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Tag: kentucky

The healing powers of a one-eyed Chihuahua

It may only be a short-term one, but a dying man in a Kentucky hospital seemed to have a new lease on life after a visit from his Chihuahua.

And ditto for the dog.

James Wathen, after a month in the hospital, wasn’t doing well, and had stopped eating, hospital workers say.

Social workers at Baptist Health Corbin, trying to lift his spirits, talked to him and learned he was troubled by the loss of his dog, Bubba, who had been picked up by animal control after he was hospitalized.

Between hospital staff and workers at the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, Bubba was tracked down at a foster home, and — despite rules forbidding dog visits — one was arranged at the hospital earlier this month, WKYT reported.

“One of our social workers realized it was mourning the loss of the dog that was making our patient even worse and emotionally unhealthy. We pulled out all the stops and found the dog,” Kimberly Probus, chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin, said.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Probus said of the reunion.

Wathen, 73, began to cry when he saw his elderly, one-eyed Chihuahua, and then his mood began to brighten.

Bubba’s condition — he’d been emotionally distraught since their separation, and had stopped eating, too — also seemed to improve.

Hospital officials say they plan to have Bubba visit Wathen regularly, and — based on what they saw — they are also looking at implementing a new pet visitation policy.

“To see James and Bubba get back together. It was heartwarming. It’s why we do what we do,” Mary-Ann Smyth, Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter President, said.

Smyth said Bubba seemed sad on the way to the hospital, but perked up about 20 steps from Wathen’s room.

“The dog quit eating a week ago, which is very strange,” she told Today. “The dog didn’t know where James was and James didn’t know where the dog was and believe it or not, they both stopped eating at about the same time.”

By the time Bubba returned for a second visit on Oct. 14, there were visible changes in both Wathen and Bubba’s conditions.

“He’s done a complete turnaround, Smyth said of Wathen. “He’s speaking, he’s sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn’t look like the same guy. And the dog is eating and doing better now, too.”

Artist’s goal: Painting all 51 Vick dogs

lucas1

I’m not sure what I love more about this artist — her paintings, her name, her theme or her determination.

Levity Tomkinson is a Kentucky artist who has tackled a serious project — painting all 51 of the dogs seized from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation in 2007.

She’s more than one-fifth of the way there.

levityFinding herself struck by the resiliency of those Vick dogs who were rescued and rehabilitated, Tomkinson got the idea in 2012 and started what she calls The Re51lient Project.

Tomkinson had started painting dogs — beginning with her own, a pit bull mix named Rinlee – in 2010, when, after graduating college, she found herself without any good job leads.

After reading an article about Vick dogs who had been rehabilitated and adopted, the project began.

“I thought of the idea during a time in my life that was really unpleasant, where I was trying to find meaning and happiness and purpose again, and these dogs were absolutely a part of my healing process. They inspired me to be positive, to smile and look at the world and appreciate all different kinds of beauty …. I am forever indebted and grateful to these dogs for changing my life.”

Like many dog lovers, Tomkinson was moved how many of the dogs taken from the NFL quarterback’s Bad News Kennels managed to overcome the horrors inflicted on them there.

As she explains it on her blog, “I cannot begin to fathom the daily lives of the 51 dogs who were rescued, and those before who weren’t. I paint for the 51 …

“I paint for the dogs … that didn’t win in a fight they never wanted anyway, dying from injuries with punctured skin and a mauled lip and face that became raw meat. I paint for the dogs … with that were forced into a rape stall to unwillingly bring more dogs into the world of dog fighting. I paint for any dog who has been, is, or will be a part of this heinous world. The resiliency of the 51 is my courage, my push, my determination, and my love for this project.”

rayTomkinson, according to the Huffington Post, hopes to turn the project into a book, with portraits of all 51 dogs — those who were adopted and those who spent the rest of their lives in sanctuaries.

“Every single dog has importance and a story to tell, something to teach us, and either their passing or not being adopted doesn’t lessen their message or them,” she said.

“If Re51lient can empower one person to choose positivity over negativity, triumph over fear, allow them to let go of past hurt or add one more pit bull lover to this world, then my heart is happy. ”

(Photos: Lucas, a former Vick dog who died last year at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary; Tomkinson, from her Facebook page; and Ray, a Vick dog adopted this year)

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.