Caverns, Sedona, the Grand Canyon and more. They learned about the Wigwam Motel while Googling things to do along Route 66. Since Shantelle and Amber didn’t have many pictures of the Wigwam Motel, or the two of them together, I put together an album and slapped it on my Facebook page, so they could have access to them.

Logan babysat Ace for me while I wandered around the property taking photos of them, the wigwams and the vintage cars — some of them even older than me.

It’s nice to see an effort to preserve the past, and to see that the old motel — even though bypassed by an Interstate and pounded by the poor economy — is still up and running.

Wigwams forever!

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. It can be found exclusively on ohmidog! To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

Father of baby snatched by dog pens a book

ajThe Kentucky father whose 3-day-old son was snatched from a crib by the family’s wolf-hybrid dog last summer has written a book about the ordeal.

A spokesman for AuthorHouse, a Bloomington, Ind., company that specializes in self-publishing, confirmed to the Lexington Herald that the book will be published in late May.

Its mouthful of a title? “Could It Happen to You?:  Baby A.J.’s Story of Being Taken From His Crib by the Family Dog Dakota.”

“I think it’s going to answer a lot of questions about who we are,” said Michael Smith, who along with his wife, Chrissie, became the subject of nationwide TV coverage and news articles after their family dog snatched Alexander James “A.J.” Smith from his crib July 20.

Dakota, the female wolf hybrid that had a habit of taking objects from the house, carried the baby outside in her mouth, eventually setting him down in the woods behind the Smiths’ house north of Nicholasville.

A.J. was treated for a cracked skull, cracked ribs, a collapsed lung and a partially collapsed lung and returned home after several days.

Except for a small scar, he has recovered fully, the family says. “He’s a healthy little boy. He’s doing great.” Chrissie Smith said.

Michael Smith said the book will be a behind-the-scenes narrative of the ordeal that included his interviews with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Deborah Norville on “Inside Edition.”

The book, he said, will clear up any notion that he’s an unfit parent.

The Smiths were investigated for child neglect, but a Jessamine County grand jury found no criminal intent.

The family attempted to get Dakota back, but eventually consented to letting the dog live with another family.

The Smiths still have two dogs, one of them a wolf-hybrid.

The five best states to be an animal abuser

aldfmap

 
Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota are the five best states in the country to be an animal abuser — making them the five worst states in which to be an animal.

Based on an analysis of more than 3,800 pages of statutes, a new report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund recognizes the states where animal law has real teeth, and calls out those like Kentucky – the single worst in the nation again this year for animal protection laws – where animal abusers get off the easiest.

The annual report, the only one of its kind in the nation, ranks all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories for the comprehensiveness and  strength of their animal protection laws. Maryland falls in the bottom 15 states.

The legislative weaknesses seen in the states at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include severely restricted or absent felony animal cruelty provisions, inadequate animal fighting provisions, and lack of restrictions on the future ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals.

Many state laws have improved since ALDF’s last state rankings report was released in 2008; Arkansas, for example, was one of the worst five states last year, but jumped up to 25th overall in the country in 2009 due to a host of statutory improvements.

On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five for animals” list remains unchanged from the 2008 list, with California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon demonstrating through their laws the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty; Illinois was ranked the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals.

“This year we see many states and territories that are continuing to make outstanding progress with their laws. Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country’s animals need and deserve,” says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report.

“Even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement. Especially important during our country’s current recession are laws that help to save limited community resources by reducing the costs of caring for abused animals and ensuring that those who are responsible for such crimes shoulder this burden instead of taxpayers and private interests. While animals do not vote, those who love and care about them certainly do, so we encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, including a copy of the state rankings report, visit www.aldf.org.

Father of baby-napping dog wants it back

The Kentucky couple whose dog carried their infant son from a bassinet into the woods behind their home, causing criticial injuries to the child, now wants the wolf hybrid returned home, authorities said Friday.

Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl told the Lexington Herald-Leader that a court order will be needed before Dakota the dog is returned to Michael Smith, of Jessamine County.

“I’m concerned about the safety of the child, and we are going to be reviewing the situation over the weekend to see what can be done to ensure the safety of the child,” Goettl said.

Smith had previously told reporters that Dakota would not return to his house. News that the dog might go back to the Smiths’ home came on the same day that the Jessamine County Sheriff’s Office said it had closed its investigation of the July 20 incident.

The baby, Alexander James “A.J.” Smith was 3 days old on July 20 when Dakota, a female wolf-dog hybrid, picked him up and carried him outside the Smiths’ Jessamine County home.

The baby suffered a cracked skull, cracked ribs, and a collapsed lung. He was in critical condition for several days at University of Kentucky Hospital, but has recovered and is back  home.

Michael Smith said at an earlier press conference that he hoped Dakota could be adopted by another owner: “Obviously, Dakota is not coming back into my house.”

The dog remains at the Jessamine County SAVE Center, the animal shelter for dogs and cats in Nicholasville, director Jenise Smith said.