There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.
Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.
That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.
She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.
Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.
Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.
“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.
Apparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.
Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.
The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.
The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.
Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.
Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.
Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.
Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.
Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.
In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.
“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”
After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.
Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.
State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.
Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.
“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.
“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, catch pole, catchpole, circuit court, cut, death, dog, dogs, jeffrey bolger, judge melissa phinn, killed, mutilation, nala, not guilty, officer, pets, police, shar-pei, sharpei, slashed, slit, throat, verdict
Nala isn’t an officially certified therapy dog.
Her presence at a Minnesota nursing home, apparently, didn’t require her owner to navigate a bureaucracy or fill out mounds of paperwork.
She was never trained to make people feel better. She just, like many a dog, magically does.
The tiny teacup poodle, who comes to work with her owner — medications assistant Doug Dawson — makes the rounds daily at the Lyngblomsten care center, somehow figuring out not just how to ride the elevator to get from room to room, but who at the nursing home might most need a visit from her.
It’s another one of those feel-good stories about a dog bringing comfort, hope and smiles to residents of an otherwise impersonal institution.
Let’s hope this one doesn’t get crushed.
On Wednesday, we told you about Ivy — a Siberian husky whose owner, a janitor at a University of Rhode Island dormitory, brings her to work with him everyday. And how Ivy, through bonding with the students who live there, has made it, in the view of most, a better place to be. And how the university, after the school newspaper ran a feature about the dog, banned Ivy from campus — even though she is certified as a therapy dog — citing things like rules and liability concerns.
Today we bring you Nala, who, fortunately, is spreading her magic at a facility that — rather than fretting about pests, bites and liability — seems to recognize a gift when it sees one.
Dawson brings Nala to work with him each morning, then lets her go her own way.
She spends the day popping into the rooms of residents, hopping in their laps and getting petted and nuzzled before moving on to the next room, according to this report by KARE 11
“She’s an angel,” 90-year-old resident Ruth New said. “I love her and she loves me.”
Nala, Dawson says, seems to have an uncanny knack for knowing who needs a visit, and knowing how to get there, even when it involves riding the four-story building’s elevator.
He says Nala was too young at the time, and had spent too much time in a kennel.
Now 5 years old, Nala has redeemed herself at Lyngblomsten.
“If you put her down she’ll pick out the person with Alzheimer’s,” said Dawson. “She has a way of picking the sick.”
After the recent death of one resident, Nala entered her room and stationed herself at her side.
“She had died earlier in the morning, but Nala knew and went and sat with her,” said Sandy Glomski, a Lyngblomsten staffer. “It was wonderful and we were all in tears.”
Dawson says he’s constantly amazed by both Nala’s compassion and her ability to navigate the nursing home’s floors on her own.
“She’s here for a purpose,” he said. “She really is doing God’s work.”
That’s kind of what dogs will do when humans — and especially bureaucrats — don’t get in the way,
Posted by John Woestendiek April 17th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alzheimers, animals, assisted living, bureaucracy, dog, dogs, elevator, home, institutions, ivy, liability, lyngblomsten, magic, minnesota, nala, nursing, pets, poodle, teacup, therapy dogs, university of rhode island
Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.
Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.
The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.
“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”
In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.
He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.
His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.
“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”
What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.
The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.
And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.
Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.
“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”
In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.
Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.
When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.
She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”
A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.
Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.
(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, baltimore, bite, bitten, court, cut, dog, dogs, hearing, hero, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, not guilty, officer, plea, police, pregnant, rabies, sharpei, slit, thomas schmidt, throat, trial, woman
“We have no words to describe this. To say that we are appalled at this allegation is an understatement,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.
Police were called Saturday morning to Grundy Street in southeast Baltimore for a report of a stray dog that had bitten someone trying to rescue it.
Police had secured the dog using a catch pole, but after that Bolger, an officer assigned to the emergency services division, used a knife to cut the dog’s throat, police said.
“Unfortunately, at some point after the dog was contained, one of our officers used a knife and cut the dog’s throat. This is outrageous and unacceptable breach of our protocol,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said.
WJZ in Baltimore reported that charging documents quote Bolger as saying, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
The dog later died.
Police officials said they knew of no reason for the officer to use such force on a dog that was already under control.
The dog had run off from her home nearby. She was a 7-year-old shar-pei named Nala, whose owner was searching for her and had posted her pictures on a community Facebook page.
“She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone,” Sarah Gossard told 11 News. “She was just scared that day and through all of those events — scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK,” the dog’s owner,
Bolger been suspended without pay.
“I don’t want him to have his job, I don’t want him to be able to go out on calls and react like that to a person, to a dog, to anything. That’s not OK, that’s not OK,” Gossard said.
An investigation into the incident will also look at other officers who, though aware of what happened, had not reported it,.
Police commanders said they “caught wind of it Monday” — two days after Nala was killed.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrested, baltimore, charged, city, contained, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, i'm going to gut this thing, investigation, jeffrey bolger, knife, law enforcement, nala, officer, pets, police, sarah gossard, shar-pei, sharpei, slit, throat
Nala, a pit bull-Labrador mix living at an animal shelter in Washington state, made headlines in December when she helped save another dog — a blind cocker spaniel she found freezing to death in a ditch while on a walk with a shelter staffer.
Despite the publicity and her newfound hero status, no one stepped forward to adopt Nala — who has what the Humane Society of Redmond describes as “some behavioral issues” – and, as of March, her stay at the shelter had stretched to a year.
This month, though, there was one more publicity push by the shelter, which established a Facebook page for Nala — and that helped lead to her adoption this week by Janet Roberts, 63, the Bend Bulletin reports.
A week ago, the Humane Society teamed up with a photographer, held a photo shoot with Nala and created a Facebook page for the dog. Reese Mercer, a board member, provided “first person” updates, from Nala’s perspective, about her hunt for a home.
As a result, Nala had fans from as far away as Finland, all of them rooting for her to find a home — but few of them volunteering to provide one.
Nala’s new caretaker, a court transcriber who lives on 80 acres in Powell Butte, first heard about Nala’s story in December. When she learned Nala was still without a home months later, Roberts offered to take her home for a trial visit. Roberts has four cats, two horses and an older dog. The dog spent the night Tuesday, and the next morning, Roberts decided it was for keeps.
“She was ever so sweet, and fit in really well,“ said Roberts. “She was so respectful of everyone here … She really wants to please people, which is really endearing,” said Roberts.
The official adoption took place Thursday.
“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye,” said Alan Borland, the shelter staff member who was walking Nala when she found the cocker spaniel.
Borland told the Bulletin the couple that the Roberts family has invited him to come visit Nala, but said he probably won’t.
“She needs to get on with her life, and forget about the year she spent at the shelter,” he said.
(Photo: From Nala’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adopting, animal welfare, animals, blind, cocker spaniel, dogs, facebook, freezing, home, humane society, janet roberts, labrador, mixed breed, nala, pets, pit bull, publicity, redmond, rescue, saved, shelter, social media, washington
Kate Gosselin now says Jon’s two allegedly beloved German Shepherds, which were recently returned to their breeder, may — that’s right, “may” — return home one day.
Radar Online quotes Kate Gosselin as saying the following in a talk at the Southern Women’s Show in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday:
“He (Jon) called the breeder and took them back for a short period of time. I’m feeling like I have not enough time to take care of my kids, let alone give the dogs what they need, and the kids surprisingly weren’t that upset about it. They’ll come back I’m sure at some point. But for now, I just needed a break.”
Jon has blamed Kate for forcing him to give up his two dogs, Shoka and Nala, because she doesn’t want to care for them when he’s not at the family’s home in Wernersville, PA. The estranged reality show couple is taking turns staying at home and caring for their eight children.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: breeder, dogs, german shepherds, gosselin, jon, jon & kate, jon and Kate, kate, nala, reality, returned, shoka, television, tv
In addition to all their other highly-exposed character flaws, Jon and Kate may not be the world’s greatest dog parents, either.
Jon Gosselin, the embattled father of TLC’s reality show “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” is now responding to allegations that he and his family have been mistreating their German shepherd puppies, Shoka and Nala, ABC News reports.
The allegations stem not so much from anything actually witnessed, but from a June 4 interview published on People.com in which Gosselin said that his kids often “beat” their dogs.
“Those kids beat them up, climb on them, pull their tails, bite at them, drag them around and everything you can imagine not to do to an animal, they’ve done,” said Gosselin, who described the dogs as “loyal creatures.”
Karel Minor, the executive director of the Humane Society of Berks County, Pa., told ABCNews.com that about a dozen community members have complained about how the Gosselins treat their dogs — all apparently based on the interview remarks.
Minor confirmed that the two dogs have licenses in the area where the Gosselins live and that they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. “We have no credible reason to believe in any way that there is cruelty going on,” Minor said.
Gosselin, in a statement released to ABCNews.com, sought to “set the record straight” regarding the mishandling of his family pets, stating that his previous remarks about his kids were taken out of context.
“We understand the responsibilities of being good dog owners,” Gosselin said. “Whenever my kids are with Shoka and Nala, everyone is carefully supervised to ensure that no one — dog or child — is injured.”
“Shoka and Nala are loyal companions who we consider members of our family,” he said. “We would never do anything to hurt them, and treat them with the respect and love that they deserve.”
Posted by John Woestendiek June 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, beat, bit, context, drag, entertainment, familyu, german shepherds, humane society of berks county, jon and Kate, jon and kate plus 8, jon gosselin, nala, people magazine, pull, puppies, reality show, shoka, tlc, tv