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Tag: mistake

Attacking dogs weren’t pit bulls, after all

 

After its news reports blamed two pit bulls for the mauling Saturday of a 7-year-old girl, ABC2 News in Baltimore took steps to correct the error.

But take a look at the news report (above) and see if you agree with me – that they only compounded it in this story touted as “the real truth about dangerous dogs.”

Rather than clear the name of pit bulls, they besmirch that of American bulldogs, lumping them in with pit bulls and saying they share the same “aggressive” traits and legendary jaw power – or “muscles of mastication” as one vet calls it.

“They have muscles of mastication. They have muscles in their jaws that are so strong they have 500 pounds of pressure. They can snap a broom just like that,” Dr. Kim Hammond, of Falls Road Animal Hospital, says in the report. “They’re a predator if you’re lower on the food chain and they’re good at their job, and they’re going to win.”

Those remarks – inaccurate and irresponsible as they might be in reference to pit bulls or American bulldogs – were apparently being made about pit bulls, which he also compared to “a loaded gun.”

My guess is that ABC2 sent a reporter out to do the knee-jerk, misconception-spreading, how dangerous-pit-bulls-are story, then learned it was two American bulldogs that were actually involved in the attack on Amanda Mitchell, who remains hospitalized with severe facial injuries.

For the sake of expediency, it appears, the report portrays pit bulls and Ameridcan bulldogs as peas in a pod, which wouldn’t be so bad if the pod wasn’t 99 percent wrongful stereotype and 1 percent fact.

Mitchell was playing outside when the dogs escaped from a neighbor’s yard in Dundalk Saturday. Both dogs were later seized by Baltimore County Animal Control and, with the consent of their owner, euthanized.

On Monday, the Baltimore County Health Department issued a correction – identifying the dogs involved as American bulldogs – and, after more than a few complaints from vigilant Internet commenters, ABC2 corrected the story, pointing out that police had provided the misinformation.

In all fairness, the breed of the dogs was also misreported by other media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun.

Even though most news outlets have corrected their reports, the misinformation remains – not just in the public consciousness, but on Google, where search result summaries of news reports since corrected still describe the dogs as pit bulls.

Tragic as it is, the story goes a long way in helping to understand how pit bulls have gotten, and continue to get, a bad rap – based largely on police mistakenly identifying dogs, “experts” who may not know what they’re talking about and the news media’s dutiful reporting of such misinformation.

What gets lost amid all the assumptions and jumping to conclusions is this: Any breed or type of dog has members who can turn violent or aggressive – be it pit bull, bulldog or Chihuahua.

Hero dog accidentally euthanized

Target — a dog credited with saving soldiers lives in Afghanistan, and brought to the U.S. by one of them — was accidentally euthanized yesterday at an Arizona animal shelter.

Target’s owner, Sgt. Terry Young, found out his dog had been killed when he showed up at the shelter to claim her.

The dog had escaped from his backyard over the weekend.

“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” Ruth Stalter, Pinal County animal-control director, said in a statement. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.” 

The county is investigating the accidental euthanization at its Casa Grande shelter.

In Afghanistan, Target snapped and barked at a suicide bomber, who was trying to enter a building on a military base. The bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.

“I just can’t believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog,” Young told the Arizona Republic.

When he returned to the U.S., Young brought Target with him to his home in the Phoenix area.

A county spokesman said a shelter employee has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Young said he found the gate to his backyard open on Friday morning, the day after Veterans Day.

Heather Murphy, a spokeswoman for Pinal County, said Target was found by a nearby resident, who put her in his backyard and called the pound.

Later that night Young saw Target’s picture on a website used by Pinal County’s animal control office, and, assuming the shelter was closed for the weekend, figured she would be safe until he could pick her up Monday.

When he arrived, he filled out some forms and a staff member brought him another dog. Young then showed the employee a picture of his dog. Then he waited for an hour.

According to the Republic, Young saw one worker sobbing. And the director of the shelter told him there had been a mistake.

Shelter looks at Shiba Inu, sees coyote

A local humane society in Kentucky mistook a Shiba Inu for a coyote, and released the dog into the wild.

The AKC-registered dog, a female named Copper, had been picked up by police and taken to the Frankfort Humane Society, which deemed her a coyote.

Lori Goodlett told The State-Journal that her pet of 11 years disappeared from her fenced back yard on July 3.

Only when she put up posters with her dog’s picture did a police officer recognize Copper as the dog he had taken to the shelter.

After the officer dropped the dog off, a shelter worker called police and said the animal had to be picked up because coyotes weren’t allowed there, according to an Associated Press report. (Apparently, the AP is no expert on the breed either, as it spelled it Sheba Inu.)

The Frankfort Humane Society turned the animal loose behind a home improvement store after consulting — apparently on the telephone — with a wildlife expert who said coyotes were nuisance animals and should be returned to the wild or killed.

A Humane Society official defended the actions. “If our manager assessed the animal to be a coyote, then it is against the law for it to be at the shelter. We rely on the people who work there,”  said Humane Society board chairman John Forbes.

Goodlett, however, said she can’t understand how her dog was misidentified. “People would say when Copper was young, she looked like a fox with her pointy ears and red coloring,” Goodlett said. “But no one has ever mistaken her for a coyote.”

Police and volunteers are helping Goodlett search for her pet and have set cages in hopes of capturing her, and PETA has kicked in a reward as well — up to $1,000. “Copper needs to be home with the people who know and love her,” says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “We hope that someone will find Copper so that she can be reunited with her family.”

“I know in my head Copper is gone for good, but in my heart I would like to think some nice family found her and took her in,” Goodlett said.

That’s “guide” dog, not “gay” dog, mate

A Thai restaurant in Australia that refused a blind man entry because it thought his guide dog was “gay” has been ordered to pay the man $1,500.

Ian Jolly, 57, was barred from dining at the Thai Spice restaurant, in the Sydney suburb of Adelaide, in May 2009 after a staff member mistook his guide dog Nudge for a “gay dog,” according to testimony before an Equal Opportunity Tribunal last week.

Restaurant owners Hong Hoa Thi To and Anh Hoang Le said one of the restaurant’s waiters said that  Jolly’s partner, Chris Lawrence, stated “she wanted to bring a gay dog into the restaurant.”

According to the Herald Sun in Australia, Jolly and Lawrence were refused entry to the restaurant, which displays a “guide dogs welcome” sign.

At a hearing on Friday, the restaurant agreed to provide  Jolly with a written apology, attend an Equal Opportunity education course  and pay him $1,500.

“The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog,” a statement from the hearing said.

That makes it sound like the misunderstandings run deeper than matters of accents and language. For one thing, neutered dogs — if that’s what they mean by “desexed” — don’t become gay. It seems like maybe the restaurant owners may be in more need of guiding than Ian Jolly.

Jolly said he was happy with the result, but added, ”I just want to be like everybody else and be able to go out for dinner, to be left alone and just enjoy a meal.”

World’s oldest dog dies — twice

OTTO

Fox News reported yesterday that the world’s oldest dog has died.

Unfortunately, they were dead wrong about that dog’s identity.

According to the initial Fox report: “Chanel, a wire-haired dachshund, died at her owners’ home in Port Jefferson Station on Long Island, N.Y.”

Accurate enough — not to mention fair and balanced — but a bit off, timing-wise. Chanel died at age 20 nearly five months ago.

It was the new World’s Oldest Dog who died this week: Otto (above), also a dachshund, residing in Britain.

Otto, nearly 21, was officially crowned the most senior canine in the world by the Guinness Book of Records in October of last year, after the timely death of Chanel.

On Wednesday, Otto’s owner took him to the vet, who recommended that Otto, suffering from stomach tumors, be put down, according to the Daily Mail

Peter Jones, 68, said he and his wife Lynn, 53, were devastated by the loss. The dachshund-terrier mix was playful to the end. They attributed his longevity to “plenty of love, plenty of good food and regular check-ups at the vets.”

Describing his pet’s final day, Jones, of Shrewsbury, said: “He slept in my bed. He woke up in the morning and he gave me the usual kiss…I was having a bath, he wanted to play, and he brought me his ball. But as soon as I bounced it a couple of times he went asleep again. He was absolutely cream crackered.” (British readers, translation please.)

CHANELMost who would pick up the story from the British press got it right. But apparently the folks at Fox News goofed up in Googling, came across the old stories on Chanel (left) and re-reported her death instead.

Others would go on to repeat the error (though we’d hope they’d have it corrected by now), including Shortnews.com.

A new world’s oldest dog will be named by Guinness.

Rest in peace, Otto.

And you, too, Chanel.

Neglect in Alaska, new questions in Memphis

There’s not an animal shelter around — public or private — that isn’t entering 2010 overloaded, overworked and overwhelmed. Some are handling the burden better than others.

Six dogs died of neglect in Alaska — while in a city animal shelter. And the troubled city-run shelter in Memphis, raided and closed in the fall, recently euthanized a dog scheduled to be adopted — again.

The six Alaska dogs represented the entire dog population of the Dillingham animal shelter, opened by the city five years ago and staffed by a single officer whose job duties also included picking up drunks.

The city suspended the animal control officer after finding the skeletal, partially eaten remains in early December, the Anchorage Daily News reports. An examination of the dead dogs by a veterinarian determined they died from dehydration, starvation and neglect.

dillingham“I’ve never seen animals desecrated quite to this extent,” said Jim Hagee, a Chugiak veterinarian who frequently practices in Dillingham. “The cannibalism is really what got to me.”

The city closed the shelter and state troopers are now investigating.

Police found the dead dogs Dec. 8 at the unheated shelter. Garbage, tools and feces covered the floor. Decomposed dog carcasses were in cages or curled on the plywood floor, among them a black husky found inside a plastic bag and a 14-week-old Rottweiler puppy wearing a pink camouflage collar.

Hagee estimates the dogs had been left alone for four to six weeks. 

Dillingham’s mayor is Alice Ruby (mayor@dillinghamak.us), and its city council members are Steve Hunt (dealernt@nushtel.com), Carol Shade (cashade@starband.com), Bob Himschoot (bhimschoot@gci.com), Keggie Tubbs (tubbs@dillinghamak.us), Sue Mulkeit (mulkeit@dillinghamak.us) and Tim Sands (sands@dillinghamak.us).

Meanwhile, in Memphis, a worker mistakenly euthanized a dog last week that was set to be adopted – the second time that has happened since  authorities raided the facility Oct. 27, and cameras were installed to allow the public to monitor the shelter on the Internet.

“I do not condone, I do not accept, I do not seek to excuse what happened to that pet,” said Mayor A C Wharton. “I accept responsibility for it, and I hope our city will say we collectively take responsibility for these innocent creatures.”

He added, ”When you’re in there and you’ve killed 25 dogs, and that’s what you’re doing, sometimes you lose sensitivity and you’re not as alert,” said Wharton. “What’s the difference, the fifteenth dog, and the sixteenth dog and the twenty-sixth dog? That’s the culture and somehow we have to break out.”

Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputies raided the facility in October after reports of abuse and neglect. An investigation continues into the shelter’s finances and whether euthanasia drugs are missing. Criminal charges are expected.

One can contact the Memphis mayor and city council members here.

(Photo: Dillingham Police Department)

Something to be thankful for: Newt’s Nook

NewtsNook2Newt’s Nook is open for business, and just in time for Thanksgiving

The heated, air-conditioned facility at the Animal Guardians sanctuary in Texas, named for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, provides a safe, healthy environment for injured rescue dogs, particularly pit bulls, to recuperate until they are adopted.

“We’re thrilled to help such a worthy project,” said Dawn Rizos, owner of The Lodge gentlemen’s club in Dallas, who funded the shelter after Gingrich rejected her donation to his political organization. “I wish Newt were here to see these wonderful dogs and know that we’re giving them a chance for happier lives.”

Staff members of the Lodge and Animal Guardians teamed up for a dedication ceremony this week, hanging a large “Newt’s Nook” sign on the building and welcoming dogs to the new facility. The sign, created by Lodge bartender Bryan Calloway, features a caricature of a smiling Gingrich and a friendly pit bull.

The idea for the shelter stemmed from an Entrepreneur of the Year Award that Gingrich bestowed on Rizos, then rescinded. In September Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, invited Rizos to receive the honor from him at a private dinner in Washington on October 7. A week before the dinner, upon learning The Lodge was a gentlemen’s club, Gingrich’s organization said there had been a mix-up and told Rizos not to attend. He refunded the $5,000 she had mailed in to attend the dinner, and Rizos used that amount to pay for construction of the shelter.

“… We were disappointed to suddenly be rejected,” Rizos said. “But instead of holding a grudge, we decided to make something positive out of his bad manners.”

“I can’t tell you how much this new building means to us,” said Annette Lambert, director of Animal Guardians, located 40 miles north of Dallas. The rescue organization cares for more than 100 dogs at its sanctuary.

Rizos announced that The Lodge would donate an additional $100 to Animal Guardians for every dog adopted from the facility through Valentine’s Day 2010, and give each adopter a gift certificate to The Lodge or, if that environment is not to their liking, Stratos Global Greek Taverna, a popular Dallas restaurant.

(Photo: Lodge VIP Manager Sunny Hunter with Animal Guardians rescue dogs outside the new Newt’s Nook rescue building; courtesy of Mike Precker)

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