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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
(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)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: act of dog, an act of dog, animal welfare, animals, art, artist, death, dogs, euthanasia, faces, holocaust museum, kentucky, killed, killing, louisville, marina dervan, mark barone, mellwood art center, memorial, museum, no kill nation, no-kill, painting, paintings, pets, portraits, project, put down, put to sleep, rescues, santa fe, shelter, shelter dogs, shelters, statistics, vietnam memorial
Grey, creaky and 18 – pretty darned old for a black Lab mix of his size — Bear Dog is hanging around a little longer.
But then he’s always been a persistent sort.
Bear Dog is pretty well known around Castle Rock, Washington, at the western base of Mount St. Helens. For almost two decades, he has hung out at the town’s riverfront, the ball park — just about anywhere his owner, Don Caulfield, went, and a few places he didn’t.
At the North County Recreation Sports Complex, near Caulfield’s mobile home, there are signs, posted by the city, that read, ”No pets allowed inside baseball complex or on soccer fields, except Bear Dog.”
Since 1996, the highly social dog has been befriending workers — including those who built the sports complex — as well as tourists, hikers, students and fishermen.
Whenever anyone walked by Caulfield’s mobile home with a fishing pole, Bear Dog wanted to join them. He’d also swim out to fishing boats, leading anglers to drop what they were doing, haul him aboard and bring him ashore.
At the ball fields, Bear Dog would meet Janice Vinton, the concession stand manager, in the parking lot, walk her to the concession stand and then sit and wait for a hot dog. He’d always get one, at least until he had a heart attack and Vinton decided he should avoid them. When Vinton would close the concession stand at night, Bear would wait for her and walk her to her car.
At Caulfield’s home, visitors would frequently drop by to take Bear Dog for a hike on the trails, or drop off treats and presents. A Seattle man brought short ribs to him every weekend.
“How he got so popular, I don’t know,” Caulfield, a 62-year-old retired trucker, told the Daily News in Washington. “He done that himself.”
About two months ago, though, sightings of Bear Dog became more rare. His back legs had stopped working, and the only way he could walk was by Caulfield using a towel as a sling to lug him in and out of the house. Even as an invalid, Bear Dog still wanted to go out and meet any visitors that stopped by.
Given the dog’s age and condition, Caulfield’s veterinarian advised him it was time to put Bear down, but Caulfield didn’t have enough money to cover the $150 euthanization fee.
He went home and cried, and then he started digging a hole in the yard.
“I knew what had to be done,” he told the the Daily News, which published an article Sunday about Bear Dog.
But Caulfield couldn’t bring himself to shoot Bear, and when he called friends to ask they do the deed for him, they all declined.
Bear Dog was living out what appeared to be his final days until one day he dragged himself outside and promptly fell down the porch steps. Caulfield heard a pop and feared his dog had broken his back. Instead, Bear Dog got up, walked, and even tried to chase a rabbit.
“Every time I think it’s time, he bounces back somehow,” said Caulfield. “I don’t know how he does it.”
We have a theory: Maybe it’s because so many people are pulling for him — and even more since the newspaper story.
Since the article on Bear Dog appeared, he has received a slew of visitors, gifts and phone calls, the Daily News reported in a follow-up article.
Caulfield returned from church Sunday to find people parked in front of his trailer. One offered a new fishing pole. Another man brought over a top sirloin steak, a roast and a tub of dog bones for Bear. And one woman promised to pay for any medical treatment Bear needs, as well as – if and when it becomes necessary — the cost of putting him down.
“He’s quite the legend out there,” Castle Rock Mayor Paul Helenberg said last week of Bear Dog, who became the sports complex’s unofficial mascot by virtue of hanging ot there so much when it was being built.
Some dog-owning residents don’t understand why Bear Dog gets special privileges at the complex, and their dogs don’t, but Helenberg said Bear Dog is something of an institution. He even spoke of building a monument to the dog once he passes away.
“It’s going to be real sad,” the mayor said. “We’ll do something special.”
From the looks of things, Castle Rock, and the friends of Bear Dog, already have.
If you’re going to honor a dog, that’s really the best time to do it, before he’s a memory – not by building a sculpture when he’s dead and gone, but by pitching in and helping out and making him happy while he’s still alive.
Which is not to say a statue of Bear Dog isn’t appropriate — only that one honoring the friends of Bear Dog might be, too.
(Photo: Bill Wagner / The Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 18, animals, ball park, bear, bear dog, black lab, castle rock, concessions, daily news, dog, dogs, don caulfield, euthanasia, euthanize, everybodys dog, fishermen, friends, grey, help, helping, hikers, honor, honoring, institution, labrador, lame, mayor, memorial, money, north country recreation sports complex, old, paul helenberg, pets, put down, retriever, sick, statue, support, trucker, washington
Ivan, a 3-year-old Belgian malinois, was shot and killed two weeks ago while trying to protect officers from an armed carjacking suspect.
The dog park at Purple Heart Park on East Rita Road, which officially opened over the summer, is where Ivan would go with his handler to unwind after his shift.
“(He) would allow him to run the energy off for the night before taking him home,” TPOA secretary, Officer Paul Sheldon, told the Arizona Daily Star.
Sheldon, at the request of Ivan’s handler, Officer Chris Fenoglio, is spearheading an effort to have the park named after Ivan. Last week, he took petitions to the park, seeking signatures in support of the idea.
The petition will be presented to Tucson’s Parks and Recreation department for approval at its next board meeting, after which it would head to the city council for a vote.
Sheldon said he hopes the approval process can be completed by February.
Ivan was shot on Dec. 13 by a carjacking suspect who pulled out a gun when officers encountered him. Released by Fenoglio the dog ran to the suspect and managed to bite his left arm before he was shot.
Sheldon said Fenoglio has received dozens of letters of support from the community.
If the dog park is named after the hero police dog, it won’t be the first time.
In 2006, a Tucson Police Department dog named Miko died after jumping off an overpass in pursuit of a carjacking suspect.
The dog park at Reid Park was named in his honor — Miko’s Corner Playground.
(Photo of Ivan courtesy of Tucson Police Department)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, belgian malinois, bit, carjacking, department, dog park, dogs, honor, ivan, K-9, k9, killed, line of duty, memorial, miko, name, parks, petition, pets, police, police dogs, purple heart park, shot, suspect, tucson
Two and a half years after the manager of a sled dog tour company shot and slashed the throats of scores of no-longer-needed huskies, he’s scheduled for sentencing in court.
Bob Fawcett — who claims the owners of Howling Dog Tours ordered him to cull the herd, and that doing so gave him post-traumatic stress disorder — is to be sentenced tomorrow in British Columbia’s Provincial Court in North Vancouver.
The animals, owned by the Whistler-based tour company, were killed in April 2010, but were exhumed more than a year later after an SPCA investigation. They were reburied earlier this month in a memorial ceremony.
Fawcett entered a guilty plea in August to charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and faces maximum sentence of five years in prison and $75,000 in fines.
The mass slaying came to light after Fawcett filed a workman’s compensation claim, stating that shooting, slashing and dumping the bodies of about 100 dogs over a two-day period had left him with post traumatic stress disorder.
He said the cull was ordered by company owners after the demand for sled dog tours dropped after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Since the slaughter, the province has revised its anti-cruelty laws to provide new protection for sled dogs, and established more severe penalties for cruelty.
After being dug up and examined, the bodies of 56 of the sled dogs were reburied at a pet cemetery near Penticton, British Columbia, earlier this month at a memorial ceremony.
Fifty-six separate stones were placed individually on a memorial stone which read, “In loving memory of the Whistler sled dogs,” according to the Penticton Herald. Mourners attending the ceremony brought their own dogs, and some wore T-shirts that read, “Justice for the Whistler sled dogs.”
“You (dogs) will never be forgotten, and we pledge that in your memories that we will fight any form of animal cruelty and abuse,” Marylee Davies, president of the BC-SPCA, said during the service.
As Fawcett’s sentencing neared, a former volunteer BC-SPCA investigator has come forward to question whether the organization — based on what she saw on a 2000 visit to Howling Dog Tours — could have prevented the tragedy.
Eleanor Matthews visited Howling Dog Tours in January of 2000, when 73 dogs were under Fawcett’s car, and, described inhumane conditions in a report submitted to the SPCA, according to the Edmonton Journal.
She took photos of dogs, some emaciated, cramped in cages, and crammed into crates on two trailers — including this one:
Matthews says she joined the SPCA as a voluntary investigator about 14 years ago. She quit when the SPCA failed to act on her report, declining to take it to prosecutors so charges could be brought.
BC-SPCA officials, however, said earlier investigations at Howling Dog showed no evidence of abuse, cruelty or neglect, and that while they did order improvements in conditions for the sled dogs there, the company had complied with those orders.
(Top photo by Jeff Bassett / The Canadian Press; bottom photo by Eleanor Matthews)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bcspca, bob fawcett, bodies, british columbia, charges, claim, cull, culled, culling, death, dogs, dumped, howling dog, howling dog tours, investigation, killings, memorial, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, reburied, sentence, sentencing, service, shot, slashed, sled, sled dogs, spca, stabbed, whistler, whistler sled dogs, work
We usually don’t memorialize a dog twice — but Andre was extra special.
But the best person to write about him is the person who took him in, gave him a loving home for eight months and has been updating fans on his Facebook page ever since.
Above is the video she put together.
Here are her words:
“This is the story of a courageous miniature pincher who suffered both horrific abuse and unbounding love. Andre the Rescue Dog was found on January 3, 2012, by our hero, Cedric Conwright, who witnessed a black garbage bag being thrown out of a moving car into an empty lot as if discarded trash. When the bag moved, Cedric opened it to find little Andre, eyes gouged and hanging from their sockets, starved to 7 1/2 pounds, shot with BBs. Thanks to God’s divine intervention in guiding Cedric to that lot, on that day, at that moment Andre’s (or as Cedric named him “LG” for Little Guy) story did not end there but began to unfold on a journey that has touched human hearts all over the world. Rescuers later named this sweet dog Andre and I came to call him Andrea Bocelli after witnessing the first sound he made almost two months after he was rescued. His sweet little bark that lifted his front feet off the ground sounded like music to my maternal ears. And so he became Andrea Bocelli Powers!
“Andre came with a ready-made FaceBook page when I adopted him. It was originally created to help raise funds for his early medical needs and later for two surgeries, one of which was a double-adrenalectomy. It didn’t take long for me to understand that although Andre could no longer see the world, the world was seeing Andre for the first time,
“Mr. Bocelli’s birthday because his rescue day, January 3, and his greatest gift was a new life free from abuse. His last day, October 6, 2012, came far too soon when he died at home of diabetic complications. I shall always yearn to hold my Bocelli again; Bocelli, Bocelli, Bocelli.
“I am confident that If Andrea could, I know he would, say thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone one who helped both him and me in any way. No matter how big or small the gesture, I have been forever touched by your generosity of prayer, words of support, money, newspaper and TV articles, hugs, tears, etc., etc.
“Deeply grieving the loss of my companion, I am.
October 11, 2012″
Posted by jwoestendiek October 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abused, andre, andre the rescue dog, andrea bocelli, animals, arizona, blind, death, dog, dogs, eyeless, eyes, found, gouged, inspiration, memorial, miniature pinscher, moving, mutilated, pets, phoenix, rescue, sandy powers, tolleson, trash bag, tribute, video
His name was Andre, and he was a miniature Pinscher, found in a knotted black trash bag on the side of a street in Tolleson, Arizona.
A man taking a walk noticed the trash bag was moving, and went to open it up.
Doing so would expose a particularly heinous case of what some humans do to animals, but it would also come to show how very many more humans step forward to help them.
Andre would go on to brighten the lives and bring out the best of all those he came in contact with, though, for him, the darkness continued — even once he was out of the bag. In addition to the other abuse he’d been subjected to, his eyes had apparently been gouged out.
Despite that — despite the cruelty with which one or more humans treated him — he’d continue to show love for the rest of the species, and keep capturing hearts for nearly 10 more months.
It all started with Jan. 3, when Cedric Conwright saw a car pull to the side of the road, and watched as a bag was tossed out the window before it drove away. Conwright approached the knotted trash bag and saw that it was moving. He nudged it with his foot and heard a whimper.
When he opened it, he found a small dog in bad shape. He picked him up and took him home. Two days later he took the dog to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in hopes of getting it medical help.
Euthanasia was discussed, but instead vets opted to perform surgery, removing what was left of his eyes. From there he was taken in by Susy Hopkins, a member of the Feathers Foundation, a Paradise Valley non-profit group associated with the Circle L Animal Sanctuary. The foundation raises money for injured and neglected animals.
Her first stop was another animal hospital, where the first thing vets recommended was euthanasia. Hopkins said no, and asked the vet’s office to do what they could.
In addition to infections where his eyes used to be, Andre was anemic and had diabetes, and under his skin were what appeared to be BB’s from a pellet gun.
Over the next few days, Andre started appearing more lively, and his rescuers went to work trying to raise money for the medical care he had gotten and would need. Within days, $13,000 had poured in. A fundraiser at a downtown Scottsdale pizza restaurant brought in another $3,500.
There was something about Andre that brought out the best in people, Hopkins noted.
“People just wanted to see Andre, to hold him, to hug him,” she said. “And no matter how many people wanted to pet him, Andre never resisted. He was so calm, so gentle. It made me wonder even more why someone would treat him so badly.”
On Feb. 11, a permanent home was found for Andre. Sandy Powers had seen his story on TV. “It was love at first sight,” Powers said. “I had never adopted a rescue dog before, but I knew I wanted to care for this one.”
Andre walked carefully at his new home, several states away, and, though he couldn’t see, did his best to stay at the side of his new mom.
“When I talk or sing a little, he stays right with me on my heels,” said Powers.
He continued to get treatment for his diabetes. Amid other complications, there were some weeks Powers seemed to be making daily visits to the vet.
In recent weeks, his condition took a turn for the worse, and Powers did her best to keep Andre’s many fans informed on his Facebook page.
This week, she announced he had died Saturday. Andre has been cremated and his ashes brought home.
The dog who many were surprised didn’t die eight months ago now has — but not before getting a chance to give and get some love, add a few more chapters to his brave legacy and remind us yet again what being human is all about.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, andre, andre the rescue dog, andrea bocelli, animal cruelty, animals, arizona, blind, cedric conwright, cruelty to animals, dead, death, diabetes, dies, dog, eyes, facebook, gouged, memorial, min pin, miniature pinscher, moving, out, page, pets, phoenix, rescue dog, rescued, sandy powers, tolleson, trash bag
“Everyone on skid row — kids, cops, prostitutes, pimps — loved her,” Jeff Dietrich writes about Sheba, in another remembrance of the Los Angeles street dog we told you about after her death a couple of months ago.
Dietrich, a member of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, focuses his op-ed piece — it appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday – on the relationship between Sheba and Georgina (pictured together above).
Sheba’s best friends were the homeless street addicts who live outside the Catholic Worker soup kitchen. And, at least in Georgina’s case, maybe, vice versa.
Georgina ended up on skid row after fleeing an abusive husband. At first she lived with her handicapped, addicted mother in the St. Agnes Hotel, but she soon became addicted to crack cocaine herself and began living on the streets.
She found Sheba 17 years ago, chained to a pole, freed her, and took over the care of the German shepherd mix for the next 10 years — except for those periods she was in prison — until finding a home and entering recovery.
Sheba — still living on the streets, among the homeless – died in June after being struck by a car.
“I can’t say that it was Georgina’s relationship with Sheba that enabled her to enter and successfully complete a recovery program,” Dietrich writes. “But I can say without doubt that the maternal presence of this loving creature was one of the few positive attachment relationships in her life for a time, and that Sheba also touched the shattered lives of many addicts and petty drug dealers on Gladys Street. It’s possible that, for Georgina, the steady, unconditional love she got from Sheba provided just enough stability to make recovery seem possible.”
Dietrich notes that substance abuse can often be traced to early childhood trauma — abandonment, nutritional deprivation, battery, rape, or growing up in an unstable, unloving family:
“A dog is no substitute, certainly, for a loving, stable family or for strong human bonds. But most of the addicts on skid row haven’t known nurturing families for years, if they ever did. Sheba stepped into a void in Georgina’s life, and she made a difference.”
Dietrich, who is the author of ”Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles’ Skid Row,” says that when a memorial service was held for Sheba in the dining garden of the soup kitchen, Georgina didn’t attend, upon the advice of her therapist, who feared a possible relapse.
“The gathering was full of fond memories of Sheba, but toward the end there was one awkward moment. Was it theologically correct, we wondered, to pray for a dog? But then someone in the crowd called out, “Let us pray for the loving gift that Sheba was to our community.
“We did. And the people of skid row said, ‘Amen.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: catholic worker, cocaine, crack, drugs, food, georgina, homeless, Jeff Dietrich, kitchen, los angeles, love, memorial, recovery, remembrance, sheba, skid row, soup, stability, streets, substance abuse, unconditional
We got word this week that an old Baltimore friend had passed — Lucas the Lab, with whom Ace and I logged more than a few slow-paced laps around the paths at Riverside Park.
Whether he was a moseying around the park with his owner, Tobey; waiting to be tossed a treat by Stan,the biscuit man; or visiting me as a houseguest, as he did once or twice, Lucas was an easy going guy. I don’t remember him ever meeting a person, a dog, or a mud puddle, he didn’t like.
Rest in peace, Lucas.
For years, a husky mix named Annie quietly watched the world go by, lying beneath a tree in front of an apartment complex in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles.
A neighborhood fixture, she seemed perfectly content to observe and greet as dog walkers, strollers and anyone else went by — and the neighborhood found her a reassuring presence as well.
When Annie died over the weekend — of anaphylactic shock, caused by a bee sting — neighbors started coming together in a vigil not unlike the one she kept.
It started with a few notes tacked to the tree and grew into a full blown memorial, complete with candles, flowers and sympathy cards.
Since her death Saturday, some visitors to Annie’s shady spot at corner of 4th Street and Cochran Avenue have stood there and cried, said her owner, Jack Zurla, who rescued Annie 12 years ago after finding her foraging for food near the corner of Washington Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.
“I’ll remember Annie as a dog that was more human than dog,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “She had the capacity to understand people. She was a dog of compassion for everybody. She gave people comfort.”
“Annie was a staple in a lot of lives around here,” he added. “Annie was always ready to give someone some love.”
Other residents echoed those thoughts.
“She never ran off, never barked at anyone,” said actor Brian Savage, who lives nearby. “She was just a pillar of the neighborhood.”
“Annie was really a touchstone for all of us,” said Michael Moravek, also an actor. “It was nice to have her here. We might not know each other but we all knew Annie.”
“She was our neighborhood guardian. Even now, Annie is bringing us together,” he noted as he placed a snapshot he had taken of her on the shrine Tuesday.
Also leaving a hand-printed note was six-year-old Roman DiGiulio. With his mother at his side, he placed the note, written on a large red heart, on the tree. It read: “Have a good life in heaven, sweet doggie.”
(Photo: Jack Zurla stands in front of an impromptu memorial to his dog Annie; by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anaphylactic shock, animals, annie, apartment, bee, behavior, cochran avenue, community, complex, death, dog, dogs, fourth street, grief, husky, husky mix, jack zurla, los angeles, loss, memorial, mid-wilshire, mourning, neighborhood, neighbors, pets, relationships, sting, tree, tribute, vigil
The homeless and formerly homeless gathered on Skid Row in Los Angeles late last week to remember one of their own — Sheba, a shepherd mix who spent 17 years living on the streets.
On Tuesday, at about 11:30 p.m., Sheba was struck by a car and killed on Alameda Street.
About a dozen current and former street dwellers and animal activists showed up Thursday at a sidewalk memorial service for Sheba on Gladys Avenue.
Among those paying respects was Georgina Warren, who, homeless and addicted to drugs at the time, heard Sheba’s cries while living in a tent on a Skid Row parking lot 17 years ago.
She went to investigate and found a young German shepherd mix chained to a pole, unable to reach a bowl of water someone had left. Warren borrowed some bolt cutters from a nearby mechanic and freed the dog.
It was Warren who, noting how protective the dog was of her shopping cart, came up with the name Sheba, because she seemed to be respected like a queen.
Warren spent the next 10 years with the dog, Downtown News in Los Angeles reports — minus those periods she ended up in jail. When that happened, fellow street dwellers pitched in to take care of Sheba.
Warren left Skid Row in 2008 and is now in recovery. Sheba stayed.
“Sheba was the community’s dog,” said Lori Weise, founder of Downtown Dog Rescue, which provides services for low-income dog owners.
Weise helped care for Sheba, and arranged for the dog to be spayed and microchipped. She was registered on the microchip as the official contact, and there were 11 times that Weise was called to pick up Sheba from animal shelters, always returning her to the streets and the person who was taking care of her — if not always keeping her leashed — at the time.
Weise and others are making arrangements to have Sheba’s ashes buried in the garden at the Hippie Kitchen, a Gladys Avenue service center where Sheba often hung out.
(Top photo: Georgina Warren, left, and Catherine Harris of the nearby Hippie Kitchen, at the memorial service; by Gary Leonard, Downtown News)
(Bottom photo, of Warren and Sheba, courtesy of Lori Weise, Downtown Dog Rescue)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alameda street, animals, car, chained, community, dog, dogs, downtown dog rescue, freed, georgina warren, hippie kitchen, hit, homeless, killed, lori weise, los angeles, memorial, memory, mix, pets, queen, service, sheba, shepherd, skid row