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Tag: lawyers

Overdue: Yale law library tries therapy dog

At the Yale University Law Library, you can check out ”Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law.” You can check out “The Supreme Court A to Z: A Ready Reference Encyclopedia.”

Or, you can check out Monty, a terrier mix whose mission, in an experimental program started this month, is to de-stress, during final exam time, the litigators of tomorrow.

You’d think a genius farm like Yale University would have figured out sooner — as some smaller and lesser known colleges have — that dogs can, physically and emotionally, help students through troubled or stressful times.

But, for the school whose mascot is an English bulldog named Handsome Dan, it’s better late than never.

In the pilot program, students can check out Monty – a  21-pound “certified library therapy dog” who provides 30-minute sessions of what ABCNews describes as “unconditional, stress-busting puppy love.”

“The interest in available slots has been high,” said Jan Conroy, a spokeswoman for Yale Law School.

In a March 10 memo, law librarian Blair Kauffman said she hoped the free, three-day pilot pet therapy program would be “a positive addition to current services offered by the library … It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being.” The memo directed students to the website of Therapy Dogs International for more information.

The school has yet to decide if the program will be ongoing. Likely, it being Yale Law School, there are liability concerns — the type that are known to paralyze bureaucracies and often limit the good dogs can do, based on mostly baseless fears.

Monty, for example, though he is said to be hypoallergenic, will hold his visits in a “designated non-public space” in the library to eliminate “potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns.”

Concerns have also been expressed about the sign-up list for Monty being in a visible spot. That, the overly fearful fear, results in students having to expose their need for a mental health session — or at least some time with a dog — in public.

Monty — whose full name is General Montgomery – belongs to librarian Julian Aiken. And the pilot program got started after a Yale legal blog jokingly suggested making Monty available for checkout.

Therapy dogs have been introduced at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Oberlin College in Ohio and UC San Diego to help students get through the pressures of mid-terms and finals.

PETA drops plans to use Tiger Woods in ad

tigerpeta

 
Tiger Woods’ attorneys apparently growled loudly enough to dissuade PETA  from using the troubled golfer’s image in a public service announcement for spaying and neutering.

So now the organization is considering using South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford instead as their roll in the hay model.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals planned to put up billboards bearing Woods’ face and the slogan, “Too much sex can be a bad thing … for little tigers too. Help keep cats (and dogs) out of trouble: Always spay or neuter!”

After lawyers for the golfer threatened to sue if his image was used, PETA set its sites on Sanford for a similar billboard, with  the possible tagline: “Your dog doesn’t have to go to South America to get laid,” the New York Post reports.

The ad campaign is aimed at preventing millions of abandoned cats and dogs from being euthanized at shelters each year.

PETA now  intends to poke fun at Sanford, who flew to Buenos Aires last year for a romantic assignation with someone other than his wife — when he claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Dog’s rescuer could lose her apartment

Leave it to lawyers, landlords and insurance companies to screw up a perfectly good story.

Last week we told you about Kelsey Westbrook, the University of Louisville senior who helped rescue a pit bull that had been thrown off a bridge, then went on to take the dog, who she named Sunny, home with her.

Now comes word — in the Louisville Courier-Journal — that, if she keeps the dog, she may lose her apartment. The company that owns the building has a policy against “vicious breeds,” and has told her that she is violating her lease by having the dog on her property.

Westbrook, a waitress at Joe’s Crab Shack, ran with other employees to the shore after the dog was seen being thrown off the bridge and hitting the water roughly 80 feet below.

As the employees attempted to call the dog to shore, Louisville firefighters arrive and pulled her from the Ohio River.

Westbrook also owns a 2-year-old German shepherd mix named Nala and pays a monthly fee to keep Nala in her apartment. Westbrook said apartment officials told her she can’t make the same arrangement for Sunny because they consider the pit bull a “vicious breed.”

Westbrook said apartment officials gave her two days to remove Sunny from her apartment, and told her they will be conducting random inspections. Her boyfriend is keeping Sunny at his house until she decides what to do.

Since the property company is only following it’s own addle-brained rules, most likely designed at the request of its insurance company, we won’t go so far as to compare their behavior to that of the soulless, heartless wretch who threw the dog off the bridge.

But we will provide you with an email address, in case you want to:

Arete Real Estate, which owns Westbrook’s apartment, can be contacted at Apartments@areterealestate.net.

In a scent but proven guilty

A sheriff’s deputy in Texas whose scent tracing dog has identified suspects in crimes has been named in two lawsuits arguing that scent evidence is often scant evidence.

The Victoria Advocate reported Sunday that the work of Fort Bend County sheriff’s Deputy Keith Pikett led to 62 days in jail for Calvin Lee Miller before he was cleared in the robbery of one elderly woman and sexual assault of another.

A swab of Miller and the scent from the assault victim’s sheets were sent to Pikett, whose three bloodhounds indicated Miller’s scent was on the sheets.

The other lawsuit involves a former Victoria County sheriff’s captain who became a murder suspect based on scent evidence, the Associated Press reported.

No laws or regulations govern scent lineups, and critics say they are often imprecise, but they’re admissible in courts across the nation.

“This is junk science. This isn’t even science. This is just junk,” said Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas. The group works to free wrongfully convicted inmates and started to investigate Pikett recently.

While dogs have a keen sense of smell — sometimes 10,000 times more sensitive than humans — and while every human exudes a different scent, critics of scent line-ups say are easily influenced by human involvement such as the use of a leash , the presence of many scents on evidence or in lineups and the fact that humans must speak for dogs in court.

Pikett’s scent work led to a search warrant for the house of former Victoria County sheriff’s Capt. Michael Buchanek during the 2006 investigation of the murder of Child Protective Services worker Sally Blackwell in Victoria.

The deputy’s dogs walked from a spot where Blackwell’s body was found to her home about five miles away, then to Buchanek’s home nearby. Through a scent lineup, authorities obtained a search warrant. Another man eventually pleaded guilty in the case.

The lineup was “the most primitive evidential police procedure I have ever witnessed,” said Bob Coote, who worked with police dogs in the United Kingdom. “If it was not for the fact that this is a serious matter, I could have been watching a comedy.”

Pro Bone O: Lawyering up at the SPCA

The  SPCA may defend dogs, but who defends the SPCA?

In the case of the Maryland SPCA in Baltimore, it’s Paul Day, Jennifer K. Squillario and other counsel at DLA Piper US LLP.

According to an article in the Maryland Daily Record, lawyers from that initial-peppered firm represent the SPCA pro bono.

“If we had to pay market rates to draft contracts … or just anything, we wouldn’t be able to afford it,” said Maya Richmond, director of operations and programs at the SPCA.

Most commonly, the attorneys get involved in cases where a pet’s ownership is in dispute.

In one case, the Daily Record reports, the attorneys worked to take down a Craigslist posting “that the SPCA had killed some huge number of cats in one day,” accompanied by a picture of a bucket of dead cats, Day said.

“There’s a really big, I don’t want to say fight, push for facilities to go no-kill,” he explained. Activists are out to “make the facilities that aren’t no-kill look as bad as possible.” The text of the posting was incorrect and the picture was not taken at the SPCA; it was a stock photo used in similar postings elsewhere on the Internet.

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