The Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt has banned Saint Bernards from being used in photo sessions with tourists.
The town’s council came to the decision after complaints by an animal protection organization that the dogs being used by two local businesses were being kept tied up without access to food and water and forced to carry children on their backs.
Posing with the dogs with the snow-cappped Matterhorn in the background has long been popular with tourists — even though St. Bernards are no longer commonly used in rescue operations. Nowadays, Alsatians are more often used to find lost skiers and avalanche survivors.
Still, Saint Bernards — with or without the whiskey barrel around their necks — remain a symbol of Swiss mountain heritage, and getting a photo with them is a must-have souvenir for many a tourist.
Swissinfo reports that at least two entrepreneurs are making a living supplying Saint Bernards for photo ops for tourists.
The Swiss Animal Protection Agency, which recently published a report on the dogs’ mistreatment, welcomed the decision ending the practice.
By banning the practice, Zermatt shows that “it loves these animals, and it will put an end to the contemptible and dangerous shows these dogs were made part of by being used as tourist props,” the organization said in a statement.
In March, the agency filed a legal complaint against the Saint Bernard owners, claiming that the dogs’ living and working conditions were abusive.
Concerns had been raised over the dogs being forced to pose for hours on end without moving and sometimes having to carry children on their backs. The dogs were also tied up for hours, not taken for walks and often went without food or water for long periods, the report stated.
Zermatt Mayor Christophe Buergin said the two local firms providing the service were in talks with tour operators to come up with alternative offerings for visitors to the Matterhorn, such as posing for photos with a person in a Saint Bernard costume, or posing with an alphorn, a traditional herdsman’s instrument.
The mayor says the practice of offering photos with Saint Bernards would be phased out by next winter, allowing the companies to honor existing contracts.
(Photo: Keystone, via Swissinfo.ch)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 29th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, companies, complaints, dogs, matterhorn, mistreatment, neglect, pets, photo ops, photographs, photos, resort, saint bernard, saint bernards, souvenir, st. bernard, swiss, switzerland, tourism, tourists, zermatt
A Phoenix man apparently left both his couch and his dog behind when he moved away.
The dog, it seems, tried to make the most of things, curling up snugly among its cushions, where a neighbor took this photo and posted it on Facebook. It was posted under the caption,”Anyone want a pitbull? Our neighbors moved out and left their sweet dog here.”
We don’t know if the dog made a choice in the matter — opting to stay with the couch over the heartless owner — but if so, based on his owner’s callous behavior, he made the right choice.
“The gentleman moved out of his home and left his furniture and some garbage on the curb for pickup, and also left his dog,” said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.
The home is near 43rd Avenue and Cactus Road.
Gable says the 3-year-old pit bull is doing well, and has been transferred from Animal Care and Control to the Arizona Humane Society.
Both organizations are now receiving calls from across the country from people wanting to adopt him or help him out.
“We have been inundated with calls people from the public, rescue groups, people who want to step forward and help,” Gable told AzFamily.com.
The photo was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.
A new family has moved into the home, but they say the dog doesn’t belong to them.
Animal control is sharing information with the Phoenix police, who will determine whether to track down and file cruelty charges against the owner.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, abandonment, animals, couch, cruelty, dog, dog on couch, dogs, facebook, neglect, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, yard
Justice for the more than 20 dogs who died at an Arizona boarding kennel came one step closer this week with a recommendation from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that both felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges be brought against the kennel’s owners and two caretakers, one of them the son of a U.S. senator.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he is recommending prosecutors file 21 felony charges of neglect against Todd and MaLeisia Hughes, who own Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert; their daughter Logan Flake; and her her husband, Austin Flake, who is the son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.
The final decision on filing charges will be made by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the Arizona Republic reported. He says that process could take a few weeks.
Authorities found 21 dead dogs on the property June 21 when they went to the kennel after customers began learning something was amiss.
Some customers whose dogs had died while cramped with more than 25 others in a 12-by-12-foot laundry room were told their dogs had run away. Later, the kennel owners said there had been a “freak accident” that knocked out the room’s air conditioning.
The sheriff’s department investigation concluded the dogs died of “apparent suffocation and overheating.”
Two other dogs also died, including one who ran away.
The kennel owners were on vacation in Florida when the dogs died, and had left the animals in the care of the Flakes.
Sheriff Arpaio, said to have a soft spot for dogs, vowed at the investigation’s start to get to the bottom of what happened: ”If a crime occurred, someone will be held accountable,” he said. It took nearly three months to accomplish that, but Arpaio was being praised this week, by the owners of pets who died and some members of the news media.
Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts commended Arpaio’s actions, saying, ”Of course, there are bigger cases to be cracked, more horrifying things that happen to humans every day. But on this day, there is no more important story than this one and the statement that it makes.
“For Parker and Rosie and Zed. For Ellie and Roxie and Francis.For Remy and Buick. For Valor and Patrick and Sonny.
“For a pair of Bernese Mountain dogs named Carson and Daisy.
“For all good dogs everywhere.”
(Photo: A memorial created near the Green Acre kennel in Gilbert to commemorate the more than 20 dogs that died there; by Corina Vanek / The Republic)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 12th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animals, arizona, boarding, charges, cramped, criminal, cruelty, deaths, dogs, felony, gilbert, green acre, heat, jeff flake, joe arpaio, justice, kennel, logan flake, maleisia hughes, maricopa county, misdemeanor, neglect, pets, room, senator, sheriff, son, suffocation, todd hughes
Necropsies conducted on some of the victims, and an intensive search of the Arizona boarding kennel where more than 20 dogs died, have revealed no evidence supporting the belief that a chewed-through electrical cord led to the deaths.
That, ever since the dogs died virtually overnight nearly a month ago, has been the claim of kennel owner MaLeisa Hughes, seen defending herself (and attacking the news media) in the raw interview footage above.
Hughes and her husband, Todd Hughes, were out of town when the dogs died, and had left the dogs under the supervision of their daughter, Logan Flake, and her husband, Austin Flake, who is the son of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.
The dogs — some dead, some dying — were discovered early in the morning on June 20, most of them held in the same 9-foot by 12-foot room.
Upon their return, Hughes’ husband told at least some of the owners of the deceased dogs that their pets had run away — another inconsistency MaLeisa Hughes attempts to explain in this June 23 meeting outside the kennel with the news media.
Last week, Maricopa County Sheriff’s detectives searched Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert, seizing parts of an air conditioning system to determine if it failed.
Necropsies performed on seven of the 21 dogs also found no evidence to validate the kennel-owners’ statement that a dog had chewed through an electrical wire and cut the power to an air conditioning unit.
“On the dogs that were necropsied, there was no evidence found to support or suggesting electrocution,” concluded Dr. Bernard Mangone, the veterinarian who performed the necropsies at Palm Glen Animal Hospital. He said results indicate the dogs suffocated, but that more testing is required to pinpoint a cause of death.
Tissue samples were sent to the University of Arizona for further testing and to the University of Michigan to determine if the dogs were drugged, according to Arizona Republic.
Mangone wrote that it is possible the dogs died of heat stroke or lack of oxygen.
“The dogs begin to pant and become agitated which increases both their oxygen need and the amount of (carbon dioxide) they are producing,” Mangone wrote.
The search warrant indicates that investigators confiscated computers, cell phones and records associated with the operation of the facility, CBS 5 reported. Detectives also took samples of insulation and wiring from the small room where the dogs were found dead.
As of today, no arrests have been made and no criminal charges have been filed.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air conditioning, animals, arizona, austin flake, charges, chewed, deaths, dog, dog boarding, dogs, evidence, gilbert, green acre, heat, investigation, jeff flake, kennel, maleisa hughes, maricopa county, necropsies, neglect, pets, search, search warrant, senator, wire
Workers at a Gilbert dog boarding operation were checking in newly-arrived dogs even as they stashed the corpses of other canine guests in a shed on the property.
That’s just one of the latest disturbing revelations in the case of Green Acre Dog Boarding, where 20 dogs were found dead from suspected heat-related causes last weekend.
The Arizona Republic reported yesterday that at least one customer checked her dogs in at about the same time workers were hiding the bodies of dogs who had perished and attempting to revive dogs who were dying.
Snow Aubel said she phoned the Green Acre Dog Boarding facility to confirm her pets’ drop-off time at about 10 a.m. Saturday morning and told the facility’s owner, Todd Hughes, she could be there within the hour.
He assured her that would be no problem, she said.
She dropped off her 7-year-old Weimaraner, Cheyenne, and 6-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, Yepa, Saturday — apparently just hours before sheriff’s deputies began arriving at the boarding center.
Her dogs stayed at the facility until Sunday afternoon, when word started spreading about the deaths and a representative from the online booking site she used to make the reservation alerted her the dogs should be moved.
“What really makes me upset is when I was there the poor dogs that had passed away were right underneath my nose, and I didn’t even know it,” Snow said. “… They should not have accepted any more dogs.”
Workers told investigators that the dogs were last checked on Thursday at about 11 p.m.
They say when they returned, at 5:30 a.m. Friday, a large number were discovered dead. Others were on the brink of death.
Sheriff’s Office officials initially called the deaths a “tragic accident,” based on the owners’ claims that one of the dogs chewed through an electrical cord, turning off the air conditioning.
But Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Monday said that designation may have been premature. He promised a thorough investigation.
Arpaio said the owners’ timeline didn’t add up: “How can you be healthy at 11 o’clock and dead at 5:30 in the morning? I think that’s the key element,” he said.
Much else about the case doesn’t add up either:
Temperatures that night weren’t too hot — by Phoenix standards — staying in the 80s. At least 17 dogs were boarded in one 10-foot by 10-foot laundry room. Veterinarians weren’t called when staff started finding dead and dying dogs. And the owners told at least some clients that their dogs, who had perished, had “run away.”
On top of that, kennel workers hosed the sick dogs down and applied ice to them, which is contrary to recommended treatment for heat exhaustion, and can lead to dogs going into shock.
The owners of the kennel, Todd and MaLeisa Hughes, were out of town when the dogs died, but they cut their trip to Florida short upon learning of the deaths. In their absence, the boarded dogs were being cared for by the son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), Austin Flake, and his wife Logan.
The sheriffs office, which released photos of what was found at the kennel this week, said political connections won’t influence their investigation.
(Photos: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 27th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, air conditioning, animals, arizona, boarding, boarding center, bodies, clients, customers, deaths, dogs, flake, gilbert, green acre, heat, joe arpaio, kennel, maricopa county, neglect, pets, shed, sheriff, staff, workers
Maricopa County sheriff’s officials are investigating the deaths of 20 dogs, most of whom died overnight at a pet boarding service in Gilbert, Arizona.
Deputies say a dog chewed through an electric cord, shutting down the air conditioning and leading to the heat-related deaths of the dogs in the care of Green Acre Dog Boarding.
That temperatures didn’t rise above 80 degrees that night is just one of several suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths.
The caretakers for the dog’s over the weekend were identified by Fox 10 News as the son and daughter-in-law of US Senator Jeff Flake.
The couple were caring for the dogs while the company’s owners — identified as MaLeisa and Todd Hughes — were visiting Florida.
“This is truly an accident,” co-owner MaLeisa Hughes said. “We’re heartbroken for everybody. The biggest misconception out there is we went two days without doing anything.”
Todd Hughes admitted telling some clients that their dogs had run away.
“I wasn’t thinking straight, but I should have thought better than that,” Todd Hughes told the Arizona Republic. “Nobody trained me on how to handle this. I made a bad decision. It was terrible.”
“My mom and all these people have been driving around looking for their dogs for two hours to find out the dogs are dead in the shed,” said Doug Hart, who went to the boarding center to pick up his sister’s two dogs.
Valerie Collins and her husband said they weren’t allowed inside the property when they arrived. She said the owner of the business eventually brought the bodies of her dogs, Carson and Daisy, to them.
“Our dogs have been dead for two days,” she said. “They’re rotten.”
The Hughes said they’d been caring for dogs about six years, but only opened up to the public about a year and a half ago.
They returned to the Phoenix area Friday after learning of the deaths, which included one of their own dogs.
According to the sheriff’s department, workers arrived at the facility at 5:30 Friday morning to find a large number of dogs dead or dying. The workers said they’d last checked on the dogs late Thursday night.
“There is going to be a follow-up investigation … It doesn’t end here,” sheriff’s spokesman Chris Hegstrom told AZCentral.com.” Sheriff’s officials called the deaths “a tragic accident.”
“There are a lot of questions that both this Sheriff and the dog’s owners have and believe me by the time we are done with this investigation, we’ll have the answers to most, if not all of the questions,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a press conference yesterday.
“If a crime occurred, someone will be held accountable,” he said.
Arpaio placed the number of dog deaths at 20, three more than originally thought, but other reports said 21 dogs had died.
Outrage over the death extends beyond the families who lost pets. A Facebook page called “The Tragedy at Green Acre Dog Boarding” is serving as a forum for those seeking answers to what happened.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 20 dogs, accident, air conditioning, animals, arpaio, boarding, center, chewed, cord, crime, deaths, died, dog, dogs, electric, gilbert, green acre, green acres, heat, heat related, investigation, kennel, maricopa county, neglect, pets, phoenix, sheriff
Returning a dog you adopted to the shelter he came from isn’t always a shameful thing.
Sometimes, sad as it is to see, there can be valid reasons for doing so, and, given it is done right, it might turn out best for all involved.
This Denver man clearly didn’t do it right.
Daniel Sohn, 31, is scheduled to appear in court on July 2 to face charges of animal cruelty and neglect after ditching his dog at the Denver Animal Shelter — twice in one day, 7NEWS reported this week.
Sohn, in an interview with the station, disagreed with term “ditch,” and said he took the dog to the shelter to “give him a choice.”
The dog, named Bronson, was adopted by Sohn in October.
According to 7NEWS, he took the dog to the shelter to surrender him, but on two different visits the same day, he balked when he was asked to fill out the required paperwork.
At one point, he ran out the door to his car. His dog followed, and a witness snapped a photo of the dog chasing the car down the street.
Witnesses said his car hit the dog at one point.
7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson tracked Sohn down at his parent’s home in Aurora.
“Yes, that is my car and my dog,” Sohn said when shown the photo that had been taken of the dog chasing the car. “I actually dropped him off and he followed me because we have a bit of a bond.”
He added, “Well, I didn’t ditch him. I actually dropped my dog off at the shelter where I did pick him up at. I actually gave my dog a choice if he wanted to be with me or possibly find an owner he might feel better with.”
As for striking the dog with the car, Sohn said, “I didn’t accidentally hit him. He jumped in front of my car but I felt he was triggered to do so as if, like, he was a mechanism of the surrounding people.”
Sohn left with his dog, but he says Bronson later, on a trip to Los Angeles, jumped out of his car at a gas station in Beverly Hills. He hasn’t seen him since.
“He’s a stray and some dogs just stray and he’s probably onto the next owner,” Sohn said. “Is he still alive? I’m sure he is.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 7News, abandon, adoption, animals, car, charges, chasing, court, cruelty, daniel sohn, date, denver animal shelter, ditch, dog, dogs, hit, interview, neglect, news, pets, photo, photograph, report, returned, shelters, surrender