In the old days, when a newspaper columnist started writing about his dog, it meant — at least in the eyes of your more crusty and jaundiced types — he or she had run out of things to write about.
Of course, it (usually) wasn’t true then. And it’s even less true now.
Newspapers, as they did with the Internet, have belatedly realized that dog stories are important, that dog stories draw readers, and that dog stories are actually human stories, in disguise. They’ve finally begun to catch on to dog’s new place on the social ladder, and the wonders within them, and the serious issues surrounding them, and that they are far more than just cute.
None of which probably mattered to Steve Lopez when he decided last week to tell the story of his family’s new rescue … rescue-me-again … rescue-me-one-more time … dog.
Who is also pretty cute.
Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, decided with his wife that their daughter, at age 9, was ready for a dog. Their search took them to Tailwaggers, a pet store in Hollywood, where adoption fairs are hosted by Dogs Without Borders. Though dogless for many years, Lopez knew rescuing a mutt — as opposed to purchasing a purebred — was the preferred route these days.
Canine ownership has gotten a lot more complicated than it was when he was a kid, noted Lopez, who definitely has a crusty side.
“First of all, unless you want a rescue dog, you face the withering judgment of do-gooders who have devoted their lives to saving pups from the boneyard,” he wrote. “…I live in Silver Lake, not far from a sprawling dog park. And if an abandoned infant were spotted on the curb of that busy corner, across the street from a dog with a thorn in its paw, I guarantee you dozens of people with porkpie hats and tattooed peace signs would rush to the aid of the dog instead of the child.”
At the adoption fair, his family became enchanted with a 3-year-old Corgi mixed named Hannah, who was described as “a very timid, shy and fearful little girl ” in need of “a home where she can blossom!”
(As Lopez, author of “The Soloist” and other books, may have noticed, those involved in the world of rescuing and rehoming dogs tend to use a lot of exclamation points!)
They then began the adoption process, which, he noted, required many forms: “As I recall, applying for a mortgage wasn’t quite as involved. And many of the agencies insist on a home inspection, as well as a donation fee of up to $450.”
They took Hannah home for a trial period, as a foster. There, unlike at the fair, she refused to walk on a leash.
To get her to go to the bathroom, Lopez says he carried the dog, who they renamed Ginger, to the bottom of the driveway. Given she didn’t move when he put her down, and to build some trust, he said, Lopez unhooked the leash.
Ginger took off.
Lopez ran to his car and began the search.
“My daughter had waited five years for this pup, and I’d lost her in five minutes.”
His wife called the adoption agency to report the escape and got a scolding for letting the dog off her leash. “I must admit, they had told us rescue dogs can be runners, and that we shouldn’t let them off the leash,” Lopez wrote. “On the other hand, if you’re going to call yourself Dogs Without Borders … what message are you sending?”
They searched all day, put up fliers, and posted Ginger on Craigslist as a missing dog. The next day, they found her on a neighbor’s patio and took her home.
The next day, a Monday, Lopez returned from work to learn Ginger had jerked away while being walked and disappeared again, this time dragging her leash. Reasoning that maybe Ginger didn’t want to be there, he and his wife agreed that — once they found her again — they might want to return her.
“Maybe she’d been abused, but it seemed unlikely she’d ever be the warm and cuddly family pet we wanted our daughter to have.”
On Tuesday morning, Lopez was awaked by a scratching sound on the front door. When he opened it, Ginger walked in, her leash still attached. That sight, it seems, cut right through the columnist’s crusty parts.
“We’re keeping this dog,” he said.
I’d be willing to bet they do, and that someday — when there’s nothing else to write about, or even when there is — we’ll be reading about her again.
(Photo of Ginger by Steve Lopez / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, best friend, column, columnist, corgi, dog, dogs, dogs without borders, family, ginger, hannah, home, leash, los angeles, los angeles times, media, mix, news, newspapers, pets, rescue, runaway, soloist, steve lopez, tailwaggers
Another disabled veteran and service dog have been kicked out of a business establishment — this time in Virginia, where Pat Horan and his dog Wilson were asked to leave a restaurant in Centreville.
As often isn’t the case, Horan’s ejection got some news coverage, thanks to his Facebook friends and the fact that his sister-in-law is a TV reporter.
After a visit with his dentist earlier this week, Pat and his wife, Patty, stepped into a restaurant next door, the Village Café , for lunch.
Upon seeing the dog, the restaurant owner’s wife ordered them to leave the premises.
“I tried to explain to her that this isn’t just a regular pet, this is a service dog,” Patty Horan said. “My husband is disabled. She really didn’t want to listen to any of it. She just wanted us to leave the restaurant.”
They were offered the option to order and sit outside and eat, but there were no tables or chairs set up, she added.
The Horan’s posted what happened on Facebook, leading to angry comments from their friends, and the involvement of WUSA reporter Peggy Fox, who’d done a series of stories on her brother-in-law’s recovery. He was shot in the head in Baghdad, resulting in brain injury, seizures and instability.
Fox went to the Village Café and interviewed Mo Aminfar, the owner.
Aminfar said his wife, Mary, didn’t understand that Wilson was a service dog.
“She doesn’t speak very well in English,” he said.
Aminfar said it was a regrettable misunderstanding: “Pat, we apologize and are really sorry for what happened.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aminfar, animals, apology, brain injury, centreville, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, head, iraq, media, news, pat horan, peggy fox, pets, service, shot, vet, veteran, village cafe, virginia, war, wilson, wusa
Every species, I guess, has its geniuses and morons, or at least those who are so perceived.
When it comes to dogs, for example, Afghan hounds have been called the dumb blondes of the dog world, while border collies are often referred to as the genius of the species.
With humans, in what is an equally unfair characterization, TV and radio personalities are often portrayed as something less than razor sharp. (I’m not sure if that is true, but it does seem that the dumber they are, the louder they are — and the more they interrupt.)
This video, from ABC’s Good Morning America, shows a border collie named Zelda balancing things on her head as the humans on the program, some of them wearing funny hats, seem to compete to see who can be loudest and most annoying.
When Zelda’s owner tries to explain how Zelda came to possess the talent, the host of the show loudly interrupts: “Now we should point out border collies are one of the smartest dogs there are, I mean they’re like real smart.”
At the end of the bit, the camera cuts to a member of the crew, showing he can balance things on his head, too.
Watching this, online, made me reconsider my rankings of the intelligence of the three smartest species here on earth.
I still think dogs are at the top, but I’m unsure of the order in which to rank the other two – humans and computers, earth’s newest species.
But then I read the computer-created transcript of the video, which we’ll only quote in part:
“We have a very special live — we have Zelda. That dog. — commences our — an extra…
“Added I organ committee is all right let’s say you — yes sickened at companies like name. Set — – we Michigan do with the tenth spot didn’t she loves playing with a tennis ball — her favorite thing today — So we — – with a few other thing we should point out that Border — is part of the one of the smartest dogs is very nice seeing real — things — very fast…
“Well we have posted a picture of her balancing my dinner plates you can do that we’ll try now in the — Valentine’s tiny things had a glass of chocolate — yeah…
“We want to hear from you what should Zelda try to balance — and can really the united choices football — – banana frisbee or I’m actually getting other. Okay we’ll take right and we’ll take righted work out things with.”
At the end of the transcript, there’s a disclaimer saying it has been automatically generated and may not be 100 percent accurate.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, balance, balancing, border collie, computers, dog, dogs, good morning america, head, hosts, intelligence, media, news, personalities, pets, television, things, transcription, transcripts, tricks, video, zelda
Did you hear the one about the gay bulldog?
Of course you did.
The story that quickly rose to the top of the dog news charts yesterday all stemmed from a Facebook post by a Tennessee woman who regularly visits her local animal shelter and posts photos of animals who might be euthanized if they’re not adopted.
This week, she met Elton, a bulldog — actually a bulldog mix — at the shelter in Madison County, and was told that his owner had surrendered him because he had seen Elton hump another dog and thought he was gay.
She took a photo of Elton and put it on Facebook, along with Elton’s not exactly confirmed but fairly sensational story:
“… His owner says he’s gay! He hunched another male dog so his owner threw him away bc he refuses to have a “gay” dog! Even if that weren’t the most assinine thing I’ve ever heard, its still discrimination! Don’t let this gorgeous dog die bc his owner is ignorant of normal dog behavior! He’s in kennel 10L and he WILL be put down tomorrow bc there is no room at the inn!”
The post was picked up by the website Gawker, and went viral from there, with news articles appearing in everything from the Daily Beast to the Daily Mail. It also led to a barrage of phone calls to the shelter, mostly from people who wanted to adopt Elton — one of whom did Thursday.
“Stop calling the Madison County animal shelter — the gay bulldog was adopted hours ago,” the Nashville Tennessean reported yesterday.
The Facebook poster is a mother of four who calls herself “Jackson Madison Rabies Control Stalker” (rabies control being what the animal control office in Madison County calls itself).
According to the biographical information on her Facebook page, she started visiting the shelter a year earlier and adopted a schnoodle that had both a neurological disorder and, it turns out, parvovirus.
Because of the dog’s suffering, she and her husband decided to have it put down, but changed their minds and called the veterinarian back 15 minutes later, which was too late.
What followed, she says, was a depression that lasted for weeks:
“I felt like all my joy and happiness left with that schnoodle! my depression went on so long my husband became concerned! i told him there was nothing to replace my loss, and i didnt know how to get over wanting the schnoodle back!”
A month later, her family adopted another schnauzer-poodle mix in Memphis, and named her Tess.
“… Tess came into my life and the healing began for me … But, I sit here crying even now … I will always feel as if I gave up on the (first) schnoodle, like I never gave him the chance he deserved. I will always wonder if I had tried, would he have made it.
She adds, “I hated Jackson Rabies Control for the parvo. I blamed the place for my heartache. Until I went back, a few weeks later….I went back and started taking pictures and sharing their stories. and friend requests came in and I sent more out….and my page blew up with people who had no idea Jackson TN had a kill shelter…
Her other recent posts depict a dog at the shelter who she says was being overlooked because he is black, and a dog who was “allegedly poisoned.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, adoption, animals, bulldog, dog, dogs, euthanasia, facebook, gay, gay bulldog, humping, media, networking, news, owner, pets, plea, posts, presumed, shelter, shelters, social media, surrendered
One of the latest sensations sweeping the Internet is a YouTube video that most everybody is reporting shows two dogs Skyping with each other.
“Watch these dogs have a heated Skype convo,” reads the headline on Mashable, accompanied by a video of two wirehaired fox terriers seeming to converse on Skype.
Mashable reports that the dogs have learned to “use technology to stay connected and maintain their long distance relationship.”
“Two Dogs Skype Each Other,” says the Huffpost headline in a piece that also features the video.
Even organizations that often report original news have seized on the alleged Skyping dogs video and presented it as fact.
“Emotional dog friends Skype across the miles” WAFB reports in a story that, like most of the others, first assumes that the dogs are actually Skyping, then goes on to venture guesses on what they might be talking about.
Says KITV: “Skype helps reconnect anyone with distant friends, even dog friends hoping to catch up with each other.”
We’re quite sure dogs do, with help from their owners, Skype each other. And maybe it’s even newsworthy. But the point is these two — despite how numerous media sources are portraying it — aren’t.
We all know the Internet is not a place that lets facts get in the way, but we’d hope that news outlets, at least, would slow down enough to check things out — whether its Skyping dogs, conspiracy theories or celebrity couplings.
What the video actually shows is not two dogs Skyping, but one dog watching a video of another dog.
What makes the snowballing mischaracterization even more amazing is that the owner of Gaytor, in posting the video on YouTube, admits as much. Under the headline “My Dog Can Skype,” she explains that Gaytor enjoys Skyping with other dogs, but admits that, in this particular video, he’s merely watching another dog on a YouTube video.
The video Gaytor is watching and responding to features a wire haired terrier named Basil, also from the UK. Basil’s howls are in reaction to ringtone alerts on his owner’s Blackberry.
As fate, and the Internet, would have it, Basil’s owner saw the video of Gaytor reacting to Basil, and showed it to Basil, who reacted to Gaytor reacting to him.
“Thanks for featuring my Basil video, glad your dog likes to watch it. Basil would love to meet Gaytor someday. I played your movie to him this morning and he sung along to it,” Basil’s owner said in a comment posted to the Gaytor video.
All of which is fun — and perhaps worthy of another video showing Gaytor’s reaction to Basil’s reaction to Gaytor’s reaction to him – but it’s not Skyping.
Here’s the original Basil video:
Posted by jwoestendiek January 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, basil, behavior, computers, conversation, convo, dogs, gaytor, huffington post, huffpost, internet, mashable, media, news, pets, skype, skyping, skyping dogs, terriers, truth, video, wire haired fox terriers, youtube
I’m not sure this Saturday Night Live sketch is worth the 30-second ad you’re required to watch first, but it has its moments.
All in all, though, it makes me long for the good old days, both when it comes to SNL and when it comes to cooking shows.
Once they were soothing things to watch — one person preparing a dish — so simple, so relaxing, so sleep-inducing. Now they’re mostly cut-throat competitions in which multiple chefs feverishly vie to make the most judge-pleasing concoction. Those who fail get axed, or chopped, or otherwise sent home.
And that may be the unkindest cut of all.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, axed, behavior, chopped, comedy, competitions, cooking shows, cut, dan akroyd, dogs, julia child, media, pets, saturday night live, sketch, snl, society, television, top check, top dog chef, video
To hear Fox 2 in St. Louis tell it, a massive round up of pit bulls was underway last week in the small town of Sikeston, Missouri.
According to the Fox report (above), animal control officers were seizing pit bulls from homes around town — so many that the Sikeston shelter had to send 20 dogs to St. Louis to make room for all the pit bulls they were rounding up.
Other TV news operations, and the Standard Democrat in Sikeston, were quick to report that the Fox News account was a little off the mark.
Sikeston, which does have pit bull restrictions, picked up three dogs it said were not in compliance with the rules — but no roundup took place.
Wednesday’s Fox News report by Chris Hayes that Sikeston held a “pit bull round up day” led to dozens of calls to the newspaper, and a flurry of online alerts and notifications.
Hayes reported that he “found out about the program after learning about a sudden influx of dogs coming to the St. Louis area” and that it was “to make room for seized pit bulls.”
Sikeston City Manager Doug Friend said allegations that the city held a “pit bull round up day” weren’t true.
There are 32 pit bulls registered in Sikeston, according to Friend, and the city audits those on an annual basis.
“It’s not a big process,” he said. “We just basically drive by, verify that somebody that had a registered pit bull still lives at a registered address. Our plan was to just do our annual look.”
During that recent audit, three pit bulls were taken into custody for non-compliance with the city code. It requires that the owners of pit bulls and some other breeds register those pets with the city, carry liability insurance, and keep their dogs in a fully enclosed pen if they are outside.
KFVS also reported that the Fox report was misleading.
According to KFVS, about 30 dogs were shipped from the Sikeston shelter to no-kill shelters across the country, including one near St. Louis.
Friend told KFVS that the transfers, the seizures, and the TV report added up to fear quickly spreading among pit bull advocates, in Sikeston and around the country.
“To suggest and sensationalize the way that the news reporter did is … I’m at a loss for words” Friend said. “I mean, we’re a rural town of 18,000. We try to serve the public to the best of our ability. Everything we do is tailored to the health and safety of our citizens after extensive public comment.”
Of course, none of that is to suggest pit bull bans and restrictions make sense. They don’t.
But for a news organization to suggest, based on a couple of unconnected facts, that a round-up of all pit bulls is underway is a similar sort of fear-mongering — and one that’s neither fair nor balanced.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animals, bans, breed, breed-specific, dogs, fox 2, fox news, laws, media, missouri, news, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, restrictions, sikeston, st. louis, towns
“I Cloned My Pet” lives again.
And, no — unlike the dogs the show is about – it’s not a repeat.
It was back in January that TLC aired a special broadcast about people who have gotten their dogs cloned — a “documentary” that amounted to little more than an advertisement for the dog cloning industry.
Now the production company that made it has put together a second installment, featuring three new pet owners seeking to resurrect dogs that have died, and TLC will air it tonight at 10 p.m.
If it’s anything like the first, expect another soap opera/infomercial hybrid, with three more highly passionate dog owners, some possibly bordering on bonkers, willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to bring back a cloned version of their departed dog.
And expect virtually no discussion of any of the disturbing ethical and animal welfare issues surrounding the process.
(You can find those, and the real story behind dog cloning, in my book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
The first installment of “I Cloned My Pet” focused on three customers of dog cloning — a service that began being marketed before dog cloning was even achieved (in 2005) and, for a while, was being marketed by three different companies. It’s now provided by only one laboratory in South Korea.
In the first show, viewers saw Danielle Tarantola receive a clone of her beloved dog Trouble; Peter Austin Onruang finally got a clone of his dog Wolfie; and Sheryl Carpenter of Albuquerque got to meet the clone of her mastiff mix, Blue Frankenstein, even though she was serving a 10-year prison term for gun running by the time the dog arrived.
In tonight’s episode, we meet George Semel, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon seeking a clone of his rescued Chihuahua, killed last year when attacked by a Rottweiler; another Los Angeles resident, identified only as Myra, who’s still struggling with the loss of her dog Kabuki and wrapped up in other emotional turmoil as well; and Edgar and Nina Otto from Boca Raton, who won an online cloning auction with their bid of $155,000 and got a copy of their golden retriever, Lancelot.
If it’s like the first one, the new show will put a premium on creating drama while conveniently overlooking cloning’s dark side. Things like:
- The number of dogs used in the cloning process — both as egg donors and surrogate mothers, all of which are sliced open in the process.
- That those dogs — both in the research stages and in commercial cloning — often come from South Korean dog farms, where they are being raised for meat. The dogs responsible for making a clone of your dog possible could end up on dinner plates.
- What happens to the surplus clones that are often produced, because the process doesn’t work everytime and is done repeatedly to ensure a healthy lookalike.
Expect it to perpetuate the myth most customers seem to believe — that a clone of their deceased dog is the same dog, resurrected. While clones are genetic copies, that doesn’t assure they will have the same personality or behave as the original did.
We’re hoping the second installment of “I Cloned My Pet” doesn’t behave as the original did, but that’s doubtful, because the makers of bad television are a lot like cloners — they like to stick with the formula, churning out the same thing over and over again.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, blue frankenstein, book, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, commercial cloning, concerns, copying, customers, danielle tarantola, dark side, death, documentary, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, edgar otto, eternal, eternity, ethics, genetics, george semel, issues, john woestendiek, laboratory, lancelot, life, media, myra, nina otto, peter onruang, pets, science, sheryl carpenter, south korea, television, tlc, trouble, wolfie
First came a Court of Appeals ruling, late last week, declaring all pit bulls (and pit bull mixes) “inherently dangerous” — stating, in effect, that breed, or type, or even looks alone, are all that is required to assume a dog is bad.
Then came a newspaper column by the normally level-headed Dan Rodricks, fresh from judging a dog costume contest for the Maryland SPCA, declaring pit bulls “four-legged time bombs” that should not be allowed in public.
It was not prompted by anything that happened at the SPCA’s March for the Animals — other than his seeing some pit bulls there. Instead, it seemed based on a prejudice he apparently holds and, with a court decision to back him up, felt inclined to reveal.
Taken together, the column and court decision (you can read it here) have riled friends of pit bulls, who are fighting back, on Facebook, through website comments and petitions and via letters to the editor at the Baltimore Sun, like this one — my personal favorite:
“… I live in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore. When my suburban friends come visit, they hold their kids close, and they look askance at some of my more ‘unusual’ neighbors. Some of them are only too happy to hop back in their cars and scurry back to the counties. To them it’s “obvious” that Baltimore is a dangerous place, with all the derelict buildings and the homeless people and the occasional addict passed out on the sidewalk …
“I’m also a pit bull owner — an accidental one, because I found mine starving and scared, running down Wicomico Street dragging a leash behind him. I caught him and brought him home because that’s what any decent dog lover would do. Then I found out how incredibly, incredibly difficult it is to rehome these dogs — because of the stigmas, and because there are just so many of them.
“I had only limited experience with the breed before mine chose me, but I have discovered that they are wonderful, wonderful dogs, incredibly smart and ridiculously affectionate. Some of them need more work than others, but anyone who says they’re “inherently” dangerous has obviously never met a good one. And there are lots of good ones.
“But if all you see when you look at them are the cropped ears and the muscular bodies and all the teeth — regardless of whether or not they’re showing off that famous pit bull smile — and because of the way they look decide they’re not worth getting to know, you’re just as ignorant as all the suburbanites who think Baltimore is nothing but vacant houses and drug dealers.”
Written by Erin Harty, the letter makes some excellent points about stereotyping and judging by looks — points that shouldn’t be lost on Rodricks, who has been able to look beneath the gruff exteriors and even bad behavior of convicts and ex-convicts and see some redeeming traits. It’s a shame he can’t bring himself to do the same when it comes to pit bulls, the vast majority of which have not engaged in any bad behavior. And won’t.
The Maryland SPCA’s executive director, Aileen Gabbey, voiced disappointment with Rodrick’s remarks and the court of appeals decision.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there is no accurate way to measure and determine which breeds are more likely to bite. These legitimate agencies also state that any data collected relating to dog bites has high potential for error,” she wrote in a letter to the editor.
“Mr. Rodricks’ opinions certainly won’t damper the success of the MD SPCA’s 17th March for the Animals. Thousands of dog owners and dog breeds of all kinds safely came together to have fun while helping the homeless dogs in our community.”
Of greater concern to pit bull owners is the court of appeals ruling, and its possible ramifications.
The Humane Society of the United States said in a in a press release that it plans to work with Maryland dog advocates and members of the legislature to develop “rational, science-based dangerous dog policies for the state after the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a decision fundamentally changing longstanding liability rules relating to pit bull and mixed pit bull dogs.”
The court decision focuses on liability. Under previous case law, a victim intending to file a lawsuit after a dog attack had to prove that a dog’s owner, or landlord, knew it had a history of being dangerous. Now, under the new precedent it set, the filer of a lawsuit merely has to show that the owner knew their dog was all or part pit bull. That would be sufficient basis for a claim.
Betsy McFarland, HSUS vice president, said the court overstepped its authority.
“A seismic shift in Maryland law of this nature should be undertaken by the legislature, not judges. The legislature should conduct appropriate fact-finding and hearings, consider the available science, and make a measured, non-emotional decision on this important policy issue.
“We encourage advocates to call their state legislators to respectfully voice their concerns, and urge them to work with advocates on legislation in the next session that provides rational, science-based dangerous dog policies for the state.
“The Humane Society of the United States’ companion animals department is in communication with shelters and rescues, and will be looking for ways to support them as they consider the ramifications of this decision.”
(Photo: Jasmine, one of Michael Vick’s former fighting pit bulls, who ended up in Baltimore, and was featured in a Sports Illustrated cover story about Vick’s dogs overcoming their inhumane treatment at human hands)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anger, animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, banned, bashing, columnist, court, court of appeals, dan rodricks, dangerous, decision, dogs, four legged time bombs, hsus, humane society of the united states, inherently, maryland spca, media, news, newspaper, opinion, petitions, pets, pit bull, pit bull lovers, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, public, response, responses, ruling, vick dogs
When a Hollywood movie goes over budget, it’s no big deal.
When one being paid for by taxpayers — or even toll violators — does, it is.
So, as snarky as this investigative report by the 13 Undercover team at Houston’s KTRK is at times, it makes some valid points.
The Harris County attorney’s office hired director Fleming Fuller to produce a public service documentary about the dangers of dogfighting, offering $10,000 for the finished product.
The movie was intended to show the horrors of dogfighting, and get across Ryan’s message that he was going to be tough on people who take part in it.
Normally, we’d applaud something like that, but the movie went 10 times over budget, the county attorney seems to be taking credit for a previous county attorney’s dogfighting bust, and the movie’s director was a good friend of the Harris County attorney’s top assistant.
As the report points out, County Attorney Vince Ryan campaigned as an ethics watchdog: “So you’d figure his office would the first to make sure your money wasn’t wasted, reporter Wayne Dolcefino says. “Instead, they spent money like they were in Hollywood.”
On top of that, the report says there hasn’t been a big dogfighting bust since Ryan took office.
And, in yet another criticism offered by the news report, the documentary includes scenes of Ryan frolicking with his dog at the beach, which gives the film the appearance, at times, of a campaign ad.
The director charged $500 for his time on an overnight trip to Galveston — apparently just to obtain that beach footage — and expenses there included multiple hotel bills and a pricey dinner.
Fuller is a North Carolina-based director who has made a few horror movies, including Prey of the Chameleon and Stranded.
While the county’s contract specified $10,000 would be spent on the film, and that it would be completed in one month, the final pricetag came out to more than $100,000 and the film took nearly a year to make.
The movie was paid for from a special fund consisting of fines imposed on drivers who fail to pay tolls.
Ryan said the video has been used to train law enforcement officers and to show high school students and others that dogfighting is inhumane and illegal.
KTRK says the documentary ended up costing cost $13,000 a minute, and that only 171 people have watched it in on YouTube.
The original documentary, as it appears on YouTube, is in three parts, which, combined, add up to nearly 30 minutes, not seven minutes, as the news report says. (The version being distributed for education purposes has been shortened.)
Here’s part one:
To see all three parts, click here.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 100000, animal cruelty, animals, budget, county attorney, cruelty, cruelty to animals, dangers, director, documentary, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, education, fleming fuller, fund, harris county, heart of texas, horrors, houston, investigative reporting, journalism, media, move, news, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, public education, toll, video, vince ryan, watchdog