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Tag: los angeles

Dog park opens for homeless at LA shelter

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For decades, Los Angeles was one of those city’s that, like most, turned away homeless people in need of shelter who refused to part with their dogs.

More often than not, nationwide, those homeless aren’t willing to part with what is often not just one of the few things they own, but one of the few things they love, and, maybe more importantly, that loves them back.

As a result, thousands of homeless people don’t receive needed services.

In recent years, Los Angeles has been working to change that, and one of the latest examples is a dog park, opened Friday, at the Weingart Center, a transitional residential shelter in the heart of downtown LA’s Skid Row, on 6th and San Pedro streets.

The dog park is part of the center’s newly launched Assistance Animal Accommodation Program that allows people to stay at the facility with their pets.

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Shaded by a tree and decorated with dog graphics, the Weingart Center’s park comes amid a growing recognition that shelter pet prohibitions have posed a major barrier to helping L.A.’s 53,000 homeless people turn their lives around.

Two years ago, the Inner City Law Center and L.A. Animal Services opened a weekly pet resource center on skid row, providing free food, supplies, veterinary care and spay and neuter services.

Several big shelters have relaxed or eliminated pet bans, and now, Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to make accepting pets a big part of his upcoming, $20-million citywide shelter expansion.

“People in the streets have always had dogs and now we’re finally starting to incorporate services so they will want to go into housing,” said Lori Weise, founder of Downtown Dog Rescue, which helps run the resource center.

Nearly half of skid row’s pet owners are homeless and most of the rest live in motels, renovated flophouses or shelters, officials at skid row resource center said. The Weingart dog park will be restricted to use by the center’s clients, 15 of whom currently live with dogs or cats in the 11-story center, formerly the El Rey Hotel.

“We know that individuals sleeping on the street have pets for comfort, protection and solace, and faced with transitional housing that doesn’t allow pets, they therefore stay on the streets longer,” said Tonja Boykin, chief operating officer for the Weingart Center.

“We want people to come in,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

The dog park measures 22-feet by 23-feet. Grants and donations totaling more than $15,000 helped pay for it. In addition to the dog exercise area, the Weingart Center arranges access to veterinary care, obedience training and more services.

“Homeless people stay on the street because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen to their pet. They’re not willing to put it in a separate shelter,” Jet Doye, senior development director for the center, told the Los Angeles Daily News. “Women stay in violent situations because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen to their pet if they leave.”

One of the residents visiting the park on opening day was Jennie Link, there with her 95-pound bull mastiff/pit bull mix.

“This is my baby. He’s everything to me,” she said.

(Top photo: Bobby Ann Luckett, a Weingart Center resident, visits the new dog park with her dogs, Princess Ann, an 8-year-old Maltese/terrier mix, and Chub-Chub Lee, a 16-year-old cocker spaniel-Rottweiler mix., by Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times; lower photo: Resident Kimberlee McKee gives her dog Maggie May a kiss during the opening of the new dog park at the Weingart Center, by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Celebs take part in grisly dog meat protest


I’m the first to agree that there should be no punches pulled when exposing atrocities against animals, and dogs in particular, but an animal rights group went a step too far in a Los Angeles protest in which celebrities held up animal corpses.

“Actual dead dogs” is how some media reports described the canine corpses displayed by actresses Priscilla Presley, E.G. Daily and Donna D’Errico in the Tuesday protest against dog meat consumption in South Korea.

The dead dogs weren’t victims of Korea’s dog meat trade, but were recently euthanized dogs on loan from a local veterinarian.

Last Chance for Animals, the organization behind the protest, was aiming for shock value, and got it — but it was an unnecessary and tasteless display.

Unnecessary, because the horrid realities of the Korean dog meat trade are bad enough, and easy enough to show people. Resorting to rounding up deceased family pets to hold up before the TV cameras was a tasteless stunt that was off the mark, went overboard and smacked of deception.

The celebrities were given gloves to wear while handling the carcasses, and the dogs used in the protest were reportedly going to be “respectfully cremated” upon its conclusion.

Wearing a “stop dog meat” t-shirt over white scrubs, Presley held a dead dog in her arms as she stood outside the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Los Angeles. D’Errico and Daly also held dog corpses, while actress Kim Basinger held a sign depicting three dead dogs hanging from wires — an actual photo, from actual Korea.

The latter made sense; using dead American pets did not.

The protest one of three held Tuesday across the globe. Similar demonstrations took place in Washington D.C. and Seoul, according to Last Chance for Animals.

Tuesday was the beginning of Bok Nal — known as the three hottest days of the Korean summer. Dog meat consumption rises exponentially this time of year in S. Korea as dog meat soup, known as Boshintang, is still viewed by some as a way to combat the extreme heat and humidity.

In reality, the consumption of dog meat is steadily decreasing in South Korea and only older generations are still eating it.

Nevertheless, the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C., estimates South Koreans slaughter an estimated 2 million dogs for human consumption each year, and Humane Society International estimates that 30 million dogs around the world are killed for food each year.

It’s cruel. It’s wrong. It’s exploitation. And there are many ways to fight it.

Seeking out dogs who died for totally unrelated reasons and holding their bodies in front of TV cameras should not be one of them, because it, too, reeks of exploitation.

(Photos: People.com)

Rise of the French bulldog continues

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French bulldogs are now the most popular breed in New York and Los Angeles, and the fourth most popular nationwide, according to the American Kennel Club’s annual ranking of breed popularity.

This year’s national ranking show Frenchies climbing into the top five for the first time. Twenty years ago, the breed was 76th on the list.

And, no, we’re not burying the lede here.

Yes, Labrador retrievers have once again been proclaimed America’s most popular breed, but after 27 years in a row of that happening it hardly qualifies as news.

DSC06082The French bulldog’s rise is a fresher, more significant and more worrisome development, perhaps highlighting the divide between dainty big city breeds and those good ol’ breeds we’ve long held dear.

The breed jumped two spots from number six to number four in 2017. In doing so, it knocked the beagle out of the top five for the first time since 1998, and further cemented its hold on the top spot in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Palm Beach.

Yes, it is a trendy breed, and an urban breed. A French bulldog is not going to retrieve that duck whose life you just ended. You’re not going to see a French bulldog on the cover of Field and Stream.

One did make the cover of the Village Voice back in 2015, though, under the headline, “Don’t Buy This Dog.”

The breed had already become No. 1 in New York by then, and the article, by Michael Brandow, enumerated all the reasons that was a bad thing — chief among them the health problems the breed faces because of decades of inbreeding.

An excerpt:

“What’s wrong with French bulldogs? Where should I begin? Generations of unwise inbreeding to no good end, far beyond what would be needed to keep their signature looks, have left these cartoon critters with low resistance to illness and allergies. Physically handicapped at birth (by cesarean, because the heads are, like the owners’ pride, inflated) with squashed-in faces that are freakishly flat, they face serious challenges in performing some of any mammal’s basic functions — like getting enough oxygen and keeping their bodies at a safe temperature. Life’s burdens grow heavier under a long list of deformities preventing even mobility, and a task as simple as walking is no small feat.”

New Yorkers didn’t much heed the then-newsweekly’s warning. Demand just kept increasing, and with it so did worries about unscrupulous breeders and under-informed owners.

AKC officials say they expect the popularity of the downsized bulldogs with the pointed ears to continue as more city dwellers look for a breed that is compact and relatively quiet.

“The French bulldog is poised for a takeover,” AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo said in a statement, noting the breed’s “adaptability” and “loveable temperament.”

Here are the top 10 breeds in the U.S., according to the AKC:

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retriever

4. French bulldog

5. Bulldog

6. Beagle

7. Poodle

8. Rottweiler

9. Yorkshire terrier

10. German short-haired pointer

Dachshund sign in San Pedro to be rescued in hopes of finding it a new forever home

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A dachshund that towers above an empty restaurant on a busy intersection of San Pedro, California, is coming down, but it has avoided being put down by a wrecking ball.

Instead, in hopes of finding it a new home, the sign has been rescued by a group seeking to preserve the gentrifying harbor town’s history.

The Daily Breeze reported yesterday that, rather than being destroyed as part of a redevelopment project that includes a new drive-thru Starbucks, the sign for Bonello’s New York Pizza has been procured by the local historical society.

The project’s developer agreed to sell the sign to the society for $1.

The sign has hung over Gaffey Street for 75 years, originally to beckon diners into The Hamburger Hut, one of San Pedro’s oldest burger joints when it closed almost 20 years ago.

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Over the years, it has lost its neon outline, and the dachshund lost its tail, and the dog was painted the colors of the Italian flag when the business became home to Bonello’s New York Pizza.

The San Pedro Bay Historical Society will pay to have the sign carefully removed. It wants to refurbish it and put it on display someday in a hoped-for local museum.

“It’s the only sign that’s been hanging over Gaffey Street for like 70-plus years,” said Angela Romero, the historical society board member who led the effort to save the sign.

“The feeling was let’s get it before it goes away or leaves San Pedro,” said Mona Dallas-Roddick, president of the board. “I’m telling people it’s a preservation move right now — we don’t know if we could ever (raise) the money for restoration.”

The sign will make an appearance next weekend at a wine tasting benefit for the society at Muller House, an historic home in San Pedro.

The dachshund first appeared in 1941, atop a sign for The Hamburger Hut — we can only guess it sold hot dogs, too — and the establishment went on to become a hot spot for teenagers and a fixture for generations of residents.

After Hamburger Hut closed, neighboring Bonello’s New York Pizza expanded into the closed Hamburger Hut space and restyled the Hamburger Hut sign, keeping the dachshund but adding its own name and a distinctly Italian color scheme.

Bonello’s, still in business, recently moved to another building on the block to make room for the new development.

indian roomWith massive redevelopment projects underway along the harbor, in downtown San Pedro and on its outskirts, word that the dachshund sign was coming down prompted members of the historical society to vote to save it.

Many still lamented how another sign, the one from the Indian Room at the corner of 10th Street and Pacific Avenue, had vanished when that bar was gentrified.

It saddens me to see old school places disappear — even if they’ve become pretty worn around the edges. So I applaud any effort to hang on to pieces of the past, even if it’s just an old school sign, and especially if it’s a dog-themed old school sign.

No matter how shiny and Starbucky San Pedro becomes, its working class roots should remain within grasp — even if it’s a wiener dog who somehow ended up on a New York pizza place sign in Los Angeles.

(Top two photos from Pinterest; middle photo from That’ssoPedro.com; bottom photo from LAEastside.com)

Now open in L.A.: PetSpace, an adoption center that’s much, much more

All humane societies and SPCA’s see education as a large part of their mission, but few if any have taken that to the heights of PetSpace, a newly opened center in Los Angeles that is finding new homes for dogs and increasing our understanding of them at the same time.

Over a dozen dogs and cats were adopted during Saturday’s opening of PetSpace, the brainchild of Wallis Annenberg, the CEO and president of the Annenberg Foundation.

But, as the Los Angles Times reported over the weekend, PetSpace is about much more than rehoming dogs.

It’s part interactive science center, part children’s playground, part pet paradise, part research institute and part adoption center.

On top of facilitating adoptions, PetSpace will offer educational programming for the general public on how to care for pets, all while conducting its own scientific research focused on the human-animal bond.

To that end, it has established a Leadership Institute with 16 research fellows — experts in different academic fields — who will write a white paper on the science behind the human-animal bond.

“This whole notion of the human-animal bond goes so much deeper than how you choose a pet,” said Eric Strauss, a biology professor at Loyola Marymount University and the research paper’s lead author.

“We’re bonded emotionally through our pets. But we’re also bonded ecologically, medically and economically. I think that’s the real genesis of a new science here.”

Located in Silicon Beach in Playa Vista, the 30,000-square-foot facility houses more than 80 dogs, cats and rabbits from the Los Angeles County’s Department of Animal Care and Control shelters.

It has a staff of 30, assisted by more than 100 volunteers and will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free admission.

Its creators see it as a destination in itself, a fun place that will inform and delight adults and children (and maybe make them even happier yet if they end up taking home a dog or cat).

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During Saturday’s opening, a large mechanical dog barked and wagged his tongue while perched on the second floor. On the ground level, visitors read animal adoption stories displayed on panels and explored an interactive touch screen wall announcing upcoming events.

The center, in addition to periodic seminars, will have a Sunday reading program where children can sit down with a book and an animal.

Meanwhile, in the various play areas, visitors snuggled with cats and dogs, while others met with dogs in their “suites.” Outside each is an interactive digital screen with information about the pets up for adoption.

The center will be making an intense effort to match the right dog to the right owner.

“What’s your lifestyle like? What time commitment do you have? We’ll have a pretty extensive conversation,” said J.J. Rawlinson, the center’s animal care manager and veterinarian. “We really take time to get to know the animals.”

The adoption fee is $80.

PetSpace has partnered with organizations across the city to develop its programming, which will also include higher education workshops on human-animal relationships.

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It will also provide medical resources, including aqua therapy, that are generally not available in shelters.

Part of the center’s mission will be to educate the public about spaying, neutering, grooming and other aspects of caring for a pet.

Wallis Annenberg is a billionaire philanthropist who has long made pets one of her pet projects.

“In my life, animals have been a profound gift — not just dear companions, but teachers and healers, showing how to live and love fully and in the moment. That’s why the opening of Annenberg PetSpace is so thrilling for me,” said Annenberg, the Annenberg Foundation’s chair and CEO.

The family foundation was founded by Walter H. Annenberg, whose company published, among others, TV Guide, Seventeen magazine and my old alma mater, the Philadelphia Inquirer. It also operated radio and TV stations nationwide. Annenberg died in 2002.

Wallis Annenberg, his daughter, described PetSpace as “a world-class space in which to study the joys and mysteries of life in all its forms. It will be an innovative and interactive place for families to engage with animals and animal lovers of all kinds.”

“And it will be a chance for me to pass on the kind of awe and affection and insight animals have provided me for all my years,” she told the San Diego News Daily.

The Annenberg team worked with Los Angeles area animal welfare organizations, including Los Angeles Animal Services, the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, spcaLA and the Humane Association of California to design the center.

(Photos and video from the PetSpace website)

Trump-defending news analyst now doing his own damage control — thanks to a dog

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Mark Halperin, a senior NBC political analyst known as a frequent defender of President Trump, has suffered his own Twitter-related embarrassment — and is taking some hits for the disrespect he seemed to show a therapy dog on a cross-country Delta flight

It all stems from a in-air tweet Halperin posted after finding himself seated next to a bow-tie wearing support dog named Charlie. Halperin posted a photo of the dog with the caption, “Seriously, @delta??!?”

Some took that to mean he was taking umbrage to his seating companion, and dog lovers — as is their way — commenced to deem him an apparent snob, asshole, douchebag or worse.

Halperin then — sincerely or not — went into damage control mode.

He tweeted that the main purpose of the original tweet was to show a photo of a cute dog:

“This dog is cute & service, companion & emotional support dogs=best souls on Earth.Point was,on long flt Delta sat dog apart from its owner.”

He elaborated the people were reacting incorrectly to his original tweet, and that he was trying to do too much good at once — delighting followers with photos of a cute dog while pointing out a flaw in Delta’s procedures for not seating Charlie with his owner, a Delta employee who was seated across the aisle.

He said he offered to switch seats with the owner but that doing so was prohibited by “LAX traffic, TSA, redeye logistics & overhead bin issues.”

Then that pesky second side of the story came out.

The dog’s owner says Halperin made no such offer to switch seats.

Anthony Pisano, a Delta flight attendant who paid full fare for both his and Charlie’s seats, gave this account of what happened in first class.

“I had purchased 6A and 6B and Halperin was in 6C. The dog and I fly back and forth from California to NY 2–3 times a month. I am always aware to make sure to get the dog her own seat (she lays on the floor and sleeps) to ensure she doesn’t encroach anyone’s personal space. So I put Charlie (the dog) in 6A where she was great. She was in arms reach and everything was cool. Right before we took off the dog came and sat in between my legs for take off so she was secured. At this point halperin (I had no idea who he was) calls for a flight attendant and tells her that he refuses to sit next to a dog.

“Those were his exact words. At that point I noticed he took a picture of the dog which I just ignored. Next thing you know the lead flight attendant asked if I minded giving halperin 6A. It was so strange he wouldn’t even look or speak to me about it. If he would have asked me I would have obliged, no big deal. I couldn’t believe how rude this guy was carrying on as I sat right next to him. So I obliged, he moved into 6A and left his shoes and a mess in his little first class cubicle area. I politely brought him his shoes and belongings to which he literally looked the other way and that was that.”

(Except for a parting tweet on Pisano’s Twitter page:)

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Apparently, Halperin (some call him a Trump lap dog) got the separation he desired from Charlie, the emotional support dog.

As for which version is the most accurate, I can’t say, but I will rank the believability of the subjects involved:

1. Charlie the dog
2. The flight attendant
3. The political pundit

(Photos: At top, Charlie, as pictured in Halperin’s tweet; lower, Charlie, in a parting tweet on Pisano’s Twitter page)

Rover.com gobbles up DogVacay

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The country’s largest online pet sitting and dog walking company has bought out the second largest.

Rover.com, based in Seattle, was already top dog, but by acquiring DogVacay, based in Los Angeles, it becomes one offering pet owners access to more than 100,000 “five-star” pet walkers, boarders and sitters across the country.

Together, the two companies generated over $150 million in bookings in 2016.

The combined company will keep the Rover name, and will remain based in Seattle, Geekwire.com reports.

Terms of the all-stock deal were not revealed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 22 of DogVacay’s 100-plus employees will be laid off.

The combined company, which will have 250 employees, will be led by Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly. DogVacay CEO Aaron Hirschhorn will join the board of directors

Both companies provide customers with access to independent pet-sitters and dog-walkers, and keep about 20 percent of the fees those contractors charge clients. Pet owners also pay a service fee of up to 7% with each booking.

“Rover and DogVacay are both made up of dog people on a mission to enable everyone to experience the love and joy of a pet,” Easterly said in a news release. “Together, we can accomplish our goals quicker and make an even bigger impact. Plus, this partnership will enable us to pick up engineering velocity, bring new products to market faster and invest even more aggressively in building the best tools for our sitters and dog walkers.”