A homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.
But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.
By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.
Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.
“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times. “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”
According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.
The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.
Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”
Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.
“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”
Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.
“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.
“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.
Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.
Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.
She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.
(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, association, black lab, blind, clothing, clothing optional, community, condo, dog, dogs, florida, guide dog, lab, labrador, laura, lawsuit, legally blind, lutz, nudist colony, nudists, nudity, paradise lakes resort, pets, rules, service dogs, weight limits
When NFL defensive lineman Michael Bennett left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year to join the Seattle Seahawks, he left his dog behind.
As his new team ran up a record that may see them heading to the Super Bowl, his boxer puppy, named Koa, languished in a Tampa boarding kennel.
Bennett, according to a lawsuit, apparently didn’t get around to transporting the dog to his new home, or paying the dog’s boarding fees, or returning the kennel’s calls.
A lawsuit filed by the kennel, Lucky Dog Daycare and Resort, is seeking $5,000 to cover the costs for Koa’s care and expenses related to finding him a new home.
Koa was four months old when left at the kennel, in March, 2013.
In the lawsuit, the kennel claims the puppy was so distraught after being abandoned, he “eventually began refusing to eat, losing his hair and clearly failing to thrive.”
Seattle Dog Spot reported back in November that Bennett, despite his $5 million a year salary, had neither reclaimed his dog nor paid for the dog’s boarding.
TMZ reported last week that the kennel had filed a lawsuit. Bennett hasn’t responded with his side of the story.
Subsequent reports — though we see it as an unfair stretch — have compared Bennett to a certain Philadelphia Eagles (at last report) quarterback, whose name and dogfighting conviction we won’t mention, given he has ”reformed” and “paid his debt to society.”
The kennel, through a boxer rescue organization, has found Koa a new home. He has been renamed Quigley, and is said to be thriving with his new owner, described in one report as an out-of work puka shell salesman.
That may not be the life of luxury the dog could have had with a professional football player.
But, honestly — and here comes my unfair but heartfelt generalization – if I were a dog, and had the choice of living with an NFL player or an out-of-work puka shell salesman, I’d pick the out-of-work puka shell salesman any day.
(Top photo: TMZ)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, abandonment, adopted, animals, boarding, boxer, football, kennel, koa, lawsuit, lucky dog, michael bennett, nfl, pets, puka shell, rescue, salesman, seattle seahawks, tampa bay bucaneers
Two months after being put down, a little shih tzu named Rollie is still causing big problems for – and leading to some positive changes in — Carson City, Nevada.
On July 25, Jeraldine Archuleta’s lost dog was picked up and brought into Carson City Animal Services.
The next day, Archuleta tried to retrieve the dog but was told she needed to pay $100 within 72 hours.
Archuleta couldn’t come up with the money, and her requests for more time were denied. Rollie was euthanized by the shelter five days later.
The heartbroken pet owner wrote a letter to the editor about the incident to the Nevada Appeal, and its publishing prompting widespread public outrage. Last month, Gail Radtke, the manager of Carson City Animal Services, was fired. A health inspector was put in charge of the facility temporarily, and a second health department staff member was assigned to monitor front desk personnel.
All shelter staff are undergong new training, and policies are being reviewed as the city tries to ”refocus the directions and goals” of the department, it said in a press release.
This week, city supervisors voted to pay Archuleta $41,500 to settle a lawsuit she filed over Rollie’s euthanasia, according to the Reno Gazette Journal
Meanwhile another lawsuit is pending against the city, filed by Radtke, who says she was defamed and unfairly ousted from her job because of public outrage over Rollie’s death.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animals, carson city, director, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, fired, lawsuit, nevada, owner, pets, policies, rollie, shelter, shih-tzu, training, waiting period
Justin is a stud no more, and the handsome Samoyed’s New York owners are suing his temporary caretaker for having him neutered without their permission, and refusing to give him back.
Cecile and Victor Stanton, of Jericho, N.Y., filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles last week against Beverly Jeffries of Pasadena, Calif., claiming she refuses to return their dog, whose official American Kennel Club name is Polar Mist You Gotta Believe.
The Stantons agreed to give temporary custody of the AKC-registered Grand Champion to Jeffries while they retained ownership, according to a contract signed in February and included in the lawsuit.
But, according to the lawsuit, when the Stantons asked for the dog to be returned in May, Jeffries refused, ABC News reports
In the lawsuit, the Stantons say Jeffries had Justin neutered without their permission in April.
The dog is worth an estimated $250,000, according to the suit — and his breeding value alone was worth $100,000.
The Stantons bought the dog in 2006, according to a certificate issued by the American Kennel Club.
The Stantons are suing Jeffries for $350,000, citing breach of contract, promissory fraud, and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.
Neither Jeffries nor the Stantons could be reached by ABC for comment.
(Photo by Ken O’Brien, O’Brien Photos, via Infodog)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, animals, beverly jeffries, caretaker, cecile stanton, champion, dog, dog shows, justin, lawsuit, neutered, pets, polar mist, refuses, return, samoyed, victor stanton, you gotta believe
A Pennsylvania service dog agency is suing an Episcopal priest with cerebral palsy to force her to give up the service dog she has had since 2007.
So reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The Rev. Claire Wimbush says it’s unlikely she could continue living on her own without Willa, a 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever provided to her through Canine Partners for Life, a Cochranville, Pa.-based agency that says it wants the dog back for reasons not fully specified.
Canine Partners filed suit last month in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, accusing Wimbush of violating her dog care contract and asking the court to order the dog’s return — along with “reimbursement of all costs and expenses, including legal and court fees.”
Darlene Sullivan, executive director of Canine Partners, declined to comment on the specifics of Wimbush’s case, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The newspaper is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., and the Rev. Wimbush is the daughter of Gannett Vice President Jane Ann Wimbush.
According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Wimbush did not follow the agency’s training rules, including those that require recipients of its dogs to maintain contact through follow-up reports.
“If on repeated occasions there are problems with compliance, we will place that person on probation and they will get a letter explaining everything about why and letting them know if there are further violations they will lose their dog,” the agency’s director said. “If it gets to that point, and they refuse to return the dog to us, we have no choice but to take legal action.”
The Rev. Wimbush said she believes the agency wants Willa back because she was late turning in paperwork about the dog’s health and behavior. She said the documents were mailed on March 25, but Canine Partners didn’t get them by the April 2 deadline. An email from the agency came on April 4, saying arrangements needed to be made for the dog’s return. Six days later, she says, she received a letter telling her to bring Willa to the airport for “repossession.”
“I’m bewildered by this,” said Wimbush, who who has spastic cerebral palsy quadriplegia and uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Wimbush served as Curate of Christian Education at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2011 until last weekend, and is now planning to move back to her native Virginia to be closer to her mother.
On a website supporting her campaign to keep the dog, claireandwilla.com, the Rev. Wimbush notes that Willa’s status changed in February, 2012, when she retired from being a service dog and became a home companion dog:
“My ministry had changed; I was no longer moving from place to place over the course of a day, so I didn’t need her to help me carry things and open doors as often. The Rochester winters are tough on both of us. She was nine years old, almost ten; it seemed like the right time to make a change. Since her retirement, she gets to be petted and admired by all the members of my congregation, especially the elementary school crowd. She still goes with me to the church most days, and often accompanies me when I visit parishioners in animal-friendly retirement communities…”
The reverend admits to having had trouble keeping up with the agency’s required paperwork in 2007, due to illness. The lawsuit says she has had a history of not complying with those requirements. In 2009, the suit says, Wimbush was placed on “permanent probation” and told that any future violations would result in the immediate loss of the dog.
On the Facebook page of Canine Partners for Life, the agency is taking some lumps for filing the lawsuit against the handicapped priest, and some commenters are saying it is “shameful” for it to be demanding the dog back.
“What part of ‘for life’ am I missing?” one person wrote.
It’s unusual for an agency like Canine Partners to demand a dog be returned, according to Toni Eames, president of the International Association of Assistant Dog Partners, an advocacy group of people with guide, hearing and service dogs.
“It’s a very legitimate agency, and there has to be something, mistreatment of the dog, neglect, maybe it has gained a tremendous amount of weight or there’s abuse, there‘s got to be something. Filing papers late is not a reason to demand return of a dog,” she told the newspaper.
Marsha Sweet, assistant director of independent living services for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, knew of only two such cases, and both times an agreement was reached allowing the person to keep the dog. “Usually, the agencies really try to remedy the situation,” she said.
The Rev. Wimbush hopes that might still happen, and an agreement can be worked out.
“I would do anything, anything, to keep my dog,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: canine partners for life, cerebral palsy, claire and willa, claire wimbush, companion dog, democrat and chronicle, disability, gannett, lawsuit, pennsylvania, piscopal, priest, repossess, retriever, return, reverend, rochester, service dog, supreme court, wheelchair, willa, yellow lab
Jon C. Sabin, ordered by a judge last week to stop training and selling service dogs to families of sick children, says any instances of his dogs not performing properly were the fault of the families.
“The dogs are trained when I’m there, but after I leave everything goes to hell in a handbasket,” said Sabin, who was accused by the New York Attorney General’s Office of duping more than a dozen families into believing the dogs he sold them — for as much as $20,000 each – were trained.
Sabin, who ran Seizure Alert Dogs For Life, was ordered by a judge last week to never again train or sell service dogs.
He has promised to fight the ruling, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
Sabin said families who have complained about their dogs have only themselves to blame — for not following through with the training plans that he made for them and for treating the service dogs like pets even though he advised them not to, according to Syracuse.com
“You don’t put these dogs in your bed. You don’t give them meatballs from the kitchen table,” Sabin said.
Sabin was sued by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for selling more than a dozen families untrained dogs he said could detect and control seizures in their ill children.
Court papers described how the families paid thousands of dollars for the dogs only to find they couldn’t detect seizures, much less do anything about them.
Sabin says he suffers from epileptic seizures, and that he developed his program after his medication failed to control them. Sabin estimated that, since 2009, he has sold and trained about 50 dogs
Not all of his customers are unhappy. The Stevens family in Washington D.C. bought a dog from Sabin three years ago for their son, Andrew, who has a severe form of epilepsy. The dog has detected hundreds of seizures and swiped the magnet on her collar over Andrew’s chest, activating a device in the child’s chest that stimulates his vagus nerve and stops the seizure, according to the family.
The state says Sabin “deceptively promoted dogs as ‘highly trained service dogs,’ when in fact he undertook no steps to select appropriate dogs for service work, nor did he undertake any relevant training of these animals prior to selling them.”
A judge last Tuesday issued permanent injunctions prohibiting Sabin and his company from advertising or selling dogs trained to assist people suffering from epilepsy or other medical conditions.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attorney general, children, collar, epilepsy, Eric Schneiderman, injunction, jon sabin, lawsuit, magnet, new york, seizure, seizure alert dogs, seizure dogs, service dogs, sick, vagus nerve
The grieving owner of Baby Girl, the 2-year-old pit bull killed by police on Staten Island earlier this month, is suing the city and the officer who fired the shots.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was being filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, the New York Daily News reported.
Baby Girl’s owner, Patricia Ratz, took her and two other pit bulls for walk at Schmul Park on April 6. When the two other dogs — Bo and Missy — began snapping at each other, Ratz intervened and was bitten.
Police say she was screaming for help when an officer arrived.
The lawsuit says more than 10 shots were fired at the dogs, one of which hit Baby Girl, who was running away from the ruckus, in the back. She died five days later. Police say the officer, who is still on active duty, fired seven times when the dog charged her.
“We are seeking to fundamentally change the way the NYPD deals with pets,” he said. “When a dog is fleeing the scene, it’s because the doggie is afraid, not because the dog is concerned about getting arrested. That’s the reason people flee, not doggies.”
(Photos: A photo of Baby Girl posted at a memorial for her at Schmul Park in Staten Island; Patricia Ratz and fiancé Pat Guglielmo, along with their dog Bo; by Mark Bonifacio / New York Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baby girl, courts, dogs, killed, lawsuit, new york, officer, patricia ratz, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, schmul park, shot, staten island, suit
While Denny’s has more than 1,500 outlets across the country, we haven’t stopped at them on our trip across America, vaguely recollecting some of the chain’s restaurants were accused of discriminating against black customers at some point in its 57-year history.
It’s the same reason – 21 years after the oil spill in Alaska – I still don’t gas up at Exxon stations (unless it’s the only choice at the exit, or their prices are the lowest). It’s my way-outdated and somewhat variable sense of social justice – old grudges still held against corporations, often long after I’ve forgotten why I’m holding them, and easily overlooked if the price is right.
I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if you let a couple of decades pass, and tempt me with a “Value Meal.” It helps, too, if you’ve cleaned up your act in the interim.
So, passing through Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, I pulled in under the bright yellow sign, told Ace I’d only be a minute, and went inside for a quick bite — fully intending, of course, as we did with the Waffle House, to share the experience with you, the reader.
By way of history, Denny’s, like the Waffle House, started off as one restaurant — actually a donut shop, named Danny’s Donuts, in Lakewood, California. It had 20 locations by 1959, when the name was changed to Denny’s to avoid confusion with another chain called ”Doughnut Dan’s.” In 1977, it would introduce its “Grand Slam Breakfasts,” reportedly in honor of Hank Aaron.
In the 1990s, Denny’s was named in a class action suit filed by African-American customers who claimed they’d been refused service and forced to wait longer or pay more than white customers. The case resulted in a $54.4 million settlement in 1994.
After that, Denny’s created a racial sensitivity training program for its employees, and began running advertisements featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford, from the television show, “The Jeffersons.” In 2001, Fortune magazine named Denny’s the “Best Company for Minorities.”
This year, though, Denny’s came under ethnic fire again, for a commercial that used the 150th anniversary of the Irish potato famine, which left more than a million dead, to promote an all-you-can-eat french fries and pancakes offer. It later apologized and pulled the ad.
My visit to Denny’s was the first in a year or so, so I took some time familiarizing myself with the multi-page menu. There was a page of special entrees for people 55 and over (quite an arbitrary cut off point, in my view), and another page of ”Value Menu” items (not restricted to old farts) – low-priced entrees that the restaurant seems to make up for with higher prices for everything else (including $2 sodas).
Among the Value Menu offerings, at $4, was the “Fried Cheese Melt.”
It’s a grilled cheese sandwich, with mozarella sticks embedded in the American cheese — that’s right, four breaded and deep fried sticks of cheese, on a bed of cheese, between two pieces of sourdough bread, buttered and fried.
Fortunately, the Fried Cheese Melt is not on the senior menu, because it would probably kill us after just a few bites — and by us, I mean both actual seniors and those of us still enjoying that frolicsome, vital and exploratory stage of life known as our fifties.
At 57 — the same age as me — Denny’s should be smart enough, sympatico enough not to thrust us 50-somethings into the category of seniors. Or at least, if they insist on doing so, offer us some sweeter deals.
That, of course, would make everything – even the Fried Cheese Melt — OK.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: african americans, animals, black, cheese, compromising, denny's, dining, discrimination, dog's country, dogscountry, Exxon, famine, fried cheese melt, health, irish, lawsuit, menu, nutrition, pets, potato, principles, restaurant, restaurants, road trip, travel, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, value meals, value menu
Novels need conflict. Houses don’t. But the former Long Island home of John Steinbeck is smack in the middle of one that branches out in nearly as many directions as the mighty oaks in his former front yard.
It’s a modest two-bedroom bungalow, scenically set amid gigantic oak trees, on two acres that jut into Noyac Bay in the town of Sag Harbor – the house where Steinbeck wrote “Travels with Charley,” the house behind which Charley is buried, and the one we left from yesterday to retrace, at least in part, the route of the author and his poodle.
The house is also part of a long battle over the Steinbeck family estate. Jean Boone, the sister of the author’s third and final wife, Elaine, says it is hers. Thomas Steinbeck, John’s oldest son, disputes that.
“The house belongs to Steinbeck’s blood heirs,” Thomas Steinbeck, 65, told the New York Times.
The two parties have different ideas about what the house should become. Boone is against preserving the home as a historic site or museum because her family enjoys vacationing there. Thomas would like to see it become a school for writers.
Mrs. Boone, 81, says her sister Elaine left it to her upon her death in 2003, and that she plans to leave it to her family.
In 2004, though, Thomas Steinbeck and his niece sued the family of Elaine Steinbeck. The suit alleges a “30-year conspiracy” to cheat Steinbeck blood heirs out of royalties and copyright control, according to the Times article. The suit was dismissed in 2009, but Thomas Steinbeck appealed, and arguments will be held next month in Manhattan.
The appeal is mainly over the rights to John Steinbeck’s books, and, in it, Thomas Steinbeck does not lay claim to the Sag Harbor property, where John Steinbeck found the same salty-sea-air inspiration he did in Monterey, California.
Times reporter Corey Kilgannon received a tour of the property earlier this week, and noted many reminders of Steinbeck are still there, including marks on the wall of the kitchen where the author recorded the height of family and guests, including Charley. Steinbeck’s books and other belongings were removed from the shack in recent years, but other signs remain, including one over the doorway that says “Aroynte,” which the Times article says may be derived from an old English term meaning “Be gone!”
Other Steinbeck scribblings are on the walls and tool drawers, one of which reads, “Knives, Chisels and Bladey Things.” A miniature steel cannon Steinbeck used to scare the geese away remains in the living room, and the walls are still lined with photographs of Steinbeck.
Steinbeck set off from the house 50 years ago yesterday on his 10,000 mile trip with Charley in a camper named “Rocinante,” after Don Quixote’s horse. He returned 11 weeks later and wrote the book there.
“Elaine used to say that John enjoyed having no distractions,” the property’s caretaker, John Stefanik, told the Times. “The words just flowed out here.”
Posted by John Woestendiek September 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, charley, dispute, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, family, home, house, john steinbeck, lawsuit, long island, new york, pets, road trip, royalties, sag harbor, steinbeck, travels with ace, travels with charley
Gail Posner, the daughter of corporate-takeover king Victor Posner, has bequeathed her $8.3 million Miami mansion and a $3 million trust fund to her dogs, the New York Post reports.
Also named in the will were seven personal aides, including bodyguards and housekeepers, who were given a total of $26 million — and the right to live rent-free in the mansion while caring for the animals, according to court papers.
The 67-year-old heiress died in March.
Posner had three pets, including a Chihuahua named Conchita that she once called “one of the world’s most spoiled dogs.”
Gail Posner’s only living son, Hollywood screenwriter Bret Carr, has filed a lawsuit claiming his mom was drugged and “brainwashed” by her aides into leaving so much to her dogs.
In a 2007 interview, Posner admitted to buying a $15,000 diamond-studded Cartier necklace for Conchita. and once considered buying him his own Range Rover.
Posner changed her will in 2008, after she was already dying from cancer, and added the vast sums for her pups and workers.
The case is reminiscent of that of hotel heiress Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her Maltese, named Trouble, while snubbing two of her grandkids. A judge later knocked the amount the dog would receive down to a mere $2 million.
(Photo: Miami Herald)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $3 million, animals, bequeath, bret carr, cancer, chihuahua, conchita, daughter, dogs, estate, gail posner, heiress, lawsuit, leona helmsley, mansion, miami, news, ohmidog!, pets, son, trouble, victor posner, will