Topaz, the pit bull who lost a leg after being caught in a barrage of police gunfire in Inglewood more than three years ago, is in need of a home in the Los Angeles area.
The health of her human, a formerly homeless man named Michael Reed, has deteriorated to the point where he can no longer care for her, and can barely care for himself, say those trying to help out the once inseparable pair.
I met the two of them three years ago in Los Angeles, after spotting Reed, his shopping cart and his three-legged dog walking down the sidewalk.
They were homeless at the time, and just recently reunited.
He told me their story: how police opened fire on another homeless man they thought was pulling a gun in Inglewood. The gun turned out to be a toy, but that wasn’t discovered until, 47 shots later, Eddie Franco had been killed, and Topaz had been struck by four or five bullets.
Reed, by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, was taken into custody, and his possessions, Topaz included, were confiscated.
He was later released – but he was given no information about his dog. Having watched as she went down in the hail of gunfire, he presumed she was dead.
Two days later, though, a message was relayed to Reed that his dog was alive.
Months before the incident, Ingrid Hurel-Diourbel, founder of Streetsmarts Rescue, had seen Reed and his dog on the street, collecting recyclables, and stopped to talk to him. She placed one of her organization’s rescue tags on Topaz, who otherwise had no identification, and Reed gave her his stepmother’s phone number.
When the animal shelter in Carson — where Topaz was taken after the shooting — saw the tag, they called Ingrid and she relayed the news to Reed.
Ingrid started trying to raise money for the pair then, to cover the cost of Topaz’ veterinary care, and — because of their additional misfortunes – she hasn’t stopped since.
For a while, things were looking up. Michael got off the streets and moved into a trailer, but not long after that he learned he was terminally ill with cirrhosis of the liver, and that Topaz had cancer.
Topaz had surgery again, and Michael has been in and out of the hospital. During one recent stay, another member of the rescue was caring for Topaz when he noticed a mass around her vulva, which led to yet another operation for Topaz.
Ingrid – that’s her narrating the video at the top of this post — says that operation went well, and early signs, though biopsy results are still pending, indicate Topaz may be cancer free. Her hospital stay, surgery and treatment cost more than $3,500, which Ingrid is still trying to raise.
Michael, meanwhile, has continued to decline, mentally and physically – so much so that the man who so graciously let me take photos of him and his dog three years ago, isn’t allowing his photo to be taken anymore.
He gets incommunicative, and neglects to take his medications, friends say.
“We have no more money for rent for him,” Ingrid said, “and unless his SSI kicks in soon, he will need to move out of the trailer … He has no family and he really needs care every day to maintain him.”
That’s led the rescue to intensify its efforts to find Topaz a new home, preferably one that will allow the dog to continue to make visits to Reed.
It’s also still trying to pay off the veterinary bills. Donations can be made via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, animals, california, cancer, care, cirrhosis, costs, dog, dogs, donations, expenses, health, home, homeless, illness, inglewood, ingrid hurel-diourbel, liver, los angeles, michael, michael and topaz, michael reed, needs, pets, pit bull, police, rescue, shooting, shot, streetsmarts rescue, surgeries, terminal, three-legged, topaz, update, veterinary
Topaz had surgery earlier this month to remove a cancerous tumor in her neck, an operation that involved removing part of her jugular vein.
Michael, meanwhile, has been in and out of the hospital since being diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and Hepatitis C.
But, for now, both, when they’re not under the care of doctors, are still living together in the trailer in Torrance that Michael — once he confirmed Topaz could stay there, too — moved into after years on the streets.
Michael and Topaz were homeless when police opened fire on another homeless man they thought was pulling a gun in Inglewood. The gun turned out to be a toy, but that wasn’t discovered until, 47 shots later, Eddie Franco had been killed. Topaz was struck by four or five bullets and would lose her leg.
Ingrid Hurel-Diourbel, the founder of Streetsmarts Rescue who helped reunite Topaz and Michael, reports that Topaz has been spending days at the home of a Streetsmarts member, and nights at the hospital.
A permanent home for the 6-year-old dog is still being sought, as Michael’s illness is considered terminal.
In the photos provided by the rescue (above), I can see how Michael has physically declined since I met him three years ago and took the photo to the left.
To contribute to the care of Topaz, visit the ChipIn page that Hurel-Diourbel established.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, homeless, hospital, inglewood, los angeles, michael, michael and topaz, michael reed, pets, pit bull, police, shooting, surgery, three-legged, topaz
It’s not often that I share the personal frustrations of being a dog-blogger — especially one who tries to stand out from the crowd by keeping a lid on the pablum and fluff, and presenting from time to time some stories of depth about important dog-related issues.
Yesterday was a case in point.
I posted three items — about the daily average for ohmidog!
One was a mention of an upcoming motorcycle ride, sponsored by a motorcycle club and Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, to raise money for abused and abandoned dogs.
One was a story about a day of global protest against eating dogs in South Korea.
One was an update on a story I wrote a few years back after meeting in Los Angeles a homeless man and his three legged pit bull (her fourth leg was lost as a result of a police shooting). Both have fallen ill and need help.
I was especially proud of the latter two, as they both contained some original reporting, and original photographs, and displayed a little first hand knowledge I had gathered, mostly during the year and a half I was working on my book.
Checking my Google Analytics, as I do from time to time, I saw this morning that the dog-eating post (of global significance) drew 116 views; the post on Michael and Topaz (of national significance) got 46 views; and the post on the fundraising motorcyle ride (of local significance) got 16 views.
What drew most readers to ohmidog! yesterday — 676 of them — was a post, nearly 50 days old, about Jennifer Aniston getting her dog Norman’s name tatooed on her foot.
Thereby showing you the significance of celebrities. It blows my mind.
How people try to remember and memorialize their dogs is a legitimate story — and a large part of the book I wrote — and the fact that more people are going the tattoo route, as the New York Post reported this week, is worthy of note.
But let’s face it, it was Jennifer Aniston that brought me those readers — and while I appreciate her, and those readers who dropped by, it bugs me that her foot tattoo so overshadowed two stories of deeper importance and deeper humanity. But, despite all that’s in the bowl, they chose only that.
My little corner of the universe, or the Internet, serves it seems as a microcosm of what’s happened to the news media, which, to survive, has caved in to the pressure to give readers easily consumable, barely newsworthy bits of what they want, rather than fully fleshed out stories on topics of greater importance to the species, be it human or dog.
Looking at my Analytics — and I think it’s OK to share this proprietary information, given that I am the proprietor — a total of 435 pages and posts were viewed yesterday, 1,941 views in all.
The vast majority, though, were focused on Jennifer Aniston’s foot.
For those consumed with numbers, and getting them to increase, and paying the bills, the thinking would reasonably follow: We need more Jennifer Aniston, more tattoos, more feet, or more of whoever or whatever else is, at this given moment, “trending.”
Here’s one of the things that has happened. News organizations, and bloggers, see what’s “trending” and base their coverage on that, thereby making it “trend” even more, while items of higher significance — worth some digging up — fall unseen by the wayside.
Add to that the fact that those who write strictly for the Internet, often, are no longer writing for humans. Instead of writing for quality, instead of writing, even, for readers, they’re writing for robots — those search engine Peruse-a-trons that scan our words, mathematically determine their import and influence how many readers come our way.
Add to that the fact that average online writer now spends more time touting what he has written via social networks and elsewhere than actually writing what he has written. Time once spent on research and the craft of writing is now mostly absorbed by shouting about and hyping what one has written, even if that “writing” was little more than a cut and paste job.
We’ll even admit to doing some of that — what is now called “aggregating,” what was once called plagiarism. We’ll admit to touting stories we’re proud of on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll even admit to, once in a while, posting a story because we think it will draw a crowd.
Were ohmidog! a true money-making venture — which in some ways would make more sense than being poor and principled — we might follow the route that so many have, bringing you a steady diet of the cute, the happy, the adorable and the celebrity-related.
But, Jennifer Aniston aside, we plan to continue to vary our fare — presenting the cute, from time to time; the uplifting, as often as we can find it; but also the cruel and depraved acts of humans that lead to animal suffering.
If, in the three years we’ve existed (did I mention we’ve just turned 3?) and in the 3,000 posts we’ve posted, ohmidog! has shown anything, it is this: the depths to which humans can sink and the heights to which they can rise when it comes to dogs.
We’re going to keep doing that.
And you can tattoo that on your foot.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggregating, analytics, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, blogging, blogs, cute, dog, dog inc., dog stories, dogs, eating dogs, facebook, fluff, foot, google, internet, jennifer aniston, korea, michael, news, news media, newspapers, norman, ohmidog!, online, page views, pets, readers, robots, search engines, social networks, tattoo, topaz, tout, touting, trending, trends, twitter, visits, websites, writing
Richard Hunter, the adoptive parent of one of Michael Vick’s dogs, confronted the Eagles quarterback in Dallas after a ceremony Saturday in which Vick received the key to the city — and asked him if he wanted an opportunity to see one of his former dogs.
Instead of getting an answer, Hunter, a local radio personality who we met this summer in our Travels with Ace, got pushed out of the way by Vick’s entourage. He put together this video of the event afterwards.
Hunter and his wife, Sunny, VIP manager for a Dallas gentlemen’s club, adopted Mel about two years after he was seized from the Vick estate in Virginia. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah. He spent nearly two years there before trainers pronounced him adoptable.
Ace and I got to meet the whole family during out visit to Dallas, which included a car ride in which Ace shared the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s other dog, Pumpkin.
Michael Vick showed little interest in learning more about Mel, despite Hunter’s persistent offers, and at one point a member of Vick’s security team told him, “We don’t care about the dogs.”
In presenting the key to the city, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway told Vick, “You deserve it, you earned it.”
Hunter’s response to Vick getting presented the key? Maybe, he said, it’s time to change the locks.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, city, confrontation, dallas, dog, dogfighting, dogs, dwaine caraway, Key, mayor, mel, michael, michael vick, national football league, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bull, pitbull, richard hunter, travels with ace, vick, vick dogs
Maybe it’s in part to pay respects to those who died and suffered, in part to remind ourselves of how evil man can be – that whole business about keeping history fresh enough in our minds that we don’t allow the mistakes of the past to be repeated.
Maybe (last maybe, I promise) that’s also why you still find Michael Vick stories on ohmidog! and elsewhere – not so much because we want to keep punishing a man who has paid what the courts decided was his debt, but because we think the public, and public officials, need to keep it fresh in their heads, and do all in their power to wipe out the ongoing scourge of dogfighting.
Our travels having taken us to Virginia — and having recently finished reading “The Lost Dogs,” the new book by Jim Gorant that recounts the horrors that took place at Vick’s country estate and the redemption of the dogs that survived them — a trip to 1915 Moonlight Road seemed, while morbid, somehow in order.
So Ace and I headed from Norfolk up Highway 10 through Virginia’s tidelands, past the meatpacking plant in Smithfield, and turned left down the narrow road, where homes are few, far apart and – unlike the one Vick had built — mostly modest.
It’s a two-story, 4,600-square-foot, white brick home, with five bedrooms, four and a half baths and master bedroom suites on the first and second floor. It has several outbuildings, a pool and a basketball court; and the real estate listings — which make no mention of the former owner — note that there’s a kennel, too.
Yes, Michael Vick’s former house is available, and has been ever since Vick sold it before heading off for his prison sentence.
The private individual who bought it then has it listed at $595,000 – a price that is $152,000 under its assessed value. In other words, it’s a bargain – if you don’t mind the fact that it’s haunted. How could it not be – after what the 51 dogs seized from Bad Newz Kennels had gone through, not to mention the eight more murdered dogs that were dug up behind the home and removed as part of the investigation?
The house, which has sat empty for nearly three years, has more recently — amid the sluggish real estate market — been offered for rent as well. The price is $2,500 a month.
There was no open house on the day we dropped by — no one around at all. Taking heed of a sign on the gate that warned “Keep Out, Private Property, Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted Even the U.S. Army,” Ace and I kept to the perimeter of the property, across the street from a small white Baptist church.
Usually, when Ace gets out of the car he commences to sniffing and excitedly exploring for minutes on end. But here he behaved differently. He walked up to white metal gate, sat down and stayed perfectly still, staring inside for what had to be three full minutes.
I won’t read anything into that.
Vick bought the 15-acre property in 2001 – for the purpose of setting up a dogfighting operation. For two years, only a trailer occupied it. In 2003, he had the custom built house constructed, though he never lived in it full time.
A Long and Foster agent told me yesterday that the house’s prolonged period on the market is probably more a result of the housing slump than its shameful legacy — my words, not her’s. She said there is a prospective renter, but that a deal has yet to be finalized.
Not too many who have looked at it have been driven away upon learning its history, but then again, that history is not on the property sheet.
While there was an animal welfare group that sought to raise funds, buy the property and turn it into a sanctuary for animals, the agent said that plan was apparently dropped. The group thought that it would be a triumph of sorts to turn Michael Vick’s old house into a place that helped dogs.
But it’s hard to get over an awful past — whether you’re a dog, a person or a house. While Vick’s dogs have shown it can be done, and while Vick insists he has reformed, his former house remains in limbo.
As for Ace, he eventually came out of his trance, sniffed around the shrubs in front of the house and did his business.
I won’t read anything into that, either.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1915 moonlight road, ace, ace does america, animal welfare, bad newz kennels, dog fighting, dog's country, dogfighting, dogscountry, empty, estate, for rent, for sale, history, house, legacy, mansion, memory, michael, michael vick, moonlight road, nfl, past, philadelphia eagles, quarterback, real estate, redemption, rent, rescue, sale, smithfield, surry county, unoccupied, vick, vick's house, virginia
An email campaign, aimed at ensuring dachshund killer Dudley Ramsay receive a full two-year sentence for fatally bashing his dog against a bathtub, failed to produce the intended result.
Ramsay was sentenced to just four months in prison on Friday by New York Judge Michael Gary.
Ramsay, of Fort Greene, was convicted of aggravated animal cruelty in March for disciplining the 5-month-old dog, named Junior, by smashing him against a bathtub, causing six fractured ribs and damage to the pup’s lungs and liver, according to The Brooklyn Paper. Then he waited several hours before taking the dog to a veterinary hospital, where he died.
An email campaign was launched after Ramsay’s conviction by Mike Szymanski, of Greenwood Heights, who owns three dachshunds and writes the Dachshund Examiner for Examiner.com.
“This is a tragedy,” said Szymanski, who noted Ramsay had freely admitted by then to killing another dachshund earlier. The sentence, he said, “is a fraction of what Ramsay certainly deserves. It was a slap on the wrist and showed that the judge didn’t care.”
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said it received over 100 emails from pet owners across the country, demanding that Ramsay gets the maximum sentence. Deputy District Attorney Carol Moran pushed for the maximum sentence, the spokesman said, but the sentencing decision rested with the judge.
“People have to realize that Dachshund lovers can be way more radical than the Tea Party if we find out than an injustice has been done,” Szymanski said. “This is something that could cost this judge his office.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, bathtub, campaign, dachshund, dachshund examiner, district attorney, dudley ramsay, email, fort greene, gary, judge, killed, killer, light, michael, mike szymanski, new york, news, ohmidog!, pets, sentence
Michael Vick told a gathering of children in New Jersey that he would like to have a dog.
“I wish I could have a dog right now more than anything in the world,” the convicted dogfighter and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback told children at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark.
A federal court judge banned Vick from owning dogs.
Vick’s appearance, according to NBC News in New York, was about the sixth he’s made with the Humane Society of the United States since his release from prison and house arrest in July.
“Everything you read and everything you heard was true — except for the electrocution,” he said, denying the widely repeated accusation that he electrocuted dogs that didn’t perform well as fighters. “That never happened.”
Vick said he’s hopeful he’ll have a dog again one day. “I don’t know when that day is going to come. It’s up to my judge at his discretion,” he said.
When asked by one of the children why he participated in dog fighting, Vick responded: ”I don’t understand why to this day.” But he told them, “use me as an example for you not to do the things that would lead you down the wrong path.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: boys and girls club, children, conviction, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, electrocution, hsus, humane society of the united states, michael, michael vick, newark, philadelphia eagles, prison, quarterback, speaking, talks, vick, wants dog
Afer getting a good ribbing from Steven Colbert for the AC 360 report on Michael Jackson’s former chimp, Bubbles, CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired nearly the entire piece on his show.
Now maybe Colbert can run a segment on Cooper’s segment on Colbert’s segment on Cooper’s segment. That would be more than a 360 — an actual 720, if my math is right.
Cooper called the Colbert Report bit both “very funny” and “well-deserved.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ac 360, anderson cooper, bubbles, chimp, chimpanzee, cnn, colbert, colbert report, jackson, michael, michael jackson, report, stephen colbert
Amid the all the other Michael Jackson overkill, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, or at least one of the reporters that works for him, tracked down Bubbles, Jackson’s former pet chimpanzee, and reported that he enjoys eating bananas and making faces.
Bubbles and Jackson split up when the chimp got too big and hard to control. He lived with an animal trainer until 2005 when he was sent to an animal sanctuary in Florida.
That’s where CNN caught up with the 26-year-old chimp and filmed this report.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anderson cooper, animal sanctuary, bubbles, chimp, chimpanzee, cnn, death, florida, michael, michael jackson, news, report, video