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Tag: neglected

White God: It’s not the nerds getting revenge in this haunting Hungarian film

In terms of its story line, White God isn’t too different from any other movie in which the bullied rise up and get even with the bullies.

What makes it different — and makes it shine — is that in this case the bullied are abused and mistreated dogs, a species that already knows (perhaps better and more instinctively than us) that there is strength in numbers.

Perhaps the most talked about scene in the much talked about Hungarian film — winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Prize Un Certain Regard Award and an official selection of Sundance Film Festival — is when a pack of 250 dogs, all mutts, stampede through the streets.

And what makes that scene even more impressive is that it was achieved not through computer graphics, but with dogs.

Director Kornel Mundruczo first issued a casting call for 100 dogs for the scene, then decided bigger would be better. More than 200 dogs ended up being involved, many of them from local animal shelters.

The scene serves as the movie’s climax, and it was a first of its kind achievement for the dog trainers involved.

Under the leadership of Hungarian dog trainer Árpád Halász, a team of humans was able to train the dogs to stampede in a pack in what was, in reality, a massive rush for treats.

One of the dog trainers involved, Teresa Ann Miller — daughter of a trainer who worked on films like Beethoven and Cujo — was interviewed about the movie on NPR this week.

Miller helped cast and train the two dogs who shared the role of Hagen.

The movie’s story begins when a young girl is forced to give up her dog, Hagen, because it is of mixed-breed heritage. Her father, unwilling to pay the fee required to keep a mutt, abandons Hagen in the streets.

Young Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find her, but eventually he joins forces with, and becomes the leader of, hundreds of other abandoned, abused and mistreated dogs living in the streets.

As a pack, they rise up to seek revenge for the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of humans.

(If the film has one fault, it’s the notion that dogs would seek revenge. They’re better than that.)

Miller told NPR that director Mundruczó wanted the stampede scene to look as real as possible — a goal complicated by the fact that no one has ever seen hundreds of domestic dogs running as a pack.

It was first rehearsed with 100 dogs running together.

Trainer Halász watched and then said, “What about 150?” Miller recounted. “And 150 looked so good that he says, What about 200? And each time Árpád learned, as he acquired the dogs and introduced other dogs into the pack, that it was possible.”

It took four months to prepare for the scene, she added.

“And that was amazing to see; that was fascinating. I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen such a large pack of dogs run together. And, quite honestly, I don’t think we’d ever do it here (in the U.S.) just for the time that it takes. It’s so much easier just to CGI it, but the director didn’t want that effect at all.”

Inmates + dogs = a second chance times 2

A new documentary takes an inside look at the kind of “win-win-win” program I think should exist in every state, if not every prison.

“Dogs on the Inside” follows the relationships between abused stray dogs and inmates at a Massachusetts prison who are training and caring for them, getting them prepared to be put up for adoption.

dogsoninsideUnder a program called “Don’t Throw Us Away,” shelter and rescued dogs from the southeastern U.S. are sent to the North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, where a group of inmate trainers work to regain their trust and, in the process, get some lessons in resilience and empathy.

The program benefits dogs and inmates. The third winner? Society — the one to which those inmates eventually are returning.

It’s similar to programs in other states we’ve written about before, including Philadelphia’s New Leash on Life, and, in North Carolina, a program with the same name, operated by the Forsyth County Humane Society.

insideGiven we’re a country with more two million inmates incarcerated, given six to eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year, and given most of both spend that time unloved and idle, getting them together — given the benefits that can follow — makes good sense

Dogs on the Inside” follows the relationships between neglected and abused stray dogs and prison inmates in Gardner, Mass., as they “work together for a second chance at a better life: a forever home for the dogs and a positive life outside prison for the inmates.”

“Connected by their troubled pasts, the dogs learn to have faith in people again while the inmates are reminded of their own humanity and capacity for love and empathy,” the filmmakers say.

Directed by Brean Cunningham and Douglas Seirup, the film shows “the timeless connection between man and dog, showing the resiliency of a dogs’ trust and the generosity of the human spirit in the unlikeliest of places … In the seemingly dark recesses of a prison, a spark of light emerges that is a reminder of the wonderful and timeless connection that exists between dog and man.”

(Photos: Courtesy of “Dogs on the Inside”)

Denver police criticized for neglecting dog hurt in car wreck

It’s one thing for police officers not to offer any help to a suffering dog. It’s another — and maybe even more shameful — for them to prohibit a citizen from doing so.

That’s what happened in Denver last week.

A dog hit by a car spent 90 minutes gasping for air and died as police investigated the accident. A citizen who tried to help the dog was shooed away by an officer and told he was impeding their investigation.

Apparently police considered the dog evidence, as opposed to a living thing. Apparently, protocol was more important than saving his life, or putting him out of his misery.

Video shows the dog, which had a collar and leash but no tags, laying in the middle of Federal Boulevard for nearly 90 minutes, Channel 7 in Denver reported.

Ross Knapp, a bystander who sought to help the dog and bring him water, says he was threatened with being arrested.

“I had one of the officers tell me I had to leave and couldn’t be near it. I tried a couple of times to go back and he just finally said I’m impeding on an investigation and if I came back I’d be arrested,” Knapp said.

Channel 7 reports 15 minutes passed before police called animal control, and that it took the animal control officer an additional 60 minutes to arrive.

“It’s always about the personal safety of that individual. It’s not trying to be cruel to the animal or cruel to the individual. It’s best if we get the animal control people in there, let them do what they do as experts and let them take the actions,” said Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson.

harleyMany were distressed by the video, but none more so than Dani Juras, who’d been searching for her 14-year-old black Lab mix, Harley, since he escaped from her home Wednesday.

“I recognized Harley … I watched the video a couple of times and had others watch it hoping that somebody would say it’s just not him,” Juras said.

Juras contacted Denver Animal Control and confirmed Saturday morning that the dog seen in the 7NEWS video was her missing lab. Now she wants the officer who ignored her dog’s suffering to be held accountable.

“This animal was neglected and neglected by somebody that’s supposed to be there for your safety, supposed to take care of us in times like this,” Juras said.

Denver Police, in response to growing public indignation about the incident, posted a YouTube video in which a veterinarian and animal control officer explain why it’s best to wait for professionals to handle an injured animal.

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding an apology from the police department had nearly 8,000 signatures Sunday night.

Among them is that of Juras, who said she signed the petition before she even knew it was about her dog.

(Photo: Harley with his owner, Dani Juras / provided by Juras family)

Good Newz, Bad Newz: Michael Vick’s house to become rehabilitation center for dogs

An animal rescue group says it has been able to raise enough money to make the down payment on Michael Vick’s former home in Virginia, which they plan to turn into a center for rescued dogs.

It will be called Good Newz (a play on Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels) Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

The group Dogs Deserve Better announced on its website it had received an approval for a loan and hopes to close on the Surry County property that served as headquarter’s for Vick’s dogfighting operation in mid-May.

The group, which has already raised a third of the sale price,  is still raising money to pay off the remaining two-thirds — the amount the loan was approved for. They hope to build a fence around the property and start accepting dogs while they raise the money to build the facility, WVEC reported.

Members have previously said say they’d need an estimated $3 million to create the dog center, which would also serve as the new headquarters for the Pennsylvania-based rescue group.

After the forfeit of Vick’s five-bedroom, 15-acre property, potential buyers were few — in part because of a down real estate economy, maybe too, though real estate agents played it down, because of the horrors that occured there. Assessed at more than $700,000, the house is being purchased by Dogs Deserve Better for $595,000.

In an interview with Care2, DDB’s Tamira Thayne said,  “I felt when I was there that the dogs who lost their lives and suffered there welcomed us and were grateful to us for both preserving their memories, continuing the fight against dog abuse, and bringing happiness to a place of such sadness.”

DDB announced in February that it had obtained an option to purchase the property, located at 1915 Moonlight Road.

Vick served 21 months of a 23 month sentence in federal prison for bankrolling the dog fighting operation at the property. 

DDB plans to build a state of the art dog facility there, with help from volunteers and donations.

Thayne said the group hopes to house, train, and sent to adoptive homes about 500 dogs a year at first, moving up to 1,000 dogs a year. The group will be rehabilitating primarily dogs that been abused and  neglected, penned and chained.

“For us, having a standard shelter is not the answer, because we have to be teaching these dogs how to live within the home and family,” Thayne told Care 2. “So we want to design a center where they will be trained in a house setting every day, working one on one or in small groups with a human to assess and deal with issues and teach housetraining and people skills.”

For information on how to donate, visit the Dogs Deserve Better website.

Sailor finds some friends in South Philly

Neighbors in South Philadelphia found a bruised, battered and hungry dog, took him in, and have raised enough money for him to have surgery tomorrow.

Apparently, the 6-month-old shepherd mix, who they’ve named Sailor — given he was a bit of a shipwreck when they found him at 15th and Federal Streets in South Philadelphia — had been abandoned, and hit by a car. Three of his legs were injured and he was barely able to walk, CBS in Philadelphia reported.

When his rescuers brought him home, Sailor was so emaciated some weren’t sure he would make it, but he has gained 10 pounds since then, and he’s scheduled for surgery this week, at a cost of about $5,000.

“A lot of vets told me to put him down right away,” said Clair Sauer. “The surgeons were ready to operate on him yesterday, but I had to tell them ‘I don’t have the money.’” Sailor’s foster family set up a Sailor website to help raise the money. In little more than 24 hours, they reached their goal.

According to the website, the surgery will be performed at CARES in Langhorne, Pa., by Dr. Brentz. Sailor will have his rear femur cut and “put back into place with lots of metal…”

“Recovery will be long and will take patience, but we will be there for him! He will need lots more x-rays to monitor how his bones are healing. And, when he is ready, physical therapy. These will incur more costs, but we will stay optimistic!”

Once Sailor recovers from his surgery, he will be put up for adoption.

Neglected dogs will head to better homes

Credit Facebook, or credit Michelle Ingrodi, but four neglected dogs in Cumberland, Maryland, will soon find better homes.

Ingrodi, of Baltimore’s Charm City Rescue, was visiting relatives when she came upon the dogs, all of whom were either chained or confined in and outside of what appeared to be an unoccupied house. Ingrodi fed them and took some video, posting it to her Facebook page and YouTube.

“The dogs had been in there a long time. They didn’t get walked. They don’t get played with,” Ingrodi told the Channel 11 News I-Team in Baltimore. “They were neglected. They lived in there. The smell was nothing I ever want to smell again.”

Ingrodi said that, within an hour of posting the videos “I got a call from Georgia, Alaska, New York and Alberta, Canada … They wanted to send donations. They wanted to find out what they could do to get them out of there.”

Police were called when someone complained that Ingrodi was trespassing as she arrived to feed the dogs, Channel 11 reported. She wasn’t arrested, and the police contacted the property owner, who agreed to surrender the dogs after she was assured they would be made available for adoption.

“She made it clear as long as they would not be taken to animal control — as long as they would not be euthanized and they would go to a good home — and they will — she would agree to surrender them,” Ingrodi said.

The dogs were taken from the property late Saturday afternoon and are now in the care of Dogs Deserve Better, a rescue organization, awaiting medical clearance to be adopted.

(Photo: Dogs Deserve Better)

22 greyhound deaths probed at Florida track

The owner and operator of a kennel at the Pensacola Greyhound Track neglected 22 dogs to the point that she had to have them euthanized, investigators in Florida say.

The State Department of Business and Professional Regulation initiated an investigation into Billie Ard, the owner of W.R. Etheredge Kennel at the track, after a tipster from a Florida greyhound rescue group reported animals had been neglected and euthanized.

Investigators said they found evidence that Ard’s greyhounds had been underfed, and kept in unsanitary conditions, TV station WEAR in Florida reported.

“Upon entering the kennel it was apparent from the overwhelming urine smell… that the bedding materials in the crates had not been cleaned in quite some time. The smell was so strong and overwhelming that it burned the eyes,” investigators reported. They noted that the dogs also appeared to be underfed.

In August of 2009, a local veterinarian euthanized 22 of the dogs.

“This severe case of animal neglect calls into question the ability of track management to monitor the health and welfare of dogs at their facility,” said Carey Theil of Grey2k USA, a national greyhound protection group.

Ard lost her license as a result of investigation, but does not face any criminal charges.

All of the dogs that were in Ard’s care at the time of the investigation have since been placed with other kennels or adopted out.